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If You Use Office 365, Hackers Have You in Their Crosshairs: Here’s How to Avoid a Cyberattack

  • News
  • 3 min read

Google is hard to contend with. Even though Microsoft Office has been around for decades, Google found a way to do it better with Google Workspace.

Although Google offers its suite for free, the cloud-based version of Office – Microsoft 365 – has become a competitive rival to Google Workspace. Unfortunately, it’s also the most heavily targeted cloud-based system around.

If you’re using the Office 365 suite in your organization, you need to implement several additional layers of security to avoid a cyberattack.

How hackers gain access to Office 365 accounts

Hackers use basic techniques to acquire valid network credentials and then move through the network attempting to escalate their Office 365 privileges to a global administrator.

Once the hacker is in, they’ll use security tooling to find the contents of all email accounts, team chats, and SharePoint documents. From there, the hackers look for additional credentials to other accounts and systems they can breach.

5 critical strategies to prevent Office 365 hacks

Some hackers use sophisticated attacks, but many attacks fail with proper security measures in place. Here’s what you need to do to protect your organization.

  1. Require two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication used to be a convenience and extra protection; now it’s a necessity. Require multi-factor authentication for all employee Office 365 accounts. This will prevent unauthorized logins even if a hacker gains correct login credentials.
  2. Require complex passwords: Employees often dismiss the importance of complex passwords, but it’s essential to prevent brute force attacks that rely on guessing passwords (or using automation to run through long password lists).Passwords should be complex, contain uppercase and lowercase letters, along with numbers and special characters. For example: [HE29-*w!n-pL&T] is a highly complex and hard-to-crack password.
  3. Prevent employees from saving passwords in browsers: Browsers no longer save passwords locally. Instead, they save passwords to the cloud. That means any password saved to the cloud via a browser is subject to a potential data breach. If any Office 365 credentials are discovered in a browser data breach, you probably won’t hear about it until it’s too late.
  4. Use layered security: Layered security is critical. Office 365 isn’t secure out of the box. To prevent cybercriminals from going after the low hanging fruit, you need to add: Email encryption and Inbound and outbound email filtering
  5. Enact (and enforce) strict IT security policies: Strong security policies will go a long way. For example, hackers recently targeted Office 365 users with a fraudulent Survey Monkey link that asked for Office 365 login credentials. Some people don’t think twice about entering their login credentials when prompted.

A policy prohibiting employees from taking surveys, for example, along with proper training can prevent successful phishing attacks.

Applications are only as secure as your policies are enforced

At the end of the day, security comes down to one thing: enforcing strong policies. You can automate a great deal of cybersecurity, but to avoid falling victim to cybercrime, enforcing strong policies is required.

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