Microsoft 365 Security

Nathan Hill-Haimes

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    Microsoft 365 security

    Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) is a platform many businesses could not do without. It is considered the world's most prominent office productivity suite. However, this makes it a popular target for hackers as well. Let's take a look at the security features Microsoft has deployed to help keep your business safe from a wide range of security threats.

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    Does Microsoft Office 365 have security?

    Yes, Microsoft 365 (and therefore Microsoft Office 365) has a range of security features that can mitigate risk on all fronts. Your task is to learn how to properly configure and deploy those features and train your employees in best practices. Great security procedures will give you a robust defence for your sensitive business data. Experts will tell you that a layered security approach is the most effective way to reduce your risk. With this in mind, it can be helpful to work with a certified Microsoft Office 365 consultant to find your ideal solution.

    How do I secure my Microsoft Office 365 account?

    There is no simple answer to this question. It would be best if you found the most suitable combination of the following:

    Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

    Employees generally only have one way to verify their identity when they log into Office 365 - a username and password. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to ensure every single employee protects these details at all times. With MFA, you can help increase your organisation's security. It involves combining two factors - a password, a one-time-passcode, a fingerprint, facial recognition or retina scan - to verify an individual's identity. MFA protects against 'soft breaches' as hackers require more than just a password to access someone's account. The one-time-passcode (OTP) has become very popular for business and consumer apps, and Microsoft 365's built-in MFA option is a robust tool.

    Administrative privileges

    Admin accounts are big targets for hackers because they have more privileges. A breach of such an account can have serious consequences. Equip your admins with separate user accounts for non-administrative duties, and keep the number of admins to a minimum. Privileged Identity Management is a tool that helps you lower exposure by empowering you to assign temporary admin status to specific individuals. You can control precisely what information those users access and how long they keep their admin privileges.

    Data encryption

    A reliable encryption protocol ensures confidential storage and communication. If your company handles sensitive data like debit card numbers or health records, you will be subject to strict regulatory requirements. Microsoft 365 has several built-in encryption capabilities, including:
    • BitLocker
    • TLS Connections
    Each is meant for a specific purpose. You can also send encrypted emails to recipients outside the organisation.

    Mobile device management (MDM)

    Whether you operate a 'Bring Your Own Device' policy or not, your employees probably access company data on their phones, tablets or laptops. You can educate your employees on the risks, but you should still take steps to guard against malicious actors gaining access to these devices. Microsoft 365 has built-in MDM options. MDM options will give you more control and additional protection when employees access email and other things via their company-issued mobile devices.

    microsoft 365 security

    Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

    Many organisations are required to create and maintain a DLP policy for compliance reasons. A DLP policy will ensure sensitive information remains secure by monitoring confidential data and blocking users from sending it to anyone outside the company. Microsoft has supplied several templates to meet different regulatory and compliance standards. Alternatively, you can customise your policy.

    Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

    Phishing emails are a significant threat. They often spread ransomware through malicious links or attachments. Your employees should receive phishing prevention training, but things can still slip through the cracks. Advanced Threat Protection helps block these malicious links/attachments from ever arriving in your employees' inboxes. It does this by opening them in a virtual environment to monitor for malicious activity. Do you need virus protection with Microsoft Office 365? Depending on the Microsoft 365 license you have obtained, you will already have different antivirus and security features built into your system. Microsoft Defender Antivirus protects against software threats like viruses, spyware and malware. Office 365 also comes with antiphishing, antispam and antimalware protection. Using these two things together, you have a very robust antivirus infrastructure to protect your systems. However, it is possible to add further protection if you feel it is necessary. Consult with your IT team or a cybersecurity consultant to identify viable options that could be implemented successfully into your existing framework. Is Microsoft 365 cloud safe? The simple answer is: yes. If your data is stored on trusted cloud providers like Microsoft OneDrive or SharePoint, your information is safe. The cloud is designed to be a highly secure and protected space where your data can live, away from physical devices that are easier to access and hack. With the Microsoft 365 cloud, you get the following security benefits:
    • Data Encryption: your files are instantly encrypted when you hit the 'save' button.
    • Physical Protection - the data centres that operate the cloud are highly secure buildings.
    • Ease of Access - you can get into your files efficiently and share safely with colleagues in a protected environment.
    • Automatic Updates - you don't have to be responsible for updating the cloud with the latest security features as it all happens automatically.

    Conclusion Microsoft Office 365 has many security features to protect your business against a broader range of threats. Higher-level Microsoft 365 licenses offer more security features to reflect the needs of larger, more complex organisations. In any case, the key is to layer your security and ensure it addresses the most relevant threats your organisation faces. It is always wise to enlist the help of a cybersecurity expert to help you set up the necessary security features for your systems. If you don't have an in-house IT team with this expertise, you should look for a third-party consultant who can support you in getting everything in place. Once your security is set up, it is equally important to educate and train your employees in best practices to ensure nothing is compromised.

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