Office 365 Security Best Practices To Keep Your Data Safe

office 365 security

Microsoft Office 365 has grown popular among office-goers and businesses. Since it can be integrated with the cloud, it’s become possible to run the entire office suite in one place and access all of its applications on any device, as long as you have a stable internet connection.

The popularity of Office 365 has also made it vulnerable to cyberattacks. It’s become a target point for hackers that need access to your company’s confidential data. Sadly, there are many ways an attacker can use Office 365 to get unauthorized access to your network.

With the increased risk of cybersecurity attacks, IT specialists have discovered many advanced security protocols that can prevent data loss and ensure your overall organization’s security. Below we’ve compiled a list of security practices for Microsoft Office 365.

7 Security Tips for Microsoft Office 365 Users

1. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication is a dual-step identity verification process that’s used in most applications associated with a high-security risk. It requires the user to enter the code sent to their mobiles or email on the screen to get access to the Microsoft Suite. This step ensures safe and authorized access to Office 365.

Even if the attacker figures out your username and password, they won’t be able to log into your account without the second-step verification. For a Microsoft subscription plan, the MFA is automatically enabled. You can use the authentication app or an SMS (whatever suits your requirements).

2. Manage Permissions

The least privilege model should be applied to Microsoft Office 365 for better control and management. Only users that need access to specific applications must be allowed to use those apps.

Basically, you need to adjust the permission settings based on employees’ roles in your organization and the level of access they need to execute their routine tasks. For apps loaded with sensitive data, it’s best to let your IT service desk decide the access levels.

Remember that Office 365 admin accounts are the first and most common target of an attacker, as these accounts have the highest authority. It’s therefore advisable that an admin should pay special attention to their login credentials. They should use these accounts only when it’s absolutely necessary.

3. Educate Your Team

A common cause of security breaches in an organization is manual errors. Employees can be easily tricked into downloading an infected email attachment or clicking on malicious links.

Businesses need to spread awareness about security threats, the common causes of these breaches, and the latest tools used to attack private networks.

Keep your employees up-to-date with the advanced practices used in cybercrimes. They must be trained to report any suspicious activity to a higher authority to mitigate the risks of attacks.

Conducting training sessions can help ensure that your employees know the risk of cyberattacks and the ways to prevent them.

4. Enable Microsoft Defender

Microsoft Defender offers advanced security for collaborative apps that you’ve integrated with your Microsoft Suite. You can check these defender features and configure the ones that seem important for your organization’s security.
Examples include:

  • Anti-Phishing Policy: The AI-powered anti-phishing Microsoft Defender program is designed to detect malicious activities based on the user’s communication and work routine. It detects unusual activities, malicious emails, links, and anything that seems suspicious.
  • Anti-Malware: This defender checks all incoming and outgoing traffic for malware, including viruses. It also offers real-time protection against ransomware attacks.
  • Safe Attachments and Links: To mitigate the risk of attacks due to infected links and attachments, the Safe Attachment feature double-checks all files that have passed through the anti-malware test to ensure there’s no virus, spyware, or malware. It offers an extra layer of security.

You can use the Microsoft Defender Antivirus program – a free, downloadable service that offers ultimate protection from cyberattacks.

Activating link analysis is also highly recommended for organizations using Microsoft office 365. It scans these links for viruses and warns the user about the detected suspicious activity.

5. Use Cloud for Improved Security

Now that the entire Office suite is accessible on the cloud, you don’t have to share files manually over emails. Documents stored in OneDrive can be viewed by all authorized members.

You can also use Microsoft Teams for communication. It offers you a safe environment where all files can be shared securely among employees. Always check the default share settings and configure the permissions to a secure level.

6. A Robust Monitoring Plan

While the defender and an antivirus protection plan do most of the security work, it’s best to have your own monitoring policy for an added layer of protection. With every user joining and leaving the organization, you should reset the passwords to Microsoft Office accounts.

Delete the accounts of users that have resigned. You can establish a habit of changing passwords every 2-3 months for better security. Monitoring also includes checking the audit logs regularly. See who’s accessed Microsoft Office, what changes they made, and their access permission.

Tracking employees’ activity within your work environment is an important step in protecting your system against unauthorized access. You can set alerts, which are triggered when an unusual activity is detected in your system.

7. Monitor the Microsoft Secure Score

Microsoft Secure Score (MSS) gives you clear insights into your organization’s security, showing the security status.

You get the score with recommended actions to improve your overall security score. The score keeps changing when you make new updates, such as integrating a third-party solution with Microsoft Office or changing the permission level for your team.

Experts recommend that you maintain the 80% threshold for MSS. A score below 30% means your company is at a high risk of cyberattacks. To protect your organization from breaches, take suggested security actions.

Bottom Line

Malicious attacks put your organization’s security at risk and can lead to severe damage to your reputation and business function. Recovering your data after a cyberattack is challenging. So, it’s important to detect these threats in real time to protect your system from getting compromised. Hopefully, the above Microsoft Office 365 security practices can help keep your data safe.

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