Securing Microsoft 365: A guide to mitigating key risks

With more and more businesses shifting toward cloud computing solutions such as Microsoft 365, understanding the potential security risks and how to mitigate them is essential. While Microsoft 365 offers a suite of productivity tools integrated with advanced security measures, it is not immune to threats. In this guide, we will delve into some key Microsoft 365 security risks and some strategies your organization can take to mitigate them.

Infected file synchronization

File synchronization is a convenient feature in Microsoft 365 that allows you to access your files from anywhere, on any device. However, this convenience can also pose a significant security risk if an infected file is synchronized and spread throughout your organization’s network. To mitigate this risk, follow these steps:

  • Educate users – Training your employees on the importance of file hygiene and the potential risks of syncing infected files is crucial. Encourage them to scan all files for malware before uploading them to the cloud.
  • Implement antivirus or anti-malware software – Make sure to have robust antivirus or anti-malware software installed on all devices that are used to access Microsoft 365. This will help in detecting and preventing the spread of infected files.
  • Enable advanced threat protection (ATP) – Microsoft 365’s ATP features provide an additional layer of security by scanning email attachments and files shared in OneDrive and SharePoint. Configure and monitor these settings to ensure maximum protection.

Security risks in dormant applications

Many users may not be aware that they have access to certain applications in Microsoft 365, or they may forget about them over time. These dormant applications pose a security risk, as they may contain sensitive data that is no longer needed. The following strategies will help you mitigate this risk:

  • Regularly review applications – Conduct regular reviews of all applications in Microsoft 365 to determine which ones are necessary and which ones can be removed. This will not only reduce the risk of potential security breaches but also optimize your organization’s licensing costs.
  • Limit access to applications – Not everyone in your organization needs access to all the applications in Microsoft 365. Limiting access based on job roles and responsibilities can help reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Monitor activity – Set up alerts to notify you of any unusual activity in dormant applications, such as unexpected logins or data being accessed after a long period of inactivity. Doing so will allow you to take immediate action if there are any potential security threats.

Unprotected communication channels

Microsoft 365 offers various communication channels, such as email, chat, and video conferencing.  However, if these channels are not secured properly, they can become a gateway for cybercriminals to intercept sensitive information. Here are some strategies to mitigate this risk:

  • Enable multifactor authentication (MFA) – MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide additional verification, such as a code sent to their phone, before accessing communication channels. This helps prevent unauthorized access and protects sensitive data.
  • Encrypt communications – Implementing encryption for all communication channels in Microsoft 365 will ensure that any intercepted messages or files cannot be read by malicious actors.
  • Train employees on phishing and social engineering attacks – Cybercriminals often use phishing emails or social engineering tactics to trick users into providing sensitive information. Educating your employees on identifying and reporting these attacks can help prevent data breaches through communication channels.

Vulnerabilities in SharePoint

Many businesses use SharePoint to store and share files within their organization, which makes it all the more important to secure this platform. Here are some strategies for addressing vulnerabilities in SharePoint:

  • Regularly update and patch SharePoint – Make sure to regularly check for updates and patches for SharePoint. These updates often include security fixes that can help protect against vulnerabilities.
  • Enable versioning – Enabling versioning in SharePoint allows you to track changes made to documents and restore previous versions if necessary. This can help mitigate the risk of accidental or malicious modifications to sensitive files.
  • Implement access controls – Limiting access to sensitive documents on SharePoint to only those who need it is crucial in mitigating the risk of unauthorized access or data leaks. Review and update access controls regularly to ensure they are still appropriate for each user.

Mitigating security risks in Microsoft 365 is an ongoing process that requires vigilance, education, and the right security measures. By addressing these key areas of risk and implementing effective strategies, your organization can better protect its data and maintain a secure environment for collaboration and productivity.

If you are interested in learning more about Microsoft 365 security and how to protect your organization from cyberthreats, get in touch with our experts today.

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