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Microsoft 365 Security

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Enhancing Microsoft 365 Security | A Multi-Layered Approach

Despite the emergence and increase in popularity of cloud-based collaboration tools, email remains the primary enterprise communication and collaboration tool.

However, email is also a significant security threat to both private and public institutions. Furthermore, the email attack surface is still increasing as the threat of ransomware, spam, and malware rises.

As a result, Office365 has become the primary email security platform. However, despite its relative effectiveness, it is essential to find ways to enhance your email security. One of the most effective methods of achieving this is by adopting a multi-layered email security approach.

What Is Layered Email Security?

As the name suggests, a layered email security strategy uses multiple layers of security to protect your data. The idea is simple yet ingenious. By adding more layers, you make it more difficult for attackers to gain access to your system.

For instance, think of your emails as a building. Instead of depending solely on your guard for security, you can also add break-in alarms just in case burglars get past the guard. Since there are ways to beat break-in alarms, you can also add CCTV cameras, motion sensors, and separate locking systems for different zones.

How to Improve Office 365 email Security

Considering that email attacks in Australia are on the rise and the ramifications they bring, you cannot afford to leave your business exposed. Here are some measures to take as you implement layered Office 365 email security:

1. Setup Multi-Factor Authentication

Before accessing Office 365, employees have to verify their identity. In most cases, this only involves inputting their username and password.

Sadly, they may not be able to safeguard such credentials at all times. As a result, once a person with malicious intent gains such login details, they can access their account.

One of the most effective methods of addressing such risks and improving overall Office 365 security is enabling multifactor authentication. This allows you to add more security factors that each employee must satisfy to prove their identity and gain access. Depending on the level of security needed, such factors may include a unique and constantly changing code, fingerprint check, or retinal scan.

2. Use Data Encryption

Some of the data shared via email is sensitive. This includes contacts, payment details, invoices and other confidential data. If a cybercriminal gains access to such information, they will have the necessary leverage to extort you.

Even if they gain access to the email account, you can still prevent them from accessing such documents. Office 365 has an encryption feature with which you can set conditions for accessing information. This includes limiting who can view messages, setting a password for emails outside the company network, and restricting the ability to copy or print particular messages.

3. Manage Administrative Privileges

For each network or system, you will require administrators to manage certain aspects. As such, admin accounts have more privileges, making them a more appealing target to hackers. Should they access an admin account, the consequences will be more severe compared to regular user accounts.

One of the first steps you can take to limit such risks is to reduce the number of users with admin privileges. Considering that team members may regularly require access to certain features or information, use Privileged Identity Management. This will allow admins to grant them temporary admin status, thus minimizing exposure.

Along with this, your admins should also have separate user accounts they can use for day-to-day non-administrative tasks.

Restrict Legacy Authentication

As you adopt modern technologies and systems, it’s essential to do away with outdated ones that may be vulnerable to attacks. Included in this group are legacy authentication protocols such as IMAP, SMTP, MAPI, and POP that are outdated.

Since they are not compatible with MFA and other modern security protocols, they serve as an opening for cybercriminals.

1. Use Mobile Device Management (MDM)

As you secure your network and systems, it is important to appreciate that not all attacks will come directly. Since your employees may use personal devices such as phones, laptops, and tablets, to access company systems, they provide attackers with an easy entry point.

To protect your information when users lose their devices or unauthorized persons gain access to their devices, use the built-in Mobile Device Management feature. This will give you more control over which information users access and using personal devices and increase security.

2. Activate Unified Audit Log

Activating the Unified Audit Log (UAL) feature is one of the best ways to gain an overview and control over the activities taking place in different systems. The UAL is a logbook that indicates past and active sessions across Office 365 services such as email security system, Teams, and Azure Directory. Beyond the oversight capabilities, it allows you to reverse undesired actions.

3. Turn On Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

Phishing emails are one of the biggest cybersecurity threats that use malicious attachments and links to spread ransomware.

Whereas organizations train and sensitize employees to avoid clicking on suspicious links and attachments, humans are prone to errors. Therefore, rather than having employees discard such emails, you can prevent such malicious attachments and links from getting to them in the first place.

You can achieve this by turning on Advanced Threat Protection which will open emails in a virtual environment and check for malicious content before delivering it to the recipient.

4. Enable the ‘Report Message’ Feature

If a user receives a malicious email and manages to discern it as such and then discards it, your company remains at risk to some extent. This is because the email may be sent to other users, and it only takes one of them to click on malicious content for your data to be exposed.

This is why employees need to share information about such threats. Office 365 has the ‘Report Message’ add-in that makes it easy for users to report suspicious emails to the administrators. From there, the administrator can take the necessary steps to ensure the system is secure from that particular threat.

Take Action and Stay Secure

Office 365 comes with plenty of inbuilt security features. However, considering the evolving nature of cyber risks and the potential losses and reputation damage, you can’t be too safe. Along with adopting a multi-layered security approach for Microsoft 365, you should also consider bringing IT professionals on board to assist you.

Steadfast Solutions is a managed IT services firm that helps businesses in Brisbane and Perth secure their data from cyber attackers. Reach out to us today for IT support that will help secure your business and allow you to scale.