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Ways to Secure Microsoft 365 Data

Megha Sharma
Megha Sharma Published On - 10 Jun 2020

A Microsoft 365 administrator should not be in any misconception that if the data is saved online, it is always safe. With the wide usage of digital technologies, there is an increase the volume of cybercrimes like hacking, phishing, spam attacks, etc. Even the cloud data is not spared by cyber criminals. However, Office 365 administrators can implement some security protection policies and prevent data breach from the organization.

With the Microsoft 365 security features and protection plans, it is quite convenient for administrators to protect data from data thefts and security breaches. We are going to learn about some methods recommended by Microsoft to secure Microsoft 365 data.

  • Provide Advanced Training
  • Implement Strong Password Policy
  • Use Multi-factor Authentication
  • Use Message Encryption
  • Manage Rights
  • Use Azure Active Directory Features
  • Use Data Loss Prevention
  • Manage Sharing Content
  • Use Device Management
  • Use Advanced Threat Protection
Provide Advanced Training

To build a secure Microsoft 365 environment free from external threats, it is quite essential to train the users to identify and handle phishing attacks, malware intrusions, etc. They should be well trained on protecting their user accounts and devices from hacking attempts by all means. Initiatives for this can be implemented under the guidance of a cyber-security expert.

Implement Strong Password Policy

Implementing a strong password policy for the Microsoft 365 accounts is important and ignoring this would be a stupid idea. A strong password policy should include actions like setting up an expiration date for the passwords (e.g. expiration after 90 days), avoiding repetition of passwords, using alpha-numeric-symbolic passwords and more.

Use Multi-factor Authentication

Microsoft 365 users can take advantage of the Multi-factor Authentication feature which restricts unwanted users or attackers from breaching into the organization via a single login attempt. Users can set-up the multi-factor authentication, known as 2-step authentication, by linking the Microsoft 365 account login to his phone number (In Microsoft 365 Admin Center, navigate to Users>Active Users>Multi-Factor Authentication) . So, whenever a user tries to login with the account credentials, he needs to provide a code received on the phone as a measure to secure the account.

Use Message Encryption

In Microsoft 365, users can take advantage of the message encryption facility. This encryption facility is works with Outlook.com, Yahoo, Gmail and more email services. It includes two options – Do not forward and Encrypt. Users can send an encrypted email via Outlook for PC (go to Options>Permission>Encrypt) and Outlook.com (go to Protect>Change Permissions>Encrypt) using the options available on the message interface. To receive an encrypted message, users need to click on link and provide required information to open it.

Manage Rights

Users can also assign custom policies to protect the sensitive and crucial data by mandating certain users the rights to access the files and documents. This security applied on the documents through Rights Management works even if the data is shared outside the organization which means the rights to access it goes to the authorized users only. Other facilities included in the service are offline access settings, document level policies, content expiration rules, etc.

Use Azure Active Directory Features

Using Azure Active Directory with the Microsoft 365 helps in managing it securely. It includes certain security settings which blocks any outsider attempts to access the data. Its best practices includes using remote management tools, clearing of unnecessary accounts, implementing password policies, keeping minimum privileges, using permission inheritance, having a disaster recovery plan, etc.

Use Data Loss Prevention

This service is available for Exchange and SharePoint Online and helps in preventing crucial data from being shared, uploaded or forwarded. Users can set policies to protect sensitive information. There is built-in reports feature using which one can have a track on the policies.

Manage Sharing Content

Administrators can manage the sharing of content inside and outside the organization through sites, calendar, Skype for Business, third-party applications, etc. by modifying sharing settings (enable/disable sharing) on the administrator portal. Administrators can make decision on their own and can enable or revoke the sharing rights based on the requirements.

Use Device Management

This feature can be used to protect Microsoft 365 data from the end user devices through facilities like conditional access, user level policies, ActiveSync (wiping device data if gets lost), and Microsoft Intune to manage devices (iOS, android or windows 10) from a single location. Microsoft Intune allows users to manage applications to share the data, deploy security compliance policies, etc. which applies specified policies on the devices directly when the user login to his work account using that device.

Use Advanced Threat Protection

Within the Security & Compliance Center of the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, there is Threat Management feature which allows users to set certain policies like ATP anti-phishing (protects users from phishing attacks and warns about potentially harmful messages) and ATP safe attachments (protects from malicious content in email attachments and files in SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams).

So, there are many ways to secure Microsoft 365 data owing to multiple security facilities provided by Microsoft.

Backup data with a professional tool

One more way to secure your Microsoft 365 data it to take backups in a secure format. We provide you the best option in the form of an efficient third-party tool to perform this. Try Kernel Office 365 backup tool to backup all your Microsoft 365 user mailboxes, public folders, shared mailboxes, archive mailboxes, and Microsoft 35 groups to Outlook PST file, and that too selectively. It provides certain filters to backup only the crucial data. This is one of the best tools for Microsoft 365 data backup!

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