Making the Most of Microsoft 365

Expert Insight

Microsoft Updates

Following Microsoft’s recent announcement regarding the changes to their Office 365 subscriptions, which commenced last month, we thought we’d provide a summary of all our favourite features included in the newly named Microsoft 365 business bundles!

But first, a bit of background… On March 30th 2020, Microsoft announced that it was renaming their small and medium business offerings, commercial desktop client SKUs, and consumer offerings in order to better align with the Microsoft 365 name, as detailed below:

  • Office 365 Business Essentials is now Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Office 365 Business Premium is now Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business is now Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus are now Microsoft 365 Apps
  • Office 365 Personal is now Microsoft 365 Personal
  • Office 365 Home is now Microsoft 365 Family

Don’t worry though, whilst the names are different, there are no changes to the features or business models, and as such the price hasn’t been affected! And for those who are not familiar with these cloud-based apps, we’ve gone back to basics and outlined some of the features for you…

Originally Microsoft 365 started as a bundle subscription service for enterprise customers, usually combining Office, Windows 10 Licenses and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). However going forward, Microsoft are now bringing in consumer and SME customers into this family with the introduction of Microsoft 365 Personal and Family Subscriptions. This new offering aligns with Microsoft’s aim to empower everyone, whether with family, at school or in work!

So what are the best features in the Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Standard and Premium plans?

First of all, it’s good to know that most of the Microsoft 365 enterprise plans now include Windows 10, the latest operating system from Microsoft. This comes with bonus features such as Windows Defender Anti-Virus, BitLocker, the digital assistant Cortana and the Microsoft Edge browser. From protecting your data to using it efficiently, these apps have been included to increase the security and usability of Windows. Although, it’s worth noting that not all Microsoft 365 plans include Windows 10 licenses, it depends on the enterprise plan you opt for (so be aware of this when selecting the one for your business).

Secondly, on to the most beneficial features.. Now we might be biased as cyber security experts, but we think the most useful features in the Microsoft 365 plan is the inclusion of the Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS) tools, which are essentially there to provide added protection for you and your customer data. It secures your organisation whilst allowing your employees to work flexibly and efficiently. Too good to be true right? Wrong! Here are some of the ways EMS simultaneously empowers and protects your workforce:

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Identity and Access Management

Firstly, we’ll look into how EMS tools allow you to manage Identity and Access – there are various ways Microsoft 365 does this, but we’ll start with the most commonly recognised – Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). This feature increases your business security by requesting various forms of verification to prove your identity when signing in. It’s no longer just a 4 digit code needed to access your PC, physical passwords are now a thing of the past and password-less authentication methods (we’re talking finger-print and facial recognition), are now being used alongside traditional methods to protect against increasingly common attacks, like phishing emails.

Microsoft have also included the Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) within the 365 package; with Azure AD it’s all about control. This programme is there to help you manage both internal and external identities, and ensure the right person has access to the right resource. Microsoft have also included intelligent access policies through Azure AD Conditional Access; an application that imposes a Zero Trust strategy.

So, what is Zero Trust? Zero Trust is an information security framework, which maintains the belief that an organisation should not trust any entity inside or outside of their perimeter at any time. It provides the visibility and IT controls needed to secure, manage and monitor every device, user, app and network being used to access business data.

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Information Protection

Microsoft’s Information Protection is a collection of solutions to help your business discover, classify, protect and monitor your sensitive information – wherever it’s stored! These solutions include:

Azure Information Protection, this app allows you to control any emails, documents or sensitive data that you might want to share outside your company. There are now policies to classify and label your data based on sensitivity! Round the clock protection is also ensured, regardless of where it’s stored or who it’s shared with, and Microsoft do this through the addition of classification and protection information. On top of this, you can also define who has access to the data, and what they are able to do with it. With this solution your mind can now be at ease knowing that your corporate and personal data can be kept separate at all times.

Office 365 Data Loss Prevention in essence is a solution prevents the accidental sharing of sensitive corporate information. With a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in place, you can identify, monitor and protect information across Office 365. We think the most useful feature is the ability to identify a document with sensitive information, block access to that document and/or prevent it from being shared if required. DLP provides continuous monitoring so users can stay compliant without interrupting their workflow!

Additionally included is Microsoft Cloud App Security (we’ll go into this later!) and Windows Information Protection (WIP). WIP essentially prevents information leaks of business data on Windows 10 devices. This is particularly important with the increase of employee owned devices and subsequent increase in risk of accidental data leaks! WIP protects against this potential data leakage with the possibility to remotely encrypt or wipe enterprise data off employee-owned and corporate-owned devices without affecting personal data or employee experience.


Threat Protection

Next up… Threat Protection. Microsoft 365 Threat Protection combines the abilities of Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), Office 365 ATP, Azure ATP and Microsoft Cloud App Security to ultimately manage threats from a single device. These abilities include a unified endpoint security platform, post-breach detection, investigation and response from Microsoft Defender ATP. Office 365 protects against threats such as phishing emails with automated response options and training provided for users to recognise and report attacks. Finally, Azure ATP monitors users with learning-based analytics and then uses this to detect suspicious behaviour and protect user identities and credentials. The combination of these facilities allows key benefits such as the protection of your assets through the adoption of a Zero Trust policy. In addition, your organisation gains valuable insight through Azure Sentinel – using the cloud and AI to see and stop threats before the damage is done! Ultimately, Microsoft Threat Protection empowers security teams, allowing them to protect, prevent, and finally get ahead of the spread of attacks.

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Microsoft Endpoint Manager

In addition to this, the Microsoft 365 stack also includes Endpoint Manager – an integrated management solution to manage all of your endpoints. Microsoft Endpoint Manager includes Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager and Microsoft Intune, allowing you to employ a seamless and integrated management solution – Not only this, but Microsoft Endpoint Manager additionally holds integrated features such as Windows Autopilot, Windows co-management, Tenant-attached Helpdesk, Desktop Analytics and many more.

Windows Autopilot provides a simple setup and pre-configuration service for new devices, enabling instant use for users, whilst Windows co-management allows you to simultaneously manage multiple Windows 10 devices through Configuration Manager and Intune. Tenant-attached Helpdesk assists service staff in providing excellent customer service through live chats, email support, chatbots and much more. Finally, Desktop Analytics provides assessments, recommendations, insights and a comprehensive inventory to simplify end-to-end deployment and upgrades. Essentially, Microsoft Endpoint Manager means that your business can take advantage of all these features and more, in one simplified platform – transforming the management and security of your business!

Cloud Infrastructure

Cloud Access Security Broker

Finally, Microsoft Cloud App Security (as mentioned previously) is an integrated Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), designed to give you visibility into all your cloud apps in order to give you the resources you need to combat potential cyberthreats. This is powered through solutions that we have previously mentioned such as Intune, Azure Information Protection and Azure Active Dictionary and more in order for your business to be able to protect sensitive information from anywhere in the cloud!

Whilst it is only the names that have in essence changed, the new innovations added will allow consumer and SME customers easy access into the Microsoft bundle, making a more inclusive subscription for all – in today’s remote working environment, it’s imperative technology can be used to support home life too! So, if you or your business are interested in advanced security tools and are concerned about data security and GDPR in the home, then a Microsoft 365 plan is undoubtedly the way to go! With different plans available – Microsoft 365 Business, there’s appropriate plans for everyone. Get in touch here to find out more!

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