Many companies are allowing staff to work from home indefinitely, raising questions about how they can protect work data on personal or uncontrolled devices.

Because we can lose company data in a variety of ways across different devices, we need to apply a variety of protection measures. Let’s take a look at the features in Microsoft 365 that can allow companies to protect their data while users are working remotely.

Use Mobile Application Management

Despite the name, mobile application management doesn’t just apply to mobile devices, it can also protect Windows 10 devices. Mobile Application Management policies can protect company data on both managed and unmanaged devices.

It works by applying protections to the apps your teams use to access company data, like Outlook, Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint.

You can enforce restrictions on these apps to prevent data being saved, cut, copied or pasted.

Mobile Application Management Prevent Copy Paste

You can also require a PIN when the app starts or block the app from running on a jailbroken phone or tablet.

Mobile Application Management Pin Code

This feature can be used to selectively wipe company data from a users device, without affecting their personal files. This is handy for organisations where staff use their personal computers and mobile devices to access company information.

Mobile Application Management Wipe Device

Set up conditional access policies

We can use Conditional Access to enforce restrictions on non-compliant or unmanaged devices. Such as blocking access entirely, or preventing particular actions like stopping users from saving attachments in Outlook on the web or syncing files to OneDrive

We can apply these protections in other ways to apps like OneDrive and SharePoint. Preventing users from syncing data to their personal devices by either blocking access or only allowing limited web only access

SharePoint Prevent Access From Unmanaged Device

Use Cloud App Security to protect data on third-party apps

These protections don’t just relate to Microsoft 365 apps like OneDrive, SharePoint and Outlook; we can use Microsoft Cloud App Security to apply additional protections to apps like Dropbox Business too. Applying protection to a third-party app like Dropbox Business can prevent users from downloading your company data to unmanaged devices.

Control Dropbox Access Unmanaged Device

Apps like Dropbox Business also provide their own security measures, allowing you to block access and wipe company data when a device next comes online.Wipe Dropbox Device Remotely

Configure idle session time outs

To lessen the likelihood of the wrong people accessing company information on a shared device, we can configure idle session time outs. These will sign users out after a period of inactivity, just like your bank does.

Enable SharePoint Idle Session Timeout

Get alerts on suspicious activities

Cloud App Security includes built-in alerts that trigger on potentially suspicious activities. We can use these to get notified about things like mass deletions, mass downloads and unusual volumes of external sharing

Enable Cloud App Security Alerts

Protect sensitive data with Data Loss Prevention

We can use data loss prevention to restrict or impose conditions on the sharing of sensitive information. These policies can trigger on certain keywords like project names or sensitive information types like credit card numbers, driver’s license details or tax file information. Once a file containing this info is detected, it can display a warning, be blocked from being sent or have encryption applied.

Use Data Loss Prevention

Using Cloud App Security, we can apply additional data loss prevention measures to third party apps like Box and Dropbox Business

Use Sensitivity Labels

But what happens if this all fails, and someone downloads company data to a personal, unmanaged device. To protect against this, we can apply sensitivity labels. These labels define how sensitive a particular piece of content is and in turn can enforce protections on our data. What’s more, these protections apply no matter where it ends up. These baked-in protections can limit who can access the file and what they can do with it. Preventing the wrong people from opening, copying, saving, forwarding or printing sensitive documents or emails.

Protect Data With Sensitivity Labels

In many cases, these protections can be applied automatically by scanning for those same keywords and sensitive information types that data loss prevention uses.

Automatically Classify Content With Sensitivity Labels

As you can probably tell by now, there’s a lot you can do to protect your sensitive data when people are working from home. If you need help with any of this, reach out to us below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

Improvements to Azure AD Identity Protection have launched, making it easier to identify and manage identity risks in your organization.

What is Azure Active Directory Identity Protection?

Azure AD Identity Protection uses machine learning to identify signs of suspicious activity or issues that might cause you to have a compromised identity in your organization. We can use Azure Identity Protection to configure policies that impose conditions on sign-ins or users that are deemed risky by Microsoft 365. We can also use it to manage, investigate and remediate risk alerts when a suspicious sign-in or user is detected.

Azure Identity Protection can generate alerts based on the following risk events:

  • Atypical travel
  • Anonymous IP
  • Unfamiliar sign in properties
  • Malware linked IP addresses
  • Leaked credentials
  • Azure AD Threat intelligence (activities that match known attack patterns)

The leaked credential alert is especially useful because it will let you know whether some of your users have credentials that are exposed on the dark web or in another breach. We use this in conjunction with the Have I Been Pwned API to alert our customers to compromised credentials.

Where can I find Azure Active Directory Identity Protection?

  1. Sign in to portal.azure.com
  2. Open Azure Active DirectoryAzure Identity Protection In Azure Portal
  3. Scroll down to Security on the left rail
  4. Open Identity Protection.Open Azure Identity Protection

What’s new in Azure Active Directory Identity Protection?

Azure Identity Protection has been updated with new controls for managing, investigating and remediate issues with our identities.Azure Identity Protection Improved Controls

We can use these improved controls to manage risk events in bulk, easily confirming a compromised user or dismissing alerts. These new controls are handy for larger organisations who generate many alerts each day. Azure Identity Protection Managing User Risk Events In Bulk

For each alert, we can drill down and see more information on the user’s recent activities. We can see other user sign-ins and risk detections, as well as reset passwords, confirm compromise, block access and investigate further in Azure ATP. Choosing to investigate further opens up Cloud App Security, providing more insight into the user’s recent activities that contributed to the alert.Azure Identity Protection User Risk Event Details

What license do I need for Azure Identity Protection?

Azure Identity Protection is included in Azure AD Premium P2 license. Azure AD Premium P2 is available under the following licenses:

  • Azure Active Directory Premium P2  standalone SKU
  • Microsoft 365 E5
  • Office 365 E5
  • Enterprise Mobility Suite E5

You get some limited reporting on risky users, risky sign-ins and risk detections in Azure AD Premium P1, which is included in Microsoft 365 Business Premium.

Since Microsoft licensing can change, see here for up to date licensing requirements.

 

 

What are phishing emails?

Phishing emails are fake messages, designed to look legitimate.

They cost businesses around the world billions of dollars each year. And they get opened by about 30% of people. These emails will generally impersonate a person or company that you trust or deal with, and attempt to trick you using one of three things:

They’ll use a fake person – someone pretending to be someone you know, so that you share information or transfer money into an attacker’s bank account.

They’ll set up a fake site – So that you enter your private information, like passwords or credit card details, or provide a rogue app with permission to access your data.

They’ll create fake attachments – attackers will disguise malware in fake invoices and shipping notification to remotely access your computer or encrypt your files.

How can I prevent phishing emails with Microsoft 365?

To give our teams the best chance of avoiding phishing emails, not only do we need to make people aware of the methods above, we need to configure the features in Microsoft 365 that address them. Starting with Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

Start with Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

This is your companies primary defence against phishing emails. While all Office 365 plans come with a built-in anti-phish policy, it’s not even close to what’s offered in Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, also known as Office 365 ATP.

Once you’ve purchased Office 365 ATP, you should jump into the Security and Compliance centre and check out your anti-phishing policy.

Detect User Impersonation Phishing Emails in Microsoft 365

Its default controls are pretty good for detecting phishing emails that impersonate your users, your domains and external contacts. It develops an understanding of how your users and their contacts interact, the addresses and sending infrastructure they use, and identifies anything out of the ordinary. If it detects an impersonation attempt, the message is either quarantined or delivered with a warning.

You can enhance your protection by adding users in roles like CEO or CFO to the targeted user protection feature. You can also add external domains, that you frequently interact with, to the targeted domains feature.

Protect CEO And CFO From Phishing Emails

 

Use a mail transport rule to warn on external impersonation

You can configure a mail rule that applies a warning to messages where an external sender uses a display name that matches someone internally in your company. We have an example rule on our website that has been pretty popular amongst smaller organisations.

Warn On External User Impersonation For Phishing

So that helps address fake senders, how about fake attachments and fake websites? Office 365 ATP addresses these with the Safe Attachments and Safe Links policies.

Detect malicious attachments with Safe Attachments policy

The safe attachments policy can protect your users from malware sent by phishing emails, like the COVID-19 phishing campaign that used Excel files to install a malicious remote access tool. The Safe Attachments feature analyses your attachments in a separate environment, running a bunch of checks for malware then blocking the email or removing the unsafe attachment.

Block Malware With Safe Attachments in Office 365 ATP

 

Detect malicious websites with a Safe Links Policy

The Safe links policy scans your URLs in emails for links to malicious sites. If a malicious website is detected, Safe Links blocks users from visiting it.

Block Malicious Site With Safe Links In Office 365 ATP

 

Remove phishing emails from mailboxes after delivery

These tools work by analysing messages for known malware, bad links or untrusted senders and stopping them arriving. But what happens if a bad email gets through, and the system doesn’t realise until later?

You should configure Zero Hour Auto Purge. Zero Hour Auto purge removes bad messages from your mailboxes retroactively and sends them junk, quarantine or deleted items.

Remove Phishing Emails From Mailboxes With Zero Hour Auto Purge

 

Set up Office 365 ATP and Exchange Online Protection with recommended best practices

I’ve just discussed four different security policies in a few minutes. If you’ve spent any time looking at ATP or Exchange Online Protection policies, you’ll probably notice there’s a lot of policies, and most of them are already set up. Should you change anything or leave them as they are?

It would help if you changed them, and Microsoft has two levels of recommended best practices that they say will prevent most unwanted messages from reaching your team.

Configure Best Practices For Phishing In EOP and ATP

These two levels are called Strict and Standard. In our experience, Strict is very strict, but it’s a good starting point that you can enable first, and adjust later.

Test users by simulating a phishing campaign

Once your policies are set up, you should test your users. If you purchase Office 365 ATP Plan 2, you can run attack simulations against your team. Attack Simulations can help you identify and find vulnerable users before a real attack impacts them.

Simulate Phishing Attack With Office 365 ATP

 

Protect your accounts if your team gives up their credentials

But what happens when messages get through? What happens when users get duped and provide their login details to attackers?

Protect your accounts. If a user enters their credentials into a fake website, we need to make sure an attacker can’t use these credentials alone to log in. All Office and Microsoft 365 plans allow you to configure multi-factor authentication; this will ensure that attackers can’t log in without having access to an additional form of verification such as a phone or authentication token.

Set Up Multi Factor Authentication

If you have a plan that includes Azure Identity Protection, you should set up a sign-in risk policy to monitor for unusual logins. These policies use machine learning to detect suspicious activity and can temporarily block sign-ins and accounts if something’s amiss.

Configure Sign In Risk Policy In Azure Identity Protection

 

Monitor for unusual applications with access to your users’ data.

Now that accounts are getting more secure by default, attackers are requesting access to user data via apps. And it’s worse if they manage to trick an admin user because then attackers can have longstanding access to an entire organisation that persists even when passwords are changed.

Detect Phishing Attacks Via OAuth Apps Microsoft Cloud App Security

It can be challenging to detect if a user clicks a phishing link and provides a rogue app with access to their mailbox, OneDrive or SharePoint data. So you use Microsoft Cloud App Security to get alerted to unusual oAuth applications with access to your teams’ information.

Ban Uncommon Apps Via Microsoft Cloud App Security

 

Be extra vigilant if your data has been exposed in the past

Take extra care if you, or companies you regularly interact with, have been breached before. If attackers have had access to your company data and know who usually communicates with who, and for what purposes, they will try to exploit that information by setting up fake emails to hold their fake conversations with their fake invoices to get your real money.

Need help with phishing in Office 365 or Microsoft 365?

If you need assistance setting-up these policies in your organisation or need a hand cleaning up after a successful phishing attack in Microsoft 365, we’d be happy to help. Reach out to us via chat, or using the form below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


While most organisations take measures to prevent and protect against external cyber-attacks, many don’t protect themselves against accidental leaks by their internal staff.

Accidental disclosure is the unintentional release or sharing of sensitive information. In Australia, human error was the cause of 32% of reported data breaches in the last half of 2019.

Causes of Australian Data Breaches December 2019

Sending private information to the wrong person can put an organisation’s reputation on the line and have a dramatic effect on the disclosed party. Under Australia’s Privacy Laws, businesses need to have security measures in place to protect personal data from being leaked unintentionally.

How does an accidental data breach occur?

It’s often a staff member sending an email to the wrong person or inadvertently attaching a document that contains sensitive information. It could also be sending Personally Identifiable Information like Tax File Numbers, Credit Card numbers or Medical information over insecure channels.

What steps can I take to prevent accidental data leakage?

It may be obvious, but it starts with user education.

Document your best-practices and train users on what types of information they can share outside of the organisation.

But what can we configure to make sure we detect and catch any mistakes before they go out?

Microsoft has tools that can prevent sensitive information from being sent unintentionally. Here is a brief list of each tool and what they can do:

Communication Compliance

Communication Compliance Alerts On Sensitive Info Types

Communication Compliance is the latest addition to Microsoft’s insider-risk toolset. Communication Compliance helps you detect, capture and take remediation actions when your team sends inappropriate messages.

So what’s an inappropriate message? It can be something that goes against HR policies, like the sending of harassment, inappropriate or offensive language. It can also detect adult, racy or gory images. You can use pre-configured templates to identify sensitive information types or create a custom policy that can detect references to confidential internal projects.

Once a message is detected, communication compliance triggers an alert for investigation and remediation.

Data Loss Prevention

Data Loss Prevention Policies To Stop External Sharing Of Sensitive Info

While communication compliance can monitor messages for inappropriate or sensitive information, data loss prevention policies can prevent them from being sent. Data-loss Prevention policies allow you to block, or impose conditions on the sharing of sensitive information.

With DLP, you can specify types of content that cannot leave your organisation. Sensitive info types include credit card information, tax file numbers, drivers license information and more. Microsoft 365 scans the content of your email, attachments and shared files and can either notify you or prevent it from being sent.

Office 365 message encryption

Office 365 Message Encryption

You can encrypt email and attachments to ensure that only the intended recipients can view their contents. You can also prevent recipients from forwarding, saving, copying or printing your email and attachments. Encryption can be applied by default to all messages, enabled manually by users, or automatically based on the type of information you’re sharing.

Sensitivity labels

Label Files And Emails With Sensitivity Labels In Microsoft 365

Your files can be labelled according to their sensitivity level, and policies can be applied relating to these levels. By appropriately labelling files and emails, you can ensure that your most sensitive information is only accessible by trusted recipients no matter where it ends up.

Use Auto-Labeling In Microsoft 365 Based On Sensitive Info Types

You don’t have to rely on a user labelling content based on an arbitrary choice. Automated file labelling scans the content of your file and applies a sensitivity label based on its content.

Use built-in external sharing alerts

Configure External Sharing Alerts in Microsoft 365

Configure built-in alerts for external sharing. Alerts in Microsoft 365 can notify you each time a user shares information externally, or when an unusual volume of external sharing occurs.

Microsoft Cloud App Security

Configure Microsoft Cloud App Security

Cloud App Security can detect suspicious activities across Microsoft 365 and third-party cloud apps. For example, it can let you know if someone performs a mass delete or download of your information from SharePoint, OneDrive, Dropbox Business, Google Drive or Box.

External Sharing Insights in Cloud App Security

Cloud App Security also provides detailed reports and insights into how your information is shared externally.

Share files via cloud storage

Share Files Via Cloud Storage To Prevent Accidental Leaks

A better way to share data is via cloud storage rather than email attachments. Using cloud storage, you can create links to files, set access control and timed expiry – as well as revoke access. You can also view audit logs of file access to understand who is viewing your information. Sending files as attachments is a less secure way of sharing data – if you have to use it, you should ensure your encrypting messages with file attachments or using sensitive labels to protect them.

Need help protecting your sensitive data?

Naturally, there is significant consideration and configuration to apply these settings and privacy controls for your organisation. At GCITS, we have experience in cloud environments with complex security requirements. We have developed a typical security profile based on the Australian businesses that we most often service.

We can deploy these security solutions with minimal disruption. Your team can work with unimpeded access to clients, suppliers and teammates knowing that automated safety nets are in place.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What Is Microsoft 365 Business Premium

On April 21, 2020, Microsoft rebranded it’s small and medium business Office 365 products to Microsoft 365. This resulted in a name change for the popular Microsoft 365 Business product as well, which is now called Microsoft 365 Business Premium.

Note that the pricing and makeup of the plans haven’t changed, just the names.
Previously calledNow calledWhat it has
Office 365 Business EssentialsMicrosoft 365 Business BasicCloud Services
Office 365 Business PremiumMicrosoft 365 Business StandardCloud services and desktop apps
Microsoft 365 BusinessMicrosoft 365 Business PremiumCloud services, desktop apps and advanced security

We’ve been advocates of Microsoft 365 Business Premium for a while now. We believe it’s the best value Microsoft 365 product around for businesses with under 300 users.

Want to know how to protect your data in Microsoft 365 Business Premium? Download our free guide to learn what features to switch on.

 

So why do we think you should go with Microsoft 365 Business Premium over Basic or Standard?

For us, it comes down to the Microsoft 365 Business Premium’s advanced security and compliance features.

Security and Compliance features of Microsoft 365 Business Premium

Microsoft 365 Business Premium includes advanced security features that are not present in the lower tier plans. These include:

Malware and Phishing protection with Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

Microsoft 365 Safe Links and Safe Attachment policies protect against known and zero-day malware. Anti-Phishing policies protect users against phishing attacks using mailbox intelligence and machine-learning enhanced sender reputation checks.

Enhanced security for identities with Conditional Access

Conditional Access policies help balance security and productivity by applying the right security measures at the right time. For instance, if Microsoft 365 detects a risky sign-in from an unexpected location or non-compliant device, it can prompt for multi-factor authentication or block access to the user.

Enforce encryption on devices using Microsoft Intune

We can use Microsoft Intune to protect data on devices in the event of loss or theft. Microsoft Intune can configure Windows BitLocker, Apple’s File Vault, and encryption settings on Android and iOS devices.

Classify and protect confidential information with Azure Information Protection

Azure information protection helps companies use sensitivity labels and policies to classify and protect data. Built-in labels include Personal, Public, General, Confidential and Highly Confidential.

Depending on what label is applied, a policy can be used to protect it. These policies can enforce encryption, apply watermarks, prevent it from leaving your organisation and more.

Control company data on PCs with Windows Information protection

Many people use the same computer for both work and personal tasks. Windows Information protection tags files as ‘Work’ if they are generated by, or saved from, a corporate app. Files tagged as ‘Work’ are subject to the controls defined in your Information Protection policies. These files can:

  • be encrypted
  • prevented from being uploaded or shared via unmanaged apps
  • remotely wiped without affecting personal data.

Control access to sensitive emails with Information Rights Management

Information Rights Management allows your team to apply restrictions like “Do Not Copy” for specific documents and emails. When a recipient receives the email or document, they’ll be unable to forward, save, print or copy it.

Prevent sharing of sensitive info with Data Loss Prevention

Data Loss Prevention policies monitor the types of data that are uploaded to and shared outside your company. This info could be tax file numbers, credit card information, drivers license details and many more. When sensitive information is detected, the Data Loss Prevention policy can encrypt the message, notify the sender, alert an admin or block the message from being sent or file uploaded.

Remotely wipe company data and enforce security on devices with Microsoft Intune

Microsoft Intune lets us enforce security requirements on the devices that access company data. These could include requiring a strong password and encryption on phones and only allowing access via company-approved apps. When employees leave the company, Microsoft 365 can remotely wipe company data from the device without affecting personal info.

Unlimited archive for email

Microsoft 365 Business Premium provides practically unlimited storage for your email. Alongside the standard 50GB mailbox, users can access an unlimited archive of their email in Outlook.

Want to enable advanced security in Microsoft 365 Business Premium?

While you get all the above features with Microsoft 365 Business Premium, you still need to configure them to suit your business and requirements. You can outsource the security of your cloud environment to GCITS. Get in touch for an expert assessment, and we can ensure the ongoing state management of these essential security policies.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This update will bring extra document management capabilities from SharePoint into Microsoft Teams.

The current Microsoft Teams files experience

The document storage and collaboration functionality in Microsoft Teams is built on SharePoint. Every Microsoft Team is also an Office 365 Group, and each team has a group-connected SharePoint site which stores all the files shared amongst the team.

You can already reach this site from the files tab of your Microsoft Teams channels, however the experience within Teams is a bit limited.

Microsoft Teams Open In SharePoint

An updated Document Library experience in Microsoft Teams

This update brings the full functionality of a SharePoint Document Library into Microsoft Teams. With the ability to add and manage custom columns, sort and filter files with custom views, trigger workflows and much more.

Sync files from Microsoft Teams with your PC or Mac

This is the standout feature in this update. The ability to sync files with a PC or Mac will be available from within Microsoft teams. At Ignite this year, Microsoft demonstrated the new interface during the Content Collaboration in the Modern Workplace – BRK2451 session.

This screen capture demonstrates custom columns, views and formatting, as well as the new sync button within Microsoft Teams.

The roadmap update for this feature listed a general availability date of Q3 of calendar year 2018, so it should be rolling out any minute now.

For more info on this feature, see the Content Collaboration in the Modern Workplace session from Microsoft Ignite.

Office 365 Advanced Threat protection and Office 365 threat intelligence logs can now be integrated into your SIEM solution.

Threats discovered by these services can be made available on the audit.general workload of the Office 365 Management APIs.

What are the Office 365 Management APIs?

The Office 365 Management APIs are essentially the API version of the Office 365 Unified Audit Log

To get your Office 365 ATP info into your SIEM, you’ll need to have the Unified Audit Log enabled for your tenant. Unfortunately, it’s not enabled by default.

How to enable the Office 365 Unified Audit Log

The Office 365 Unified Audit Log is an important and useful tool which can help you secure your Microsoft Cloud environment. If you’re a Microsoft Partner, we have a longer article on enabling this for your customers’ tenants here, but to enable it for a single tenant, you have two options.

Enable the Office 365 Unified Audit Log via the Security and Compliance Center

  1. You can log into the Security and Compliance Center at protection.office.com as a global or security administrator.
  2. You’ll find the setting under Search and Investigation, Audit Log Search.
  3. If the audit log isn’t enabled, click Start recording user and admin activities

Enable the Office 365 Unified Audit Log via Powershell

  1. Connect to Exchange Online via Powershell
  2. Type: Set-AdminAuditLogConfig -UnifiedAuditLogIngestionEnabled $true

Connect your SIEM to the Office 365 Management APIs

Once the audit log is enabled, threats discovered by Office 365 ATP and Threat Intelligence will be available on the audit.general endpoint of the Office 365 Management API. For more information on setting this up, see the official Microsoft documentation here.

Org-Wide Teams in Microsoft Teams let you create a single Microsoft Team that includes all internal users in your organisation. However, Microsoft recommends that you make some changes to the team’s settings to cut down on excess noise and notifications.

What is an Org-Wide Microsoft Team?

An Org-Wide team in Microsoft Teams is just a team that includes everybody in your organisation. Its member list will automatically update as users come and go, and while it currently supports up to 1000 users, there are plans to increase this limit.

How do you create an Org-Wide Microsoft Team?

Creating an org-wide team is quite simple, just choose the Org-Wide team option from the drop-down when creating a new team at https://teams.microsoft.com

Create An Org Wide Microsoft Team

What are some best practices for Org-Wide Microsoft Teams?

If you have a lot of users in your organisation, these types of teams could quickly become very noisy and distracting.

To reduce excess notifications and noise, Microsoft have some best practice recommendations.

Only let team owners post on the General channel

  1. You do this under Manage teamManaging A Microsoft Team
  2. Click Settings, then Member permissions, then select Only owners can post messages.Microsoft Teams Only Owners Can Post In Org Wide Teams General Channel

Disable @mentions for the whole team

You’ll probably want to disable @mentions for the whole team, since that can send a notification to up to a thousand people at once.

  1. You can do this do this under Settings, @mentions, Show members the option to @team or @[team name].

Dont Allow @Mentions In Org Wide Microsoft Teams

 

Automatically favorite important channels

Switch to the channels tab and tick Auto-favorite on the channels you would like to show up by default.

Auto-favourite Microsoft Teams Channels

Also note that while the video above states that the feature is still in development, it has since been marked as launched.