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Microsoft 365 Hacks on the Rise - How to Stay Safe

Microsoft 365 (M365) is an indispensable platform for many businesses and is one of the world's most popular office productivity suite. Ever since organizations have transitioned to work from home and hybrid working environments, statistics for Microsoft 365 data breaches have increased at a staggering pace. The numbers show that regardless of the industry and size of the company, Microsoft 365 breaches may be more common than you think. If you are a corporate, medium-sized, or small organization using one of Microsoft's business plans and your type of organization is targeted by cybercriminals and hackers, you need to tighten your security measures.  Here's how to protect your Microsoft apps and accounts.

Microsoft 365 Security

Set up Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Typically, employees only have one way to verify their identity when logging into Microsoft 365, their user name and password. Unfortunately, you can't expect all your employees to be diligent about safeguarding their passwords at all times. Using Multi-Factor Authentication, MFA, is one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase the security of your organization.

MFA combines two or more factors, such as a password, a code, a fingerprint, or even a retinal scan – to verify a person's identity and protect against "soft breaches." That means even if a criminal is able to get your password, they can't access your account without the other verification method(s). For most companies, the built-in MFA option in Microsoft 365 can provide the necessary protection. It allows you to activate MFA at the user level, which offers several different options for the second verification method.

Use Message Encryption

Another benefit of Microsoft 365 is that message encryption is already set up, to allow your users to send and receive encrypted messages for an additional layer of security. Encrypted messages will appear in inboxes just like any other email (though depending on what version of Outlook or Microsoft 365 you have; some users may receive an alert about these permissions that has to be opened before reading the message).

Your technology team can further define the rules for encryption, such as encrypting messages with certain criteria like specific keywords or phrases. Admins can also apply a variety of rules for other messages that don't meet these criteria or pre-defined rules. While Microsoft 365 makes message encryption seamless and easy, you will still need to train users on how it works, and why it's important. After all, your technology is only as secure as your people are. Arm your staff as your front line of defense with up-to-date training and resources.

Avoid Phishing Scams

Phishing may have been around for a couple of decades now, but it's still the "go-to" tool of cybercriminals everywhere. They use it to deliver malicious email attachments or links that can contain spyware, ransomware, trojans, or any number of other dangerous scripts. If you get an email about the security of your Microsoft account, it could be a phishing scam, a type of attack where hackers impersonate a company or someone you know to trick you into revealing personal information like passwords or credit card numbers.

Microsoft Office Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) can be used for cloud-based email filtering that analyzes links and attachments before they're opened by your employees. It's harder than ever these days for a person to tell a spoofed email from a real one, which makes ATP an important tool to protect your office from the #1 delivery method for malware.

Carry out Regular Monitoring

Monitoring and responding to suspicious activity alerts can catch adversaries and increase awareness of normal activity for your organization's Microsoft 365 users. Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS) is an M365 add-on that provides the best native analytics for M365. It offers multifunction visibility, control over data travel, and sophisticated security analytics. Some commonly implemented rules include:

  • Impossible travel – User logs  from two geographic areas that would be impossible to travel between within a given timeframe.
  • New inbox rule creation – A new inbox rule created on a user's account.
  • Excessive failed logins – This could be a sign that an attacker is trying to brute force an account.

Monitoring rules can be a great way to detect malicious activity. However, they should be routinely maintained to limit the number of false positives.

Manage and Wipe Mobile Devices

There's no denying that more of your employees' workload is being done on mobile devices every year. Mobile devices allow employees to work from anywhere and, in combination with cloud services, give access to all important work applications and files, whether at home or at work. But with that mobility comes a whole new set of security risks that require a mobile device management application to help you mitigate the risk involved.

One of the features of Microsoft 365 is Microsoft Intune. This tool is a part of Microsoft Endpoint Manager, a cloud-based management tool for mobile devices that aims to provide unified endpoint management of both corporate and "bring your own device"  (BYOD) equipment in a way that protects corporate data. This mobile device management platform helps you securely manage iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS devices. Your data can stay protected, even if you have a BYOD policy, which ensures data security compliance. Intune also gives you the ability to remotely wipe lost or stolen devices so they can't access any of your corporate apps or data.

Make it Easy to Recover Your Account

Planning plays a crucial role in the world of cybersecurity and IT. In the event of an account hack and takeover from a cyberattack, you need to have a recovery action plan in place. A recovery action plan describes how you will respond when a cybersecurity incident inevitably takes place. If your organization has a well-designed recovery action plan, it will be easy for trained professionals to take the necessary actions and prevent costly data losses from account hacks. An action plan will help you to understand your priorities and quickly take steps to contain the damage caused by an incident before it spreads to other systems and networks.

At Velocity IT, we believe that technology is an essential pillar for any business's growth, but it comes with its challenges. Phishing is increasingly becoming a threat to contemporary companies, with criminals utilizing affiliate networks and AI. However, we offer you various security solutions and products that can provide some protection against ever-evolving cyber risks. Contact us to learn more and get started.

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