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Ten Steps To Improving Your Office 365 Email Security

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Office 365 email is crucial to organisations to keep them working, collaborating, and sharing information. It has also become a popular way to gain access to confidential data, files, and documents.

Cyberattacks can lead to loss of clients, business interruption, and reputation damage, so it’s important to put measures in place to stop the barrage of email cyberattacks. Organisations need to employ a range of security measures and not rely on just one approach. Multi-layered approaches have proven to be far more effective.

Here are ten ways to strengthen your organisation’s Office 365 email security to minimise the unauthorised access of your systems and information.

1.    Add Multi-Factor Authentication

Utilising usernames and passwords only to protect email is no longer enough, so multifactor authentication (MFA) adds another layer of protection and can stop up to 99.9% of attacks. MFA is an additional step needed to log into your email which helps verify your identity. By verifying your login information through a one-off code or authenticator app, you can minimise the risk of unauthorised access to your email and subsequent systems.

2.    Discontinue Legacy Authentication

Discontinue outdated modes of authentication protocols such as SMTP, IMAP, and POP. These are easy targets for attackers as they are basic authentication techniques and don’t support multifactor authentication. By discontinuing the use of these, your account will be more secure and less exposed to potential attackers.

3.    Enable Unified Audit Log

Unified Audit Log (UAL) allows an organisation to track users and account actions across the Office 365 suite. It provides reports on deletions, downloads, edits, etc, and you can set up custom alerting to receive notifications whenever specific activities occur.

By enabling UAL, you will be notified of possible suspicious behaviour or attacks. It also allows you to have an overview of activities and to reverse certain actions that have been made.

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4.    Enable Email Security Protocols

There are a range of email security protocols including Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) which will require enabling. They’re designed to work alongside each other and provide enhanced protection against phishing scams and spam.

These email security protocols are known for being difficult to configure, but this outweighs the higher level of protection they provide.

5.    Disable Mailbox Auto-Forwarding

For ease of use, some staff auto-forward their emails to remote domains (domains outside the business including Gmail). This, however, can increase the risk of unauthorised access to confidential information and a potential data breach as it is outside the security of the organisation. The auto-forwarding of emails to external domains must be disabled to remove this risk.

6.    Subscribe To Alerts for Suspicious Activities

There are various online notification services that you can subscribe to, including Microsoft, which will provide you with warnings of potential external threats. By subscribing to these, you can stay ahead of threats and stop any impending attacks or minimise the damage.

7.    Use Microsoft 365 Secure Score

Microsoft 365 Secure Score helps you protect your organisation from security threats. Basically, it examines your organisation’s cybersecurity and assigns a number. The higher the value of that number, the more you need to improve your cybersecurity.

8.    Encrypt Corporate Email

Due to the sensitive nature of information shared via email, it is important to protect it from cyberattacks. The encryption process encodes your data so only authorised users can decrypt the content. Office 365 has an encryption security feature which encrypts emails; however, this alone won’t stop the unauthorised interception of email information. This needs to be part of an overall cybersecurity strategy.   

9.    ‘Report Message’ Add-In

When a suspicious or phishing email is received, a user can report this directly to the organisation’s administrators. By turning this feature on and allowing users to report suspect messages, administrators can stop the attack. Office 365 can also track events and add them to the Security Dashboard for reporting and tracking purposes. Although programs like MailGuard can identify and block phishing emails in their tracks, it is still a good idea to enable the ‘report message’ feature for that additional layer of security and extra peace of mind.  

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10. Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Human error plays a big part in cyberattacks, with one click an employee can provide access to confidential systems and information. By training employees in the dangers of attacks and best practice cybersecurity, this will allow them to learn how to protect themselves and your business from attacks. Programs such as Proofpoint, which can easily be installed and integrated by your managed service provider, can help to safeguard users against advanced email threats as well.

Multi-Layered Approach

The multi-layered approach to improving your Office 365 email security is the way to go. Although the combination of the tactics we covered may sound time consuming, choosing to not follow them will inevitably result in cyberattacks and security breaches. These attacks and breaches could lead to the loss of confidential information and damage to your reputation, so investing that time is worth it.

If you’d like to know more about end-user managed services, contact the experts at Lindentech today.

3 Comments

  • October 5, 2021

    Joshua

    Thank you very much for this! I’ve just set up my first online business and trying to be a jack of all trades is impossible!

  • October 9, 2021

    Nevaeh

    Our employees had problems getting used to using 2FA but now it’s common practice, one of the easiest steps to tighten email security.

  • October 10, 2021

    Gabriel

    Awareness training is key! With human error being such a huge factor I would first eliminate this by having recurrent cybersecurity training sessions. With 95% of successful cyberattacks being the result of phishing scams, having training employees that can easily detect cyber attack attempts.

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