The security of Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is one of a number of cloud-based applications that have a whole range of benefits for businesses, large and small. From improving scalability to simplifying updates and maintenance the advantages are plentiful. However, there are still those who doubt whether Microsoft Office 365 is really as secure as it appears to be and feel that SaaS is much more susceptible to a digital attack than the hard drive of a computer. Is this doubt well placed or is the security of Microsoft Office 365 actually pretty comprehensive?

Where are the issues?

Microsoft Office 365 first arrived in 2011 and consists of a range of cloud-based applications, cloud-powered email and various services like Word and Excel. It’s a system that is now the first choice for millions of users and which has a very extensive global reach. It’s also become a target for hackers, partly due to this huge increase in popularity. As a result, there has been a significant escalation in attacks designed to use Microsoft Office 365 – for example, 48% of malicious email attachments are Office files. It’s this – and the fact that storage and systems are cloud based and not on a physical device that is the worry for many.

Is Microsoft Office 365 the problem?

Delving further in to the issues surrounding Microsoft Office 365 would most likely identifying that the problem is not with the software itself but with the way that humans use it. Malware rarely just gets through the system of its own accord – it takes a human being to carelessly open an attachment from a sender they don’t recognise or to fail to read the content of an email properly before clicking on a link. Regardless of the fact that Microsoft Office 365 is based in the cloud – which is often identified as the biggest security concern – human intervention is usually required to allow hackers to get in through safeguards. As a result, it’s crucial for every business to take security seriously when using Microsoft Office 365, which could mean:

  • Training staff to know what a malicious link or document is going to look like and to delete the email it came in without opening anything.
  • Ensuring positive password practices, such as regularly changing password and avoiding weak passwords such as “123456.”
  • Failing to maintain or patch older software. If you’re using Microsoft Office 365 then the patching and maintenance is likely to be done automatically but this may not be the case for other software on the same machine, which could provide an entry point for hackers.
  • Avoiding unsecure websites. It’s essential that no one is accessing dodgy websites via devices that are connected to business networks.
  • Putting a contingency plan in place. If the worst does happen, ensuring that you have a plan in place with allow for immediate action, which may be essential if you want to avoid extensive damage.

Microsoft Office 365 offers a secure solution that has the same vulnerabilities as many other cloud based systems – which are human, more often than not.

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