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Neglected Defences: Security With Office 365

June 10, 2020
Reading Time: 3 mins

Microsoft Office 365 has proven itself to be one of the foremost business-level office solutions in the world, regardless of industry. It’s a set of tools that companies and MSPs all over the world utilise and promote—but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and it definitely doesn’t mean that people have mastered and taken advantage of all of its features. Unfortunately, one of the most important aspects of IT management is neglected in most Office 365 implementations: cybersecurity.

Here in Australia we’ve seen a number of high-profile successful cyberattacks in the past few months; Toll Group suffered two attacks, BlueScope Steel was hit by an attack that forced them to shut down operations company-wide, and money management company MyBudget was hacked, causing a nationwide shutdown that left over 13,000 customers financially upset.

If companies of that size are able to be hacked, so can your organisation—you cannot assume that your standard firewall and antivirus combination will keep you safe.

This takes us back to Office 365, which has a variety of security features that many organisations are not aware of, and therefore do not utilise. With more and more organisations moving to Office 365, there are more and more people not optimising their environment or taking the next steps to protect themselves. When we consider the growth and staying power of remote work environments, it becomes an even higher priority.

A Case Study

In our years of experience, we’ve run into a few cases where a company adopts Office 365 out-of-the-box, and experiences some form of cybercrime that they thought they were safe from. In one case, there was a malicious actor that was automatically forwarding every email the employee received to their company’s competition—including sensitive personal and financial information. Office 365 has a security feature that can alert the user and/or administrator if company emails are being forwarded outside of the network, or if there’s other strange behaviour—but this feature is not enabled automatically. The victimized company in that case was being spied on for two weeks before they found out —not many companies come out of that with revenue and reputation intact. If they had looked into their cybersecurity options, and didn’t assume that Office 365 automatically secured everything, this could have been mitigated or avoided entirely.

Noteworthy Office 365 Security Features

Another form of security that Office 365 supports is “impossible travel detection”. In an impossible travel scenario, the system detects if logins are being attempted from different geographic locations in a timeframe that you couldn’t physically achieve. e.g. Login attempt in London, and after an hour it’s being attempted again from New York. This is impossible travel, and it’s a major indicator that someone is trying to hack your account. There are tools to detect those things and alert the proper individuals—but again, these are not automatically turned on. You need to set it up specifically.

While those tools (and others like them) are less known or understood, there is one security feature that almost everyone is aware of—and also isn’t activated out-of-the-box : Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). With MFA activated, users are required to validate their login attempt via another system—this could be a text message, a smartphone app, or token. While yes, MFA adds another step to every login, it also adds an impossible step to any hacker or social engineer that manages to get a hold of your password. If they don’t have both your password and your smartphone, they can’t get into your account to cause problems. Sensible recommends always implementing MFA.

Another major misconception and point of neglect with Office 365 is the assumption that data stored in OneDrive or other Cloud-based solutions are backed up. Microsoft only supplies a short term recycle bin. They do not supply backups at all: this is up to you to arrange. Just because you are working in the cloud does not mean your data is immune from accidental / intentional data loss or corruption.

So what can we do? Sensible is happy to work with you to improve your cloud defences and cybersecurity solutions, whether it involves an Office 365 subscription or not. We begin by discussing your current environment, and business, before auditing your company for security risks. Once we’ve audited your network and identified your weak points, we can work with you to improve. Whether there’s a certain cybersecurity benchmark you want to hit, or if you need to meet regulatory compliance criteria, we can help you get there.

If you’re interested, feel free to give us a call; we’re happy to lend our expertise to your organisation.

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