While Microsoft Office 365 maintains robust security features, it may not offer the granularity that many enterprises need. When Microsoft Office 365 isn’t maintained and configured properly, it can put security and compliance requirements in doubt. Here’s what you need to know about the security features included in Office 365 Enterprise, and what companies should do to further secure their system.
Gaps in Office 365 Internal Threat Security
Office 365 features a few major security tools: multi-factor authentication, antivirus and antispam filters, and physical access controls. Its physical access controls are able to use multiple authentication schemes, filtered through its data centers, and managed by Microsoft. Thus, Microsoft’s Office 365 services are fairly well-secured against external intrusion.
Nevertheless, internal threats continue to be an issue, and a few major gaps should be considered:
- Overly powerful administrative roles. When administrative roles are launched without enough care, system and data security can suffer. Administrators are able to control nearly every function of Office 365, which means that negligent or malicious administrators can cause significant data leaks and breaches.
- A lack of granularity over the delegation of administrative tasks. To allow for some administrative tasks, you often need to allow for all administrative tasks. This again increases the chances that Microsoft Cloud data could be breached, as it broadens the scope for administrative permissions.
- No way of limiting views of administrative data. Administrative data, such as lists of users or groups, are an all-or-nothing gambit, potentially exposing information that doesn’t need to be exposed. General security best practices demand that any individual only receives the information that they need to in order to complete their work.
- No way to divide up licenses between administrative groups. The ability to further divide licenses and create groups would increase the granularity of security, allowing for a more diverse set of groups with different user permissions.
These gaps can potentially expose Microsoft Office 365, making identity protection, insider threat protection, and advanced threat protection more challenging. When sensitive data is secured in Office 365, additional work must be done to make sure that the data is protected.
But none of that means that Microsoft Office 365 is particularly poorly secured. In fact, Microsoft has done quite a lot to make sure that the Microsoft Cloud, Exchange Online, and Office 365 Ecosystem is particularly well-secured externally. Most cloud service solutions are going to have some security gaps, including Office 365. It’s important that companies understand the potential security issues that can occur when moving forward, but it shouldn’t dissuade them from implementing Office 365.
Bridging the Office 365 Security Gap
How can you protect your customer data? Make sure you fully utilize the external threat protection features provided by Microsoft and other cloud vendors. These vendors have a massive amount of experience across many millions of accounts, so they have most external threats remediated.
Wherever possible, it’s also necessary to limit user accounts to only what they absolutely need to perform their tasks. Certain functions, such as accessing confidential and sensitive data, should be restricted to specific, higher-level individuals, and all information should be distributed through them. The fewer parties have access to data, the less likely it is to be compromised.
Third party solutions like Cayosoft’s, are designed to fill-in the gaps left by the native tools and provide the best way to both manage and protect Microsoft Office 365. These solutions offer superior protection form insider threat such as malicious actions and from mistakes.
Ultimately, Microsoft 365 is a data at rest, cloud computing platform: all the data is gated within the Office 365 application itself. By properly securing the platform, an organization can protect its data from outside intrusion. Unfortunately, a lack of internal controls can make it difficult to protect data from a malicious (or even negligent) insider. By implementing third-party solutions and other best practices, you can bridge the Office 365 security gap.
But it isn’t easy. Contact the experts at Cayosoft for more information about securing Office 365 against insider threats.