In the last few years, Microsoft Office 365 (MO365) has eclipsed all other cloud providers to emerge as the most widely used enterprise cloud service and the latest survey data shows that adoption of MO365 is still increasing.
It is not just impressive in its adoption rates, Microsoft has also been incremental evolving business technology; organizations now rely on cloud technology to function. However, while this shift to the cloud means business collaboration is more agile and streamlined, no sensitive data stored in the cloud should be considered safe from cybersecurity risks.
While the MO365 platform provides organizations with basic security features to protect against spam, malware, and data loss prevention, there are a number of information security functionality shortcomings that can be potentially damaging to an organization should they be exploited by cybercriminals or employees.
Whether inadvertently or maliciously, employees receiving sensitive data, or even sharing customer information internally across departments, can be compromising to a business. Therefore, it is important that organizations have both inbound/outbound protection as well as internal security measures in place to reduce the threat of unwanted sensitive data acquisition through the MO365 platform.
Fortunately, MO365 was developed to allow third-party solutions, such as Clearswift’s Adaptive Data Loss Prevention (A-DLP), to integrate with the platform to enable advanced information security functionality required in today’s age of digital business collaboration.
Integrating Deep Content Inspection and Advanced Information Security Functionality with M0365
The depth of MO365’s security capabilities cannot go as deep as necessary in today’s information-driven world. While the security features can stop critical data in the body of an email from entering or leaving the platform, it does not go as far as to deeply inspect all attachments that can also carry sensitive customer details (eg. PII, PCI, Bank Accounts, Medical Records etc.). In addition to this, MO365 applies the traditional ‘stop and block’ method to emails containing sensitive information, this has historically caused hindrance to business operation by preventing continuous communication flow.
By integrating Clearswift’s A-DLP solution with an M0365 platform, organizations are able to ensure no sensitive data is being shared without having to stop communications from reaching their destination. Clearswift’s robust deep content inspection engine and unique Adaptive Redaction technology, as part of A-DLP, inspects all messages and attachments for sensitive data, active code and hidden metadata as it enters the MO365 environment, removes only the sensitive or ‘unsafe’ information, then allows the rest of the communication to be delivered. This ensures that any messages being sent or received are secure and will not compromise the business’ compliance.
Scanning, Sanitizing and Redacting Sensitive Information Within Images
A common way of sharing data within an organization is to screenshot a spreadsheet or document and send this as an image. The sensitive information contained within the image files often evade detection from most security systems, meaning sensitive information in these formats are able to slip through and be exposed unauthorized. Clearswift’s Optical Character Recognition (OCR) however, can detect sensitive information in images (.jpgs, .TIFF, .BMP, PDF’s etc) and prevent sensitive information from being exposed unauthorized. Furthermore, Clearswift can enable Anti-steganography functionality to inspect the hidden code within an image and sanitize the file of sensitive information attached to it, so unwanted sensitive data or malicious code is kept secure, no matter where it resides.
While MO365 has been incremental in the digitalization of business, it is yet to provide the advanced information security features to secure organizations in today’s data-driven environment. Businesses should leverage the opportunity to increase information security within the MO365 platform by plugging in third-party solutions to ensure the information of most value to the organization is kept secure.