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Microsoft Teams and Advanced Security for Office 365

Microsoft Teams and Advanced Security for Office 365

Microsoft has announced general availability of Microsoft Teams for Office 365, a collaborative, dedicated hub that can unite employees and vendors no matter the location. Along with Teams, Microsoft announced several new security enhancements and features, Secure Score, Office 365 Threat Intelligence (Preview), and Office 365 Advanced Data Governance (Preview). Microsoft continues to enhance the Office 365 platform so that companies can achieve a more secure and productive workplace.  Planner was released mid-year last year as a tool to help organizations better track and organize projects by tasks.   These tasks can be assigned to groups or individuals.  Office 365 groups allow companies to build groups that extend across the entire Office 365 platform.  Let’s talk about how Groups and Teams work together to enable workforce collaboration.

In the modern workforce era of geographically dispersed workers, collaboration is becoming more and more challenging.  As the landscape of business has changed to a more globally, connected environment, teamwork is essential to an organizations success.  The amount of time employees spends engaged in collaborative work like meetings, phone calls, or emails has increased by almost 50% and consume 80% of employees’ time.  Teams can consist of a mix of internal and remote employees and outside vendors.

Companies find themselves and their employees using multiple tools that do the same things because different groups have different needs.   If approved IT tools and applications do not meet the users’ needs, they find ways to bypass IT and use outside tools that can open the door to possible compliance violations.  Microsoft is stepping up to address these challenges.   Microsoft Teams is the newest tool from Microsoft to help address these concerns.  Microsoft Teams began rolling out to Office 365 commercial and education markets earlier this month.  The government customers must wait a little longer.  Teams allows organizations who Office 365, the ability to organize teams into dedicated hubs.  In each hub, users will find one place for chat, content, easy access to other team members, and various tools offered as part of Office 365. 

Teams consists of four main attributes to help organizations perform at their best.  First, Teams is a modern-day chat session that will keep chat history, both team wide and private chats.  Second, Teams offers dedicated hubs for team members to have easy access to everyday apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, and OneNote.  Thirdly, Teams is easily customized to allow different teams to work their own way and can even utilize publicly available API’s and bot framework.  Last, Teams is designed to provide a unified collaborative experience while making sure company data and user information is protected.

Now, let’s focus on security.  Some common questions around Office 365 are asked like “how secure is my data in Office 365” or “what kind of protections are in place to ensure my data is safe”.   Microsoft takes a holistic approach to ensure customers’ data is safe. As can be seen below, the security of the data centers and worldwide compliance certifications are important to Microsoft.

Office 365 Microsoft has many tools that can help equip and inform organizations as to the status of their data, environment, and compliance.  Currently available advanced tools are Advanced Threat Protection, Customer Lock Box, Advanced eDiscovery, and Advanced Security Management (all available as an add-on’s or included in E5).  New to these offerings are Office 365 Secure Score, Office 365 Threat Intelligence (Preview), and Office 365 Advanced Data Governance (Preview).  Office 365 Secure Score will allow organizations to run security analytics and will score them on their current configuration and help provide ways to remediate.  The metrics are calculated by taking the sum of the points associated with the configurations applied to the organizations tenant that are either partially or fully implemented and dividing them with all the security tools available to that tenant.  Examples below:

The score analyzer will keep track of the organizations score over time:

Office 365 Threat Intelligence is a new service that will take data from many different sources and provide an single dashboard view.  Some of these sources are Microsoft Intelligence Security Graph to analyze data points from data centers located through the world, email and Office clients, user authentications, and other reported incidents that impact the Office 365 platform worldwide to provide views and insights in global attack trends.  It can also provide information about malware both inside and outside the organization, breach information, and will integrate in with Exchange Online Protection and Advanced Threat Protection to enable admins to identify the top targeted users in an organization.

Finally, Office 365 Advanced Data Governance is being released.  This feature allows organizations to gain an overall picture of their data and help identify whether that data is needed or not needed.  This helps identify redundant, obsolete and non-essential data that could cause potential problems should an organization’s environment be compromised.  Through data classification companies can begin to sort through the massive amounts of data by examining the type of data, the age of that data, and the users who access that data, and begin to identify the data for either preservation or deletion.

Office 365 Secure Score is available to Office 365 commercial customers and multi-tenant customer who use Office 365 Government clouds.  Office 365 Threat Intelligence and Advanced Data Governance are expected to be GA by April 1 and will be included in E5.

PCM will be holding a webinar on June 1 to go over Office 365 Advanced security packages and enhancements.

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