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Best Practices for Sharing OneDrive and SharePoint Files With Unauthenticated Users

Online file sharing and collaboration is more important than ever with a remote workforce, especially across different time zones. Business being conducted on paper isn’t always the case anymore. Quick turnaround times and communication is essential, so documents and files are best shared electronically.

Microsoft SharePoint users have a number of ways to securely share these files with users outside of their organization. They can even set an expiration date as to when the file can no longer be accessed.

Start By Enabling Sharing

In order to collaborate with users outside of your organization, you must first enable the levels of sharing your organization requires. Microsoft has a handy guide for that right here.

Set view only default link permissions and add a default expiration date for sharing

By default, Anyone (anyone can access) links for files and folders may provide too much access and you should consider changing these default permissions to view only. This will still allow for unauthenticated sharing but without the ability to modify content.

Additionally, organizations often store files for years and, if shared with unauthenticated users, they could lead to unexpected changes to the files. To reduce the risk of unauthorized access, configure an expiration time for Anyone links.

To set org wide permissions and expiration dates for your Anyone links:

  1. Open the SharePoint Admin Center (you may need to log in)
  2. Click Sharing in the left navigation pane (under Policies)
  3. Set the default permission selected for sharing links to ‘View’
  4. Choose a default expiration date and permission type for both files and folders

Override defaults for a specific site

To set the default file and folder sharing link for a specific site:

  1. Open the SharePoint Admin Center (you may need to log in)
  2. Select Sites > Active Sites and then choose your site
  3. Select ‘Sharing’ in the top menu
  4. Under Default sharing link type, clear the Same as organization-level setting check box.
  5. Set the overrides for your site

Protect against malicious files

When you allow anonymous users to upload files, you’re at an increased risk of someone uploading a malicious file. In Microsoft 365, you can use the Safe Attachments feature in Defender for Office 365 to automatically scan uploaded files and quarantine files that are found to be unsafe.

To turn on safe attachments:

  1. Open the Safe Attachments page in the Office 365 Security and Compliance admin center.
  2. Click Global settings.
  3. Turn on protection for SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams.
  4. Turn on Safe Documents as well, and then click Save

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