Microsoft 365 also known as Office 365 is a popular cloud-based productivity suite enabling us to communicate via emails, create documents, as well as collaborate with others. However, despite its popularity and the company’s continuous efforts to ensure the security of data, there are still potential data security issues that users need to be aware of.
There are several main concerns with data security in Microsoft 365, including:
- Data breaches: Microsoft 365 data can be vulnerable to breaches if user accounts are compromised, leading to data theft or exposure. One example of a data breach that affected Microsoft 365 users occurred in early 2021. In March of that year, Microsoft announced that a group of hackers had gained access to its Exchange Server software and used it to steal data from thousands of organizations, including government agencies and private companies.
The attack was attributed to a Chinese state-sponsored group known as Hafnium, and it was believed to have begun as early as January 2021. The hackers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in the Exchange Server software to gain access to email accounts, contacts, and other sensitive information.
While the breach itself did not directly affect Microsoft 365 users, many organizations that use the software were still vulnerable to data theft or exposure if their accounts were compromised. This is because Microsoft 365 accounts are often linked to email accounts, and once a hacker gains access to one, they may be able to access other connected accounts as well. Additionally, if sensitive data is stored within Microsoft 365 accounts, it may be at risk of being accessed or stolen in the event of a breach.
- Insider threats: Unauthorised access to sensitive information can also come from within the organization, where employees or partners may intentionally or accidentally leak or misuse data. Employees or business partners can leak information from Microsoft 365 in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples:
- Unauthorised access: If an employee or partner gains access to sensitive data through their Microsoft 365 account, they may be able to copy or forward it to unauthorised parties.
- Malicious intent: An employee or partner may intentionally leak data for personal gain or to harm the organization.
- Human error: Accidental leaks can occur when an employee or partner unintentionally shares sensitive data, such as by forwarding an email to the wrong person.
Microsoft 365 does offer some features to help prevent data leaks, such as data loss prevention (DLP) policies and sensitivity labels. DLP policies can be used to block or restrict the forwarding or copying of sensitive data, while sensitivity labels can be used to classify and protect data based on its level of sensitivity.
However, these features are not foolproof and rely on the proper configuration and user compliance. For example, a user can still take a screenshot of sensitive information or use a mobile device to take a photo of their computer screen, and these actions may not be blocked by DLP policies or sensitivity labels. Additionally, Microsoft 365 cannot prevent an authorised user with access to sensitive data from intentionally leaking it, so organisations must also implement other security measures, such as user training, access controls, and monitoring.
- Malware and phishing attacks: Microsoft 365 users are also at risk of cyberattacks such as phishing, ransomware, and other malware that can compromise user accounts and data.
In May 2021, Microsoft 365 users were targeted in a massive phishing campaign that used malicious emails disguised as legitimate Microsoft Teams notifications to steal login credentials. This attack, known as “FakeTeams,” was able to bypass Microsoft’s built-in security features and tricked many users into unknowingly giving their login information to the attackers.
This incident highlights the ongoing risk of malware and phishing attacks for Microsoft 365 users, and underscores the importance of implementing additional security measures, such as multi-factor authentication and user training, to help prevent such attacks from succeeding.
- Compliance risks: Microsoft 365 may put organisations that need to comply with certain regulations at risk in several ways:
- Data location: Some regulations require that certain types of data be stored in specific geographic locations or jurisdictions. However, Microsoft 365 data may be stored in different locations depending on the user’s location, which could result in non-compliance.
- Lack of control: Organizations may have limited control over the security measures and policies implemented by Microsoft for Microsoft 365. This lack of control could result in non-compliance with regulations that require specific security measures to be in place.
- Data retention: Regulations may require organizations to retain data for a specific period, but Microsoft 365’s data retention policies may not align with those requirements, potentially resulting in non-compliance.
- Third-party access: Some regulations may require organizations to restrict access to data to only authorized parties, but Microsoft 365 may grant access to third-party vendors or contractors, which could result in non-compliance.
- Lack of transparency: Microsoft’s data handling and processing practices may not be transparent enough to allow organizations to fully understand how their data is being used, which could result in non-compliance with regulations that require transparency and accountability.
- Data loss: Accidental or intentional deletion of important files or data loss due to system failure can also pose a threat to data security in Microsoft 365.
No matter what type of security protocols are in place, email content will always remain vulnerable and subject to various threats. But that’s where help is available. Siccura Mail is the ultimate email security software. The easy-to-use solution connects to your Microsoft 365 accounts and offers advanced security protection on all email content, including attachments. This means that only authorised recipients can access the content you have shared. Not even Microsoft 365 and Siccura itself can read your data.
Moreover, the desktop and mobile-friendly software offers default view-only permission to every email sent or received. To keep you in total control, the solution has over 15 security features such as the ability to revoke access to emails sent, and setting preview limits on the amount of time spent viewing an email to ensure messages self-destruct after a specific time. With so many additional content rights available, you and your employees can be sure that your business data remains in your control 24/7.
So, no matter where you emails go, with or without your knowledge Siccura Mail keeps them private, secure and in your control.