Office 365 Ascent Is Security Opportunity

Microsoft is on a roll with its cloud strategy. In the past two quarters, the software giant has posted triple-digit revenue growth for its cloud-based application services, driven largely by its Office 365 application suite and email services.

Office 365 is driving much of Microsoft’s commercial and consumer cloud growth, and that’s not expected to change anytime soon. Some estimates place the total number of mailboxes migrating to the cloud will be 65 percent. Currently, 83 percent of mailboxes are on-premises, while 17 percent are hosted. Microsoft has about 5 percent to 10 percent of the market share through Office 365. This means there’s still 48 percent of the hosted mailbox market up for grabs – and Microsoft has momentum in capturing share.

The adoption of cloud-based productivity, collaboration, and email services such as Office 365 offers many advantages in cost, connectivity, mobility, and productivity. Security, however, isn’t necessarily one of those benefits. While Office 365 and similar services have many embedded security features, they’re not immune to many prevalent attacks.

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve probably heard about the latest high-profile attacks against major banks and hacks that revealed millions of user identities. Most of these attacks and data compromises started as simple emails containing malicious URLs. Through spear-phishing attacks, hackers and other miscreants are able to stealthily insert malicious code into network domains. Advanced malware can then watch network activity, identify weaknesses, send intelligence back to its controllers, and open doors to allow unauthorized access.

According to McAfee Labs, 95 percent of all Internet-based attacks start with spear-phishing. Email is a powerful tool, but it needs equally powerful security to safeguard data, software, and infrastructure from unauthorized access and compromises. This is where the increasing adoption of Office 365 and other email services works in favor of McAfee partners.

Migrating to Office 365 is not a trivial exercise. It may require extensive planning and phased movement of mailbox credentials and files from legacy systems to the cloud. This transition can leave data exposed to leaks and compromises if the proper security protocols aren’t in place. Partners can provide value-added services by facilitating the planning and implementation of these migrations on a customer’s behalf. In addition, they can take the security aspects into consideration by providing the software licensing that keeps data from being exposed.

Once Office 365 is in place, it requires ongoing security support. McAfee has an array of solutions that enhance Office 365 protection starting with McAfee Email Protection, which includes or integrates into remarkable technology for detecting and thwarting threats at multiple levels.

  • ClickProtect: inspects and identifies malicious and suspicious URLs before they can be opened and introduce vulnerabilities and exploits.
  • McAfee Gateway Anti-Malware Engine: real-time behavioral engine that identifies viruses, worms, and Trojans without reliance on conventional signatures.
  • McAfee Data Loss Prevention: identifies sensitive data in motion, helping to reduce the chances of data leaks.
  • McAfee SaaS Email Encryption: prevents data from being accessible, even if compromised.
  • McAfee Advance Threat Defense for Email Protection: scans email attachments and blocks malware from infecting systems.

Cloud-based services such as Microsoft’s Office 365 are gaining popularity because of their cost, flexibility, ease of use, and convenience, but those strong value benefits don’t negate the need for data protection. McAfee partners need to work with end users to ensure they understand that moving to the cloud doesn’t eliminate risk and to help them navigate the technologies available to mitigate that risk. It’s more than an opportunity; it’s an imperative.

For more information on how to extend advanced email protection to your Microsoft Office 365 customers, click here.

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