Particularly in light of the pandemic-driven prevalence of remote work, many businesses have adopted the Microsoft 365 suite (formerly Office 365) of cloud-delivered business applications to allow their staff members to collaborate and access vital resources from any location or device. By the third quarter of 2020, Microsoft reported over 250 million paid Microsoft 365 business seats, according to a report from Area 1 Security.
While relying on Microsoft 365 is a wise choice for organizations looking to empower employees logging in from home, the increasingly popular solution has unfortunately become an attractive target for cybercriminals seeking access to sensitive data. Although comprehensive cybersecurity is imperative for organizations of all sizes, small businesses in particular must proactively work to safeguard their Microsoft 365 apps and avoid catastrophic data breaches that could cause them to close their doors.
Why You Can’t Rely on Built-In Security Features for Microsoft 365
Naturally, the Microsoft 365 suite has built-in security features to combat today’s perpetual onslaught of cybercrime. For instance, Microsoft Defender for Office 365 leverages AI-driven detection, next-gen threat hunting, employee awareness training and other tools to protect your data from malicious actors.
However, these built-in security features aren’t foolproof. In a study of 1.5 billion emails from organizations relying on Microsoft for email, more than 925,000 malicious messages still slipped through, according to Area 1 Security. Phishing attempts that impersonated legitimate brands – including Microsoft – found their way to end users’ inboxes despite protective measures. Even clients that layered leading secure email gateways (SEGs) on top of Microsoft 365 security features still failed to block all incoming threats.
That study illustrates the need for additional cybersecurity measures on top of what Microsoft provides by default. This holds true even for smaller companies that might not seem like obvious targets for cybercriminals. Despite the perception that hackers only go after prominent enterprises, 28 percent of data breaches involve small businesses, according to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report.
Additionally, these incidents can be financially devastating: The global average total cost of a data breach in 2020 is $3.86 million, according to IBM. In addition to the fiscal fallout, a breach can cause extensive damage to your company’s reputation, dissuading clients and other companies from working with you. Ultimately, about half of small businesses that experience a cyberattack go out of business within six months of the incident, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Even if you don’t experience a breach that leads to bankruptcy and drives customers away, a lack of security could allow your competition to outshine you in the eyes of prospective clients and business partners. As cybersecurity becomes an increasingly pressing concern for organizations across all industries, vendors and others you work with will want to know what protective solutions you have in place. If it comes down to you and another small firm with similar products and prices, cybersecurity could emerge as the deciding factor.
Ultimately, the best course of action is to invest in ongoing maintenance of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy and minimize your chances of experiencing a breach in the first place.
Stand Out From the Competition With Our Three-Part Approach
To minimize your data breach risk level and effectively combat relentless and rapidly changing IT security threats, your approach must include the following three essential elements to ensure maximum effectiveness:
- Tools: At this point, cybersecurity solutions have evolved so that there’s much more available for SMBs than just anti-virus software. The latest security tools collect and correlate data from different sources to provide a thorough view of what’s happening in your IT environment. Adopting next-gen solutions will allow you to identify a compromise as quickly as possible after it takes place – or even before it happens. The Stratosphere Networks team can give you access to the latest and best cybersecurity tools.
- People: Of course, the fanciest and most advanced tools in the world won’t do any good unless you have properly trained security staff members on board who can interpret the output and act accordingly. Unfortunately, cybersecurity talent is difficult to find: Although the shortage has gotten less severe since 2019, there’s still a global cybersecurity workforce gap of approximately 3.12 million in 2020, according to the most recent Cybersecurity Workforce Study from (ISC)². Among the cybersecurity professionals included in the study, 42 percent report a slight shortage of dedicated IT security staff, and an additional 22 percent say their organization is dealing with a significant shortage. If your business lacks in-house security expertise, partnering with a managed service provider like Stratosphere can give you access to a team of experienced security analysts.
- Process: To effectively avoid breaches, you can’t just react to threats as they appear. Internal processes related to information security, incident response procedures, disaster recovery and more are an absolute necessity. If you need assistance establishing these processes, the Stratosphere team has extensive experience in this area and can help your organization institute proper cybersecurity policies.
At the end of the day, hackers will never stop trying to bypass the built-in security measures for solutions like the Microsoft 365 suite. If you want to assure your clients and business partners that their data is safe with your business, you need to act now and implement additional layers of cybersecurity controls.
If you’d like to learn more about securing Microsoft 365 and best practices for IT security in general, our team would be happy to help. Just give us a call at 877-599-3999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.