How to Make Microsoft 365 Email More Secure – Office 365 Email Security Practices
Organizations using Office 365 must implement proper Office 365 email security practices to protect sensitive data. This is even more evident by the fact that email is the most commonly-exploited service by hackers.
Businesses use email for both internal and external communication. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that we handle a lot of sensitive information through our email accounts. As a result, Microsoft offers numerous Office 365 email security practices to stop threats from gaining that data.
This guide will focus on the best practices to help you make your email more secure. Make sure to continue reading to know these practices and be one step closer to improving your cyber security. With all that said, let’s start.
Protect Email Accounts From Unauthorized Access
The first thing to do to protect your email account is to prevent threat actors from gaining access to your email. We can do that by using one of Microsoft’s core features, the multi-factor authenticator.
Multi-factor authentication protects your email account by requesting you enter a code every time you log in. You get this code through Microsoft’s authentication application. The app sits on your phone, and you have 60 seconds to enter the randomly-generated code.
If you don’t enter the correct code, the app will refresh it and send you a new one. Multi-factor authentication makes it nearly impossible for hackers to access your email account without having access to your smartphone. MFA is one of the best security features of the Microsoft Office suite. Therefore, make sure to enable multi-factor authentication.
Set Up Office 365 Cloud App Security
Office 365 Cloud App Security includes tools and features to protect various Office 365 apps and services. We can use many of these tools and features to protect our company email directly.
These features and tools work by notifying you of malicious or bizarre user activity. Setting up notifications helps admins uncover this activity. For example, some malicious activity the Office 365 Cloud App Security sends notifications for include false log-in attempts, downloading large chunks of data, or access from an unknown IP address on user accounts.
Deploy Encryption Across All Mailboxes
Email encryption works flawlessly in Office 365. Moreover, encryption is a core component of any Office 365 email security strategy. Encryption works by adding another layer of security on top of your already existing email security features.
In Office 365, you can send encrypted emails to prevent others from accessing sensitive data. To use encryption, simply click the “Encrypt” button in Outlook. Then, you can add the recipient’s email address. If you add this function, only the recipient can access the contents of the email.
It’s also worth mentioning that encryption works with Exchange Online mailboxes. Therefore, it can also be an excellent Exchange Online protection strategy.
Audit Email Activity
Admins in Office 365 can audit suspicious email activity through the Security and Compliance Center. This capability lets admins get notified of suspicious activity and investigate potential threats.
To perform this function, admins must enable the Unified Audit Log (UAL) in the Security and Compliance Center. Moreover, we can use this function to detect malicious links and potential phishing attacks sent to our mailboxes. The mailbox audit feature also works on entire Exchange Online mailboxes.
Besides email security, UAL can monitor user and admin activity across the Office 365 suite.
Prevent Cyber Attacks
We mentioned earlier that email is the most commonly-used medium for cyber attacks. Therefore, it becomes a priority to shore up your cyber defenses by protecting your mailboxes. We can do that in the form of anti-phishing and anti-malware tracking in Office 365.
Once again, this function is available in the Security and Compliance Center. Unfortunately, the anti-phishing and anti-malware capabilities of the Microsoft suite aren’t as capable of detecting threats as third-party advanced threat protection solutions.
These solutions can monitor all forms of malicious activity and detect malicious links, malicious URLs, and malicious attachments in inbound emails.
The software will notify you of a potential threat by highlighting the email in question or outright deleting it. Most third-party email security services will give you the option to modify this.
In addition to anti-phishing and anti-malware, these solutions can detect other forms of scams, such as ransomware and business email compromise (BEC) attacks.
Backup Essential Data
Sometimes accidents are unavoidable. Not all forms of threats come from outside actors. Sometimes, we’re responsible for losing valuable data. When that happens, it’s helpful to keep backups of your most essential email data. As a matter of fact, performing regular backups is an excellent threat management strategy to improve the efficiency of your email security.
Backups in Office 365 work very simply. You select the mailboxes you wish to backup, and backup locally. You can also back up specific emails in Outlook and export them. Then, you can use the exported file whenever you are in a bad situation.
But as a best practice, make sure to back up your mailboxes at least once a week. That way, you’re one step closer to being up to date. Some of the most cautious companies perform daily backups. But considering the time it takes to back up all Outlook mailboxes, it’s best to perform this action after working hours.
Again, Office 365 does offer you this capability. But it’s nowhere capable as third-party backup solutions. Microsoft even openly admits this and even encourages you to use third-party backup services that can backup data beyond your email.
Those were some of the industry’s best practices to make your Microsoft Office 365 email more secure. We’re happy to inform you that more security practices exist, and Microsoft Office can do more.
But it’s important to reiterate once more that Office 365 email security should be done through professional tools that streamline everything and give you an overview of your overall security score.