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Keep your Microsoft 365 environment secure with these tips

Microsoft 365 is one of the most widely used business productivity suites today. From email and collaboration to cloud storage and enterprise content management, the robust features of its cloud-based tools and servers are nothing short of useful. Still, Microsoft 365 presents certain security challenges that businesses must address.

Vulnerabilities in SharePoint

Businesses typically use SharePoint Online and on-premises SharePoint sites to store sensitive information like personally identifiable data. Failing to secure SharePoint content against unauthorized users is one way to expose data and your business to malicious actors. This can be critical for companies that are required to comply with stringent data privacy and protection regulations and may face serious consequences for noncompliance.

To prevent this, limit administrator-level privileges and enable encryption. Additionally, set the necessary security restrictions per user for every application.

Unprotected communication channels

Phishing attacks and malware are two of the most common ways cybercriminals infiltrate a system, but there are other paths of attack. Microsoft 365 applications like Microsoft Teams, which can connect to external networks, may serve as a medium for ransomware and other types of attack.

Train your staff to identify potentially malicious files and links. Also, offer guidelines on how to handle and route sensitive files and communication to safe locations.

Security risks in dormant applications

Organizations using Microsoft 365 often won’t use all the tools and services included in the productivity suite. You may use one or several programs like Word, Excel, and SharePoint but rarely use OneDrive. If your business has been utilizing specific programs, note that some dormant applications may be prone to attack. This is why it’s crucial to identify the apps that aren’t being used, and have an administrator tweak user settings to restrict availability on such apps.

File synchronization

Like most cloud services, Microsoft 365 allows users to automatically sync on-premises files to the cloud, such as in OneDrive. This useful feature is not without security risks, however. If a file stored locally is infected with malware, OneDrive will view the file as changed/updated and trigger a sync to the OneDrive cloud, with the infection going undetected.

Office 365 Cloud App Security, a subset of Microsoft Cloud App Security, is designed to enhance protections for Office 365 apps and provide great visibility into user activity to improve incident response efforts. Make sure your organization’s security administrators set it up on your systems so you can detect and mitigate cyber risks as soon as possible.

Cybercriminals will continue to sharpen their hacking techniques, and your organization must keep up to protect your systems, apps, and devices. Call our team of IT experts now if you want to strengthen your business IT security.

Published with permission from Source.

An excellent update to Microsoft Excel

It’s difficult to create budget plans, data entry records, and financial information without a productivity tool like Microsoft Excel. Over the years, it’s been a staple in most offices because of its many useful functions, which aid in making business decisions a lot easier. And with a new feature, Excel has become even handier.

Previous Excel upgrades include the addition of dynamic arrays and array formulas, a feature that enabled single formulas to return an array of values. Another upgrade was the Stocks and Geography function, which lets users add stock and geography data into a spreadsheet with the help of the search engine Bing. These are both useful, but Microsoft decided to add even more functionality to the program.

New data types

Excel has always been a formidable tool for storing text, numbers, and formulas and allowing users to process information out of them. Still, the data that one could put in Excel grids were limited because they were flat. Recent upgrades improve upon that limitation.

Luckily, users can now add data types to Excel, making the program more dynamic and intelligent. These data types effectively expand what information inside cells can do. In particular, cells can now contain not just text and number data, but a connected, up-to-the-minute collection of information such as currencies, cities, population, stocks, and the like. Simply put, cells can interact with charts and formulas with live data.

Data in cells can be used as a reference for an even larger collection of different data types, images, and actions. In other words, you’re no longer just typing data and writing formulas into a cell, although you can still do both. Rather, a cell can contain a specific set of information that branches out into subsets of data that you would otherwise need to type directly into the cell.

For example, if you’re creating or upgrading a customer information spreadsheet, things like transaction history, preferences, or phone numbers don’t have to be typed one by one. Adding customer-specific data types could simplify this process: entering a customer name in a cell would link to a network of information about a specific entry (i.e., customer) using a scroll-over menu, as opposed to having to enter all that information manually. This makes data input more flexible, efficient, and less prone to error resulting from copy-pasting and manual entry.

Enhancements for Power BI customers

It is, however, users of Microsoft Power BI, the company’s business intelligence program, who will greatly benefit from the upgrades. If your company uses Power BI, data published into your account will automatically link to Excel, which makes the flow of company data types into the program more seamless.

In addition, Microsoft’s data connection technology Power Query will allow users to create custom data types, while pre-configured data types (through a partnership with knowledge engine provider Wolfram Alpha) will also soon be added to let users track different types of information.

This only scratches the surface of what these Excel upgrades can do. For more Office and general productivity tips, consult our IT experts today.

Published with permission from Source.

What’s new in the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center

The shift to remote work has not been easy, especially for IT administrators. After all, they’re in charge of supervising and securing workflows, devices, and software to ensure optimal user experience and to keep cyberthreats at bay. They are also expected to deploy IT solutions that are within budget so that costs don’t run amuck. Succinctly, they are the backbone of remote working. To help IT administrators do their jobs better and more efficiently, Microsoft has added the following features to its Apps admin center.

Intelligent insights

Intelligent insights include features like Apps Inventory, Add-In Inventory, and Security Currency that allow IT administrators to find and mitigate any issues immediately. With these tools, administrators can gain an in-depth understanding of the organization’s Microsoft 365 environment and be privy to information such as:

  • What devices are running Office apps and which versions they’re running;
  • What Office add-ins are installed or running; and
  • Which servicing channel each device belongs to.

Knowing all this information can help administrators identify and manage unsupported Office versions and add-ins to ensure security and compliance. Data is also easily exportable for reports or audits.

Servicing automation with controls

This feature streamlines and automates Microsoft 365 Apps servicing to eliminate manual deployment and accelerate the rollout of updates and security patches, thus saving effort, time, and costs. With this new feature, admins only need to apply a specific servicing profile to a set of devices to automatically deliver monthly updates for users or groups.

What’s more, IT admins are now able to view, pause, and resume updates on a per-device basis. If a user experiences issues during rollout, for instance, administrators can pause that user’s update and restore their software to a previous version while they troubleshoot.

Admins can also specify exclusion date periods, or when Office apps updates should not run, such as during holidays or company meetings. They can schedule this to happen only once or on a recurring basis, depending on their organization’s schedule. And for compliance purposes, admins can schedule updates to happen at a certain date and time, or they can let users install Office app updates at their most convenient time.

Microsoft 365 Apps health

With Microsoft 365 Apps health, IT admins can see how well Microsoft 365 apps are running during and in between deployments. It also calculates an organization’s overall app health based on three criteria: app reliability, app performance, and supported versions. On top of these, Microsoft 365 Apps health gives pertinent information such as Office app session crash rates and who reported such crashes. This allows admins to quickly identify issues and take actions to increase app performance and reliability.

With these new features, administrators can better manage Microsoft 365 apps, and users can count on better experiences and fewer downtimes. If you want to learn more about how technology can increase your business’s operational efficiency, don’t hesitate to call us. Our IT experts are always ready to help.

Published with permission from Source.

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