We use Outlook to communicate with our colleagues and customers, send important documents, and schedule meetings and events. Other Office 365 services help us in our daily workflow as well.
That’s why Office 365 safety is vital for any organization. In this article, we’ll share some of the best practices that will help you to protect your data across the Office 365 environment. Here they are.
Watch Out For Phishing Emails
Phishing is one of the most common cybersecurity threats for individuals and large organizations alike. Phishing is a method of frauding an identity of someone trusted by a victim. A phishing email contains malicious links. Clicking them initiates an attack on your system.
Office 365 has powerful spam filters and customizable anti-phishing settings. These functionalities protect users from phishing attacks. However, some malicious messages bypass the filters and get to inboxes. That’s why phishing protection requires not just a system configuration but a complex approach that involves cybersecurity training.
Make sure that all members of your Office 365 network understand how to detect phishing. Here are some tips for detecting a potential phishing attempt:
- An email contains a request to share sensitive information, wire money, or install specific software. It’s always better to double-check and confirm that the request is legitimate.
- An email contains a link to a suspicious website. Don’t click a link unless you are 100% sure that it is safe.
- The sender’s email address doesn’t match with the intended sender’s domain. For example, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com.
- Abusive language, sense of urgency, and other unnatural behavior may point to a phishing email.
Awareness of phishing helps to decrease the chance of being scammed.
Enable Multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication (also known as 2-step verification) allows you to get an additional layer of protection for your account. With multi-factor authentication, you’ll need both your password and a special code to access your account. The code is generated by a mobile app you need to install on your smartphone.
According to the research, lack of default multi-factor authentication for administrator accounts is an Office 365 configuration vulnerability. Obviously, MFA should be enabled—both for admins and users.
It’s especially important to enable multi-factor authentication for administrator accounts, for the Global admins in particular. After all, an admin can access, edit, or delete data located on many accounts. If an admin’s account is compromised, it will damage the whole organization. That’s why a high level of access to corporate data should be protected by all means necessary, including MFA.
Backup Office 365
A backup (a safe copy) will ensure that everything can be brought back even if something happens to your data. This secure copy can be used to recover the original data in case it was lost, stolen, or damaged. You can backup important files to a hard drive or use a cloud-to-cloud backup solution to get real-time protection for your Office 365 data.
Backup is a great way to preserve your data and protect it from phishing, corrupted apps, ransomware, accidental deletion, and many other threats. Here you can read more about Office 365 backup best practices and backup advantages over native data preservation and recovery tools.
Implement Anti-ransomware Strategy
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts cloud data, including Outlook emails, OneDrive files, and so on. The global damages from ransomware attacks are going up. Ransomware’s cost for the world economy is estimated to reach $20 billion by 2021. This enormous sum might still be an underestimation.
The most significant ransomware-related harm is the downtime cost. Lost operational time and productivity will damage any company. Usually, ransomware recovery takes up to days, depending on the amount of data to restore.
Office 365 has built-in malware and ransomware protection functionality. However, ransomware evolves quickly. To beat it, you may need as much protection as it is possible.
To boost native Office 365 functionality, you can use additional cybersecurity tools such as a Microsoft 365 cloud-to-cloud data protection which utilizes a unique detection approach that analyzes file behavior to locate ransomware patterns. Contrary to the majority of antivirus software, this approach enables early detection, elimination of a ransomware attack, and fast recovery.
Encrypt Your Outlook Emails
Have you ever thought about how you can improve the security and privacy of your emails? If yes, then the answer is simple: encryption. By encrypting your Outlook messages, you’ll ensure that they are protected and only an intended recipient will be able to read them.
You can send an encrypted email by selecting the Encrypt button. There are two encryption options available: Encrypt or Encrypt and Prevent Forwarding. The second option prevents sharing and makes your email even more confidential.
Maintain Strong Passwords
A strong password is an essential element of any successful cybersecurity strategy. Having decent passwords will help you and your colleagues to resist cybersecurity threats and reduce their negative impact. Besides, strong password policy is a good way to reduce the probability of data losses related to user error.
Following the common password policy recommendations is a good way to keep your data safe for brute-force attacks and other cybersecurity threats. Here are some of the best practices of creating a strong password:
- Don’t use one password for several websites.
- Do not use passwords which are easy to guess for someone who knows you. Such passwords include birthdays, favorite meals, phrases you like to use, and so on.
- All passwords should be at least eight characters long.
- Ban common passwords to improve the protection against brute-force attacks.
Microsoft allows you to create and customize password policies. You can do it in Service settings.
Even simple caution sometimes prevents a significant cybersecurity incident. Yet, corporate data stored in your Office 365 environment is vital, and all means should be used to keep it secure.
Protecting your business-critical data requires a systematic approach that involves both configuring native security settings and using specialized cybersecurity software.