5 Security Risks in Migrating to Office 365 — and What to Do About Them

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Mitigating the security risks of cloud-based migrations requires both planning and thorough knowledge of product-specific obstacles. In a May 2015 presentation shared on Microsoft Developer's Network, Microsoft researchers stated that 35% of the Exchange user base had completed an Office 365™ migration. Many other organizations will be making the switch to cloud-based Microsoft products in the coming months.

Any migration can carry risks, and no IT employee wants to be responsible for dramatic outages, productivity losses, or other business disruptions. In this blog, we'll address several of the security risks associated with an Office 365™ changeover and how to be prepared for success.

Office 365™ Migration Security Risks

1. Redundant On-Premises Security Solutions

While migration to the cloud will offer numerous benefits, organizations that are long-term users of legacy Microsoft services will face significant amounts of redundancy. Your existing security solutions, data backups, and servers may be unnecessary post-migration, leaving critical gaps in your business continuity and protection. Any migration should include a complete assessment of how your compliance needs and risks will change during and post-implementation, as well as technological solutions like file integrity monitoring software to identify emerging vulnerabilities.

2. Limitations of Applicable Protection Offerings

Exchange Online Protection (EOP) can address a number of security concerns and can increase inherent security in your office products. EOP's capabilities include protection against many forms of spam and malware, including suspicious attachments.

However, EOP may not be sufficient protection against certain security risks, including highly-targeted phishing and whaling attacks, malicious links, and similar methods of delivery for advanced persistent threats.

EOP and other forms of signature-based detection rely on existing data sets of known threats and does not act as sufficient protection against customized, unique, or unprecedented attacks.

3. Lack of Multi-Layered Protection

Exchange Online Protection is an inherently single-layered approach to filtering malicious emails and files. If malicious content escapes the filter, there's no protection against the damage it could do to your network or data.

Sole reliance on EOP to protect your security environment does not enable security professionals to detect or remediate threats that have gained hold in your environment. While EOP is effective for filtering many malicious messages and attachment content, it's not a tool for multi-layered security.

4. Compliance

Your organization's compliance requirements can vary significantly, and specific requirements are generally best determined in consultation with your general counsel. However, prior to your migration, it is important to determine how you need to protect your archives for eDiscovery and applicable data retention laws.

While Exchange Online Archiving does offer robust data retention capabilities, it is important to fully assess whether this is fully compliant in all areas that your organization operates in. In addition, EOA may not retain pre-migration archives in a way that is compliant with your organization's requirements.

5. Data Loss

With any cloud-based solution, data resiliency should be a crucial part of migration and risk mitigation planning. If your cloud-based office products should go down, your organization needs the ability to restore data to a previous state, with full oversight of changes that occur while you are down. Optimally, you should obtain business continuity solutions for your archived data as well as post-transition data.

How to Be Prepared for Secure, Cloud-Based Office Products

Migrating your organization to Office 365™ can yield some security and continuity advantages, including the added protection of Exchange Online Archival and Protection. However, organizations should understand the risks associated with migration and the limitations of any signature-based solution, as well as how your move away from legacy security can affect your risks.

Multi-layered protection that can detect the moment malicious files or changes are made on an end-point can enable you to take action before threats take over your network. Today's most frightening advanced persistent threats and phishing attacks may not appear to be spam even to relatively well-trained eyes.

Full oversight is necessary for protection in today's threat vector. With real-time file integrity monitoring, you can gain the ability to understand and reverse negative changes that bypass signature-based detection in your cloud tools.

File Integrity Monitoring and Cloud Migrations

When your organization makes the decision to migrate to Office 365™ or any other cloud-based platform, information security and risk mitigation should play a key role in your planning process. By understanding the risks of data loss, exposure, and security gaps in your new solution, you can significantly lower your chances of disastrous results.

As the only agent-based file integrity monitoring software to offer full remediation capabilities directly from the admin portal, CimTrak can enable you to monitor, control, and protect your assets every step of the way. In addition, it's network-wide monitoring can provide multi-layered protection after implementation.

To learn more about how CimTrak stacks up to other leading file integrity monitoring solutions, click here.

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Jacqueline von Ogden

Since 1999, Jacqueline has written for corporate communications, MarCom agencies, higher education, and worked within the pharmacy, steel and retail industries. Since joining the tech industry, she has found her "home".