Microsoft 365/ Office 365 is an essential and indispensable platform for many organizations and businesses. Ideally, it’s one of the world’s most widely used office productivity suites. Its versatility and effectiveness have made it popular with online hackers and cybercriminals as well. Fortunately, a Microsoft 365 tenant is fully equipped with several built-in features to prevent potential cyber threats.
Here are some practical ways to protect your Microsoft 365 platform. Ideally, a combination of these can increase your cloud security and your overall security score.
Encrypt Sensitive Data
To ensure that your sensitive information is securely protected at all times, consider implementing an encryption protocol on storage and communication mediums. This is especially crucial for health records, financial information, personnel information, and similar sensitive data handled by your business. The same is also essential for meeting the regulatory requirements, which are almost mandatory for every industry.
With Microsoft 365, you can take advantage of three easy to implement encryption tools:
- BitLocker: Enables encryption on endpoint storage level.
- Office 365 message encryption (OME): Enables your users to send protected emails outside your organizations.
- Organization to Organization TLS Encryption: Enforce security restrictions to mail exchanges with a partner organization or service provider.
- Use OneDrive and SharePoint: Microsoft 365 natively enforces TLS connections while working with files saved to OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online.
Ensure Threat Management with Microsoft Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)
ATP provides a wide range of suites to help organizations prevent, detect, investigate, and respond to threats such as email compromise and credentials phishing.
Some notable features of ATP “Now called Microsoft Defender for Office 365“:
- Safe Attachments: If enabled, Safe Attachments provides an additional layer of security by virtually opening and scanning every attachment received in real-near time before reaching the intended recipient.
- Safe Links: Similar to Safe Attachment but for inbound URL within an email. Safe Links scans and rewrites the URL within Office documents and email messages. Links can either be identified as blocked, malicious, or safe. For potentially malicious links, Safe Links redirects the user to a warning page instead of allowing them to access it directly.
- Awareness and Training: A neglected suite by many organizations using Office 365. With ATP Awareness and Training, organizations can detect, assess, and remediate social engineering risk across the organization with Attack Simulation Training.
Enable Conditional Access Through Azure Active Directory
Azure Active Directory enhances conditional access policies to boost Microsoft 365 security and safe access to services. You can develop a dependent access policy that locks out any user with a non-compliant device from using or accessing any of your Microsoft 365 tenant services. The security and control capabilities of Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) conditional access provide practical methods to help safeguard cloud resources.
For instance, multifactor authentication and similar conditional access policies can provide security against stolen or phished credentials and keep your overall organizational data safe. You may then consider creating a policy that requires that only certifications and devices listed in Microsoft Intune or a similar mobile device management system may be used in assessing your company’s sensitive information.
The conditional access policy will only authenticate a user who meets the access requirements. The conditions may include location, group membership, device platform, etc. At the same time, procedures may focus on various mobile apps, platforms, and browsers, including Windows 7 to 10, Mac Os, iOS, and Android devices.
Implement Mobile Device Management (MDM) Through Intune
Part of Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) suite. Intune integrates with Azure AD to enable organizations to manage corporate and personal devices, including mobile devices from a single dashboard.
Intune’s key features include:
- Safeguard your company’s information by controlling how your employees access and share it.
- Manage mobile devices used by your employees to access organization data (personal and corporate-owned).
- Ensure each of these devices, apps, and platforms is compliant with industry and company security regulations.
- Enforce conditional access policies so every user can abide by organization-based access policies, even if they are working remotely.
Protect your Data by Implementing Azure Information Protection
How do you protect hundreds or thousands of documents that include financial information, personal identifiable information, health records, or confidential company information? You discover, classify, protect, and monitor your data with Azure Information Protection.
Azure Information Protection allows you to discover and discover data based on content and sensitivity. Once discovered, you can begin to classify your data based on policies that meet your security requirements. Once classified and protected, your data remains protected regardless of where it’s stored or who it’s shared with.
Monitoring your data is easier with the Azure Information Protection analytics dashboard, where you can see details on information protection activities.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication and SSO
Protect users’ identity and streamline authentication by implementing MFA and Single Sign-on. Enabling MFA across for your users strengthens their identity security and your overall security posture. If your company has an Azure AD or On-premises Identity Federation premium package with Microsoft 365, you can configure Biometric, Smartcard, or a similar advanced MFA.
Deploying MFA across your organization requires planning and education. But it’s a must in today’s cyber threat landscape.
On the other hand, SSO provides a seamless authentication experience to your users by using the same set of credentials and security controls of your Office 365 to access cloud-based and on-premise.
Evaluate your Microsoft 365 Security with Security Score
The last security protocol to protect your financial institution from security threats and data breaches is using Microsoft Cloud Access Security (CASB). However, this may not be enough, especially if you want to rank your organization’s compliance ratings and security score. You can use Microsoft 365 Secure Score, which helps you understand your security position and gain deeper insights into the different controls that may apply to your business. It then helps you discover your overall position against your competitors.
To use this tool, visit Microsoft Secure Score. Locate and select the Secure Score widget, and include it in your Microsoft 365 Security and Compliance Center homepage. After logging in, you will see a Security Score based on your existing security controls.
This will be followed by a risk assessment and links to additional information detailing your current exposure levels. From there, you will find your maximum achievable points, be able to track your progress and evaluate your previous scores from your Microsoft Security and Compliance Center dashboard.