By Ntiva Editorial Team on Feb 20, 2018

6 Tips to Improve Microsoft Office 365 Security

Office 365 is an indispensable tool for many businesses. But here's what you need to know when it comes to protecting your Office 365 data!

Ebook: Defending Your Office 365 Data - 5 Threats That Microsoft Can't Defend Against, But You Can!

The widespread concerns about cybersecurity and software's cloud-based nature (such as Office 365) mean companies need to be hyper-vigilant about keeping their sensitive data from prying eyes.

The “Bring Your Own Device” trend in the workplace also comes with its own set of security issues, especially for businesses that handle sensitive data or need to comply with industry security standards.

If you have Office 365, here’s what you can do to beef up your cybersecurity:

1. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Typically users have one way to verify their identity when logging into Office 365 – namely a password associated with an email or username.

However, you can’t expect all your employees to be diligent about safeguarding their passwords at all times.

MFA combines two or more factors – e.g., a password, a code (sent via SMS or a dongle,) a fingerprint, or a retinal scan – to verify a person’s identity and protect your system against “soft breaches.”

That means even if a criminal is able to get your password, they can’t access your account without the other verification method(s).

For most companies, the basic built-in option in Office 365 can provide the necessary protection. It allows you to activate MFA at the user level, which offers several different options for the second verification method.

2. Data Encryption

To ensure the security of sensitive information either at rest or during transit, you need to implement an encryption protocol that ensures confidential storage and communication.

This is particularly important if your company handles information such as credit card information, social security numbers, and/or health records.

Office 365 offers several encryption capabilities by default: BitLocker for files saved on Windows computer and TLS connections for files on OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online.

In addition, you can send encrypted messages to recipients outside of the organization with Office 365.

They can access the messages by signing in with a Microsoft account, using an Office 365 account, or entering a one-time passcode.

3. Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Whether you have a “Bring Your Own Device” policy or not, your employees are likely to be accessing company data with their phones or tablets.

Even though you can provide the necessary education to employees, you still need to guard against scenarios such as lost devices or someone other than the employee gaining access to the devices.

Office 365 offers a built-in MDM option, which works well for employees accessing email via their company-issued mobile devices.

If employees are using their own devices or using applications besides email, Microsoft Intune will give you more control and offer additional protection.

4. Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

DLP ensures that sensitive information stays within your organization by monitoring confidential data and preventing users from sending the data to anyone outside of your company.

You can either use one of the existing templates that meet regulatory and compliance needs (e.g., HIPAA) or customize your own policy to specify the location of data and type of information to be protected.

With DLP, you can identify confidential information across many locations (e.g., Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business), prevent accidental sharing of such information, monitor and protect sensitive files in the desktop versions of Excel 2016, PowerPoint 2016, and Word 2016, train employees to stay compliant without interrupting their workflow, and view reports specific to your DLP policies.

5. Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

One of the biggest cybersecurity threats is ransomware, which is spread via malicious links and email attachments.

Although you can offer employees training and education so they don’t click on suspicious links or attachments, you can’t rely on everyone being vigilant at all times.

It takes only one employee to click on one malicious link to cause irreparable damage to your sensitive data – and your reputation.

Advanced Threat Protection helps prevent these links and attachments from getting into your employees’ inboxes in the first place by opening the them in a virtual environment to check for malicious activity before delivering the emails to the recipients.

6. Privileged Identity Management

When the accounts of users with admin privileges are breached, the consequence is often more serious.

Restricting the number of users with admin access can help lower your risks. However, there are times when certain employees need limited-time admin access for certain tasks.

Privileged Identity Management allows you to lower exposure and minimize risks by giving you the ability to assign temporary admin status to specific users.

You can control access based on the information each user needs and the length of time they require admin privileges.

Ready To Beef Up Your Office 365 Security?

There are many options when it comes to Office 365 security. To make sure you’re implementing the right measures, you need an effective IT security strategy.

Request your complimentary IT security consultation here:

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