Texting employees? Think twice!

The path of least resistance can cost you dearly.

Managers to their employees, employees to employees, they are all texting each other as an internal communication method. Why? As in our personal lives, texting is a quick, effortless way to communicate. It is a path of least resistance due to convenience and widespread adoption – but this path can cost you. How so you say? Read on…

Let’s look at a recent headline from The Seattle Times:

“Seattle to pay $2.3 million to employees who blew whistle on Durkan’s deleted texts.”

The article goes on to say that this is in addition to the already logged $770,000 in payments to other contracted attorneys. This can happen to any city or business!

Why did Seattle have to pay ~$3 million dollars…. What is the root cause? I would argue that if these missing texts were from internal communication, it is because employees were texting each other in an unsecure, extremely difficult-to-enforce compliance platform of native iOS/Android messaging apps. Employees who were responsible for helping the city comply with public records laws were “routinely subjected to scorn, ridicule, abuse, and hostility” when highlighting the fact that the mayor had thousands of text messages deleted. These texts, if recoverable, may have highlighted important social events and key decisions happening during the time.

What technology problems did the city of Seattle face (assuming internal communication), that you may be facing as well?

  • Compliance – They had a policy written on paper, but was there a way to enforce such a policy in the real world where mobile devices are ubiquitous with the workforce?
  • Data Loss Prevention – The contents of these text messages are unknown, but did they contain information sensitive to business?
  • Encryption – SMS messages are not encrypted and can be intercepted by outside parties. What data could be stolen in these information exchanges?
  • Reporting – Cellular carriers can provide details on how many SMS messages were sent from a device but what if that device isn’t on a company account? What if the devices were both Apple or both Android? Do you have access to insight?

How could the city of Seattle (or your business) overcome internal communication challenges presented by SMS texting?


  • Ban all messaging on mobile devices – NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Messaging is a useful form of communication, and you will not be able to stop it.
  • Standardize on Google or Apple devices – NOT GOING TO HELP. You may be able to do that for company owned devices but for personally owned devices? There is just no way.
  • Go 3rd party platform – Slack for Business is an option but to help rid yourself of compliance and DLP woes (to name a few) you are looking at the Enterprise plan which cost’s more than the Business Plan advertised at $12.50/user/month. DO YOU WANT TO PAY THAT?
  • GO MICROSOFT! – With another victory in the ‘Do More with Less’ effort, Microsoft Teams is available and you may be paying for it as part of your overall Microsoft licensing landscape.

Microsoft Teams FAQ for this challenge:

  • Is Microsoft Teams available on mobile devices? Yes – for both iOS and Android
  • How does Microsoft Teams help with compliance and data loss prevention? Microsoft Purview helps you know your data, protect your data, prevent data loss, and govern your data. Translate that to Microsoft giving you the tools to eradicate the ‘text messages for an important event are gone even though we had a paper policy’ issue.
  • Is Microsoft Teams data encrypted? Yes - Teams enforces team-wide and organization-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Azure Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest. Files are stored in SharePoint and are backed by SharePoint encryption. Notes are stored in OneNote and are backed by OneNote encryption.
  • How does this stop the use of SMS? Employees do not have to give out their mobile phone numbers. The employee uses their company identity (typically a company provided email address) to sign into Teams. Employee communication happens with company identities, not personal phone numbers.

The following figure indicates the ingestion flow of Teams data to both Exchange and SharePoint for Teams Files and Messages.

While it is difficult to stop this from happening for external communication and I use this particular lawsuit as an example not knowing if it stemmed from external or internal exchanges, Microsoft can greatly help with that latter. Do not text and drive and now you know not to text at work either. Use the right tools with the power of Microsoft to do more with less. FMT can help you make the right decisions to help you know your data, protect your data, prevent data loss, and govern your data across devices - wherever they may be in use. Your communication path can be better and not cost you – FMT knows what to do so reach out!

 FMT Consultants, LLC.
Privacy Policy

Contact Us


Newsletter Sign-up

menu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram