“How are we securing our content?” The big question surrounding Office 365

Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2015
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By Michaela Nankin
Microsoft Cloud Business Specialist


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Office 365 is brilliant. It moves high maintenance on-premise infrastructure into the cloud and provides service-levels most organisations could never achieve independently.  However, the real game-changer for many organisations is the way it suddenly enables users to be productive and collaborate on-the-go like never before. Multiple installs of Office, across a plethora of devices, means your people will be productive using the devices they love, readily able to access the applications and content they need.

Without proper consideration though, adopting Office 365 can be like opening the flood gates on your corporate content. Thanks to unfettered access, very quickly content could be residing on a host of devices, which may not even belong to your organisation and you can’t control. Your users are over the moon, but the security posture of your organisation is seriously called into question, as content can no longer be protected like it was on-premise.

In my experience, the question of content security is one of the most important challenges to overcome in order to get the most out of Office 365 and ensure your organisation is suitably protected. So what’s the answer you I hear you say?

Office 365 + Enterprise Mobility Suite

Of course, there are other solutions for achieving the same end, but we’ve been really impressed with the results of combining Office 365 with Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS). It’s specifically designed to protect Office emails, files and apps and just works as its intended. Essentially, using the solutions together, organisations can provide users with all of the freedom that Office 365 offers, with a level of corporate control that won’t feel oppressive or hinder their experience. This is achieved by a mix of access control and content protection:

Hybrid Identity Management - Using Windows Azure Active Directory Premium, users are provided single sign-on access to literally 1000’s of applications – not just Office. Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter as well as a host of enterprise SaaS apps are all pre-integrated into the platform. The service enables identity to be managed in and out of the cloud, and offers users the ability to self-serve things like password reset and IT to insist on multi-factor identification. It also removes the need to retain an Active Directory forest on-premise, helping Office 365 to become an entirely cloud-based solution.

Mobile Device Management - Using Windows InTune the devices connecting to your network will also be managed, regardless of who owns them.  Devices can be enrolled by users and in the event that a device is lost, stolen or an employee leaves the company, data can be remote wiped – selectively if needed should the device not be corporate owned.

Content Protection - Azure Rights Management Services protect your corporate information using rule-based policies.  For example, you may decide you don’t want any 16 digit credit or debit card number to be emailed outside of your organisation without being flagged to an administrator, or you could determine that a certain type of user can read a particular email, but they can’t edit, copy or print it.

Like Office 365, EMS is delivered as a cloud service.  One of the biggest attractions of Office 365 has been its price point and EMS doesn’t disappoint in this regard too.  For around £5 per user per month, access control and content protection can easily be added to your Office 365 solution.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve already moved to Office 365, are in flight with a project, or planning a migration. EMS can quickly be integrated into your service and addresses a major concern for most organisations, whether they’ve recognised it before adopting the service or have identified it once live.

If you’re interested to know more about Office 365 or EMS please get in touch with your account manager or email one of our specialists here.

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