Safeguarding Teams and Chat during a Pandemic

A WA Local Government Authority and an Australian private school with 1200 students have each turned to SafeGuard Cyber to manage security and compliance following a huge surge in Teams and social messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The City of Vincent in inner-city Perth implemented advanced digital risk protection with SafeGuard Cyber, helping adapt to a 24,670% increase in volume of Facebook messages amidst COVID-19.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, local government experienced severe disruptions. Council offices were closed to ensure social distancing, and there was an extraordinary surge in the number of messages directed at its Facebook page, as residents turned to new ways of seeking information and logging requests. 

Having received an average of 2.25 messages per month from November 2019 through February 2020, for the period March through May of 2020, the City of Vincent Facebook page received an average of 557.3 messages per month – an increase of 24,670%.

It was important to attend to every message, however, IT teams also needed to ensure that all Facebook interactions were being managed securely and complying with state record-keeping laws. 

The team handling Facebook messages had become overwhelmed by the unprecedented scale and velocity of messages. Fulfilling security requirements using previous, manual methods of digital risk protection was simply impossible.

Within official Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube channels, the council is now able to craft custom policies aimed at capturing potential compliance issues. The SafeGuard platform captures these issues instantly for review.

Through machine learning, compliance issues such as hate speech are automatically flagged for review. The platform’s security features also informed city employees compromised email credentials, giving them critical time to reset passwords.

Content passes seamlessly from the SafeGuard platform into the council’s existing Micro Focus Content Manager system, via an exclusive integration. 

“Social media is critical to engaging with the City of Vincent community. It is important that our social media interactions are managed securely, pass technical audit, and maintain State Record keeping compliance,” said Peter Ferguson, Executive Manager, Information and Communication Technology, City of Vincent.

“We chose SafeGuard Cyber to protect vital communications channels from unauthorised account changes, while ensuring automated compliance via an integration with our existing document management system. SafeGuard Cyber has streamlined our social media information security and governance. This outcome supports the growing use of modern communication platforms without the added operational overhead.” 

School’s In for Teams

Faced with the sudden disruption of the COVID-19 school closures, a large Australian private school was forced to rapidly transition to a virtual school environment. With staff and students isolated at home, Microsoft Teams became essential for keeping the virtual campus up and running.

The school needed to onboard students into a safe and secure virtual school environment, while adhering to strict record-keeping laws. The volume and velocity of messaging meant the school had no way to effectively monitor for cyberbullying, security threats, or ensure compliance.

In the first ten days, students and staff produced nearly 125,000 chat messages. The school had no way to prevent malicious content from migrating out of the Teams instance and into school networks. The school was unable to maintain the meticulous records required for legal recourse and conflict mediation. 

To solve these challenges, the school implemented cloud-scale defence with SafeGuard Cyber. Across its Microsoft Teams instance, the school gained the power to detect obscene language, hate speech, and stop malicious files like ransomware.

The SafeGuard Cyber platform began automatically flagging signs of digital harassment and cyberbullying, as well as potential compliance violations. Customizable policies meant the monitoring system could be adapted for regional slang, and the platformʼs language-agnostic machine-learning analytics empowered the school to protect students communicating in other languages.

Full conversation threads were now retained, providing evidence in case of future audits. 

In the first 10 days on Microsoft Teams, SafeGuard Cyber detected: 

  • 125,000 messages captured & archived;
  • 1,989 instances of inappropriate conduct;
  • 180 mentions of violent activity;
  • 74 references to drug use; and
  • 7 indications of malware attachments/links.


The school can now remediate threats in realtime, regardless of network or device.