The shift to remote working during the pandemic has redefined the modern workplace. Flexible hybrid working and decentralised models have resulted in organisations rethinking their strategies and operations – and the Microsoft 365 E3 licensing solution has supported many in their hybrid working needs. But now, more than ever, is it important to consider your security strategy.
The hybrid working model means data that is critical to your organisation is no longer stored in your datacentre – its distributed across multiple cloud services. These endpoints – the laptops your users work on all day at home, the servers in the cloud keeping your e-commerce platform running – are a constant target of phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, etc. The risks of such a security breach and the associated bad publicity, reputational damage and potential fines are too high a risk to take, so organisations need to ensure they have a strong set of controls in place.
Beyond establishing a zero trust approach for your business, organisations can look at investing in a multiple point solution to protect their data, network, applications, and cloud. However, this can be expensive and leave blind spot in your visibility. The latest Microsoft 365 E5 provides enhanced tools to support organisations meet the rising security threats – but is this the right solution for you?
To aid you in identifying how you can best protect and secure your organisation (and what technology can support this), I have outlined the key points you should consider when securing your workplace.
Previously known as Cloud App Security, this solution/asset gives visibility into the cloud services that users are leveraging and allows you to exercise control in a granular way. You can set the parameters of what users are allowed to do within the cloud services. For example, if you discover that the bid team is sharing documents using a non-sanctioned cloud application which you deem is risky, you will want to prevent them from uploading information, while still allowing them to download information from customer and partners.
Benefit to you: Today, almost all organisations are using sanctioned cloud applications, and users will find their own cloud applications to get their work done. Some of those cloud applications might open up your organisation to risk of data theft, or storing data in geographies which are not compliant with GDPR etc. Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps helps you stay compliant and secure, guiding your users to applications you know to be fit-for-purpose.
Alternatives: You could add a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) from another vendor, but you would not benefit from the out-of-the-box integrations with other services such as Microsoft Information Protection and Data Loss Prevention. This may end up in a higher total cost of ownership, with lots of professional services needed to integrate and maintain.
Part of the Microsoft E5 license, this plan combines a number of features to strengthen your controls on who can access what – or “identity”. Access reviews reduce the IT overhead of managing who can access documents across the organisation by moving the burden of maintaining access lists from IT to the data owners in the business. Identity Protection, Privileged Identity Management and Risk based Conditional Access provide additional layers of security to ensure that administrators are connecting securely and from approved locations and devices and at the time of day you expect.
Benefit to you: Identity is a key pillar of a Zero Trust approach and is the glue which connects remote users to cloud data in a modern workplace
Alternatives: You could achieve this with other vendors by adding a number of different tools, but and it would not provide the simple ease of use, integration, and management benefits of E5.
This builds on the basic ‘defender for endpoint’ functionality to provide full endpoint detection and response, automated investigation, and remediation, as well as threat and vulnerability management. It is also part of the E5 solution.
Benefit to you: Now your users are working on their devices on home networks and from hotels, they are no longer protected by your corporate firewall. This means they must have a much stronger set of security controls to prevent the devices from being breached and used to gain access to your organisations network. You need to be able to identify, detect and remediate threats effecting your endpoints in real time, wherever they might be in the world.
Alternatives: While you can provide this with a third-party product, you will lose out on the tight integration, reporting and ease of use of a best-in-suite approach.
Included in the E5 license, Information Protection P2 provides the ability to assist users to classify their data more effectively. Classifying data (for example as “Public” or “Sensitive”) can help to ensure the right controls are applied to that data. E5 provides more automated features, for example helping users by recommending the right classification – guiding them to follow your corporate policies. You can warn users if they are about to overshare information via email, and you can scan your on-prem files and classify them automatically.
Benefit to you: Under-classifying a document means it will not be protected as well as it should be. Over-classifying files is also a problem as it results in a security policy being applied that is too stringent, leading to user frustration and additional costs. Helping users to classify their data correctly is especially important where the workforce is dispersed across home offices and may not have local IT support at their location to help them.
Alternatives: There are no real alternatives to this, beyond hoping your users classify their data correctly!
Regardless of your organisations size, industry, or location; the changing workplace is confronting us all with the challenge to protect one’s business from risk of security threats, and to overcome governance and compliance challenges. At a time where investing in the right technology could set you up for success and establish a true modern workplace for your organisation, many are seeing the benefit of moving to a tightly integrated suite of security controls such as Microsoft’s E5.
To find out how E5 can benefit your organisation, download our e-book and speak to our licensing experts to discuss how to upgrade to Microsoft 365 E5 and keep your business more secure.