Microsoft 365 (M365) security has become increasingly crucial for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as they rely on digital solutions for their business operations.
The post-pandemic era has witnessed a significant shift towards end-to-end digital solutions for managing business operations effectively.
One significant contribution in this spectrum is the adoption of remote working, cloud-driven data file management, online meetings, instant messaging systems, and collaborative work environment tools offered by Microsoft 365 (M365) and other similar platforms.
However, along with the positive developments in the reliance on digital systems, the number of cyberattacks targeting SMEs has also increased, resulting in disruptions and huge losses due to interrupted business operations.
In Malaysia, SMEs have been proactive in adopting emerging technological advancements and leveraging contemporary solutions.
However, reports from the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) highlight that around 84% of small businesses in Malaysia are prone to cyber threat incidents, with many experiencing attacks multiple times.
Predominantly the issue of cyberattacks is resulting out of a lack of adequate infrastructure and resources to manage the cybersecurity requirements at the enterprise levels.
Choosing the right tools for managing the business and information systems security is paramount.
Related article: Best Practices to Against Common Cyber Attacks
Solutions like Microsoft 365, Trello, Asana, Lark and Google Workspace can be highly resourceful for SMEs. Even for individuals using desktops or laptops, opting for new-age offerings such as Office 365 and Microsoft license solutions can be a milestone in system security.
Office 365 and other contemporary products and services from Microsoft are available in distinct packages, offering users the flexibility to choose a suitable package that meets their needs.
Users can sign up for a single email ID hosting or purchase an enterprise package that bundles features such as Office 365 license, email ID hosting, operating system license, and more.
By choosing Office 365 from Microsoft’s license product range, SMEs in Malaysia can manage work productivity from anywhere at basic packages costing around RM 22 per month per user.
Managing personalized IT infrastructure can be cost-intensive and non-pragmatic for SMEs and professionals in their capacity.
Opting for holistic service solutions from Microsoft (M365) can provide SMEs with a secured service setup, allowing users to focus on their business objectives while Microsoft takes care of integral security elements to prevent cyberattacks.
Microsoft’s range of product and service offerings is known for its high security standards, with compliance to ISO 27001 certification for cloud computing services.
The Security Features of Microsoft 365
The key elements of Microsoft M365 that make it a robust setup for small-scale businesses include identity and access management, threat protection, information protection, and security and risk management.
1. Effective Identity and Access Management (IAM) for Enhanced Security
Microsoft IAM solutions provide your IT team with the tools to manage digital identities, ensuring secure access to your company’s resources, including applications, networks, and databases.
With risk-based access controls, identity protection tools, and strong authentication options, Microsoft IAM helps defend against suspicious login attempts and protect user credentials.
Additionally, role-based access control allows efficient management of user access to resources, ensuring the right access levels are assigned by IT administrators.
2. Robust Threat Protection for Comprehensive Security
Microsoft threat protection offers integrated and automated security solutions to safeguard your email, data, applications, devices, and identities against emerging cyberthreats.
With Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) powered by artificial intelligence (AI) in Azure Sentinel, you can efficiently detect and prevent threats before they cause damage.
Extended Detection and Response (XDR) capabilities in Microsoft 365 Defender and Azure Defender provide advanced protection across identities, endpoints, email, data, and cloud apps, including Azure and hybrid cloud workloads.
3. Comprehensive Information Protection for Sensitive Data
Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) helps you locate, organize, and protect sensitive information across clouds, apps, and endpoints. With data classification, you can identify important information and add appropriate labels to control data flow.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) allows you to create and manage policies to protect sensitive information such as financial data, credit card numbers, and health records.
Microsoft Information Governance (MIG) helps you stay compliant with data privacy regulations by efficiently managing information lifecycle and records with in-place management, automated policies, and data connectors.
4. Proactive Security and Risk Management Measures
Microsoft 365 security and risk management enable quick identification and remediation of risks from both malicious and unintentional activities.
Insider Risk Management helps identify, detect, analyze, and take appropriate actions against insider risks in your organization. Communication Compliance minimizes communication risks by identifying and acting on inappropriate messages.
Information Barriers empower you to limit or restrict communication and collaboration between users or groups when needed. Customer Lockbox provides greater control over data access by allowing you to grant or deny access to Microsoft support engineers.
Privileged Access Management (PAM) helps manage privileged admin access by providing just enough access for critical tasks, and Advanced Audit enables forensic and compliance investigations by increasing audit log retention and providing access to crucial events.
In addition, Microsoft 365 offers several value-added features, such as a highly secured platform for productivity and collaboration at a competitive price, data centers protected by state-of-the-art security infrastructure, a 99% uptime guarantee for licensed users, and comprehensive security features like multifactor authentication and TOTP solutions for one-time password generation.
The entire ecosystem of service offerings in the Microsoft 365 environment is governed by these four key elements, enhancing the overall service experience for users.
Unlike in the past, where data in systems were at risk of being lost or corrupted, the cloud-backed systems of Microsoft Office 365 ensure that data is securely stored and accessible from any system by logging into the Microsoft account.
Real-time data updates into the cloud systems further enhance information security.
There are numerous other benefits to using Microsoft’s range of products and services. Globally, the Windows operating system from Microsoft is one of the most popular operating systems.
SMEs in Malaysia opting for licensed versions of Windows operating system benefit from extensive protection for their information systems network.
Unlicensed versions, on the other hand, may lack complete firewall systems and security updates, making them vulnerable to new trend malware.
Licensed versions, with marginal costs on Microsoft licenses and auto-updates allowed, ensure that Windows systems undergo regular security checks and updates at the system level, increasing overall security coverage for computing devices.
In the current digital environment, SMEs rely on virtual meeting tools for internal and external communication.
It is essential for SMEs to have an internal team or seek the right external IT expertise to guide them
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