fundamentals Microsoft 365 Guest Access

What should you know about the Guests in your Microsoft 365 tenant?

Michal Pisarek David Francoeur September 28, 2022

8 MIN READ

Many organizations rely on Microsoft 365 Guest Access which gives them the ability to effectively collaborate with people outside of their tenant on projects, documents, chat and schedule meetings, and so much more. But inviting guests into your tenant is similar to inviting guests into your home. You wouldn’t invite a stranger into your house without knowing a little more about them, and you would expect the same from all the members of your household. 

So let’s dig down into the 4 most common things you want to know about your Guests, how we can capture them, and who can access this information.

As a bonus, we will take a look at how you can shift the responsibility of capturing guest information to the content owners in your organization and empower them to keep your tenant secure and compliant. 

What do we know about our Guests?

Out of the box, Microsoft 365 makes it very easy to invite Guests into your tenant. All the users need to do is select the Team or Group they want to invite a Guest into, start typing the email address, and voila – the Guest is added. 

This sounds easy enough for the end-user, but what does this easy addition process mean for the organization, productivity, and outputs?

Potential security and compliance issues. 

You wouldn’t let someone into your house if all you knew was their email. It is hard for Azure AD admins to assess whether the Guest should be allowed to remain in your tenant if you don’t know which organization they are part of, what their job title or area of responsibilities is, whether they have an appropriate security clearance level to be able to access sensitive information.

Communication and effective collaboration issues.

For the users to collaborate effectively with Guests, they need to know more information about the Guests as well. Some examples include location country/city, company name, preferred language, department and job title, and phone number.

How can additional information on Guests be captured in Microsoft 365?

Currently, there isn’t a default way for the users to input additional information about Guests when adding them to Groups and Teams.

However, Guest information can be accessed and edited by Azure AD admins. Below you can see what an admin would see on any given Guest after they were added by the end-user.

The admin can then go ahead and edit the Guest information. Microsoft has dozens of properties that can be populated with pertinent details, as you can see below:

Your organization may choose to implement a costly and time-intensive process that requires content owners who are at liberty to invite Guests into the tenant to contact the Administrator immediately after the invitation has been sent, and provide them with additional information about the Guest to enter manually.

 

This leaves a lot of room for error, where the end-user may forget to contact the Administrator, and of course, adds a lot of hours and responsibility to the Admin’s plate.

In organizations where such a process doesn’t exist or wasn’t implemented at the initial stage of the Microsoft 365 rollout, Admins have to manually review the Guests, sometimes months after they were originally invited.

Since Administrators rarely, if ever hold the information about the Guests, including their company name, city, state, or even country, they have to first locate the user who might shine some light on the additional details about the Guest.

One way of doing that is for the Admin to put the investigator hat on, review the list of Groups the Guest has access to, and contact current owners in hopes they can identify the individual.

Real troubles begin when the Guest in question doesn’t have access to any current M365 Groups. The only recourse at that point would be to perform an even deeper investigation by diving into Audit Logs to determine who initiated the request for the Guest user. These logs, however, go back only 30 days, meaning that it is often impossible to identify the user at all.

 

Is there a better way?

Although out-of-box Microsoft 365 Guest information is limited, we at Orchestry recognize the importance of Guest Access. We also are so familiar with the added time and costs, as well as potential risks associated with the collection and management of additional information about Guests. 

This is why we built our new Guest Insights and Management Features to help you, and your users, overcome them in the most powerful, simple, and beautiful way.

Need to know more information about your guests? Orchestry can help

With our beautiful Guest Request process the users can capture additional information about all the Guests including contact information, first and last name, company, and country and provide a justification as to why the Guest requires access to a Group or another workspace right from the start.

This removes the need to implement any special processes for recording Guests’ information, saves tons of hours for the Administrator, and ensures that every new Guest in your tenant has all the relevant information recorded from the very moment they are invited.

Not only can Orchestry help ensure you capture information for new Guests but also for existing Guests! When any existing Guest who is missing information gets invited to a new Group or workspace, the user who is extending the invitation will be prompted to fill out any missing properties before the Guest is added to the new workspace.  

What do the Guests have access to?

In Microsoft 365 only the administrators with the highest level of permissions can see what Guests have access to. 

Within Azure AD, Administrators can really only see what M365 Groups Guests have access to, which is more often than not, a very incomplete picture of the full access any given Guest has.

Since knowing what groups users have access to is clearly not enough to prevent possible data leaks, a deeper dive to identify individual assets Guests were given access to is required. 

How to find asset access information for Guests?

One of the ways to review information about Guest access to individual assets is to dig through Microsoft Purview Audit Logs. This does put a massive burden on administrators, as the logs need to be reviewed regularly to ensure inappropriate or potentially detrimental access was not given to a Guest, and action can be taken immediately in case it has. That said, If a Guest was given incorrect access to a resource it can still be very difficult to understand where this access came from, let alone to catch that this mistake has occurred.

The logs only go back 90 days, so in case a data leak incident occurs as a result of sharing that was done more than 90 days ago, there is virtually no way to retrace the steps.

Below is an example of an Audit Log. Noticeably absent in this view is any way to see what links this user may have been sent, granting them access to individual assets within your environment. The current process to access Sharing Link reports is incredibly painful, and can still obscure critical information!

Alternatively, Administrators can leverage PowerShell scripts to help ensure no critical data is lost. Some sample scripts can be found online, but they are only accurate to the point they have been run. 

The downside of PowerShell scripts is that they produce CSV format (Comma Separated Value) data which is very hard to review and make sense of. 

Is there a better way?

The area of Guest access to specific assets is particularly painful in the native Microsoft 365 and Azure AD environment, so Orchestry’s Guest Insights and Lifecycle Management features have become a true game-changer for Administrators. 

Our Guest Details show you every Group that a Guest has access to in rich detail. 

Guest Insights lets you see in a single beautiful interface the specific details about each Guest, including their personal details, location, date created or added, their activity, and the last time they have logged in, as well as a detailed list of all workspaces they have access to, the date they were added and so much more.

The best part of the Guest Insights feature is that they are intelligent enough to let you know if a Guest should be removed!

This can help you quickly identify Guests that shouldn’t be in the Workspace and allow you to remove them in an instant.

What is the Guest's status?

You have 1,000 Guests in your tenant but do you actually know if they are active? 

When was the last time they logged in? 

Did they redeem their invitation to collaborate with your tenant?

What does this bizarre login information mean?

What does this login history tell me? 

All these are common questions and unfortunately, it’s difficult to get this information at an aggregated level. 

In order to automatically flag users that have not redeemed their invitation, get recommendations for guest accounts that should be deleted, or escalate areas where guests have access which they shouldn’t have to require complex and costly customizations.

How to find out Guest status?

By default, only the Administrators with the highest level of permissions and privileges can view the login history, and invitation redemptions and perform other actions, like resending Guest access invitations.  

To stay up to date on the status of all the Guests in your tenant, would require the full-time attention of your Administrator. As an alternative solution, a variety of PowerShell scripts could be pieced together to attempt to bring this information together and provide an output as a raw CSV file. These scripts would need to be run daily to truly have an accurate view of what is happening with your guests, and still requires the Administrator to perform manual actions based on what these reports indicate. 

Is there a better way?

Orchestry’s Guest Insights features to track the status of overall Guests in your tenant, as well as each and every Guest individually, and gives you an unparalleled understanding of their current status, just like we do for Workspaces. 

You can quickly and easily make the right decisions on which Guests to remove or renew at the right time with Orchestry. 

Which domains do all your Guests come from?

Another useful perspective from which to track and manage your guest population is to view the entire list of unique domains from which they originate. Many organizations will want to see patterns emerging from the domains that are repeatedly seen as guests, and perhaps which domains could be problematic and should be blocked. 

How to find list of Guest domains?

Unfortunately, there is no way to see in out-of-box Microsoft 365 what domains all your Guests have been added from so the Administrators are either stuck doing this manually or instead spend time writing custom code or PowerShell scripts. 

Admins can block every single “undesirable” domain but all this will do is likely frustrate your users who instead of inviting Guests into Groups and workspaces will start to email content over which is much less secure.

Under the umbrella of Microsoft 365, there are several places where domains can be blocked, including SharePoint, Teams, and Azure AD. So domain blocking will need to be done on an individual basis in each one of those instances.

Is there a better way?

Orchestry’s Guest Insights and Lifecycle Management features can help with that as well! No more PowerShell scripts, but a simple beautiful report instead, to tell you how many domains you have and how many Guests have come from each domain!

This report can really help you understand what domains the Guests are being added from, and help you ensure that you block the appropriate domains before the sharing gets out of control.

Want to see the Guest Insights and Lifecycle Management in action?

If you are looking to streamline capturing additional information about Guests in your tenant, getting a full grasp on the Guest status and their individual asset access, understand the domains which the Guests are coming from, without the endless hours of auditing, building, and running PowerShell scripts – you’re in for a treat!

On October 26, 2022, Orchestry is unveiling our much anticipated game-changing Guest Insights and Lifecycle Management Features to the world! Come join us at the LIVE webinar, or, if you can’t make it, register to receive the recording after the fact.

During the webinar, Michal Pisarek – Orchestry CEO, 7X Microsoft MVP will present use cases and functionality of our 3 core Guest features:

• Guest Insights
• Guest Provisioning
• Guest Reviews

What are your takeaways?

  • Review of common security, financial, and data risks, and challenges associated with Guest Access.
  • Discuss some of the gaps in the existing Guest Access reporting, provisioning, and lifecycle management.
  • Present the latest Guest Insights and Lifecycle Management features and how they can address your organization’s risks.

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About the Authors

Michal Pisarek Image

Michal Pisarek

Orchestry CEO, 7X Microsoft MVP

Seven-time Microsoft SharePoint MVP, former Co-Founder of Dynamic Owl Consulting and of BONZAI Intranet, this serial entrepreneur, international speaker, Office 365 thought leader, and former professional chef brings the great depth of product, leadership, and user experience expertise to Orchestry, working with Fortune 500 companies to deliver maximum efficiency of their Microsoft 365 investments.

When Michal takes a day off occasionally, you will find him experimenting in the kitchen, inventing a new cocktail or learning a new language while enjoying all that Vancouver has to offer with his wife, daughter, and furry companion.

David Francoeur Image

David Francoeur

Orchestry Director of Product Delivery

As a speaker, author, and consultant operating across industries, David brings to Orchestry a diversified perspective on solving problems in the Digital Workplace. Working cross-functionally to guide products from conception to launch, he carefully connects the technical and business worlds. Passionate about user experience and design, David thrives on outcomes that are not only successful from a technological perspective but more critically; adopted, championed, and valued by the business.

Beyond his passion for the digital workplace, David enjoys spending time with his spouse and daughter, playing soccer, or reading a good book.

Introduction

This Privacy Policy explains what information Orchestry Software Inc. and its associated entities (collectively “Orchestry”) collect about you, why, what we do with that information, how we share it and how we handle the content you place in our products and services. It also explains the choices available to you regarding our use of your personal information and how you can access and update this information.

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Information We Collect

We collect personal data that you submit to us via our website or third-party tools including, for example, when applying for a job via our website or requesting support in relation to one of our services.
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We use Navigational Information to operate and improve the Websites. We may also use Navigational Information alone or in combination with Personal Information to provide you with personalized information about Orchestry.

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In addition to the uses identified elsewhere in this Privacy Policy, we may use your Personal Information to: (a) improve your browsing experience by personalizing the Websites; (b) send information to you which we think may be of interest to you by post, email, or other means; (c) send you marketing communications relating to our business.

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To exercise any of these rights, please contact us at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy. We will respond to your request to change, correct, or delete your information within a reasonable timeframe and notify you of the action we have taken.

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International Transfer of Information

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Corporate Events

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Log Files

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Clear Gifs (Web Beacons/Web Bugs)

We employ a software technology called clear gifs (a.k.a. Web Beacons/Web Bugs), that help us better manage the Website by informing us what content is effective. Clear gifs are tiny graphics with a unique identifier, similar in function to cookies, and are used to track the online movements of Web users.  In contrast to cookies, which are stored on a user’s computer hard drive, clear gifs are embedded invisibly on Web pages or in emails and are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. We use clear gifs in our HTML-based emails to let us know which emails have been opened by recipients.  This allows us to gauge the effectiveness of certain communications and the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns. We tie the information gathered by clear gifs in emails to our customers’ Personal Information. If you would like to opt-out of these emails, please see “Opting Out and Unsubscribing”.

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We partner with a third-party ad network to either display advertising on our Web site or to manage our advertising on other sites. Our ad network partner uses cookies and Web beacons to collect non-personal information about your activities on this and other Web sites to provide you targeted advertising based upon your interests.  If you wish to not have this information used for the purpose of serving you targeted ads, you may opt-out by clicking here: http://preferences.truste.com/ (or if located in the European Union, by clicking here: http://www.youronlinechoices.eu/). Please note this does not opt you out of being served advertising.  You will continue to receive generic ads.

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Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy or our treatment of the information you provide us, please write to us by email at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy.

Changes

We may amend this Privacy Policy from time to time. When there are changes to this Privacy Policy, we will update this page. The date on the bottom will always indicate when we last made changes.
Last Updated: July 28, 2020

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