Strengthening the security of your Microsoft 365 ecosystem

Strengthening the security of your Microsoft 365 ecosystem

The last year or so has been particularly difficult for small business owners – not only did they have the same health concerns for themselves and their families that we all did, but constant changes in legislation around the way they were permitted to trade just added to their stress. You would be forgiven for concentrating all of your energy on the things that ‘keep the lights on’, but, no matter what is happening in the world, it is integral to keep the security of your data at the forefront of your concerns.

Even though statistics clearly show that cyber attacks are on the rise, most business owners still don’t consider them as a threat to the daily running of their organisation. This is surprising, especially with the majority of businesses now operating almost entirely on a digital landscape – obviously, with that landscape constantly evolving and changing, it goes without saying that the likelihood of cyber attacks is just going to continue rising.

Cyber criminals aren’t silly. They saw the pandemonium caused by the pandemic as an opportunity – the distraction it caused led to business owners lowering their guard and leaving themselves and their computer systems incredibly vulnerable.

No matter what industry your business resides in, you and your team undoubtedly rely solely on your digital tools to get the job done. Your tech holds sensitive data, and any attack – in the worst-case scenario - could be the reason why you have to close your doors forever.

They won’t attack me - my business is too small
Wrong! Regardless of your size you are a target! In fact, you are more likely to be attacked as a smaller business due to your defences likely not being as good as they could be when compares to a larger firm. As we said, criminals aren’t silly, so when looking for some easy money why would they attack a large corporation that has teams dedicated to cyber security when they can attack the small firm next door that is much easier to gain access to?

This isn’t a call to go out and spend an obscene amount of money on the most elaborate defences, but it is also definitely not okay to completely ignore it and pretend it isn’t a problem – a middle approach is best. It is time to explore your options and invest in cost-effective methods of protecting your systems, but there really is no need to throw money at it – your cyber security measures need to marry up to the level at which they are needed.

The security of Microsoft 365
It can be tricky knowing where to start with the security of your organisation, particularly as there are so many different tools available on the market that make it impossible to know which are best for you and your team. This is made even harder by the user educational tools, policies, and procedures that will need to be implemented alongside the security tools to be sure they are set up, used, and managed effectively. A lack of knowledge can make the road a perilous one, leading most business owners – understandably – to simply purchase the cheapest or first option they come across.

Email vulnerabilities
Email is the grandfather of modern business technology; it has barely changed over the last two decades and continues to be an integral part of our workday.

Cyber criminals target emails for this very reason – the majority of us rely on them daily, and, most importantly for them, our teams usually screen them alone without assistance from anyone higher up, meaning the opportunity for a malicious link being clicked on and the keys to the castle being handed over to the criminal is much higher. Cyber criminals target individual users and trick them into allowing access or handing over money. An unfortunate click isn’t necessarily their fault, as it is becoming harder and harder to determine a genuine email from a malicious one. We will now take a close look at two of the most common forms of attack (referred to as Phishing attacks) that cyber criminals are adopting, where they impersonate others to persuade their target to comply with their whim.

Masked as a brand or company
This particular method of attack has risen in popularity since the outbreak of the pandemic. The cyber criminal will impersonate a popular and trusted brand to tempt their target into clicking a link. For example, they may impersonate the target’s bank with the lure that the security of their online banking isn’t up to scratch, or that they may be locked out if they don’t click the link attached. But, once the link has been clicked, the cyber criminal has achieved their goal.

Masked as a company employee or director
This method is nowhere near as popular but still needs to be spoken about. It is quite difficult to describe so we will explain it in the form of a theoretical example.

A cyber criminal sends an email to the financial team impersonating the CFO’s personal mailbox and instructed a payment of £10,000 to be made to an account. Due to the size of the organisation, with large financial transactions frequently taking place, and the email containing the CFO’s correct and full ‘E’ signature, the employee had no reason to think there was anything untoward going on. The employee can’t be blamed in this instance (as tempting as it may be), because wouldn’t you send it if it had all the hallmarks of an email from your superior?

Ransomware is a particularly cruel method of cyber attack; it is a kind of malicious software that intentionally removes access to your data whilst still leaving them on your system – so you can see everything there but can’t access the files. This is made possible by holding your files behind a secure key that only the cyber attacker holds. Once having blocked your access to your valuable data, the cyber criminal will demand a ransom for its return.

Now we know some of the most common methods used by cyber criminals to attack your organisation and that, just because your business is slightly smaller, it certainly doesn’t mean that you are immune to their attacks. In the following article we will look at some of the ways you can protect your digital environment from the potentially disastrous effects of a cyber breach.

Security first
BCNS make business easier and more cost-effective in guaranteeing that you and your team are always connected to each other and your clients. Our team of experts will assist you throughout the transition to be sure you achieve exactly what you desire – at the same time we can reduce your expenses and improve your security as well as performance! Contact us now and find out how we can help you with your business communications and move into a more productive future.