Cloud-based SaaS has become one of the most popular methods in which businesses conduct work in today’s world. Platforms like Microsoft 365 have dominated the market, and boast huge user numbers--with over a million companies leveraging the technology, worldwide. The benefits of Microsoft 365 are many: ease of use, accessible from anywhere, and affordable. Even more so, Microsoft 365 allows users to take their work tasks and productivity to the next level.

While the benefits of Microsoft 365 are abundant, there is an equal amount of data security risks and vulnerabilities you should know about. In fact, over 70% of businesses using Microsoft 365 experienced at least one compromised account each month.

Read on to learn about vulnerabilities enterprise face while using Microsoft 365, solutions, and how backup can help elevate your security.

Doesn’t Microsoft 365 Protect My Data?

When thinking of data security and Microsoft 365, your first thought may be, doesn’t Microsoft already protect my data?

The short answer is not really. Microsoft 365 operates on a shared responsibility model, meaning they cover some security measures, but don’t offer comprehensive coverage. SaaS providers like Microsoft 365 are responsible for application uptime, data availability, basic retention, and infrastructure-level security.

Microsoft 365 will also protect against service interruptions due to hardware or software failure and loss of service due to a natural disaster or power outage. However, Microsoft 365 does not protect against:

The Shared Responsibility Model and the Importance of Cloud Backup

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Microsoft 365 Vulnerabilities & Solutions

While your data is protected against some risks, the data security issues mentioned above are your responsibility to manage. This may sound overwhelming, but there are some risks and solutions to protect your data, which you can read below.

1. Hacked Microsoft 365 global admin accounts

      The problem: Global admin accounts are high priority targets for hackers, since these accounts control and configure a business’s M365 user accounts, applications, and settings. And for hackers, those are the keys to the kingdom. When global admin accounts become compromised, your data is also at risk. When this happens, hackers can alter critical settings, delete safeguard settings, open backdoors, and gain access to sensitive data.

      The solution: To mitigate this data breach, businesses should enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). A recent report found that 99.9% of compromised Microsoft 365 accounts did not use multi-factor authentication. Global admin can manually turn on MFA to prevent malicious actors from gaining access to accounts. 

      2. Compromised business emails from phishing & more

          The problem: Phishing and whaling are common cyber attacks when it comes to hacking business emails. In 2020, nearly 75% of businesses fell victim to a phishing attack. More often than not, malicious actors use email as a method for introducing malware and ransomware. By creating look-alike system links or email addresses, hackers can trick unsuspecting users into clicking malicious links.

          The solution: There are several ways in which you can protect against compromised emails and email hacking attempts.

          • Enable email encryption: Microsoft 365 users can encrypt emails they send, which helps ensure the email is only seen by the intended recipient. This helps reinforce safe security practices amongst users.
          • Disable auto-forwarding: Auto-forwarding makes your email vulnerable when malicious actors can configure a user’s mailbox to automatically forward email, which can contain sensitive data. Turn off auto-forwarding by setting up a mail flow rule to reject auto-forwarding emails to external accounts.

          3. Abuse of user privileges

          The problem: Another frequent problem businesses run into is when users abuse their Microsoft 365 privileges. If a user has access and permissions to all files and items under a company account, this can wreak havoc on your security. Users may accidentally delete or expose sensitive data, which can be a major problem for compliance standards like HIPAA. Furthermore, having a user with more permissions than necessary can make them easy targets for hackers, and gain access to company data.

          The solution: Assign user permissions and limit access. By granting users limited access relevant to their position and needs helps reduce any unwanted security breaches. Microsoft 365’s built-in administrator roles help businesses configure those permissions and controls, making it an easy fix. You can also delete or remove user permissions once a user is no longer an employee or moves to a different role.

          4. No mailbox auditing

            The problem: Mailbox auditing was not a default setting in Microsoft 365 until after January 2019. Meaning, if your account was set up before January 2019, it’s possible your mailbox auditing setting is disabled. Disabled mailbox auditing can cause security breaches, and fail to flag junk mail, phishing emails, or other suspicious files. Without being detected, malicious actors can gain entry to mailboxes for as long as they want, collecting sensitive data. This leaves mailboxes and data exposed and vulnerable to malicious actors.

            The solution: To minimize this risk, you can easily turn on mailbox auditing in the Exchange Admin Center. In doing so, this will allow global admins to keep track of suspicious activity and take any actions needed. Alerts can also be turned on to better track any activity and notify admins quickly.

            Get Even Better Security with Backupify

            There are many benefits of using Microsoft 365, but in using cloud-based SaaS platforms, there is always more risk of a security and data breach. Unfortunately, Microsoft 365’s shared responsibility model can only protect your data from so much. Using a cloud-based backup and security system, like Backupify, can provide you with comprehensive and reliable security. Backupify boasts robust security regulations and systems, like our private cloud and 3x daily backups. With Backupify, your data can be protected from all risks and vulnerabilities that come with using Microsoft 365, or any other SaaS application.

            Interested in upgrading your data security? Request a free demo today.