The role of intranets in a regulatory environment

A leaked memo or a data breach isn’t only an embarrassing mistake, but it can also be costly too. Whether it’s for compliance reasons, a matter of national security or a revelation about the internal workings of a secretive tech company, leaks and data breaches are every organisation’s worst nightmare.

With laws and standards designed to protect data, ensure privacy and maintain ethical practices, such as GDPR in Europe and HIPAA in the U.S., it can be hard to navigate through a myriad of regulations which dictate how sensitive information should be handled and shared.
Yet failure to comply with regulations that govern data protection, financial reporting, health and safety standards, or industry-specific guidelines can result in hefty fines, legal repercussions and damage to reputation.

Take for example British hotel chain Marriott International, which was one of the earliest companies to be hit with a fine of £18.4m for a GDPR data breach after exposing the personal details of about 300 million customers, including credit card information, passport numbers and dates of birth.

According to the BBC, it wasn’t alone. In fact, since the introduction of GDPR hundreds of millions of euros worth of fines have since been handed out to companies by information commissioners around Europe for such breaches.

So, as regulations become more complex and enforcement stricter, how can an intranet help you comply with legal standards, industry regulations and internal polices when you’re working in such a regulatory environment? Let’s take a look.

Central hub for compliance resources

An intranet can store all compliance-related materials such as legal documents, regulatory updates, policy manuals and compliance procedures so you can have a ‘single source of truth’, avoiding the pitfalls of misinformation and ensuring that all employees are working from the most current and accurate information.

Facilitating employee communication

Effective employee communication is the cornerstone of any successful compliance program. Whether it’s broadcasting updates on regulatory changes, sharing best practice or facilitating discussions on compliance challenges, with features like end-to-end encryption and role-based access controls, intranets offer a secure and efficient way to ensure that everyone is on the same page, contributing to a culture of compliance.

Streamlining document management

Managing the plethora of documents associated with compliance efforts can be overwhelming. Modern intranets offer sophisticated document management features, including lifecycle management, version control, access permissions and audit trails. These features ensure that only the most current and approved documents are in use and that there is a clear record of all compliance-related activities.

Training and development

One of the most significant challenges in maintaining compliance is ensuring that all employees are aware of and understand the relevant regulations and policies within your industry. The intranet can play host to a variety of training materials, such as e-learning modules to instructional videos, making it easier for employees to access and engage with this information.

Tracking and reporting

Compliance isn’t a one-time achievement but an ongoing process. Most modern intranets are equipped with tools to track compliance efforts, monitor progress and generate reports. These capabilities will help you identify areas of risk and demonstrate compliance to regulatory bodies.

10 ways to keep your intranet data secure

Implementing robust security measures from the outset can mitigate the risks of data breaches, unauthorised access and other cyber threats.

Here are practical tips for enhancing the security of your intranet:

1. Develop policies and protocols for how data is managed on your intranet. This includes protocols for data retention, deletion and archiving, ensuring they align with regulatory mandates. Remember, your intranet should facilitate compliance, not complicate it.

2. Use role-based access controls (RBAC) to ensure that employees can only access information relevant to their job functions. Implement strong password policies, multi-factor authentication (MFA) and regular reviews of access privileges to minimise the risk of unauthorised access.

3. Continuously monitor for suspicious activity. Look out for anomalies in user behaviour and unexpected data access patterns to trigger alerts for further investigation.

4. Conduct regular audits to help you stay compliant and identify potential vulnerabilities before they become issues. Identifying and addressing vulnerabilities proactively can prevent potential exploits.

5. Provide training sessions on the importance of compliance, data protection and secure communication practices. Make compliance training an integral part of your organisational culture. As they say, an informed team is a compliant team.

6. Educate employees on cybersecurity best practices for example, the importance of password security and how to recognise phishing attempts – as sadly many security breaches are a result of human error.

7. Implement network security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to monitor and control the traffic based on an applied set of security rules. These measures can help detect and prevent attacks on your intranet.

8. Encrypt sensitive data both in transit (as it moves across the network) and at rest (when stored on servers) to significantly enhance data security.

9. Regularly back up intranet data to secure, encrypted locations. Ensure that backups are also subject to rigorous access controls and can be restored quickly in case of data loss or a cyber-attack.

10. Continuously improve your intranet. The regulatory landscape is ever-changing and so should your intranet. Regular reviews and updates to your intranet’s functionality, security measures and compliance policies will help you keep pace with new regulations and evolving threats.

Why you can trust Fresh

Fresh, an intranet built on top of Microsoft 365, is a very good fit for regulated industries. ISO 27001 certified, all of Fresh’s data lives within your own environment. This means Fresh doesn’t have access to your data in Microsoft 365. By running essential backend features directly within your Microsoft Azure environment, Fresh adheres to the stringent security measures already established in your Microsoft ecosystem.

When you invest in an intranet solution for Microsoft 365 like Fresh, you benefit from Microsoft’s own substantial investments in cloud environment protection, spanning from data security to privacy. In fact, Fresh helps your SharePoint intranet become more secure, while helping you increase the value of your investment in Microsoft 365.


Working with clients in highly regulated environments such as the public sector, banks and insurance, we’re experts at overcoming the unique challenges you face. Find out how we helped TD Bank adopt Fresh in our recent case study.