Microsoft has expanded sharing by allowing users to share Power BI content via email. In a previous post, I discussed how sharing content within your organization should be handled carefully. However, the new process opens up the opportunity to share outside your organization by sending an email. In particular, you can now share with users who have a personal email address such as @outlook.com and @gmail.com. Let’s dig into the implications of this capability.
Sharing Using Email
First, you need to be aware that this functionality is as simple as the original methods of sharing. You click the Share button on your report or dashboard to open the Share dialog.
The Share report dialog in this case accepts email addresses which is not a significant change. However, as shown below, you can add personal emails and emails outside your organization. You be warned, but users do not always pay attention to this or understand the implications.
You will also notice that consumers need to still have a Power BI Pro account assigned to them or you need to be using Power BI Premium for this to work.
Following the Email Process
When you share, you usually will need to send an email to the recipient. Here is the email content.
Time to click the report link. This opens a series of dialogs which determine how much you have access. It is important to note that this is all made possible with Azure B2B. More about that in a moment. Let’s trace the story through. The link opens the following page.
As you can see, the next step is to log in. I am using an outlook.com account so it prompts me to authenticate. Once I have authenticated, I get the following notice.
My account does not have Power BI Pro, but now I can try it for free for 60 days and get access to the data while I am on the trial. I clicked both options, because I can. The Upgrade account option would require me to pay for Pro. However, Try Pro for free works and I was able to access the report fully. I have successfully shared my corporate content with a personal user.
Preventing Sharing Outside Your Organization
While in some cases, you need to share outside your organization, we will assume here you need to disable this functionality. There are a few places you can make this happen.
Power BI Admin Portal
First, in Power BI go to the Admin portal and disable sharing outside your organization. If you have followed my previous advice, this will already be disabled.
As you can see, this will disable content for users who have been shared with previously. If you need to share, you can specify groups that have that permission.
Office 365 Admin Center
Next, this can be turned off in the Office 365 Admin Center in the Security and privacy area.
This prevents the ability to add guest users to the organization. This will disable this capability across Office 365. There is no option to allow some users this access. Once this is disabled, sharing outside the organization which requires a guest user will not be possible.
Azure Active Directory
Finally, you can shut this down from Azure Active Directory. Guest users are ultimately managed through Azure Active Directory and this is the best place to turn this off corporately if you do not need this functionality.
In AAD you have four options.
- Guest users permissions are limited. This limits guest user capabilities with regard to the directory. Yes is the default and recommended.
- Admins and users in the guest inviter role can invite. This would be a typical option we can understand. However, it is important to note that Admin users in Power BI workspaces will have the ability to create guest users and share reports externally with this permission on.
- Members can invite. Just like it sounds. Any member of a group can invite guest users in.
- Guests can invite. This allows guests to invite other guests. Seems dangerous to me.
As you can see from my tenant, the options are all on which is the default. Be sure to understand what capability you want to use and set it appropriately within your tenant.
In the Office 365 logging, you can see who and what has been shared. This log covers internal and external shares and should be monitored for auditing and compliance purposes.
Azure B2B and the sharing capabilities in Power BI go hand in hand. This allows organizations to share content in a controlled fashion to consumers outside their organization. While this is required for certain scenarios, be mindful of who has the capability to share, and track sharing to make sure the data is being handled as you require.
Final Thoughts and References
You need to remember that sharing is at the heart of Power BI and you need to manage how and who can share. If you need to do more extensive sharing, by all means, use these features. For those, who need to lock it down tighter, you can follow the steps above to prevent sharing until you have a process and pattern. Power BI continues to improve and grow and as that happens we can expect more security options to support the new functionality. Enjoy Power BI, it is a great tool and will only continue to get better.