Microsoft Office 365 has become the standard-bearer for productivity, communications and collaboration among companies of all sizes. As usage of the cloud-based tool has grown, so too have the risks.
Office 365 is now the largest corporate cloud solution worldwide, with 56.3 percent of market share, distancing itself from Google’s G-Suite, the closest competitor. It’s also the leader among enterprise organizations, with 74 percent market share among businesses with 1,000 or more employees.
Why Is Microsoft Office 365 So Popular?
Microsoft Office 365 has become the standard-bearer for several reasons, including:
Access. The product allows for seamless access and collaboration across devices and locations. Users can connect to the apps wherever they are as long as they have an Internet connection.
Business Continuity. In the case of a natural disaster, the product allows users to work if physical locations are inaccessible.
Normalized Costs. With Office 365, there are no capital expenditures and project plans required when new versions come out. Instead, you’ll receive updates pushed automatically to each user via the cloud. Costs are predictable and charged to operating expenses via a monthly fee.
What Are the Risks to Using Microsoft Office 365?
While Office 365 has some of the most robust and enhanced security features available, no product is entirely risk-proof. As the product becomes more popular, it becomes a more significant target for hackers looking to exploit users.
One of the most common security threats with Microsoft Office 365 is related to the ability to log in via any computer, such as in a hotel business center or home desktop. This feature is becoming a frequent attack vector for hackers.
Hackers are using more sophisticated tools to con users out of their passwords. Phishing attacks, including those that appear to come from Office itself, can dupe unsuspecting employees into revealing login credentials. Hackers use the stolen credentials to access your files directly or sell them on the Dark Web.
File synchronization is another risk. Public cloud solutions allow for the synchronization of data stored on on-premises devices. However, if hackers install ransomware that encrypts on-premises OneDrive files, synchronization tools could encrypt that data in the cloud, too.
Another challenge for businesses is Microsoft’s data retention policies for Office 365. Companies need to know the terms of retention incorporated into their Office 365 license.
There are some basic retention features built into Microsoft Office 365. Files on deprovisioned users are retained for 90 days. Deleted emails are retained for 14 days; this may be extended to 30 days but no longer. OneDrive recycling bin files are retained for 93 days.
Some of the more advanced data retention tools, such as unlimited archiving, legal holds, data loss prevention and eDiscovery are only available on higher-tiered, enterprise plans.
Even if the data is retrievable, the process can be daunting. OneDrive, for example, is an all-or-nothing process. You need to restore the entire OneDrive drive. There is little to no capability to do granular file-level retrievals.
How Can I Stay Protected?
There are several steps businesses can take to keep their data protected while using Office 365.
Multifactor authentication is becoming increasingly common, especially for financial services applications and other tools that contain sensitive personal information. Two-factor authentication usually requires standard password credentials as a starting point — a single factor to authenticate.
Two-factor authentication demands a second means of verifying your identity. This second method may be via a smartphone app or texted code that’s entered into a website to confirm identity.
While Microsoft has a two-factor authentication tool that can be used, however, there have been reliability issues with that product.
More businesses are moving to two-factor authentication solutions for all its applications. In those situations, it makes sense to use an authentication solution that covers all business needs.
Businesses should also use rigorous password policies that require complex passwords and frequent changes.
Services that back up your cloud data are another valuable protection. At CSP, we partner with Datto to provide robust cloud backup solutions for our customers. Datto has several excellent features for Office 365:
Thrice-daily backups, including image-based and file-based backups of your Exchange, OneDrive and SharePoint environments
Point-in-time recovery of a complete snapshot or a granular file
Unlimited data backups
A one-year data retention policy
While spam and anti-virus filters are common, there are more complex security tools to consider in your email security, including:
Email routing and firewall rules
Imposter email threat protection
Internal mail defense
Choosing the Right Technology Partner
CSP provides a full range of managed IT and cloud services that help companies save time and money. Our Office 365 experts help you get the most out of your technology investment and leverage all of the capabilities of the Microsoft suite. To learn more about how CSP can help with your Office 365 or managed IT needs, contact us today.
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