How Secure Is Office 365? Dissecting the Security Features

Office 365 is a popular cloud product, but one of the top concerns, when companies move to the cloud, is security. And many wonder, “How secure is Office 365?” In this article, we’re going to discuss the many security features Office 365 offers its customers. 

Why Worry About Security?

A cyber attack is a danger looming above every business every day. This age of technology has propelled many great changes, but it has also opened the door for criminals to sneak into your business and steal your data. And you may think that only large enterprises face this threat. However, smaller companies may be even more susceptible. 

Seventy-one percent of cyber attacks target small businesses. This is because often, small businesses aren’t equipped with the same technology or protocols that larger companies can afford. Hackers and cybercriminals see these smaller companies as vulnerable- easy targets. 

This fact is alarming because $900,000 is the average cyber attack remediation cost for small businesses. With this large price to pay, it’s no wonder that more than half of small businesses close their doors after a cyber attack. 

It’s with these statistics in mind that business owners worry about the cybersecurity of their organizations. But without the large pockets that some larger organizations have, how can these small businesses manage to protect their data?

Security In the Cloud

The answer for many businesses in regards to cybersecurity may lie in the cloud

This statement may seem surprising to some because one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the cloud comes down to security. Many individuals don’t trust that the cloud can protect their information. They see cloud security breaches in the headlines and immediately write off the technology. Instead, they see their on-premises servers, that they can physically touch, as much safer.

However, the truth of the matter is that in nearly all cases, it is the user, not the cloud provider, who fails to manage the controls used to protect an organization’s data. In fact, according to Gartner, through 2020, 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault. 

When users configure their systems and controls with security in mind, the cloud can provide additional security restrictions for organizations. This is because cloud providers can support a considerable staff of cybersecurity experts whose sole responsibility is to protect all the data and networks stored in the cloud. They hire the top people, install the best technology, and even physically guard the data. So, what does that mean for Office 365?

How Secure is Office 365?

Understanding the security needs of the cloud leads to the conclusion that Office 365 is secure when used appropriately. Microsoft provides exceptional security standards and delivers on its promise to protect your data. Let’s take a look at the multiple ways in which they protect your business and prevent attacks.

Physical Safeguards

First, each of Microsoft’s global data centers are physically secured and guarded 24/7. They have superior technology to ensure that no one without permission has access to the servers inside. And even the personnel on-site are not able to access your data. They are simply there to guard and protect. 

With this above-average safeguard, you can rest easy knowing that no one will be able to steal the hardware that contains your data and obtain access to your network.

Digital Safeguards

On top of that, Microsoft ensures digital safeguards are in place, as well. Office 365 uses a layered approach, with many protocols in place to help protect your organization and its sensitive information. Microsoft encrypts every piece of data stored in its cloud for protection. This is also true of your data in transit. Once you upload a file to OneDrive or send an email in Outlook, it all becomes encrypted. This encryption protects your organization from eavesdropping attempts.

Office 365 also offers Safe Links to help protect its customers. Safe Links provide organizations time-of-click verification of URLs in email and documents. This process helps prevent phishing attacks, as many hackers socially engineer emails to fool users into clicking on malicious links. When the program identifies a malicious link, it will omit the link so users can’t click on it. 

Another invaluable security tool offered by Office 365 is the ability to prohibit certain types of information from leaving your organization. You can create policies for things like credit card numbers and social security numbers that will stop them from being able to be emailed or printed. You can even set up alerts when something triggers a condition so that you can work with the employee who is trying to share the information and prevent it in the future.

With Office 365, you can also control data access on your devices. With these controls, you can identify who gets access to what information and how. This is especially helpful with bring your own device (BYOD) policies. Then, if a device gets stolen or an employee leaves the organization, you can remotely wipe business data without having to clear the full device itself. 

A few more features provided by Office 365 to improve your security include: 

  • Classify who can forward, copy, and print documents
  • Set expiring links
  • Control who and what software can be installed on devices
  • Restrict copying and saving of business information
  • Prevent unauthorized users from opening or viewing sensitive documents
  • Encrypt data on mobile devices
  • Back up email in a secure archive

Overall Office 365 Security

So, the answer to, “How secure is Office 365?” is, “Very.” Microsoft spends billions of dollars to ensure that their products have state-of-the-art security measures. But, remember, cybersecurity doesn’t fall entirely on your cloud provider. You have to ensure that you are following protocols to keep your data protected, as well. 

And many of the security features Office 365 offers must be put in place by you to work. For example, to limit certain information from being emailed or printed, you first have to set up the condition and policy. But if you do leverage the security features offered and ensure compliance on your end, you can worry less about your data getting into the wrong hands.

Advantages of Office 365

In the end, the best part about Office 365 is that it offers you one complete business solution. A productivity platform with built-in security. All of the features we’ve talked about (and more!) are baked right into your Office 365 suite, which reduces the administrative burden on you. There aren’t multiple panes of glass or products you have to worry about managing. 

Office 365 is simple, it reduces costs, and it aligns with business goals. Plus, smaller organizations that don’t have as much to spend on security can roll some of their security costs into the costs of tools they might already be using- like Word, Excel, and Outlook. There are no trade-offs here. 

If you are interested in learning more about Office 365 and what it has to offer, check out this blog that walks you through some of the most powerful tools provided by Microsoft’s productivity suite.

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