Microsoft 365 is Microsoft's proprietary productivity, collaboration and cloud-based services software, one of the most popular suites in the cloud-based tools and services sector, used by businesses of all sizes.. While it offers robust security measures, the evolving cyberthreat landscape continuously puts Microsoft 365 users at risk. In turn, Microsoft is constantly looking for ways to address security issues and proactively plan modern solutions to better protect your IT environment and data in the midst of a relentlessly changing industry. Here we'll discuss Microsoft 365 security risks and best practices in those scenarios for keeping your environment protected.
Infected file synchronization
Like most cloud services, Microsoft 365 allows users to automatically sync files stored on their devices to the cloud, such as in OneDrive. This useful feature, however, is not without security risks. If a locally stored file is infected with malware, OneDrive, upon triggering a standard sync, would upload the file to the OneDrive cloud with the infection going undetected. This would then open up the door for the potential transfer of the malicious content to device's beyond the originally targeted machine.
Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps is a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) and a great tool against malware infection. This is the successor adaptation of the comprehensive security and compliance solution, Microsoft Cloud App Security. Part of Microsoft 365 Defender, this app is designed to enhance protections for Office 365 apps. It also provides great visibility into user activity to improve incident response efforts. Reviewing your organizations licensing and security options with your security administrators is highly encouraged to verify cyber risks are to be properly detected and mitigated as they arise. This is an example of the various tools used by Beringer Technology Group to secure an Microsoft 365 environment.
Security risks in dormant applications/Scenarios
Not all organizations use every Microsoft 365 tool and service offered in the productivity suite. For instance, your organization might use programs like Word, Excel, and SharePoint every day, but rarely use OneDrive. This is noteworthy as dormant applications may be prone to attack all the same. To counter this, it’s crucial to identify unused applications and have an administrator adjust user settings to restrict availability on these apps. Applications often times open ports to the internet and if not being used or properly locked down, exposes the company to unnecessary risks.
Unprotected communication channels
Phishing attacks and malware are two of the most common ways cybercriminals infiltrate a system, but there are other paths of attack that you may not be aware of. Microsoft 365 applications like Microsoft Teams, which can connect to external networks, may serve as a medium for ransomware and other types of cyberattacks.
To fight against such threats, constant, up-to-date training on identifying potentially malicious files and links are highly recommended. As the cybersecurity landscape is ever-evolving, so should ones educational path in the matter.
Businesses typically use SharePoint to store sensitive information like personally identifiable data, so failing to secure SharePoint content against unauthorized users would be a massive oversight that can expose your businesses' sensitive data to cyberthreats. This can be disastrous for companies that are required to comply with thorough data privacy and protection regulations. Failure to comply may result in serious consequences not only for businesses but their customers as well. SharePoint encounters similar functionality to Teams in that company data access permissions can be given to external users.
Providing any access to external parties or vendors should always be handled meticulously. To prevent threats in this scenario, actions such as limiting administrator-level privileges and enabling encryption are highly recommended. Moreover, set the necessary security restrictions per user for every application. Saved credentials through unverified, improperly secured means are a common threat seen on a daily basis to this day. Although the right systems might be in place, it is critical users are trained on the most secure procedures when saving files, credentials, etc... These small adjustments noted ensure that users and hackers who get a hold of user credentials cannot exploit or misuse privileges.
Microsoft 365 provides a powerful and convenient tool for businesses. The tips provided are but a few of many security implementations that can be applied in an environment for better security. However, no one solution alone will be able to provide full security. Security is a collaborative effort between all staff albeit an end-user or an IT Administrator, and must be constantly refined.
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Beringer Technology Group, a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and CRM for Distribution also provides expert Managed IT Services, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Cloud Based Computing, Email Security Implementation and Training, Unified Communication Solutions, and Cybersecurity Risk Assessment.