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4 Essential Security Features built into Microsoft 365

4 essential security features built into Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is packed with built-in security features. Here are four you may not know about, but should.

The best way for enterprises to shore up their data defenses is to make security as easy and automatic as possible – in other words, deploying platforms and solutions with robust security and privacy technologies built right in. That’s what enterprises get with Microsoft 365, which has a broad array of native security features that, with cloud-based delivery at the core, always stay current against ever-evolving threats.

Security leaders need to detect threats proactively, because being reactive means you’ve already encountered a problem. Integrated, automated security provides continuous visibility, monitoring, and protection of all endpoints on a network.

Here are four essential security features built into Microsoft 365:

Windows Defender SmartScreen is built into Microsoft’s Edge web browser and protects against malware and phishing by analyzing web activity. It compares attempted downloads (apps, files, programs, etc.) against problematic sites and warns users before they expose their system to anything malicious. The SmartScreen filter also protects Outlook from spam, phishing and malware.

Having this layer of protection is enormously important for businesses, which lost $12 billion to business email compromise campaigns alone from 2013-2018, according to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Windows Hello replaces passwords with biometric authentication via fingerprint, facial recognition, or iris scan. This is a game-changing benefit for two reasons. One is that biometric authentication methods are safer than traditional passwords and even many two-factor authentication techniques.

Second, it saves IT departments and users from the drudgery of regular password resets. As the FTC’s former Chief Technologist wrote, “Users who are required to change their passwords frequently select weaker passwords to begin with, and then change them in predictable ways that attackers can guess easily. Frequent, mandatory [password] expiration inconveniences and annoys users without as much security benefit as previously thought.”

Dynamic Lock is an added security feature that automatically locks a computer via Bluetooth when a user’s smartphone is out of range. If you forget to lock your PC when you leave it unattended, whether at the office or a coffee shop, Windows Hello can use a phone that’s paired with your device to automatically lock it after you’ve gone out of Bluetooth range.

Windows Sandbox is a lightweight, temporary desktop environment for safely running untested software in isolation, without the need for a virtual machine. This is important to admins because they often have to download untested executable files. Now, this built-in sandbox lets them test software without impacting their computer or their corporate network.

Software installed in Windows Sandbox stays in the sandbox and once the sandbox is closed, all software inside is permanently deleted.

Security is (or should be) top of mind for all organizations. The most recent State of the CIO survey found that 15% of organizations’ total IT budget is allocated to security, as protecting data becomes a mandate up and down the technology stack. “We must safeguard our staff and students against hacking, malware and phishing at all times,” said Rabih Hamadeh, Director of IT Infrastructure for the Tucson Unified School District, which supports 45,000 students and 89 schools. “The combination of our internal teams’ monitoring and built-in security tools helps us do that.”

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