In my recent posts you have seen that you can create unique permissions for list items and documents very easily, with
Additionally, you often add people with Contribute permissions while your normal Members group has Edit permissions (=Contribute + Manage Apps).
Plus your site members can add practically anyone to your site without informing you.
Why am I making such a fuss?
- Maintenance and support
Unique permissions create extra issues with access, and provide extra work for the Site owner.
You may also need more support, although your support team might like that 🙂
- Information security
People with Edit or Contribute permissions can share content with external users, who then are often able to share your content with others if given those permissions. Your information may be shared with your competitors in this way!
Having lots of unique and individual permissions may slow down your site.
Office365’s out-of-the-box functionality allows unlimited sharing. My own environment is like that, so all experiences that I have described before are done in the “unlimited sharing” default mode.
Fortunately, there are some options that a tenant administrator, a site collection administrator and a site owner can do to limit the potential damage.
1. Disable anonymous access
Disabling anonymous access lets you get rid of the “no sign-in required” options that you have when you get a link, or the “sign in required” when you share a folder or list item. While it may not reduce the creation of unique permissions too much, it will make it more obvious who has been given access. This will allow you to determine whether those people need to be added to a site group, or removed from your site.
Your tenant administrator can disable this at the Office365 Admin center for all Office365 applications, or at the SharePoint admin center for the SharePoint sites.
2. Disable external sharing
While this also will not prevent all unique permissions, it may limit them, because of sheer numbers. Chances are your colleagues will already have access to your site, making the chances of unique permissions during sharing a bit less.
Of course this will make it impossible to share confidential stuff with externals.
It is a good practice to reserve one or some site collections for sharing with externals, so you can keep the other site collections for purely internal content.
Your tenant admin can disable external sharing on various aspects at the Office365 tenant and the SharePoint admin level. Gregory Zelfond has already documented how to do that.
By the way, Gregory has written more useful posts on external sharing.
This will give the following results, depending on whether the external user is already in your site collection or not.
3. Change Sharing settings in your site
This will probably be in your control, so go to Site Settings > Site Permissions > Access Requests and look at the two check boxes on the top of the pop-up.
This will mostly influence what a Site member can do.
You have four options:
4a. Both checked: I have done my experiments with this setting. You know what that does 🙂
4b. Top checked, bottom unchecked
Member: Can share documents without approval from the site owner, but needs approval for sharing the site.
Visitor: Can share site and documents with approval from site owner.
Get a Link:
Member sees “Edit link” option
Visitor sees the “Restricted Link” option
4c. Top unchecked, bottom checked:
Member=Visitor: Can share site and documents but needs approval from site owner
Get a Link:
Member=Visitor: Restricted Link
This option brings another message to your Site Permissions page:
4d: Both unchecked:
Same as 4c.
So, this setting will help you to “tame” your site members, and give them the same sharing options as your site’s visitors. You will have more approvals to do, but are more in control.
But beware hitting the “Accept” or “Approve” button in sharing requests for documents or list items!
4. Remove access request email
If you can not get access requests, you can not break permissions when accepting them!
This can work in formal all-company sites with official content and little collaboration.
On the other side of the spectrum, it is also an option for sites with a strictly defined and controlled audience, e.g. a management team.
It will however be very clumsy in a project site!
But…your visitors will get a nasty error message when they try to share a document or site, and when you are combining this with options 4c or 4d, your members will experience that too.
Realize that all of these settings have been developed with a reason, so you may want to ponder what is really important for you and if you need to lock down everything or just a few features.
While you think about this, I will go and write how to check and fix the permissions, where needed, after you have taken your measures.
Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net