October 11, 2021
Key Reasons Why Microsoft 365 Backup Is Essential for Remote Workers
Microsoft 365 is a perfect solution for remote work. The variety of tools in this suite delivers a collaborative environment that is easily accessible from any location and device. It sounds like an excellent fit for the majority of businesses working online. However, millions of users creating, sharing, and storing their information in the Microsoft 365 cloud leave your data vulnerable.
Multi-factor authentication, encryption, geographically distributed data centers, compliance certifications, and other security measures are all aimed at keeping your Microsoft 365 data safe, but is this enough? In this blog post, you can find the answer to this question. In addition, you can discover the main challenges of the Microsoft Office 365 remote work environment and learn how to ensure the protection of critical data.
How Safe Is Your Microsoft 365 Data?
Considering the number of users and data, Microsoft does an incredible job of protecting its cloud servers. However, remember that the only person responsible for data safety is the final user. There are several concerns to take into account before building your own data protection strategy, such as:
- File sharing
The openness of the platform is what makes it so easy to use and perfectly suitable for teamwork. However, any external sharing makes your data vulnerable. This is especially true if a user shares not just a file but a whole folder, as it gives access to all the documents in the folder, the subfolders, and to any new files that might be added.
- Excessive permissions
There are two relevant points to take into account. First of all, all users generally get more permissions and access than they need to proceed with their tasks. Excessive rights increase the risks of your data being exposed, deleted, or stolen. In addition, this increases the possibility of malware infections.
It is pretty complicated to restrict permissions based on location or business unit in Microsoft 365. It also isn’t easy to narrow admins’ rights to specific functions only. Worse yet, it is especially tricky because often hackers target admin accounts to have more power over the whole network. The Microsoft 365 centralized admin model lets all administrators access every account. If an external person takes over the global administrator account, they can steal sensitive data or change settings.
The best basic defense against compromises is multi-factor authentication (MFA). Note that it isn’t enabled by default. Further, we’ll see the complete strategy to protect your SaaS environment.
Auditing is disabled by default in Microsoft 365. That’s why you should enable it manually. Auditing solutions capture, record, and retain all user and admin information in the audit log. Remember that the audit log displays only events tracked after auditing is enabled.
- Retention period
Microsoft 365 keeps audit logs for a limited time, from 90 days to a year, while many compliance standards require much longer audit log storage.
- Backup and disaster recovery
There are multiple threats to the Microsoft 365 data. Some of the most common are accidental deletion, technical issues, natural disasters, and malware. The only way to protect your critical information is by backing it up. Reliable Microsoft Office 365 backup solutions make your data instantly recoverable no matter what happens.
Why is Microsoft 365 Backup Crucial?
Many Microsoft 365 users assume that their data is always accessible, though there is no guarantee. Microsoft is responsible for its product and data availability. Comprehensive backup with the advanced features and disaster recovery, however, isn’t Microsoft’s responsibility according to the shared responsibility model. Of course, Microsoft is responsible for protecting its data centers, but data recoverability is on you.
In section 6b of the Microsoft Services Agreement, there is a clear message that, in theory, anything can happen to the users’ data: “In the event of an outage, you may not be able to retrieve Your Content or Data that you’ve stored. We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”
There are still many native Microsoft features that can improve your data protection. However, these are only a part of a business’s backup and recovery strategy.
First, define what Microsoft Office 365 applications you use and what type of data you have to protect. Some of the most important and popular apps are Exchange Online, OneDrive, and SharePoint Online.
Microsoft Office 365 email backup
Email accounts and calendars are crucial for basic workflow, especially when all of the communication is online.
Microsoft doesn’t offer any backup and recovery options for email, except for the limited functionality of the Deleted Items folder. There are also no point-in-time restores of email items.
Microsoft Office 365 SharePoint Backup
Never forget to protect your lists and libraries in SharePoint. Microsoft’s native SharePoint protection includes two components – retention and versioning. They are enabled by default. Versioning allows you to keep up to 50,000 last versions of most SharePoint items, while retention lets you recover information within 93 days after deletion.
Microsoft Office 365 OneDrive Backup
OneDrive backup is crucial as OneDrive is the main file storage in Microsoft Office 365. The big volumes of data will require the most storage. You can enable the built-in features to ensure at least short-term data recovery in most cases. The least you can do is to turn on versioning and retention in the Recycle Bin.
Key Challenges with Microsoft Office 365 Data Backup
- Accidental deletion
Human error is impossible to avoid. Practically every company faces the problem of accidental deletion. For an inexperienced user, it might seem like Microsoft 365 has it all covered with its retention policies and the Recycle Bin. These are good tools if you deleted a file or a folder by mistake and realized it quickly enough to reverse. However, Recycle Bin isn’t a backup and recovery tool. It has several limitations, such as restricted retention time, limited storage, and recovery narrowed only to the user who deleted the file. In addition, if a user empties the deleted items folder, recovery is impossible.
- Retention policy gaps
Microsoft 365 retention policies aim to provide basic data protection, and this doesn’t cover most of a company’s needs. There is no granular or point-in-time recovery. You also don’t have the option of optimizing the backup and recovery flow to save resources and automate the process. In addition, any migration or transition between on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments pose a serious threat of data loss.
You should also remember that if you deactivate the account of a former employee, Microsoft 365 will automatically delete this inactive account with all the associated data. It is one of the easiest ways to lose relevant information, as Microsoft doesn’t offer a comprehensive backup solution.
- External security threats
All types of malware, ranging from viruses to ransomware, cause significant damage to companies and organizations. This isn’t only about the company’s reputation and data protection but also knock-on effects such as the security of its customers. There are multiple ways to get infected and multiple infection points, which makes it quite hard to avoid attacks even in a safe environment. The only efficient way to protect critical data is by having a backup strategy. Microsoft 365’s backup and recovery features aren’t enough to handle serious threats.
- Internal security threats
Malware isn’t the only security threat. Companies also experience internal threats, and much more often than you think. Employees create a variety of issues, both intentionally and unintentionally. The sources of possible pitfalls range from providing excessive access to users to downloading infected files or deleting data either accidentally or on purpose. It can get to the point where an employee covers up evidence by hiding specific files from a legal or HR department.
- Legal and compliance requirements
Broadly speaking, every company wants to avoid fines and legal disputes. For this reason, the business has to know that data requested by officials will be there when needed in case of compliance and legal issues. If you don’t have a reliable Microsoft Office 365 backup solution, your company is vulnerable to serious legal trouble. Legal and compliance requirements vary by country and industry. However, keep yours in mind so that you always meet your legal obligations and avoid any associated penalties and responsibilities.
How to Build a Perfect Strategy for Remote Work?
Taking a strategic view works well not only for growing your business but also for your Microsoft Office 365 remote workplace environment. You can take some simple steps to build a comprehensive plan that will eventually merge into your corporate culture. Check the following points and integrate them into your Microsoft Office 365 backup policy.
- Keep devices secure and up to date.
Almost every user of a network is aware of basic security. However, these simple yet effective rules often get neglected, though they shouldn’t. Build a solid data security base with the following recommendations:
- Use antivirus and firewall. Less secure networks are easier to compromise. Configure a firewall and install an antivirus to reduce the risk of malware infections.
- Automate security updates. Updates usually fix the bugs that can make devices and networks more vulnerable. In addition, new versions often have additional security features. Remember to enable automatic updates if it isn’t set by default.
- Be smart with your passwords. Avoid using default or easily guessable passwords for all of your networking devices. Don’t forget about the Wi-Fi credentials. They should be updated regularly, while the password has to be strong.
- Wi-Fi access. Wireless access points are vulnerable, making it easy to access the network. Ensure only authorized users can access the Wi-Fi.
- Remember about basic privacy.
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA). It is a simple and effective way to protect your environment by restricting unauthorized access. If there is an option of using biometric authentication (e.g., face or fingerprint), opt for it.
- Online meeting security. As so much communication nowadays is limited to the online environment, protecting your virtual conferencing space is crucial. Keep track of who can access a call, the location of the shared files, and if the meeting can be recorded.
- Differentiate business and personal.
- Appropriate file-sharing services are a must-have. Ensure that your users’ business content doesn’t get mixed with their personal information. Even in the case of a Bring your own device (BYOD) type of work, there should be a clear distinction. Use SharePoint and OneDrive for the business data. If possible, enable Windows Information Protection to minimize the risk of data leakage.
- Encryption. Enable device encryption to ensure the data is safe even in case your device is lost or stolen.
- Avoid potential threats.
- Cyberattacks. Malware still poses a serious threat. Managing remote workers might be complicated at first, but one of the most important aspects is to inform your network users about the potential threats and the ways of prevention. For starters, ensure basic security for each endpoint and email protection to avoid phishing attacks.
- Tech support scams. This type of scam is aimed to trick you into paying for technical services that will solve some issues. Remember, Microsoft never contacts users to address a technical problem if it wasn’t solicited before. No warning message from Microsoft includes a phone number to call. If you receive a call that you never requested, even if the caller is willing to repair something for free, hang up this call and report it to https://www.microsoft.com/reportascam. You should also inform all of your network users about such schemes. The least you can do is turn on versioning and retention in the Recycle Bin.
- Have a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery strategy.
Many businesses assume that if something happens, Microsoft 365 is sufficient and doesn’t require any backup solutions. However, this isn’t the case. Microsoft doesn’t provide backup and recovery services, and it isn’t their responsibility.
The absence of a backup strategy may result in serious downtimes resulting in lost time and money. In addition, you risk losing your critical data forever without any means of recovery. However, there are several things you can do by yourself without involving any third-party solutions to prevent this. Check this list of the best Microsoft Office 365 backup practices.
The rise of remote work has reminded companies about just how essential digital security is. Having employees working from anywhere in the world might have added a few additional challenges. However, a comprehensive Microsoft Office 365 backup strategy has always been a must for any business.
It’s time to revise your organization’s existing Microsoft Office 365 backup policy, adopt a third-party backup solution for SaaS data and implement new security steps. The tips for remote workers from this blog post will significantly improve the protection level of your network and environment. For actionable advice on Microsoft Office 365 data protection, download this free white paper.