Every year, Microsoft spends billions of dollars on cybersecurity R&D. On top of this, Microsoft employs thousands of cybersecurity experts to constantly improve the speed, responsiveness, and strength of their security services. Then there are thousands of other people monitoring and neutralising the threats and attacks spreading around the globe. The result is a global cloud with more security certifications than anyone else. Right now, the largest organisations in the world store their most sensitive data in Microsoft’s cloud using Microsoft 365 Business Premium —and they don’t lose a minute of sleep.
After building out this security apparatus, Microsoft had another idea: Packaging all of this together into a single product tailored for businesses with 300 employees or fewer. It’s called Microsoft 365 Business Premium (formerly Microsoft 365 Business). It integrates Office apps and services like Microsoft Teams with a cloud-based security solution that helps you defend against threats, protect your business data, and secure your devices. Microsoft 365 Business Premium improves collaboration and efficiency, and it makes IT management simple. It also narrows down how you manage things; there’s one support team and there’s one monthly bill… that’s it.
Many ask what is the difference between Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium? Well Microsoft 365 Business Standard is the best-in-class productivity solution that gives you the apps and services that will help your employees get more done and work better together, including Microsoft Teams, secure cloud storage, business email, and Office applications across devices. Microsoft 365 Business Premium includes the same apps and services, but with additional capabilities that give you peace of mind by helping to safeguard your company data across devices and the ability to remotely remove that data from a company or employee-owned devices. You can think of Microsoft 365 Business Standard as a starting point that puts you on a path to Microsoft 365 Business Premium which helps you address more advanced security and compliance requirements.
We know that handling IT for a small/medium business is a big job since you’re juggling many responsibilities at the same time. So, we’ve put together some quick notes about how you can leverage all of the best parts of Microsoft 365 Business Premium to improve security and productivity for your business:
Defend against threats
Your top security threat today can be summarised in one word: phishing. For SMBs, between 90-98 percent of all cyber-attacks start with phishing. Not long ago phishing attacks were easy to spot: the bad grammar, the unearned but freely given compliments, and the claims of royal affiliation in countries without monarchies. But today, the phishing attacks are so perfectly designed that many of the experts trained to find them can be fooled. In addition to that, many pieces of malware are so brilliantly engineered that they can sweep the globe before conventional anti-virus or security tools even know they exist. Plus, these programs know how to hide, re-write themselves, and cover their tracks once they’re in your system.
In order to combat advanced threats, you need protection that’s even more sophisticated. This is where Microsoft 365 Business Premium can make a big difference. The cyber defences of Microsoft 365 Business Premium are built on something called the Intelligent Security Graph. If you’re not familiar with that, here’s the short version: Anytime a new threat is detected anywhere on earth, the rest of the network is automatically updated—these billions of updates pile up into what could be considered the single best source of cyber security in the world.
One of the security tools offered by Microsoft 365 Business Premium is called Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but it works in three remarkable ways to combats the cyber criminals that are pretty relentlessly treating small/medium businesses like piggy banks.
1. Safe links: Any security software will scan the links in your emails to see if they’ll redirect to a malicious site. But a particularly clever phishing attack will send an email that contains harmless links. Then, after that message hits your inbox, will detect that it passed your filters and change those links to something malicious. Enter Microsoft 365 with Safe Links, which double-checks every link at the time you click on it to see if you’re about to be sent somewhere dangerous.
2. Safe attachments: Similar to Safe Links, this opens every email attachment that your company receives in a virtual environment and watches what happens next. If strange behaviour indicates that a cyberweapon is deployed, that file will never reach your inbox.
3. Anti-phishing intelligence: This tool learns the way everyone in your organisation communicates (and who they communicate with) so that when an unnatural or unusual string of communications begins, the system can accurately gauge that one of those accounts is being controlled by an attacker.
There are two other significant ways in which Microsoft 365 Business Premium can help defend against cyber threats:
- You get advanced multi-factor authentication (MFA) beyond what’s already available in Microsoft 365 Business Standard. For example, you can choose to bypass MFA from trusted locations (like your own office IP address), or you can completely prohibit access from places you don’t have any employees. This helps block attempted attacks and data loss since you’ll know immediately the individuals that should and shouldn’t be logging on from certain locations.
- You can enforce Microsoft Defender on your Windows 10 PCs with enhanced protection against ransomware and malware. Then you can reallocate the funds you’ll save by cancelling your subscription to other third-party antivirus products once you have Defender up and running.
Protect business data
Every business—from a taco truck to hedge fund—has the information it doesn’t want to be exposed online. It might be customer data, secret recipes, or financial records. No matter the type of data, you have an obligation to your customers to protect it—and Microsoft 365 Business Premium has an obligation to make this possible. Managing each piece of data security is a full-time job. Instead of spending all your time managing a catalogue of different products to cover your security needs, Microsoft 365 Business Premium offers an automated, AI-powered data protection solution that monitors the way data is moving inside your organisation and helps prevent sensitive data from being stolen or accidentally shared.
Here are four key ways that Microsoft 365 Business Premium can protect your most important data right now:
- Data Loss Prevention: Microsoft 365 Business Premium can automatically detect when an email you’re about to send includes sensitive data like credit card info, private security numbers, and dozens of other confidential data types. If you’re just conducting normal business, then you carry on as normal. But, if you’re about to do something reckless, it’s a welcome safety net. There are even templates that can conform to geographic or industry-specific regulatory requirements.
- Encryption of email and documents: If you need to send sensitive data to a partner or customer outside your organisation (like an accountant or a hospital) you can encrypt that email with just one click. This ensures that only the intended recipient with the right credentials can open the email—no matter where it goes.
- Information protection: You can use this function to control who has access to company information—whether it’s in an email or a document—by applying restrictions that prevent people from forwarding, copying, or printing.
- Archiving: This is another function that’s been made simple for when you need to preserve email and documents for legal reasons, or if you need to access an employee’s email/files after they leave the company.
Easily secure and manage your devices
Considering how many different phones, tablets, and laptops your company is using, it’s a full-time job just keeping track of how they’re all being managed, secured, and knowing what data is moving from Point A to Point B. Point A is usually somewhere in your network, which is usually safe. The problems start when Point B is an unstable location. Also keep in mind that not only is data constantly in motion and moving between devices, but those devices are always in motion too. Laptops are easy to steal, tablets get lost all the time, and phones are constantly being left in cabs, planes, and parks. Whenever those devices go missing, the company information on them is at risk.
Device management solution: Microsoft 365 Business Premium brings with it a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use device management solution powered by Microsoft Intune that helps keep your devices and data secure and your workers productive. Intune is a great solution whether you need to wholly manage company-owned devices with Mobile Device Management or you’re using a lighter touch to manage company information on personal devices with Mobile Application Management.
With Microsoft 365 Business Premium device management, you can enforce minimum security requirements for any device connected to your network. This allows you to apply security policies and control where data is saved on a device, and you can selectively wipe the corporate data off a device if it’s lost or stolen. Using Conditional Access, you can control which devices reach your Office apps and services data, and allow or deny access depending on when the user is logging in, their location while attempting to access it, what apps they are using, and if it is outside of normal working hours. Parameters like these can automatically eliminate thousands of inbound threats.
The list of other security features just keeps going—and, with the regular security updates to Microsoft 365 Business Premium, the list keeps getting better and longer. In summary, Microsoft 365 is a comprehensive solution that brings together best-in-class productivity apps with advanced security and device management to help safeguard small and medium businesses from even the most sophisticated threats. At Nostra, we work hard and fast to deliver and support Microsoft 365 to businesses large and small, both in Ireland and across the world. We have been delivering Microsoft 365 since 2007, when we built Ireland’s first-ever Microsoft 365 platform, then called HMC 4.5, and we will continue to support our customers well into the future. As a Microsoft Gold partner, we have the expertise and experience to ensure a fast, simple and hassle-free deployment of Microsoft 365 throughout your organisation. Our expert team work efficiently to reduce downtime and allow your employees to maintain productivity, and with the guidance of our training resources, you will immediately see the security and wider benefits of the move to Microsoft 365 Business Premium.
Read our post on using Microsoft Teams to keep your business secure as well.