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Making the most out of your Microsoft 365 apps requires you to adopt appropriate security measures.

Microsoft 365 is one of the best collaboration and productivity tools around. It provides users with seamless communication, scalability and supports remote work with various features. The security is also solid due to a wide array of defense mechanisms. 

But this doesn’t mean you’re impervious to cyberattacks. 

Data leakage, unauthorized access, and malware can still jeopardize your system and offer ideal entry points for hackers. Should your business fall victim, the consequences can be dire, ranging from operational disruptions to severe reputational damage. 

The only way to fend off hackers is to take your Microsoft 365 data protection to the next level. And this article will list the twelve most effective security measures to help shield your data in Microsoft 365.

Activate Multi-Factor Authentication

Microsoft 365 users have just one method of verifying their identity when using a username and password. Unfortunately, many people don’t follow robust password protocols. If you’re doing the same, you’re exposing your organization to intrusions. 

That’s where multi-factor authentication (MFA) comes into play. 

It can boost your Microsoft 365 security with one-time passphrases or other factors to verify user identity. Best of all, this measure is easy to apply. 

However, enabling MFA should only be your first step. The next one is to activate Security Defaults, a Microsoft feature that enforces MFA in each administrator account. 

Another great idea is to implement MFA in all accounts without administrator permissions. It’s because these accounts can still endanger services and apps in your ecosystem. 

Use Session Timeouts

Employees tend to fail to log out of their accounts and lock their mobile devices or computers. This can grant bad actors unlimited access to enterprise accounts, enabling them to compromise your data.

Incorporating session timeouts into internal networks and accounts automatically logs users out after a certain inactivity period. That means hackers can’t take over their devices and access sensitive information.

Refrain From Public Calendar Sharing

Calendar sharing enables your employees to synchronize and share schedules with colleagues. While this facilitates team collaboration, it can also give hackers insight into your operations and vulnerable users. 

Employ Advanced Threat Protection

Advanced threat protection (ATP) is a robust solution that recognizes and prevents advanced threats that usually bypass standard security measures like anti-virus or firewalls. 

It grants access to a database that receives real-time updates, allowing users to understand the threats and integrate the data into their analysis. 

ATP notifies you about attacks, the severity, and the method that stopped them, regardless of the source. It’s especially effective at preventing phishing. 

It relies on machine learning and a massive database of suspicious sites notorious for malware delivery or phishing attempts. 

Leverage Policy Alerts

Microsoft 365 lets you establish your policy notifications in the compliance center to meet your company’s security needs. For example, they send your employees tips on sending sensitive information whenever they’re about to send a message to a contact outside your network. 

These warnings can safeguard against data leaks while educating your team on safe data sharing methods. 

Secure Your Mobile Access

Your team often uses smartphones to access work email, contacts, documents, and calendars, especially if they work remotely. So, securing their devices should be your top priority when protecting data. 

The best way to do so is to install Microsoft 365 mobile management features. They can let you manage your security policy, permissions, restrictions, and wipe crucial information from stolen or lost devices.

Deactivate Legacy Protocol Authentication

It’s worth noting that legacy protocols don’t support several security features in Microsoft 365 that reduce the chances of intrusion, such as MFA. This can make them perfect gateways for adversaries who want to target your organization. 

That said, your best bet is to deactivate legacy protocols to mitigate risks. 

However, you may not want to disable legacy authentication if your team needs it for older email accounts. The good news is that you can still make your network safer by restricting access to users who don’t need this protocol. 

Integrate Role-Based Access Control

Access management is a convenient security feature that can limit the flow of confidential information across your business. It allows you to establish the users who can access data in your company. 

For instance, you can minimize data leaks by preventing rank-and-file team members from reading and editing executive-level files.

Rely on Unified Audit Log 

Unified audit log (UAL) includes logs from several Microsoft 365 services, such as Azure AD, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams. Enabling it can give the administrator insight into malicious activity and actions that violate organizational policies. 

You may also want to incorporate your logs into an existing SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tool. Doing so enables you to connect logs with current log monitoring and management solutions to reveal abnormal activity. Plus, it can improve the overall security of your Microsoft 365 suite. 

Encrypt Emails

Encrypting sensitive data is often the last resort when dealing with data breaches. But if cyber attackers access your emails, robust encryption tools can make them unreadable. That’s why email encryption is something worth looking into.

This feature is essential for Microsoft 365 users who share emails and files regularly. 

Backup Your Data

Microsoft’s role in protecting your data within Microsoft 365 is part of a shared-responsibility model. That is:

  1. They have physical security in their data centers
  2. They offer data storage replication and redundancy
  3. The core tenets of their security approach include guarantees of uptime and privacy controls
  4. They will protect you from natural disasters that affect their data centers, hardware or software failures on their part, power outages, operating system errors, etc.

You are responsible to protect your data from human error – whether that is due to malicious activity or innocuous accidents, misconfigured workflows, hackers, and viruses. Backing up your users and data is your responsibility and if you are not proactive about that, any help you get from Microsoft in times of crisis is minimal at best.

Train and Educate Your Employees

The above measures are undoubtedly effective, but they may amount to nothing if you leave your employees out of the picture. In fact, human error is the leading cause of most data breaches.

One of the best ways to prevent security breaches in your business is to schedule employee security training and education. It can raise their awareness of potential threats and guide them on how to address them. 

This is especially important when recruiting employees. Make sure they undergo in-depth security training before granting them access to sensitive data and organizational devices. 

Don’t Leave Your Business’s Data Protection to Chance 

Microsoft 365 offers intuitive and convenient tools for operating a business. The experience can be so smooth that you forget about protecting your data. 

You’re taking a huge gamble by not prioritizing Microsoft 365 security. It leaves your business open to attack. 

Applying the defense mechanisms mentioned above will dramatically decrease security threats to your business. 

Aggeris can help you further ensure your security when using Microsoft 365 apps. Contact us for a 10-15-minute chat. Let’s discuss how you can keep your Microsoft 365 tenant secure. 

Featured Image Credit | This Article has been sourced with Permission from The Technology Press.