The risk of customizing SharePoint

300.000 organizations world-wide customize SharePoint to make the platform an even better fit for their needs. What they don’t realize is that customizations can leak their confidential data. But does that mean you should completely stop customizing SharePoint?

SharePoint, for everything

Over the years Microsoft SharePoint became known as the organizational swiss army knife. Organizations use SharePoint for virtually everything. Project teams use SharePoint to collaborate. Marketing and communication departments build highly-branded portals where they share the latest corporate news and announcements. Organizations use SharePoint as an application platform to host business-critical solutions. The list goes on and on.

And while SharePoint offers rich capabilities out of the box, it’s by customizing it, that organizations truly benefit from SharePoint’s full potential.

A brief history of customizing SharePoint

Originally SharePoint was a server product that organizations hosted on their premises. Only later, with the announcement of BPOS and later Office 365, customers could subscribe to SharePoint hosted by Microsoft.

When organizations were hosting SharePoint themselves, they could deploy customizations to their servers. But this is not an option in the cloud. In Office 365, multiple organizations use the same SharePoint server. If one of them would deploy assemblies to the server, these assemblies could degrade the performance for other customers and even potentially access their confidential data. This is not acceptable.

At the same time, JavaScript became more powerful. Microsoft started to support this shift by providing APIs that developers and power users use to communicate with SharePoint and interact with its data. It was no longer necessary to deploy customizations to SharePoint servers. Using JavaScript, anyone who could edit a page could customize SharePoint for their organization.

Not surprisingly, building customizations using JavaScript became very popular among SharePoint users all over the world. With hundreds of thousands of free and ready to use libraries available on the internet, in a matter of minutes, developers and power users today can deliver very compelling solutions. And they can do it even without involving the IT organization.

However, what they don’t realize is that using JavaScript in SharePoint exposes their environment – and therefore their data – to severe risks.

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