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Microsoft thinks Slack not secure enough, prohibits internal use

Microsoft has reportedly prohibited its employees from using Slack, not just because it is a competitor to its own Microsoft Teams, but also due to security concerns about the collaboration app.

GeekWire, which first heard from Microsoft employees that they were not allowed to use Slack at work, tracked down and acquired an internal list of prohibited and discouraged technology. The list said that the collaboration app, among other software and online services, are competitors to Microsoft’s own products, but the main reason that it falls under the “prohibited” category is the inability to protect the company’s secrets.

“Slack Free, Slack Standard, and Slack Plus versions do not provide required controls to properly protect Microsoft Intellectual Property (IP),” reads the app’s entry on Microsoft’s list. “Slack Enterprise Grid version complies with Microsoft security requirements; however, we encourage use of Microsoft Teams rather than a competitive software.”

In addition to Slack, other apps in the prohibited category are the Grammarly grammar checker and Kaspersky security software. There is also a “discouraged” category, which contains Amazon Web Services, Google Docs, PagerDuty, and even GitHub, the software development hub and community that Microsoft purchased for $7.5 billion last year.

Amazon Web Services and Google Docs usage reportedly requires “business justification” for employee use, while GitHub is not recommended for “highly confidential types of information, specs, or code.” Grammarly, meanwhile, is able to access Information Rights Management protected content within employees’ emails and documents, according to the list.

Microsoft’s list of prohibited apps makes sense for security-related matters. However, in the rapidly evolving tech industry, access to these apps could help employees figure out how to improve their own products, while also understanding what they may offer in comparison to rivals.

The grumblings that GeekWire heard among Microsoft employees for not being allowed to use Slack is also justified though, as the app is feature-rich with a clean interface. The tool also offers customized notifications, unique workspaces, and connections with third-party apps, among many other capabilities. Microsoft Teams also offers most of these features, but employees who have long used Slack may be reluctant to switch over to another app.

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