The Hidden Security Risks of Microsoft Office 365

With a growing remote workforce, many organisations are turning to digital tools to keep their teams connected and productive, and Microsoft Office 365 consistently emerges as one of the top choices. While you’ll most likely benefit from Office 365’s cloud-collaboration capabilities, you’ll most likely want to take a deeper look at the security implications and risks associated with Microsoft’s popular Office suite. 

 

Cyberattacks are on the rise, and new cybersecurity risks are emerging every day due to the unprecedented ways companies are responding to a rapidly changing business landscape. While Microsoft does offer robust, built-in security tools, you do need to know how to properly configure these measures for your business, whilst also identifying security gaps. 

 

To help you stay secure, we’re sharing some of the common misconceptions about Microsoft Office 365’s security and the steps you can take to protect your data, stay compliant and strengthen your security defences.

Why Email Security is Crucial

It’s no surprise that more than 90% of cyberattacks start with email. From phishing attacks and business email compromise to malware and ransomware, email has made it easier for cybercriminals to exploit the human factor and effectively steal sensitive and confidential information.

 

Cybercriminals know that email is a business’s most-used communication tool, and email attacks are rather easy and cheap to deploy. Not only are email addresses easy to obtain, but emails are also virtually free to send. With few resources, hackers can effectively gain access to a treasure trove of confidential  information. The average cost of a data breach now stands at a staggering £3 million – a potentially devastating amount for small and medium-sized businesses. 

 

So, what does this all have to do with your Microsoft Office 365 instance? At the heart of Office 365 is Microsoft Exchange Online Email, which comes with some built-in security features – but not enough to protect your organisation in case of a breach.

Securing Microsoft Office 365

First things first, while protecting O365 is a priority, it doesn’t happen in a silo. An effective email security solution should seamlessly integrate with your entire cybersecurity ecosystem – from your firewall to your security management platform. 

However, one of the most common misconceptions about Office 365 is that Microsoft is responsible for securing your data. While it’s true that Microsoft does have policies for basic data retention and infrastructure security, businesses themselves are responsible for the security, privacy, compliance, backup and recovery of their data. It’s a fact of which many organisations aren’t necessarily aware. According to IDC research from 2019, 6 out of 10 businesses using Office 365 don’t have a data protection plan in place for their Office 365 data and simply rely on Microsoft’s native capabilities. 

To property protect your Office 365 data, it’s crucial to have a third party backup and recovery solution. Even Microsoft agrees in their Services Agreement. Implementing a third-party backup and recovery solution, like Assured Data Protection, can help you avoid an email data disaster by providing protection for:

  • Accidental deletion: If you delete a user, whether you meant to or not, that deletion is replicated across the network. Having a robust and reliable backup solution means that you can restore that user quickly, either to on-premises Exchange or Office 365 with minimal disruption.

  • Security threats: Mitigate the risk of critical data being lost or destroyed with regular backups of your Office 365 data, and recover quickly from data loss events.

  • Service provider outages: If Microsoft were to go offline, you would lose access to your data. However, having an external backup would make it easy and quick to get back up and running.

  • Legal and compliance: Microsoft’s standard retention periods alone may not be enough to meet compliance requirements. Having a third party backup and archiving solution for O365 means you will be able to set your own retention policies protecting your business from costly fines and reputational damage.

  • Retention policies: Office 365 has a limited standard retention policy of 30 days. However, most businesses need to be able to access data for much further back to comply with compliance and business requirements. Opting for a third-party backup and recovery solution means your data can be recovered on a more granular level. 

As the threat of email attacks continues to grow, having a comprehensive solution that allows you to recover, archive and protect your critical Office 365 data is an essential element of your overall data protection strategy.

If you’re looking for an Office 365 backup solution for your business, get in touch with our team to discuss your options or register for our free Email Risk Assessment to better understand where your vulnerabilities lie. 

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