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June 2, 2023
By: Jason Middaugh

5 Free Ways to Leverage Office 365 for Security

Millions upon millions of people work through the Microsoft Office 365 platform every day. It’s built for productivity and connectivity, and allows businesses of every size to get work done. However, the platform also contains valuable methods for these same businesses to improve their cybersecurity resiliency. While many of these security tools included are NOT enabled by default, the fact remains there are many free ways to leverage Office 365 security modules to augment your efforts to provide a more secure working environment. 

A note about ‘free’: The tools we’ll discuss today are modular components within the Office 365 package. They are largely available as included parts of most subscription plans. However, if the tools described below fall outside your current subscription they can still be added and integrated at a minimal cost. 

Additionally, it’s wise to conduct a Microsoft 365 security assessment if your organization is integrated deeply with the Microsoft line of products for further insight into what is covered, what isn’t, and what needs addressed immediately.  

But today, we’re dialing into the solutions already included in many Office 365 subscriptions to improve your company’s overall security profile. Let’s begin. 

Make Sure Your Business is Protected: Connect with our cybersecurity experts to get started on your tailored security solution today.  

1. Multifactor Authentication for Other Applications 

It’s no secret that using multifactor (MFA) or two-factor authentication is a great way to add security key accounts, platforms, and networks. But did you know that by working through Microsoft Office 365 and the Microsoft Authenticator product you can add functionality without expanding your tech stack? You can integrate MS Authenticator into other third-party applications.  

An example: Let’s say you’re trying to implement MFA onto your VPN service. You can work through Office 365 subscription and use the Authenticator as a second factor. Connect to your VPN as normal, and then a second prompt for authentication would come from your Office integration. This could replace other MFA solutions you’re using and streamline your process.  

2. Access Reviews 

Granting, removing, and reviewing access is a necessary, if tedious, part of IT for most businesses. From file sharing to applications, figuring out who has access to what is critical to understanding just how secure your environment may be. Bob may be the head of accounting, but why does he have access to sensitive R&D files? This is where access review comes in. 

Office 365 can streamline your access review processes and ensure nothing is overlooked. With right licensing and synchronization of the desired group through Azure, you can quickly configure access reviews as needed. These reviews can be automated to a degree and deliver insight into who has access to what elements. It quickly allows designated entities to approve or deny access and sets up IT to implement the allowances.  

3. Privileged Identity Management (PIM) 

Office 365 also includes a module that allows designated personnel to grant privileged access in real time. This means that access can be granted for a period of time, instead of a more binary yes/no option. Access can be requested for privileged information, granted for a time (hours, a day, etc.) and then that access is removed automatically at the end of the period. 

This is a strong risk mitigation tool. Since privilege is granted only for a period of time — and not always ‘on’ — it reduces the chances that a compromised account will have access to critical information. If an account is compromised, the amount of digital real estate at risk is limited because of the need to ask for further access. 

4. Single Sign On 

Another Office 365 security tool that can integrate easily is leveraging the application to handle single sign on capabilities for third-party applications. This works in a similar fashion to using O365 for MFA. In this case, you can integrate your Active Directory or Azure Active Directory single sign on capabilities into other websites or applications — think of tools like Salesforce or your company’s HR system. 

Single sign on (SSO) helps streamline access management in both onboarding and offboarding. If your employee needs access to 15 different SaaS applications and the like, using SSO means they can sign on through this service and then be ‘passed’ through to the other sites. Importantly, when someone leaves, you can remove access at this one point and cut off access across all applications integrated to the SSO — and don’t have to worry you left a ‘back door’ open. 

5. Systems Management 

Most Office 365 subscriptions will include access to Microsoft Endpoint Manager, a critical tool in deploying, patching, and pushing applications to both your PC and mobile environments. Formerly known as InTune, Endpoint Manager is being promoted heavily by Microsoft as THE management tool for all of your Windows endpoints. 

Proper patching and updating of devices is a key component of cybersecurity as any potential vulnerabilities can often be fixed with a new software version. Endpoint Manager is the native tool you can use to make sure those updates are addressed and deployed as needed.  

Lock up your Office 365 Environment: Don’t give hackers a key to your kingdom. Use our five Office 365 security best practices to lock down your network. 

Tap Into Office 365 Security Tools with Inversion6 

For many organizations, the Office 365 security tools we outlined today will already be included in their current subscriptions. If they fall outside your current arrangement with Office 365, the additional investment is minimal to include these modules. The resources needed to add them to your security profile are small, especially compared to the resiliency they bring. 

Inversion6 helps businesses from myriad industries address the issues affecting their security resilience. We help them further implement tools already at their disposal and ensure they meet their compliance requirements. Our expertise and capabilities covering everything involving cybersecurity also go much further, from fractional CISO services and managed MDR to complete SaaS security support and more.  

If your organization is already integrated with Office 365, it makes sense to mine the inherent Office 365 security modules in place to improve your resilience. Connect with our team today to learn how we can help. 

Post Written By: Jason Middaugh
Jason Middaugh has been involved with information security and management systems for more than 20 years. As an experienced Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and technology executive, Jason has been heavily involved in leading the transformation and management of information security, cloud services and more by advancing technology strategies. Jason is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and has been with Inversion6 as a CISO since 2019.

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