Has your IT team ever revisited any of the settings in your Microsoft 365 platform to make sure they’re in line with cybersecurity best practices? When your Microsoft applications are configured correctly for security, they’re hardened. Not every managed service provider (MSP) is doing this, and many don’t know how to do it in the first place.
What is hardening? IT systems hardening is the process of configuring a computer, a network or a software application so that the potential attack surface is minimized and more resistant to intruders.
Microsoft has already hardened their side of the cloud environment you access for your Microsoft 365 applications. It’s up to Microsoft’s customers (that would be you!) to make sure that risks are managed on their end.
Hardening the client and user side of Microsoft 365 can include:
- Enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA)
- Creating policies that control access to data
- Enabling built-in security features
- Disabling features that aren’t being used
Why Systems Hardening is Important
IT systems hardening is a security best practice that adds layers of protection against cyber threats. By themselves, these layers can’t mitigate every risk, but together they form a strong barrier that can resist threats.
A layered approach to security is no different from how you might protect your property from robbers. You have locks on your windows and doors. Then you add an alarm system and motion detectors. Then you install cameras to record exactly what’s going on so you’ll know how an intruder entered.
If you have these security mechanisms but you don’t use them, they won’t protect your home and family. You can automate some security features in your home, but others rely on your family following instructions. Lock the door when you leave the house. Don’t leave the ground floor windows open at night. Don’t open the door to a stranger.
In a similar way, hardening your Microsoft 365 environment is going to require certain behaviors from the people in your organization. For example, when you push out multi-factor authentication (MFA) to everyone, they’re going to have an additional step in their login process.
In addition to the use of MFA, employee training should include education on:
- Data and account access policies
- Security alerts that they may see as a result of their actions
- Identity management and password policies
- Cybersecurity awareness and how to recognize threats
A good training program that not only teaches users what to do but educates them about their responsibility to keep corporate accounts and data safe will guide employees in the correct behavior and create a culture of security.
Up Your Security Game with Microsoft 365 Hardening
While the process of hardening may involve some adjustments and user behavior changes, the rewards are worth the effort. By implementing robust security measures, enforcing best practices like systems hardening, and fostering a culture of security, you can protect sensitive data and safeguard your reputation, customer trust, and the continuity of your business.
Here at XPERTECHS, we help our clients get the most out of their Microsoft 365 license. Part of that is designing and implementing tactics to harden the client side of the Microsoft cloud. If your IT team hasn’t talked to you about hardening, chances are good that there are other benefits that you could get from Microsoft 365 that you’re not getting now.