External Sharing and Collaboration on SharePoint and OneDrive

External Sharing and Collaboration on SharePoint and OneDrive 150 150 Sameer Mohammed

We all know that OneDrive and SharePoint provide a rich set of solutions for collaborating with users both inside and outside of your organization.

External Sharing in SharePoint: –
SharePoint Online has external sharing settings at both the organization level and the site level (previously called the “site collection” level).

There are basically 4 ways by which you can share your content in SharePoint Online:-

a) Anyone – A transferrable, revocable secret key (transferrable means can be forwarded to others, revocable means access can be revoked any time and secret key means users need the link to gain access )
• We can allow some recipients who don’t want to authenticate. If you allow “Anyone” links, invitations aren’t sent an email. Users can copy the link and share it however they like. Anyone with the link (inside or outside your organization) can access files and folders without having to sign in or provide a code. These links can be freely passed around and are valid until the link is deleted or expires (if you’ve set an expiration date).

b) People in your organization – Only grant access to internal users
• To allow external sharing on any site, you must allow it at the organization level. You can then restrict external sharing for other sites. If a site’s external sharing option and the organization-level sharing option don’t match, the most restrictive value will always be applied.

c) People with existing access
• The external sharing features of SharePoint Online let users in your organization share content with people outside the organization (such as partners, vendors, clients, or customers).
d) Specific people
• When users share with people outside the organization, an invitation is sent to the person in email, which contains a link to the shared item.

Authenticated External user and Anonymous user Sharing options: –
Below table gives the difference between functionalities of Authenticated External user and Anonymous user:-

Authenticated External UserAnonymous User
ParticularitySigning in is required before they can view contentCan access content from a shared link without signing in

What you can share• A complete site
• Lists and Libraries
• Documents and list items
• Yammer threads
• Depending on permissions, most content within an Office 365 Group
Only documents or folders
Who can share•Site owners and others with full control permissions can share a site
• All members as contributors can share lists, libraries, and documents
• All members can nominate a person to be added in an Office 365 Group as a guest user
All site users can share a document and generate a view or edit link for external sharing
How you can shareThe same as with your internal users• View only link
• Edit link
The security risks• If you give full control to an external user, he could share content with other external users
• It’s hard to link the email address you sent the invite to and the Microsoft account associated to the user.
• Permission inheritance if you give access to a site or a Group

Anonymous guest links can be shared to other people who might be able to view or edit the content.

Changes cannot be tracked in the document.

Scenarios of external sharing: –

NOTE: You can stop sharing with guests by removing their permissions from the shared item, or by removing them as a guest in your directory.

External Sharing Configuration in SharePoint

Before managing External Sharing for SharePoint, you will have to make sure it is enabled for your Office 365 tenant as a whole. Below are the steps to enable external sharing in Office 365 tenant: –

1) From your Office 365 home screen, navigate to your Admin center.
2) From the Admin Center, choose the “Admin Center” tab on the left-hand side and then “SharePoint.” This will take you to the SharePoint admin settings page, where you can configure external sharing.
3) Navigate to the “Sharing ” tab on the left to view all the sharing options.

NOTE: By default, external sharing is allowed, anonymously or not, in your organization. This setting should be adjusted to your specific business needs to avoid accidental data leaks.

Manage external sharing by SharePoint Administrator: –
Below image shows the functionality which an administrator can perform for external sharing.

Sharing in OneDrive
Below screenshot shows the admin center of OneDrive: –

The options in the OneDrive external sharing settings are the same as SharePoint, but the UI is a little different. The same options are available, but in a drop-down menu rather than by radio buttons.

What’s new for users – Better Sharing! –

1) Smart people picker using Microsoft Graph – Find people faster; type less

2) Link open receipts – Know when your link got opened, a confirmation email will be sent the first time when the link is opened

3) Password protected links
a. Prevent accidental re-sharing of “anyone” links
b. Require users to enter a custom password before accessing a file or folder

4) Block downloads
a. Keep your documents in the cloud
i. Avoid out-of-date copies
ii. Maintain access control
b. Available for view-only links

5) Sharing from mobile apps

6) Sharing from Word, Excel, PowerPoint mobile

7) Send via Microsoft Teams – Send links via Teams directly from the OneDrive app

8) Integration with Microsoft Teams – Full OneDrive sharing from Microsoft teams

Summary: –
In this article, we saw that what are the various option to share files in SharePoint and OneDrive.