Although Microsoft 365, has quite a range of protective features, not all of those features are enabled automatically upon installation. An M365 administrator is needed to effectively and efficiently help a business to manage its security affairs.  This article will highlight the best steps an M365 administrator must take to ensure a safe environment for organizational data. Also, if you don’t have an administrator yet, as a business owner, you should consider getting one and ensure they are experienced and licensed, as you can’t afford to have a data breach.

The Appropriate Steps a M365 Administrator Must Take

As mentioned above, Microsoft 365 includes security features like antimalware, antispam, and anti-phishing. With these features, you might think that you’ve got all security concerns figured out. Well, it helps mitigate security risks tremendously when adequately managed by an M365 professional. If not efficiently managed, you might bid all your data farewell. To enjoy the benefits of well-managed M365 security features, an M365 administrator must carry out the following steps:

1. Use exclusive admin accounts

As an administrator, it is wise to consider having a separate account that can be used for non-administrative work. Why is this important? Administrative experts have the power to either deny or grant access to a user, download software, etc. Because of that privilege, cyber criminals target administrators as the key to sabotaging a company’s data.

2. Educated employees on cybersecurity is a must-have 

An email can have a cloaked malicious link embedded in it, but it might seem harmless. Cyber-attacks through emails are the most common because almost every employee within an organization has access to it. An administrator’s duty is to train workers on email phishing attempts.  According to research, over 40% of employees have clicked or opened emails assumed to be from a top executive officer within their organization without knowing that they contained malicious attacks. Therefore, it is paramount that an administrator train staff on the right links and emails to open and the right software to install.  Some M365 plans are equipped with an in-built ATP (Advanced Threat Protection). Setting that up and creating a new rule for it can help protect employees from spreading malicious links. Well, before that, ensure employees don’t forward emails by themselves by setting up a mail flow rule to restrict auto-forwarding emails from external senders. That way, in case of a cyber-attack by a hacker, the entire company won’t be affected.

3. Use MFA

MFA (Multi-factor Authentication) is a two-step verification procedure that requires a user to use an authenticator app or code before being given entry into an M365 account. To date, it is one of the best ways to secure an account from cyber-attacks. An administrator must have MFA enabled for every account. Also, as a business owner, ensure you constantly check if your employed admins aren’t granting unauthorized access to users, especially external users. In addition, ensure you close the admin’s account when they leave your company so that they won’t use those accounts against you.

4. Create OneDrive and SharePoint’s sharing settings for folders and files 

It’s possible that the default sharing setups for OneDrive and SharePoint is set to a level that is too permissive, i.e., they give access to almost every user. To further safeguard a company’s data, consider evaluating the default settings and altering them as necessary. Just provide individuals the access they need to perform their duties.

5. Operations plan and maintenance 

Your company needs operations and maintenance strategies after the M365 installation and configuration process. As you hire or fire employees, it’s necessary to permanently delete and temporarily add some users, reset some devices to the default setting, and reset passwords. Additionally, you should ensure that people only have the access needed to carry out their duties.

6. Facilitate mailbox auditing

Mailbox auditing won’t be automatically activated by default for users who purchased Office 365 prior to January 2019. If auditing isn’t already active, administrators should enable it. Once enabled, mailbox auditing enables you to keep tabs on user activity in their and other users’ mailboxes.

7. Microsoft Secure Score

An analytics tool called Microsoft Secure score gives the numerical value of an organization’s latest security update within M365. Based on the latest setup, user activity, and other safety procedures inside M365, the score is displayed on a dashboard. Administrators should adhere to and carry out the site’s suggested activities. The security score will rise when issues are addressed, lowering the overall risk to your M365 environment.

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