While Microsoft 365 is ideal for collaboration and starts to make a difference to productivity “straight out of the box,” its security and privacy features need careful and thoughtful set-up. But most companies do not know how to translate their compliance needs into security and privacy tools.

To help you better defend your own Microsoft Office 365 environment, BPI offers 10 recommendations:

Understand your privileged accounts. You need to understand which accounts can access sensitive data or use powerful Microsoft Office 365 tools such as eDiscovery. Such accounts will be prime targets for cybercriminals. Strictly limiting system and tool access to required job roles will contain the damage from a compromised account.

Measure the right metrics. Any metrics you use to measure security effectiveness must pass the “so what?” test. It must trigger a specific action and not merely inform. Make sure you measure the time it takes to acknowledge a threat and the time required to respond to one. You also should measure any repeated incidents as well as reinfection rates. All of this information will reveal how effectively your team is identifying and mitigating threats.

Implement MFA. Multifactor authentication may not be the golden ticket of securing accounts, but it’s still an important tool for slowing down attackers. If you don’t already, ensure that all accounts are using MFA.

Minimize configuration complexity. Transitional hybrid cloud environments can deliver the worst of both worlds in security, redundancies and blind spots to be exploited. Lengthy transitions can strain your IT and security resources and increase risk. Accelerating the transition will simplify and streamline your environment.

Conduct regular testing. Exercises such as penetration testing will help you assess the foundation of your security defenses by identifying vulnerabilities and attack paths. Repeat these tests regularly to ensure that any changes actually improve your security posture.

Train your staff. As you shift your operations to the cloud, make sure that your workforce knows how to use any new tools safely and securely. Also educate employees about specific threats, such as adversaries who try to impersonate the IT team in phishing emails. Further, ensure that your security staff understands the new environment and can switch from traditional perimeter-based strategies to the more open borders of the cloud.

Understand how tools are being used. Microsoft Office 365 tools like eDiscovery and Power Automate can be devastating in the wrong hands. You need to learn how these tools are used in the context of their normal behavior. Suspicious or malicious activity should be identified immediately and stopped before any damage can be done.

Gain a unified view across your environments. Adversaries will freely move between your traditional environment and cloud networks, challenging you to look for threats across the board. You need to be able to identify malicious behaviors throughout your IT network, cloud environment, data center and other areas that could be exploited.

Use AI to accelerate and automate your response times. You aren’t the only one benefiting from the increased speed and scale of the cloud. Threat actors are as well. Enhanced analytics derived from artificial intelligence and machine can help you quickly find malicious activity and automate your responses.

Cut through the noise. Rapid response capabilities are essential but they’re only half the story. You need a way to cut through the noise so that you’re not overwhelmed by too many false positives. Using an AI-powered network detection and response tool that’s accurate and reliable can help achieve this.

Managed Microsoft 365 Services

Most SMEs lack the understanding of data privacy requirements, or the ability to set up robust security policies, rules and protocols, or the ability to set these up accurately, effectively, and cost-efficiently.

BPI is a Microsoft Silver Partner and has experience in deploying, securing, and managing thousands of Microsoft 365 accounts. Our experts will simplify your billing, optimize your licensing costs, provide unlimited 24/7 support and train your users, as well as ensuring your data is secure.

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