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Why Office 365 Users need Microsoft 365

Cybersecurity is often considered an afterthought for many small and midsize businesses (SMBs), though I don't know why. Independent research from the Ponemon Institute says that it typically takes only four minutes for a hacker to get into a corporate network but over six months for the owners of that network to even detect an attack. That same study noted that the average cost for a company to clean up after the attack was over $3 million. So, it's no wonder that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission data on SMBs hit by hackers shows a terrifying 60% of them go out of business within six months after the attack. Leveling the playing field against hackers when you're an SMB requires you to find ways to leverage the same IT security resources that a large enterprise can bring to bear—without paying enterprise prices.

Amaxra has blogged in the past about how Microsoft Office 365 is a good choice for any-sized businesses to leverage the agility and security inherent with the cloud. We still recommend Office 365, of course, but our consultants who work with SMBs are finding that the Microsoft 365 Business solution provides entrepreneurs with a more comprehensive solution. Each of the SMBs for whom we have deployed Microsoft 365 all point to the same reason for their choice: Microsoft 365 delivers easy to manage enterprise-grade cybersecurity for all their employees for a surprisingly cost-effective price.

Microsoft 365 Business is a service that bundles all your company's various Windows and Office software apps into a single per-user subscription. We first saw Microsoft 365 Business a little over a year ago, and were impressed by how its cloud-first platform enabled a no-hassle means for SMBs to configure, manage, and protect employee devices and data.

We recommend Microsoft 365 for SMBs concerned about cybersecurity because of the simplicity it provides to an overworked and underfunded IT staff. The key feature enabling this security is the Microsoft 365 admin center, a single, easy-to-read customer portal available on any web browser that enables your organization to manage every device your employees use.

 

For SMBs, this is crucial for IT security. Let's look at how the Microsoft 365 admin center lets you control access to corporate data in the cloud in ways that were previously only available to large IT organizations.

A single dashboard for IT security

The Microsoft 365 admin center gives you powerful corporate IT security tools from a single dashboard view. For SMBs with limited IT budgets and resources, the Microsoft 365 admin panel is a must-have because it controls all security policies and operations for users of Office 365 apps—even if those apps are being used on devices running Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS, or Google Android operating systems. Best of all, the Microsoft 365 admin center allows you to manage and monitor every aspect of cybersecurity for your SMB with a simple user interface:


As you can see from the example screenshot of the Microsoft 365 admin center, there are options to manage your corporate data through the Security & Compliance Center. This is important because most SMBs only have one or two people that handle multiple aspects of corporate IT security and having an integrated dashboard means everything those security pros need is controllable from this panel. Every security option, from setting up data loss prevention (DLP) polices to tracking down and mitigating potential threats on your corporate network is here. Microsoft 365 makes it easy to configure any of these security options and their related policies through a sequence of dialog boxes that lead you through a series of well-defined steps, so you don't get lost or overwhelmed.

Setting secure policies is a snap

You can enhance your company's IT security from the Microsoft 365 admin center using the granular control of device and application management settings afforded by policies. Policies in Microsoft 365 can be for designed per device type/per user and automated to account for potential threats. These policies can be created using prebuilt templates for common security scenarios designed for typical usage of Office 365 apps and cloud-based resources and/or regional regulatory regimes (e.g. HIPAA if your business supports medical professionals in the United States, GDPR if you deal with clients the European Union) but you can also create customized policies specific to your work style. The control options for policies available in the Microsoft 365 admin panel are comprehensive, but never overwhelming:


Amaxra used our Microsoft 365 admin panel to set a policy that automatically deletes corporate data and files from an inactive device. In this example, the policy is for devices running the Google Android operating system but it can be a Windows PC, iPhone, or iPad, too. On top of the best practices for cybersecurity such as setting a personal identification number (PIN) that resets after a few missed tries and automatically encrypting files on an inactive device after a set period to ensure a lost device is not found and exploited by criminals, there are some additional management options for SMBs here. You can see from the screenshot that with one click you can deny users with aftermarket privileged access of an iPhone or Android device (known as "jailbroken or rooted devices" to hackers). Another powerful security option for SMBs is the ability to keep users from opening a Microsoft Word doc, PowerPoint slide, or Excel workbook containing your valuable corporate data on their device then cutting and pasting text and screenshots of that data into their favorite 3rd-party notetaking app to share outside of the company. Again, before SMBs had Microsoft 365 Business these types of granular management options were once only available to enterprises using expensive and complex software.

An easy upgrade to Windows 10 Professional

One of the key advantages an organization gains from adopting Microsoft 365 Business is the ability to standardize all their PCs on the latest, most up-to-date (and therefore, secure) version of Windows 10 Professional. For example, say your company has a few PCs that are just four or five years old that came with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and although they work well, you're concerned about keeping them secure now that Microsoft is winding down their customer support on legacy operating systems. You also added a couple of new employees and bought laptops with Windows 10 Home for them, so want to get everyone "on the same page" rather than supporting multiple operating systems. From the Microsoft 365 admin, you can use the Deploy Windows with AutoPilot option to install the latest, most secure version of Windows 10 Professional to all employee PCs with no human intervention and delivered from the cloud:


This feature is so important for SMBs for two reasons:

  1. Automatically deploying Windows 10 Professional to all compatible employee devices that connect to your corporate network is a feature that was once only available to IT departments at large global enterprises
  2. Your subscription to Microsoft 365 Business entitles you to upgrade all employee devices running previous versions of Windows (e.g. Windows 7, 8.1, and even Windows 10 Home) to the more secure Windows 10 Professional operating system for free

Again, you don't have to have Windows 10 on every device connected to your network and Microsoft 365 Business and Office 365 works just fine on Macs, iPads, and Samsung Galaxy phones. But the benefit of having all corporate PCs running the same version of Windows means you can easily set application protection settings, enable BitLocker encryption to help protect data in case a device is lost or stolen, enable Windows Exploit Guard to provide advanced protection against ransomware, and even remotely wipe company data if a device is lost, stolen, or an employee leaves your company. And it's a free upgrade, so why wouldn't any SMB with a limited IT budget not use that perk?

A smart, cost-effective decision

When you take into account that over 40% of SMBs are being exclusively targeted by hackers and being compromised results in an average $3+ million in damages, the price-performance calculation of Microsoft 365 Business is easy to do. You get enhanced security, cloud-based Office 365, and free upgrades to Windows 10 Professional for as little as $20 per user/month. If you're unsure about how Microsoft 365 can benefit your business, then Amaxra experts are here to help. We can help to deploy then secure and manage Microsoft 365 for your organization—just as we've successfully done for many other SMBs and enterprises. 

Contact me at mike.arntzen@amaxra.com or call 425 749 7471 if you have any questions or comments on this blog.

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