One serious misconception about Office 365 is that it offers full service protection for your data. Many businesses use the software suite and feel confident that their data is protected against threats and other dangers.
The reality is, Office 365 operates under what is often called the “shared responsibility model.” This means that Microsoft protects your physical data by securing their physical facilities, but when it comes to digital threats, accidental deletions, and more, your company needs to protect itself. So how do you protect your Office 365 data?
Avoid loss through human error
Microsoft does a lot to protect individuals from accidentally deleting their data, but they aren’t infallible. Their system mirrors the old “recycling bin” model and maintains trashed data for a certain number of days before it is lost. Users can choose options that get around these protections, however, and that can cause serious issues for a business if critical files are updated.
The solution is to maintain backups of your documents, either on-site or with an additional provider. If something is accidentally deleted or corrupted, you can revert to a backup and move forward.
Be wary of deactivating accounts
It is an IT best practice to get rid of user accounts as soon as they’re no longer needed; leaving unused accounts open can lead to backdoor entry into networks and digital attacks. With Office 365, however, it’s important to make sure that ownership of all documents has been transferred before an account is deactivated. If not, it’s possible for the company to lose access to crucial data.
Again, backups are a good way to help here. You can also work with a company that manages your accounts and services to make sure that accounts are deactivated in ways that ensure data retention.
Use employee training to prevent phishing
It’s not possible to offer enough training to your employees on phishing schemes, whaling schemes, ransomware, or the dangers of low-security passwords. Stress this with your employees as much as you possibly can. Phishing is often the easiest way for attackers to gain access to a system, install malware, steal files, or start deleting data (and circumventing all those tools designed to keep it from being permanently destroyed) and 64% of companies experienced a phishing attack last year. Implement strong password requirements, use email filtering tools, and protect files by using least-access procedures.
Identify high level threats before they become problems
In general, Office 365 is a data storage bank with little exterior security. But companies can use additional software to prevent external access. High-level monitoring tools can look for attack attempts and thwart them before the system becomes vulnerable. Suspicious IP addresses can be flagged and blocked, then used as information to block additional IPs before another attack begins.
If your company has a full-time IT team, there are several high-level threat monitoring software options available. Some companies, however, choose to work with a managed IT solution in order to get the best possible protection for their company’s data. Don’t fall victim to the classic blunder of assuming that just because your data is in the cloud, it’s automatically safe. Remember that Office 365 is fundamentally a data storage space with the ability to run a few virtual programs. Be cautious about what you store, train your employees, and consider investing in additional security to ensure that your information stays safe.