Defend against threats.
Your top security threat today can be summarized in one word: phishing. For SMBs, between 90-98 percent of all cyber attacks start with phishing.
Personally, I miss the days when phishing attacks were easy to spot: The bad grammar, the unearned but freely given compliments, and the claims of royal affiliation in countries without monarchies. Back then, only the very lonely or gullible were falling for it.
But today, the phishing attacks are so perfectly designed that many of the experts trained to find them can be fooled. In addition to that, many pieces of malware are so brilliantly engineered that they can sweep the globe before conventional anti-virus or security tools even know they exist. Plus, these programs know how to hide, re-write themselves, and cover their tracks once they're in your system.
I believe that to combat advanced threats, you need protection that’s even more sophisticated. In my opinion, this is where Microsoft 365 Business Premium (formerly Microsoft 365 Business) can make a big difference.
The cyber defenses of Microsoft 365 Business Premium are built on something called the Intelligent Security Graph—and, if you’re not familiar with that, there’s a whole website devoted to it.
The short version is this: Anytime a new threat is detected anywhere on earth, the rest of the network is automatically updated—and these billions of updates pile up into what I think is the single best source of cybersecurity in the world—arguably the universe.
Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection
One of the security tools offered by Microsoft 365 Business Premium is called Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection. That’s a bit of a mouthful, but it does something remarkable in the three ways it combats the cyber criminals that are pretty relentlessly treating small/medium businesses like piggy banks.
1. Safe Links.
Any security software will scan the links in your emails to see if they'll redirect to a malicious site. But a particularly clever phishing attack will send an email that contains harmless links. Then, after that message hits your inbox, it will detect that it passed your filters and change those links to something malicious. It’s brilliant, and it’s going to wreck stuff.
Safe Links double-checks every link at the time you click on it to see if you’re about to be sent somewhere dangerous.
Safe Links also works great on Office documents, too—not just email.
2. Safe Attachments.
Similar to Safe Links, this opens every email attachment that your company receives in a virtual environment and watches what happens next. If strange behavior indicates that a cyberweapon is deployed, that file will never reach your inbox. Obviously.
3. Anti-phishing intelligence.
This is another multi-syllabic name for something very cool: This tool learns the way everyone in your organization communicates (and who they communicate with) so that when an unnatural or unusual string of communications begins, the system can accurately gauge that one of those accounts is being controlled by an attacker.
There are two other big ways Microsoft 365 Business Premium can help defend against cyber threats:
You get advanced multi-factor authentication (MFA) beyond what’s already available in Microsoft 365 Business Standard.
For example, you can choose to bypass MFA from trusted locations (like your own office IP address), or you can completely prohibit access from places you don’t have any employees. This helps block attempted attacks and data loss since you’ll know immediately that those people logging on from North Korea (probably?) aren’t part of a shareholder ski trip.
You can enforce Microsoft Defender on your Windows 10 PCs with enhanced protection against ransomware and malware.
You can learn more about Defender here.
In the meantime, start planning what you’ll do with the money you save by cancelling your subscription to other third-party antivirus products once you have Defender up and running.
Microsoft 365 Business Premium Defends Against Cyber Threats
Things you may be wondering about:
Which Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection capabilities are included in Microsoft 365 Business Premium?
Everything in Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (Plan 1)
What specific multi-factor authentication capabilities are included?