Security is and always will be top of mind for IT when contemplating any new product or service. It’s always easy to get information on the benefits — sales material is full of such — but any addition to an IT system, hardware or software, application or infrastructure, brings new vulnerabilities, new avenues that cyber criminals can potentially exploit to exfiltrate sensitive data, or compromise essential systems.
Office 365 is no exception and, given the scale of its uptake, Office 365 is likely to be a particularly attractive target. According to a poston the Dark Reading website in May 2016, more than forty percent of organisations are in the process of implementing Office 365 or are already using it. Fortunately it comes with a wide range of security features built in, and some useful tools to help organisations beef up the security around their Office 365 implementation.
In January 2016 Microsoft published a white paper Office 365 Security and Compliance that “provides an overview of the security practices and technology that support enterprise-grade security in Microsoft Office 365 for businesses of all sizes.”
More recently, and much more usefully, Microsoft in August introduced as a preview Office 365 Secure Score. As this Microsoft blog post explains, it’s “a security analytics tool that will help you understand what you have done to reduce the risk to your data in Office 365, and show you what you can do to further reduce that risk.”
The author, Microsoft staffer Brandon Koeller, encourages readers to think of Secure Score as “a credit score for security.” He explains “Microsoft created a full inventory of all the security configurations and behaviours that customers can do to mitigate risks to their data in Office 365. Microsoft evaluated the extent to which each of those controls mitigated a specific set of risks and awarded the control some points. More points means a more effective control for that risk. Microsoft measures the extent to which your service has adopted the recommended controls, add up your points, and present it as a single score.”
Useful as it will be to know your Office 365 security score, what’s really needed is actionable information to enable you to upgrade it if necessary.And Secure Score is helpful here as well. There’s a tool in the form of slider: move it to the right, your target security score will increase and a list will appear showing you what actions you need to take to achieve that score.
Secure Score is still (mid-September) in preview and access is restricted to users that have the status of Global Tenant Administrator. Koeller says: “Over the coming months you will see us continue to add new controls, new measurements, and improvements to the remediation experiences.”
Microsoft has not said when Secure Score will move out of preview mode, but as usage becomes more widespread it should do much to beef up security of Office 365 deployments. It offers a comparison facility that shows users how their security level stacks up against that of other users. So it could potentially create a positive feedback loop, spurring laggards to beef up their security, which will drive up the overall level fed back to all users, prompting them to strive even harder.
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