Here’s Why Microsoft Office 365 Makes Data Security Easy

If you are a small or medium-size organization you may well be targeted by cyber criminals and hackers, use the guidance in this article to increase the security of your organization using Microsoft Office 365.

What is Office 365 security?

Weak passwords. Missed software updates. Dodgy links and attachments. They all have the power to let a hacker into your company and get away with lots of information and cash. That’s why data security has to be a vital issue for your business. Your size and industry don’t matter. If you exist, you’re a target for cybercriminals. While the methods above don’t seem technically complex, they’re all being exploited more commonly. Fortunately, modern IT software is constantly getting better at keeping businesses safe. Microsoft Office 365 has several features and credentials to prove it. We’ll be showing you some of those today, including:
  • Strong passwords by default
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Automatic software updates and data backups
  • Encryption for emails and documents
  • Advanced Threat Protection
  • Access control
  • Data usage
  • What happens if you unsubscribe
  • National Cyber Security Centre approval
We’ll look at these features one at a time, and explain them to you in a little more detail.

How Office 365 Keeps Data Safe

Strong Passwords by Default

A simple password is easy to remember. It’s also easy for a hacker to guess. And if you’re using that password in more than one place, you risk them getting access to all of your accounts. 81% of breaches can be linked to weak passwords, and 70% of people admit to reusing these. And the average cost of a breach in the UK is £2.5 million. Office 365 doesn’t let you use passwords it thinks are weak. Until it judges your password to be strong enough, it won’t let you onto any of its applications. You’ll have to change this password regularly too. Read More: The £2.5 Million Reason You Shouldn’t Reuse a Password

Two-factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) means you’ve got to have two pieces of information to prove who you are. This makes it harder for hackers to access your accounts, if they somehow get hold of your passwords. Let’s say you go to log-in to an account. You enter your username and password correctly, like normal. With 2FA switched on, you’ll have to show the account another piece of information. You may have to answer a security question which only you know the answer to. Or share a code that was sent to the email address or phone number you’ve linked with that account. On Office 365, you can turn on 2FA as an extra layer of security across many of its applications.

Automatic Software Updates and Data Backup

One way hackers make their way into companies, and out with large amounts of money, is by exploiting glitches in old versions of software. This infamously happened in 2017, when the NHS was hit by the Wannacry ransomware and had it’s IT systems brought to a standstill. That’s why it’s important to routinely update all the applications you have. Updates come with the latest security patches, so no one can exploit the weaknesses in previous versions. Data needs to be regularly backed up for similar reasons. With Office 365, you can set updates to your applications and data backups to happen automatically. So you don’t ever need to worry about forgetting to do this. You can set it so it happens in the background, and get on with your day. Read More: 3 Ways to Protect Your Business From Ransomware

Encryption for Emails and Documents

Encryption ensures nobody sees the information you’re sharing, except for the people you want to. It scrambles the contents of your emails and documents, locking it with a password. The only way to see the details is to know the password. In Office 365, you can make your own rules for encrypting emails and documents. You could make it so nobody on the outside of your business can read emails without a password. Or that files containing specific words and phrases are always jumbled. You can encrypt all of your Word, PowerPoint and Excel files so that nobody can see them without a password. We recommend encrypting everything by default. Encrypting a select few documents shows would-be hackers what’s actually valuable in your organisation, and what’s not important. Read More: How to Encrypt Your Office 365 Emails and Documents 

Advanced Threat Protection

If encryption doesn’t make you feel safe enough, you can go even further with Office 365’s Advanced Threat Protection. This is a cloud-based filtering service that protects your emails and documents from unknown malware and viruses. It works by scanning your files for malicious links in real-time. A couple of its really great features include its spoof intelligence and anti-phishing capabilities. Hackers have learned to mimic emails from within organisations. In successful cases, they’ve gotten away with this and gone unnoticed for several months. Advanced Threat Protection can help to stop that from happening. Read more: 5 Ways to Boost IT Security with Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection 

Access Control

For whatever reason, you may feel not everyone within your organisation should be able to see every document it has. These might not be relevant to them, or they may contain news you’re not ready to share yet. You can use Office 365 to set who sees what in communal applications like SharePoint and OneDrive. This can help you to prevent data leaks from the inside of your business. In the event that something does get out, you can see who had access to the document and at what time. So you can narrow down your search in finding the person responsible for the leak.

Data Usage

On sites like Facebook and Google, the data you input is often used for advertising purposes. Sometimes this can be a nice reminder of a thing you were looking for. At other times, it can feel intrusive. No such thing happens on Office 365. None of the data you put here is sold off to advertisers. It’s only ever used to make improvements to the service, and never in a way that’s invasive. They won’t access any of your files without getting your permission first.

What Happens if You Unsubscribe

With so many businesses using Office 365, you may feel like you should too. But just because something works them, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. If you decide to unsubscribe, you probably wouldn’t want your data to stay here. And it won’t. Microsoft will give you a 90-day window to clear all of your data from their services. That should give you ample time to get out and onto another platform.

National Cyber Security Centre Approval

The Government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) shares advice for businesses who’re looking to use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. It aims to help them understand the benefits and risks of working with these. Applications are held against a set of criteria, and the NCSC judges how well software meets this. Office 365 checks it all. So it’s good to know it meets the rigorous standards set by the Government.

You Can’t Get Much Safer than Office 365

Today, hackers don’t need a lot of technical smarts in order to penetrate a business and steal sensitive data. All it takes is a weak password, a missed update or a dodgy link, and they’ve got an easy way into your organisation. Luckily, applications are getting better at blocking out security violators all the time. Office 365 comes with a host of features that can keep your business safe. Just a few of these features include:
  • Asking you for strong passwords
  • Using two-factor authentication
  • Automatic software updates and data backups
  • Encryption for emails and documents
  • Advanced Threat Protection
  • Controlling who sees what
  • How data is used
  • What happens when you unsubscribe
  • Approval from the National Cyber Security Centre
For more how much office 365 costs, information on how it can keep your business safe, do get in touch.