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3 min read

How to Solve Microsoft Office 365 Security Challenges

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Microsoft Office 365 is one of the most popular collaborative tools used by businesses worldwide, thanks to its array of advanced features. Sold as a cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) product, Office 365 software is hugely cost-efficient. It provides multi-user access to crucial applications such as Outlook, Word, Excel, Teams, PowerPoint, SharePoint, and more. Microsoft regularly updates the software to allow businesses of all sizes to keep up with a changing digital world.

As with all cloud-based platforms and despite admirable efforts by Microsoft to keep users safe, Office 365 is not risk-free when it comes to security. To help you protect your data, reputation, and profits, we’ve listed some helpful tips for using Office 365 safely:

1. Train staff to identify suspicious activity

Email platforms have traditionally served as key pathways for hackers looking to launch phishing attacks and malware. However, as people become better at identifying suspicious emails, attackers are starting to exploit Office 365 features to encourage users to open malicious files and URLs. Applications connected to external networks such as Yammer and Skype, for example, are vulnerable to such exploitation.

To help avoid becoming the victim of a cyberattack, give your employees clear and comprehensive guidelines about how to identify suspicious files and where to store sensitive data. We recommend an ongoing Security Awareness Training plan. 

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2. Enable strong security settings in SharePoint

Many businesses use SharePoint to store and share data, some of which will include sensitive information about staff members or clients. If your organization uses Sharepoint, you must keep such information as safe as possible. To prevent data misuse and ensure you remain compliant with data privacy laws, ensure that encryption is enabled on your instance of SharePoint and set data restrictions using the administrator function. 

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3. Install Office 365 Cloud App Security

OneDrive – a convenient application allowing users to sync their on-premise files to the cloud – has been one of Office 365's most vulnerable features. It is all too easy for a file encrypted with malware to sync to a company's OneDrive without being detected if proper mitigation efforts are not maintained. If your reading this and wondering if you should still be using this feature, you should know that the problem isn’t specific to just OneDrive. Other cloud-based storage applications like Google Drive could potentially have the same issue. Fortunately, Microsoft has released a program known as Office 365 Cloud App Security (part of its Microsoft Cloud App Security package) that provides administrators with enhanced visibility and control of user activities. Ultimately, it helps IT teams hone their incident response efforts and reduces the possibility of a cyberattack. 

Learn more about getting a Private Cloud for your business. 

4. Identify and restrict dormant applications

Depending on the demands of your industry, there are likely some Office 365 applications you rarely use. You may, for example, use Word regularly but have little use for PowerPoint, teams, or any of the many add-ons in the Office Suite. If this is the case, it is a good idea to identify dormant (and, therefore, exploitable) applications. An administrator can alter your Office 365 settings to restrict access to these apps and prevent cybercriminals from abusing them.

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5. Call in the experts

As you can see, although Office 365 is one of the most sophisticated and useful business tools on the market. Like other software, it requires additional protections and particular settings adjustments to be rendered as safe as possible. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have further questions on implementing security measures that keep your organization and its data more secure. We can apply affordable security measures to your company's instance of Microsoft Office 365. Learn more about it here. 

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