Microsoft 365 Cyber Security Challenges

The shift to remote and hybrid working has led to Microsoft 365 being one of the most used SaaS/cloud platforms in the world. Unfortunately, this mass adoption has increased cyber-attackers focus on these types of technologies. It brings new cyber security challenges to businesses that must be considered as part of their overall security strategy.  With over 81% of Microsoft 365 accounts being hacked last year (Proofpoint), these new risks should not be overlooked or taken lightly.

Main attack vectors targeting Microsoft 365

Phishing: Phishing techniques with malicious intent can be delivered via email, shared documents on OneDrive, or even dropped in the chat in Microsoft Teams.

Business Email Compromise (BEC): BEC is one of the latest threats to come from email attacks. Cybercriminals are disguising themselves as suppliers, business partners, fellow employees, executives, or even customers by using fake email addresses that look like the real deal. It can even attempt to trick the target into sending money to an attacker, often in response to a fake, unpaid invoice.

Spam: Spam is inevitable, and although not always malicious, spam emails have been known to be the carrier of malicious intent whether that be by an impersonation attack or containing malware. In recent research by our partner Censornet they found that Microsoft only rejected 3.3% of spam content, in comparison to the Censornet solution, which was a lot higher at 95%.

cyber security challenges

Malware delivery: Malicious files can easily and unknowingly be shared across M365 applications such as Teams, email, OneDrive & SharePoint

Data breaches: Microsoft 365 makes sharing data easy between its users, both external and internal. This opens up the risk of sending to unauthorised parties, which may lead to a data breach/loss.

Why is it important to secure your Microsoft 365 environment?

Microsoft 365 is a brilliant platform and includes its own built-in security and compliance features, however, some of these are flawed and do not address the many vulnerabilities that leave businesses at risk. Therefore, it’s essential for organisations to take responsibility and a more comprehensive approach to mitigating these critical vulnerabilities in their Microsoft 365 environment, including:

Protection of sensitive data: Microsoft 365 may contain sensitive information, such as financial records, customer data, and confidential communications. Securing the platform helps prevent unauthorised access, data breaches, and leaks, safeguarding sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

Business continuity: Many organisations rely heavily on Microsoft 365 for day-to-day operations, with over 11 million SMBs utilising the M365 solutions (Microsoft). Ensuring its security helps maintain business continuity by reducing the risk of disruptions caused by security incidents or cyberattacks.

Compliance requirements: There are specific data protection and privacy regulations that many businesses must comply with. Securing your M365 environment helps meet these compliance requirements and avoid potential legal and financial consequences.

Preventing cyber threats: As mentioned earlier in the article, Microsoft 365 is a prime target for cybercriminals. Securing the platform with robust measures can help defend against common cyber threats such as phishing, malware, and ransomware.

Collaborative workspaces: With the increase of remote and hybrid working, collaborative tools such as those that Microsoft 365 provides, are important for users to work in real-time on business-sensitive documents and files. Securing these workspaces ensures that only authorised individuals can access, edit, and share sensitive information.

Brand reputation: A security breach or a data leak can severely damage an organisation’s reputation. By ensuring that your Microsoft 365 infrastructure is secured, it demonstrates a commitment to protecting your and your customers: critical data, enhancing trust and credibility.

How do you ensure that your Microsoft 365 estate is fully secure?

Authorised access: Microsoft 365 is often linked to user identities and authentication systems. By securing these and implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) or Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS), it reduces the risk of unauthorised access and credential theft.

Email security: Email is a business-critical service for most organisations and Microsoft 365’s email service, Exchange Online, is a common target for phishing attacks. Therefore, securing email accounts helps protect against phishing attempts. It can also prevent attackers from using compromised accounts to launch further attacks.

Data Loss Prevention: Leveraging encryption technologies for Microsoft 365, ensures that even if data is intercepted, it remains unreadable without the appropriate decryption key. This helps prevent accidental or intentional data loss by implementing measures like data loss prevention (DLP) policies.  Additionally, implementing a robust backup strategy is vital to protect against data loss.

Security Awareness: Educating your users on security best practices via a security awareness type of program is vital in maintaining a secure Microsoft 365 environment. Regular training sessions help raise awareness in areas such as phishing and password hygiene to strengthen the ‘human firewall’.

Censornet for Microsoft 365 Security

Covenco has recently partnered with cybersecurity partner Censornet to bring automated, integrated M365 security to our customer base. The world-class platform combines email security, web security, CASB, and MFA to give you confidence in your M365 environment.

The Censornet platform integrates powerful security technology across the entire digital attack surface and cloud-borne threats.

The single-pane-of-glass portal integrates:

  • Email Security (Inline/API)
  • Web Security (http/https)
  • Cloud Application Security (Inline/API)
  • MFA
  • Identity Services (SSO)
  • Security Awareness Training
  • ASE (Autonomous Security Engine

If you would like to speak to one of our cyber security specialists to learn more on how to protect your Microsoft 365, please get in touch via the form below or give us a call on 01753 732000.

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