7 Steps to Secure Your Business Using Microsoft 365

6 min read



In a time when cybersecurity breaches affect businesses across all industries and cost billions, organizations ought to secure their digital systems. Microsoft 365 is a popular business solution for any organization that wants to migrate to the cloud. However, it’s often a huge target for threat actors seeking to compromise business data.

There are numerous security configurations within Microsoft 365 environment, but not all features are enabled by default. Here are some steps you can take to make it more secure and safeguard your business.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication

In today’s threat landscape, multi-factor authentication protocols are necessary for every business. In fact, it’s one of the best methods of protecting business data from access by malicious entities. According to studies by Microsoft, 99.9% of business account attacks happen due to a lack of multi-factor authentication; therefore, enabling MFA on your Microsoft 365 can keep attackers at bay.

Typically, MFA protects your organization if login credentials are stolen. The credentials are of no use to the criminals since they can’t complete the necessary authentication. Also, it allows organizations to implement a simpler password policy and avoid expiration issues.

While this step has numerous security benefits and takes little time to set up, most organizations don’t implement the policy.

Disable Legacy Authentication

Legacy authentication involves older protocols, including POP3, IMAP, EWS, and Powershell. However, legacy authentication doesn’t support MFA and therefore allows threat actors to bypass your security protocol.

Password spray and replay attacks are some of the treats that rely on legacy authentication. The former involves attempting common credentials across the organization to access accounts, while the latter recycles valid login credentials collected from fake sites. Statistics show that 99%  of password spray attacks use legacy authentication, while 97% of replay attacks use the protocol.

Disable Client Auto External Forwarding

Cybercriminals can infiltrate a victim’s mailbox by using inbox rules or modifying mail forwarding settings to automatically forward incoming emails. This ensures the criminal receives your emails despite your efforts to reset login credentials.

Even when users legitimately configure email forwarding to specific mailboxes, there is a significant risk of sensitive business information leaking to malicious actors. Typically, some employees opt to forward business emails to their personal accounts for easier access. But personal accounts may not have a robust security protocol as corporate accounts.

Whenever possible, automated email forwarding to external domains should be restricted. But if there is a legitimate business case for maintaining email forwarding, the functionality should be limited to the bare minimum. Also, close monitoring is necessary to prevent security risks.

Unified Audit Logging

Enabling unified audit logging is a simple but important change you can implement on your Microsoft 365. Unified audit logs play a vital part during investigations following a security breach, and they often provide a comprehensive picture of events.

It includes three months of account activities regarding sign-in, mailbox settings, Onedrive access, and other important events. Administrators can review all the actions taken by a specific user making it easier to uncover security loopholes.

Require Administrator Approvals

Malicious entities often use cloud applications to breach user accounts. And since any user can grant permissions to third-party apps used in Microsoft 365 environment, there’s a possibility of a security breach.

Certain access permission is required for cloud applications to run in Microsoft 365. Therefore, without enabling administrative consent, spear phishing emails with links enticing users to reset

Passwords can expose an organization’s data to criminals. But with cloud security administration, cybersecurity responsibility is never in the hands of unsuspecting users.

Restrict Third-Party Applications

As threat actors become more sophisticated, third-party apps have become a popular threat vector for criminals who aim to compromise business data. Ideally, users are attracted to the productivity-boosting futures of these apps, but they are oblivious of the fact that the apps use powerful Microsoft 365 REST APIs.

Users can often grant the applications access to sensitive data like contacts, groups, files, and calendars, which can hand over control of 365 accounts to attackers. Therefore, it’s best to restrict the loading of new applications to authorized persons who can vet each application for consistency and reliability.

Block Suspicious Attachments

Malicious phishing attachments are responsible for over 22% of cyber attacks. Malicious attachments are a staple for threat actors who target networks since most organizations use email to share work documents.

Typically, not all executable files can be trusted and should be blocked. However, some files are necessary for business purposes, and it may not be practical to block everything. If you need this functionality, you may need robust security controls with regular awareness training.

Bottom Line

To secure your business using Microsoft 365, it’s best to combine technical controls with security awareness training. Ideally, users can make or break your security strategies hence the need for a robust security education throughout the organization.

And while threat mitigation may not eliminate all the risks, implementing appropriate security measures can lower the chances of becoming a victim. 

Jason Meilleur
Jason Meilleur
As the Senior Manager of Cloud Solutions at 360 Visibility, Jason has combined his technical and business development backgrounds to expand cloud based services and the company’s infrastructure customer base. Having a long standing family history of hard working entrepreneurs, Jason has developed a strong desire for business growth.
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