Office 365 Challenge – Week 18 – The SharePoint button that Admins love to hate


Microsoft always add features into products to make it easier to use and simpler to understand for users.  I’ve often been quite vocal around how Microsoft have also been “soft targets” due to them automating a lot of functions which would benefit the end user, but make their software more vulnerable.

The button that I’ve come to love and hate is the lovely “Share” button.  It’s been around for a while and end users love it and find it “easy” to “share”, but it causes absolute havoc with permissions.

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Back in the day, before the nifty share button, all we had was “send a link”.  This was a bit clunky, but at least it didn’t mess with the admins hard word (permission config).

But how does it work?

The “Share” button actually breaks the inheritance of the shared item from the parent library and only shares the document with the people in question.  Now when you click share there are a myriad of options, but without careful tailoring of your settings, users will by default break inheritance.

How is this a problem?

When someone new joins a company and you want to, for example, give them access to a secure library.  They will only see documents that inherit permissions from that library.  All the unique items will be hidden.

This causes a challenge for admins for two main reasons:

1 – Giving this new user permissions to all documents in a library is problematic

2 – It opens up a secure area to users that are not “authorised” as someone with permissions might innocently share a document with someone that shouldn’t have access.  Although this person will only have access to the one document, sometimes knowing a place exists is the first step into making it vulnerable.

So where to from here?

In a future post (can’t promise it will be soon), I will delve into the step by step process of how I went about reducing the options users have when sharing.  It also requires a bit of handholding for users to “Copy link to clipboard” from within Office VS using the “Share” button.

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Considering all of the above, what I am excited about is usage.  Streamlining things behind the scenes isn’t too complicated, but getting users to adopt solutions is an ongoing industry wide challenge.

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