Making the most 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 11 most effective security measures to help shield your data in Microsoft 365.
THE 11 EFFECTIVE SECURITY MEASURES
SECURITY MEASURE #1 - 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.
SECURITY MEASURE #2 - USE SESSION TIMEOUTS
Many employees fail to log out of their accounts and lock their mobile devices or computers. This can grant hackers 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.
SECURITY MEASURE #3 - 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.
For example, if your security administrator is on vacation and this information is publicly available, attackers can use this window to launch malware.
SECURITY MEASURE #4 - EMPLOY ADVANCED THREAT PROTECTION
Advanced threat protection (ATP) is a robust solution that recognizes and prevents advanced threats that usually bypass antivirus and firewall defences.
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.
SECURITY MEASURE #5 - LEVERAGE POLICY ALERTS
Microsoft 365 lets you establish your policy notifications in the compliance centre 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.
SECURITY MEASURE #6 - 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.
SECURITY MEASURE #7 - 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.
SECURITY MEASURE #8 - INTEGRATE ROLE-BASED ACCESS CONTROL
Access management is a convenient security feature that can limit the flow of private 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.
SECURITY MEASURE #9 - 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.
SECURITY MEASURE #10 - 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.
SECURITY MEASURE #11 - 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’ DATA PROTECTION TO CHANCE
Microsoft 365 offers a bunch of intuitive and convenient tools. The experience can be so smooth that you may even forget about protecting your data.
However, you're taking a huge gamble in doing so, as it leaves your system open for hackers.
With that in mind, applying the defence mechanisms mentioned in this article will dramatically decrease security threats to your business.
We are more than happy to help you further to ensure your security when using Microsoft 365 apps. We are more than happy to take a look at your entire Microsoft 365 setup or even if it's just one point on here that you would like to action, feel free to contact us for us to see how we can assist.
Stolen login credentials are a hot commodity on the Dark Web. There’s a price for every type of account from online banking to social media. For example, hacked social media accounts will go for between $30 to $80 each.
The rise in reliance on cloud services has caused a big increase in breached cloud accounts. Compromised login credentials are now the #1 cause of data breaches globally, according to IBM Security’s latest Cost of a Data Breach Report.
Having either a personal or business cloud account compromised can be very costly. It can lead to a ransomware infection, compliance breach, identity theft, and more.
To make matters more challenging, users are still adopting bad password habits that make it all too easy for criminals. For example:
USE MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION (MFA)
Here at Ashgates IT we always insist setting this up as multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the best method there is to protect cloud accounts. While not a failsafe, it is proven to prevent approximately 99.9% of fraudulent sign-in attempts, according to a study cited by Microsoft.
When you add the second requirement to a login, which is generally to input a code that is sent to your phone, you significantly increase account security. In most cases, a hacker is not going to have access to your phone or another device that receives the MFA code, thus they won’t be able to get past this step.
The brief inconvenience of using that additional step when you log into your accounts is more than worth it for the bump in security.
USE A PASSWORD MANAGER FOR SECURE STORAGE
One way that criminals get their hands on user passwords easily is when users store them in unsecured ways. Such as in an unprotected Word or Excel document or the contact application on their PC or phone.
Using a password manager provides you with a convenient place to store all your passwords that is also encrypted and secured. Plus, you only need to remember one strong master password to access all the others.
Password managers can also autofill all your passwords in many different types of browsers, making it a convenient way to access your passwords securely across devices.
REVIEW/ADJUST PRIVACY & SECURITY SETTINGS
Have you taken time to look at the security settings in your cloud tools? One of the common causes of cloud account breaches is misconfiguration. This is when security settings are not properly set to protect an account.
You don’t want to just leave SaaS security settings at defaults, as these may not be protective enough. Review and adjust cloud application security settings to ensure your account is properly safeguarded.
USE LEAKED PASSWORD ALERTS IN YOUR BROWSER
You can have impeccable password security on your end, yet still have your passwords compromised. This can happen when a retailer or cloud service you use has their master database of usernames and passwords exposed and the data stolen.
When this happens, those leaked passwords can quickly end up for sale on the Dark Web without you even knowing it.
Due to this being such a prevalent problem, browsers like Chrome and Edge have had leaked password alert capabilities added. Any passwords that you save in the browser will be monitored, and if found to be leaked, you’ll see an alert when you use it.
Look for this in the password area of your browser, as you may have to enable it. This can help you know as soon as possible about a leaked password, so you can change it.
DON’T ENTER PASSWORDS WHEN ON A PUBLIC WI-FI
Whenever you’re on public Wi-Fi, you should assume that your traffic is being monitored. Hackers like to hang out on public hot spots in airports, restaurants, coffee shops, and other places so they can gather sensitive data, such as login passwords.
You should never enter a password, credit card number, or other sensitive information when you are connected to public Wi-Fi. You should either switch off Wi-Fi and use your phone’s wireless carrier connection or use a virtual private network (VPN) app, which encrypts the connection.
USE GOOD DEVICE SECURITY
If an attacker manages to breach your device using malware, they can often breach your accounts without a password needed. Just think about how many apps on your devices you can open and already be logged in to.
To prevent an online account breach that happens through one of your devices, make sure you have strong device security. Best practices include:
LOOKING FOR PASSWORD & CLOUD ACCOUNT SECURITY SOLUTIONS?
Don’t leave your online accounts at risk. If you would like a free review of your online security then we are able to offer solutions to all the points mentioned, please feel free to contact us.
Purchasing a new computer is a big investment. Many small businesses and home PC owners end up struggling with older systems because they want to get as many years out of them as possible.
Have you found yourself banging on your keyboard in frustration? Have you tried every tip and trick you found online, only to still struggle with a slow PC?
There are some promising upgrades you can do that will cost much less than the price of a new computer, while giving your PC the boost it needs.
Here are some of the options you can try to improve the performance of an older computer.
UPGRADE TO A SOLID-STATE DRIVE (SSD)
Prices for solid-state drives have come down quite a bit in the past few years, making them an affordable upgrade that can breathe life back into an older PC that might be slowing down.
Unlike hard disk drives (HDDs), SSDs do not have any moving parts and use a flash memory that allows for a quicker response time. You can improve your time to boot and your experience when searching files, opening applications, and other activities.
Some of the advantages of upgrading your computer’s hard drive to SSD include:
INCREASE THE RAM (MEMORY)
One upgrade that is very low-cost and can mean a significant increase in performance is a memory upgrade. If your PC was one of the cheaper ones that only had 4GB of RAM when you bought it, you likely have trouble opening too many tabs in your browser or using any graphics-heavy program.
Upgrading your RAM, if your PC has available memory slots, to 8GB or 16GB can make it seem like you have an entirely new computer due to the big increase in speed.
UPGRADE THE GRAPHICS CARD
If you play computer games or work in any type of video, imaging, or 3D software, an outdated graphics card can ruin your experience.
Instead of replacing your entire computer, just upgrading the graphics card to a more robust model can improve your PC’s performance and give you a few more useful years from it.
CLEAN YOUR PC COOLING SYSTEM
Heat is an enemy of your computer’s internal parts. If your cooling system is getting worn out and not working the way it should be, then excess heat can be building up inside your device.
When this happens things can get strange, with programs crashing or your system rebooting on its own.
If you suspect excess heat may be an issue, have your computer’s fan and cooling system checked out to see if it needs cleaning or even replacing.
CONNECT AN EXTERNAL MONITOR TO A LAPTOP
If you’re working on a laptop and having a hard time multi-tasking due to limited screen real estate, consider getting an external monitor rather than replacing your entire PC.
Monitors are just a fraction of the cost of computers, and having a screen twice the size of the one on your laptop can make all the difference in the world and improve productivity due to the additional screen space.
GET HELP IMPROVING YOUR COMPUTER’S PERFORMANCE!
Don’t struggle with an older PC! If you are experiencing tired laptops, we can help you with cost-effective upgrade options that will fit your system and budget perfectly.