Is Office 365 as Secure as You Expect It to Be?


Thought Leadership

Is Office 365 as Secure as You Expect It to Be?



Office 365 has more than 180 million commercial users, so it’s only natural that Microsoft would build extensive security features into the popular suite of business tools. Those features work well for the most part, and users don’t have to worry that sensitive business communications or spreadsheets filled with financial information will fall into the wrong hands. As most users are aware and all users must acknowledge, however, Office 365 isn’t perfect in terms of cybersecurity.


In some cases, security tools are too counterintuitive to fully utilize. For example, standardizing the inbox rules that users follow requires several clicks into each individual user’s account, adding up to hours of work. Auditing is another common obstacle given the lackluster filtering capabilities built into Office 365.


Individually, none of these challenges is insurmountable. Collectively, though, they lead to cybersecurity that is less efficient and reliable than anyone would like. Office 365 can help with some of the requirements, but it can’t realistically provide the all-around cybersecurity everyone needs.


Expectation vs. Reality


It’s important to distinguish what users expect versus reality because it helps to emphasize that the problem with Office 365 is not so much the level of security as the execution of the features.


Users typically choose Office 365 thanks to its familiar business tools and wide-ranging capabilities. As part of that package, users expect to get security tools that are intuitive, accessible, and all-encompassing. What few anticipate is how much input it takes along the way. Companies with small or nonexistent IT teams may not have the resources they need to optimize the security features. As a result, many end up neglecting cybersecurity management, and in the worst cases, they overlook important security tools entirely.


Office 365 is not a security liability, but it’s not the all-around asset companies would like it to be, either. Fortunately, the solution is easier than it seems.


Securing All of Office 365


The key to securing Office 365 is to acknowledge that, like all platforms, the cybersecurity inevitably has gaps and cracks. Any solution that relies on one set of safety measures will have these flaws, which is why it’s important to layer measures on top of one another.


Office 365 is the foundation, then AppRiver solutions build security on top. For instance, the auditing and archiving features in Office 365 are cumbersome, so we have created best-in-class capabilities for storing and retrieving expansive amounts of information. Frustrating features become an irrelevant issue when users can bypass them entirely.


Taking a multi-layered approach is appropriate for Office 365 specifically and cybersecurity generally. Threats and attacks are constantly evolving as hackers become more sophisticated. At the same time, existing defenses become less effective as hackers discover new ways to bypass them. Stopping these dynamic threats takes lots of defenses built on top of each other, including advanced email security, anti-phishing and malware protection, web defenses against ransomware, and email continuity and encryption.


Office 365 is the start of a cybersecurity strategy, but it’s not the finish. Make it a priority to add everything that may be missing. AppRiver is the perfect place to start.