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3 Tips to Secure Your Office 365 Instance Against Hackers

Hacker – a word that conjures up images of a man in a baseball cap, alone in a dark room, surrounded by machines and blinking lights, out to spread chaos around the universe. While this image is often inaccurate – hackers can be anyone, anywhere, with any device – the threat is very real. You know the danger exists, but how can you protect yourself and your data from a threat that seems invisible and undetectable?


Interested in taking your client’s Office 365 security to the next level? Contact us and get an Office Protect free trial.


You really can’t on your own. Fortunately, if you use Office 365, the solution has three ways to protect your business from cyberattacks.


Tip #1: Stop Hackers in Their Tracks

The first goal of any data security feature is to act as a strong perimeter. Office 365 is no different and has taken many measures to ensure no unverified users can get into your system.


Multi-Factor Authentication

Passwords are easily compromised. Employees might choose an easy-to-guess password that they can remember, or keep all of their files in a Word document on their desktop. Some employees might even write their password on a piece of tape and stick it to the bottom of their computer

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) realizes this weakness and adds another level of security to the log-in process. In addition to having a password, a user must also verify their identity with a device they have, most commonly a mobile phone.

This basic two-factor authentication program comes with Office 365, but if you need something even more secure for your business, they offer a higher-level plan as well.


Azure Identity Protection

Identity Protection learns your habits to flag unusual activities. For example, if you log in from a different source than usual, or try to log in multiple times, the system will send you an alert and ask for additional authentication methods.

Most of us have experienced this when we use a different machine, or log on to a coffee shop’s internet. Some find it to be a nuisance, but in reality, it is an effective method to stop hackers in their tracks. Without it, you may not know you are under attack until it is too late.


Ransomware Prevention

Unfortunately, ransomware has seen a lot of headlines in recent months. This particularly unpleasant attack usually involves a hacker accessing data and then locking the business out of their own system, demanding thousands of dollars in Bitcoin payments before they will release the data. Some larger enterprises have even encountered and endured threats of releasing private customer data online if they do not pay the ransom.

However, this isn’t just a big business problem. Office 365 has recently taken steps to prevent ransomware attacks for all of their customers.

Their new security feature detects ransomware attacks and will send you an alert via email, desktop, or phone to let you know of a possible attack. It even walks you through the steps to restore your system to a point before it was compromised.


Link Checking in MS Office

Everyone has had a moment when you click on a link without thinking about it. Important questions like, “What is this link’s source?”, “Is it safe?” or “Could it contain a virus?” often do not occur to us when we’re hurried or looking through many documents. Fortunately, Office 365 thinks about this for you with advanced link checking in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that will alert you of any suspicious links before your computer gets to the corrupted site.


Encrypted Email

This one is pretty simple – with end-to-end encryption for all email, you can ensure that no one intercepts or receives your communications except for the intended recipients.


Tip #2: Get Control Over Your Data

One of the best ways to prevent hacking is to make sure you maintain control over your data at all times. Only you should determine who can access your most important assets.


Privileged Identity Management

One of the most devastating attacks is one where an administrative account is breached, so naturally, you will want to limit the number of admin accounts that are given out. However, this can create difficulties when users need an admin account to complete a particular task.

Privileged Identity Management solves this by allowing you to create temporary admins for a designated amount of time. Users on a list of “eligible admins” can request temporary access for certain tasks, and their admin status will be revoked after the work is completed. You can even control what sort of information these eligible admins must provide to grant access.


Mobile Device Management

The modern employee often checks email and performs other work tasks on many different devices that may or may not be company-sanctioned and controlled. Mobile Device Management gives you the ability to protect your data even on devices that are personally owned by your employees.


Data Sharing Prevention

Not all threats come from outside your organization. Office 365 has two measures to protect your data from threats inside your organization as well, whether it be accidental or malicious. Password Protected Sharing Links lets you set passwords for certain shared folders and files to prevent unauthorized access, and Prevent Forwarding allows you to restrict recipients from forwarding or copying any emails you do not want others seeing.


Tip #3: Get Better Visibility

Knowledge truly is power. If you can see a hole in your perimeter, you will know where to patch it. If the hole remains undiscovered, someone can get in. Office 365 has features both to help you find gaps in your system and fix them before something can happen, and to repair your system just in case something does happen.


Secure Score Check

This feature allows you to get an overall view of how secure your data is with just a click of a button. Office 365 will assess what security features you are and are not using, find weak links in your system, and suggest ways to improve your overall security score.


File Restore

But what if all of this is not enough? Nothing is entirely hacker-proof, right? This is an unfortunate truth of the technological age. Knowing this, Office 365 has a full file restore feature so even if someone destroys, deletes, or locks you out of your data, or even in the event of a natural disaster, all your data can be restored and your business can stay up and running.


How Office Protect Can Help You

Does all of this sound like a lot to keep up with? You definitely want to keep your business secure, but keeping track of all of these features can be challenging. How would you even know if something happened?

Office Protect is here to help. You can manage everything from one pane of glass in an easy to understand interface. Any unusual activity will trigger an alert that you can investigate, and it even generates reports for you to examine and gain valuable insight into the security of your organization.

Want to know more about how Office Protect can keep security simple? Contact your SherWeb representative today.

Required IT Tools For Home and Professional Use

PC Magazine just published an article on the essentials of an  At-Home IT Toolkit, which I found very helpful and interesting. They listed 17 of the most popular computer tools IT experts use or should use to help save them time and money when it comes to any computer-related issues. Here are my top 8 picks from the list.

1. Teamviewer

Holding the #1 spot on PCMag’s list is Teamviewer, a program that lets you connect to any PC or server around the world within a few seconds. As anyone working in the IT industry already knows, the second anyone finds out you “know about” computers, your phone number will get passed on to aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends of friends of friends. Using Teamviewer, you eliminate the draining process of trying to explain everything to someone who doesn’t understand anything about IT, and can instead remotely control their computer as if you were sitting right in front of it, getting the job done quickly and effectively. Teamviewer requires no installation, just a simple Internet connection and running the application on both sides. Best of all of it’s free and secure.

2. Avast! BART CD

The avast! Bootable Antivirus & Recovery Tool (BART) CD is a bootable CD, giving you the capability to detect and remove virus infections on a computer. It can do a complete malware cleanup of your computer and also contains tools for editing registry files as well as a tool to check and fix disk errors. This great program costs $149 per year and is primarily intended for corporate and service personnel use. If you are looking for something free, for personal use, Free Registry Cleaner is very highly rated and works on all versions of Windows, up to Windows Vista. It has a disk cleanup utility, startup manager, uninstall manager and process manager. Reviews also claim it finds a lot more keys to remove than other registry cleaners.

3. Ubuntu LiveCD

If your Windows computer won’t boot anymore, one of the easiest methods to access your data is to use Ubuntu LiveCD. LiveCD is a bootable, workable version of the operating system that runs from the CD/DVD drive, but you can also run it on a USB flash drive. It is completely free and gives you access to all the files on your hard drives. You can also run memtest to check your RAM and Disk Utility to check the hard drive and edit drive partitions. You can even make a customized live system to create a bootable Ubuntu LiveCD from scratch without having to start from a pre-existing LiveCd.

4. TRENDnet Network Cable Tester

The TC-NT2 is a comprehensive cable tester for network professionals. Its user-friendly features enable network installers to accurately check pin configurations of various voice and data communication cables for lengths of up to 300meters (984 Ft.) It also includes a master unit that transmits test signals to its corresponding remote terminator to verify cable reliability. TRENDnet Network Cable Tester costs $52.99.

5. ReProfiler

ReProfiler is a free tool for manipulating user profiles on Windows 2000 up to Windows 7. ReProfiler permits easy reassignment of Windows user profiles, which have become detached from their accounts. ReProfiler offers a quick and easy way to see which profile is associated with which user and if a problem is evident, it then provides an intuitive and straightforward means of correcting the profile ownership.

6. Anti-Static wristband

The Anti-Static wristband prevents static shocks when performing any maintenance or repairs on a computer. It dissipates harmful static so you can install or remove parts without fear of damaging your computer.

7. LookInMyPC

LookInMyPC is an excellent free tool when you’re having troubleshooting problems. It tells you exactly what’s going on with your computer, generating a complete, comprehensive system profile that includes information on all installed hardware and software.  It also provides full system diagnostic information like details on running processes, installed services, startup programs, Windows updates, active network and Internet connections, event log detail, and much more.

8. inSSIDer

A must-have for any IT professional or computer geek, inSSIDer was the Winner of InfoWorld’s Best of Open Source Software Awards. This free tool scans networks within reach of your computer’s Wi-Fi antenna, tracks signal strength over time, and determines their security settings, including whether or not they’re password-protected. Created by MetaGeek, inSSIDer is an alternative to network scanners like NetStumbler in that it works with Windows Vista, Windows 7, and 64-bit PCs.

Here is the link to see all 17 IT tools listed in the PC Magazine article.

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