Microsoft Office 365 forms the hub of many modern business’s workplaces. Whereas once Office was just the software we used for Word and Excel, it is now a core part of almost everything we do at work, including our file storage in Microsoft SharePoint and our communications in Microsoft Teams. While this has brought efficiency, it also makes protecting Microsoft 365 more important than ever before.
We are going to go over some of the basics of Microsoft Office 365 security and give you some tips you can implement today to make your workplace more secure. However, while these tips are a great starting point, if you are concerned about your security, you should consult with a managed IT services professional who specialises in cybersecurity.
1. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA), also called 2-factor authentication (2FA) is the process of using an extra piece of information to secure your account beyond the standard combination of username and password.
In order to get access to Microsoft Office 365, attackers frequently use user accounts. As a result, you will want to make sure such accounts are safe, even if the password has been hacked. Multi-factor authentication often takes the form of an additional code entered after the username and password have been entered. This code might be generated using a mobile app or sent directly to the user’s mobile phone via text. This means an attacker would need physical access to an employee’s phone even if they had already managed to gain their password and username.
Multi-factor authentication can help you maintain your security in the case of an attack. But they are no replacement for stringent password policies. You should still maintain a good password policy and prompt users to change their passwords regularly.
2. Train Your Employees
Humans are the weak link in almost any system. The more educated you staff are about the cybersecurity risks you face and the part they play in defending against them, the more invested they will be in doing things the right way. Training you staff on how to spot phishing emails and social engineering tactics used by attackers is vital. This training should be updated at least once a year too, as the tactics and methods used by attackers are constantly changing. If you do not feel confident in providing this training yourself, many managed IT providers can provide employee training and cybersecurity penetration testing to ensure your employees are up to speed on the latest threats and how to defend against them.
3. Use Admin Accounts For Admin Tasks Only
Administrative accounts will have higher access than regular user accounts. Unfortunately, this means that hackers and cyber crooks see these as valuable targets. Therefore, admin accounts should only be used for administration. Admins should have a non-administrative user accounts which they should use for everyday use, and they should only use their full administrative account when completing a task related to their job function.
4. Protect Yourself From Ransomware and Malware
Phishing is one of the most prevalent ways for attackers to get access to your systems. You will want to be sure that neither you nor your users click on any dangerous URLs that arrive in your Exchange Online inbox. Within Exchange Online, you can use an anti-malware feature. you can activate this in the Security & Compliance Centre under the mail policies section. In addition to this, mail flow rules can be used to prevent a hacker that has gained access from automatically forwarding email.
5. Take Advantage Of Microsoft’s Security & Compliance Centre
The Security & Compliance Centre is another useful feature provided by Microsoft. While no substitute for professional cybersecurity services from a managed IT services provider, the Security & Compliance Centre shows you several reports on a dashboard that can provide you with basic security audit information. There are even audit logging and user activity reports options for the Azure Active Directory.
Microsoft’s Threat Explorer is also an effective method to check how many attacks have occurred in your Microsoft Office 365 environment over time and get some vital information analytics about them.
Protect Your Office 365 Environment Today
If you were surprised to learn about any of the methods mentioned above, it is a good sign that your current 365 environment is not fully protected. While the steps above are important and you should implement them today if you are not doing so already, doing these steps alone will no mean you are “fully protected”. If you are still unsure about the security of your Microsoft Office 365 environment, we would recommend contracting a professional managed IT services provider which has experience with both Microsoft products and enterprise level cybersecurity.