New security features for Microsoft Office 365

New security features for Microsoft Office 365 2019

Cybersecurity and privacy concerns among Australian organisations have been on the uptick for a long time. Customers are more conscious about who sees their information and how it’s managed, and compliance obligations regarding data privacy are stricter than ever. What’s worse, the number of reported data breach incidents seem to climb to new heights every quarter.

To meet ever-evolving privacy requirements, companies must implement stringent controls that ensure data confidentiality. This is much easier to achieve thanks to new security features built into the Microsoft Office 365 platform. Here are the most notable enhancements (keep in mind that these are only available for Office 365 E5 and E5 Compliance subscribers).    

Advanced message encryption

The recently released advanced message encryption feature is designed to safeguard emails that are shared outside your company. There are three components to this feature. The first enables you to apply custom rules to outgoing messages. For example, Office 365 can be programmed to automatically encrypt any message containing keywords like ‘classified’ or ‘private’.

The second component lets you create automatic policies that identify sensitive emails (e.g., messages containing personal records) and set expiration dates for them. This is especially useful if your company is required to restrict how long recipients can access sensitive data.

Finally, the third component allows you to revoke access to encrypted emails. By doing this, you can keep emails safe in case of malicious attacks and unauthorised disclosure of information.

Data investigations

When data leaks occur, it’s important to quickly identify what was affected and contain the spillage. Office 365’s data investigation tool helps you do just that. It comes with advanced search capabilities that let you monitor company inboxes for compromised content. From there, you can pinpoint the potential cause of the leak (e.g., failure to use BCC when sending emails or sending personal information to the wrong recipient). You can then remediate the threat by permanently deleting the leaked data from Office 365.

Microsoft Teams updates

Microsoft Teams, Office 365’s unified communications platform, also received some powerful upgrades.

  • Secure private channels – Limit which team members can view threads and content within a channel. These give you complete control over a team member’s exposure to private information and how much they can contribute to a meeting without having to create secret channels.
  • Information barriers – Restrict which individuals can communicate and collaborate with one another in Microsoft Teams. This way, people won’t be able to disclose classified data like corporate secrets and personal records over chat.
  • Data loss prevention – Inspects the contents of chat messages for sensitive information — as defined by your policies. If such data is identified, the message is blocked and will no longer be visible by the recipient. By doing this, you can prevent any exchange of information that can result in full-blown cybersecurity incidents.  

Compliance manager

Microsoft compliance manager is a risk assessment tool that measures your compliance with any data regulation. For instance, you can build custom assessments for the Australian Privacy Principles to see if your apps and data policies are sufficient and understand what’s required to ensure a safe cloud environment.

What’s more, compliance manager detects changes to your app configurations and scores your security posture in real time. This means when you implement security controls like multifactor authentication and access restrictions, your security and compliance scores will increase accordingly. Then, based on your scores, compliance manager provides action items to secure at-risk assets.

With these features, you not only get complete visibility over your security, but you also spend less time worrying about compliance strategies.   

Multi-geo capabilities

Many data protection laws require companies to store and process personal information in data centres within the country’s borders. Cloud computing complicates this because providers store data in data centres across the globe.

However, with Office 365’s new multi-geo capabilities, your organisation can control the country or region where your Office 365 data resides. In other words, you don’t have to worry about international data residency laws because you can keep your data much closer to home. Choosing local servers also means you can enjoy faster data transfer rates, reduced latency, and greater oversight over your cloud data.

If you’re serious about data privacy and security, then an O365 plan upgrade is a must. Contact Empower IT Solutions today to inquire about Office 365 services and get the tools you need to fully protect your data.