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How to Secure Office 365 Account: 10 Best Practices

robertallardic1 profile image Robert Allardice ・5 min read

Microsoft Office 365 is safe to work, they have invested millions of dollars to upgrade their security. Developers are continuously enhancing their protection to keep your organizational data safe.

However, there could be numerous other threats that could harm your organization: malware, hackers, data leakages, losses, etc. So, to increase the security of your Office 365 account, you must implement some security practices.

This article will take a deep dive into some of the best practices to secure Office 365 accounts and their data. It's quite important for administrators to takes these into account to secure their organization.

Security Pillar of Office 365

There are 4 fundamental pillars of Office 365 security that you can use to increased the security of your organizational data.

Threat Protection: The most important responsibility of an administrator is to ensure that the organizational data is protected against malware, ransomware, phishing, and brute-force attacks.

Security Management: Implement security management for setting up anomaly detection policies to ensure that organizational data is safe. In case of any potential breach on your network, you will get an instant alert.

Secured Access: You must ensure that only authorized users can read specific information about your organization.

Data Protection: Along with threat protection, it's also quite important to protect company information from leaks, losses and ensures that data won’t be deleted, modified or revealed.

10 Best Practices to Secure Office 365 Account in 2021

Your Office 365 administrator needs to implement these 10 practices to increase the security of your Office 365 account. This will assist you in customizing your security & compliance and boost it 10 times.

  1. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
  2. Control Security Score
  3. Backup Your Data
  4. Educate Your Employees
  5. Protection Against Ransomware
  6. Encrypt Office Emails
  7. Detect Suspicious Activity
  8. Set up Strong Password Policy
  9. Manage Corporate Devices & Data
  10. Setup Active Directory

1. Setup Multi-Factor Authentication

The most effective way of increasing Office 365 security is by protecting Office 365 account from hackers attack. Upon enabling multi-factor authentication in your Office 365 security, your employees required to provide a unique, steadily changing code along with their user name and password for logging into their Office 365 account. Moreover, Office 365 has a superb feature that won’t ask you to prompt for unique code to connect your account to a trusted computer or device.

So, if in case somebody attempts to hack into one of your employee's accounts, they require to provide that unique code and password for login. As the unique code is randomly generated and constantly changing, it becomes quite impossible to crack it.

Note: Make sure that your employee doesn’t use a common or weak password for their account.

2. Control Security Score

Microsoft offers a security score navigator to measure whether your organization meets the basic security requirement or not. Using this analytic tool called “Microsoft Secure Score” you can analyze the protection status of your data, applications, devices, infrastructure, and also provides suggestions to improve these securities.

3. Backup Your Data:

Protecting the organizational data from leaks and loss is your own responsibility, Microsoft will only protect from hackers and malware. Using Security and Compliance you can extract your data and store them on a local computer or server as a backup. The best scenario is to export Office 365 mailbox to PST using eDiscovery mechanism. So that it will be easy to import it back if needed.

4. Educate Your Employees

When a new employee joins the organization, it's quite necessary to provide proper security training, and the use of Office 365 is a must. You need to educate your employee to enlighten them against security threats, and cyberattacks. Therefore mandatory security and awareness training should be conduct during joining and to other employees in certain intervals.

5. Protection Against Ransomware

Ransomware is a program that encrypts your account files and restricts access to data by locking your computer. Once locked, it usually asks for ransom (money or information) to unlock it. The attacker claim to give you back your account and its data once received the payment.

To protect against ransomware attacks you can create mail flow that will block any file extension that a cybercriminal can use for ransomware. You can block all the file extensions that contain malicious code or ransomware, or set a rule to warn your employees that the file they are opening contains macros.

6. Encrypt Office 365 Emails

Almost everyone uses emails for exchanging sensitive information such as invoices, contacts, payment details, and other confidential data. These pieces of information are quite important and can easily attract cybercriminals to gain the information.

However, by encryption feature of Office 365 permits you to set certain conditions. For example, a Message can only be seen by a particular recipient, or you can restrict the copy or printing of certain messages. You can also restrict access to emails from email-client other than Microsoft's.

7. Detect Suspicious Activity

To detect the suspicious activity of your or any employee's account, administrators can use Cloud App Security. It is used for monitoring abnormal behavior, detect sensitive data sharing, and monitor data migration. Once the suspicious activity detected, it will instantly alert you and send the notification by mail.

8. Set up Strong Password Policy

Your account password is the first line of defense. Once the password is cracked all of your account information can be deleted or leaked easily. Many users set a common and simple password for their accounts. The weak password is easy to break using a brute-force attack.

Make sure that every employee account password is of a minimum of 8 lengths, contains small and big alphabets with 2-3 special characters. It's better to take the help of a random password generator to create a strong password for the account login.

9. Manage Corporate Devices & Data

Almost every employee uses their smartphones or tablets for work. Whether they need to check their emails or access any document. It becomes quite vulnerable if the device left unsecured.

It is necessary to keep your device safe and also register them in the ‘Corporate complaint’ of Office 365. It enables you to manage access, preview changes to documents, and remove access if needed.

10. Setup Active Directory

Active directory is used to block the unauthorized access of an account from an unusual place or device. If there is any suspicious login attempt detected, the activity directory restricts the signing attempt.

This security feature can be enabled by administrators for all the employees and alerts users as well as admin for suspicious login attempts.

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