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Using the Free Features of Microsoft Azure AD and O365/M365 to Enhance Cloud Security

Using the Free Features of Microsoft Azure AD and O365/M365 to Enhance Cloud Security

Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and Office 365/M365 have a variety of free security settings that financial institutions can customize to their needs. These settings are important because they can enhance an institution’s cloud environment and operational security—and they’re available to everyone with Azure AD or O365/M365. Remember, even if the license was acquired through a third party, your institution is still responsible for managing all the security features of these cloud-based solutions.

Be aware that while adjustments made to the defaults can strengthen your cloud security, they will also impact the way people use the products. For instance, multifactor authentication (MFA) is a great first step at improving the security of your cloud environment but does impact how your users will log in.

Here are some other important free security settings you can optimize in Azure AD and/or O365/M365 to enhance security:

  • Global Auditing — The global auditing feature logs events that happen across Azure AD and O365/M365. It is advisable to enable Global Auditing. The information gained with this feature can help troubleshoot problems and investigate issues. Once Global Auditing has been enabled, it can take about 24 hours for the new setting to take effect.
  • Alert policies — Alert policies are designed to help you monitor threats against your existing resources. There are default built-in policies, and you can also create additional custom policies for free on your own. Keep in mind, you need to set the target recipient(s) for these policies.
  • Sharing in Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint — Since these products were created to foster collaboration, their default setting is normally set to enable external data sharing. This allows users to create anonymous access links that make it possible for anyone in any organization with OneDrive and SharePoint to sign in and view their information. It is recommended that you review the level of sharing to control the flow of data based on what is appropriate for your organization.
  • External access in Microsoft Teams — Teams is set up by default to make it easy for individuals to connect with users located anywhere in the world, even in other organizations. You should review the platform’s security and compliance settings to ensure it fits your organization’s standards. You can block all external domains to restrict users’ ability to communicate externally.
  • Enterprise applications — Enterprise apps can represent a huge risk if users have the freedom to add them on their own. You can change the security setting to prevent anyone from randomly adding apps without the administrator’s approval. When this feature is activated, Microsoft will block users’ attempts to add apps and notify the administrator, who can approve or deny their requests.
  • Application registrations — Similarly, institutions can alter their security features to block users from registering any applications. There’s rarely a reason to allow users without administrative rights to create app registrations, so reviewing and/or adjusting this setting is essential.

Making these adjustments will help you to maintain control over users’ activities and tighten security. To learn more about M365 security topics, listen to our recent webinar, Ask the Experts: O-M365 Security Basics for IT Administrators.

Safe Systems’ M365 Security Basics solution provides visibility into these and other security settings and allows banks and credit unions to regularly monitor and review their configurations making it easier for them to manage their Azure AD and O365/M365 accounts.