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Why protect Office 365 data
Many organizations are adopting Microsoft’s highly successful Office 365 productivity and collaboration suite of tools in the cloud. But not all of them realize the inherent data risks that must be addressed to ensure ongoing end-user productivity and to safeguard intellectual property. Further, data protection responsibility for Office 365 falls squarely on the customer’s shoulders, as stated by Microsoft in their Services Agreement, “We recommend that you regularly back up your content and data that you store on the services or store using third-party apps and services”.
Because of Microsoft’s shared responsibility model, the most prudent course of action for organizations is to protect their Office 365 data by using a dedicated third-party solution.
Closing Office 365 data protection gaps
There are five key Office 365 data risk considerations when planning your data protection strategy.
1. Human error
Office 365 is fundamentally a productivity and collaboration tool. Thus, Microsoft leaves backup and recovery responsibilities in the hands of its users. It is prone to human errors such as accidental file deletion and overwrites by employees and their collaborators, and potentially deletion of a whole SharePoint site by an admin. Information can also be corrupted by OneDrive synchronization and third-party apps. Office 365 native data recovery relies on end-users’ knowledge, versions, recycle bins and is subject to Microsoft’s limited data retention policy. Accidentally deleted or corrupted data is lost forever, if it is discovered after 30-93 days, depending on your Office 365 solution. Microsoft support may need to get involved in attempting to retrieve your lost data, and even if possible, Microsoft SLAs may not meet your business continuity goals. These risks can be mitigated when you turn to a comprehensive third-party data protection solution. Druva protects you against accidental deletion, overwrites, and data corruption:
• Unlimited data retention
• Complete data isolation in an external environment
• Ongoing automatic backups of data
• Flexible and granular recovery with unlimited “time travel”
• Easy-to-use self-service user recovery or IT-led recovery
• Many recovery options, including individual file or bulk recovery, “in-place,” “as a copy” or “point in time” recovery, as well as recovery outside Office 365
threats In addition to worrying about external attacks, internal malicious threats should also be safeguarded. Departing employees may intentionally delete data, as an act of revenge. And rogue admins with higher access levels may bulk-delete files, causing extensive loss of intellectual property. Microsoft cannot identify malicious Office 365 user actions and you may not discover for a while that damage was done, or be able to identify the scope of data loss. If the threat is detected outside Microsoft’s retention window of 30-93 days , the data may be lost forever. Once an employee leaves the company their Office 365 account is suspended, so IT cannot easily access it to try to assess and undo the damage. Archiving departing employee accounts does not retain previously deleted data. Therefore, a third-party data protection solution allows you to fall back on a clean copy of data that may get deleted. Druva helps prevent insider attacks so you can detect, assess, and quickly recover from data loss:
• Data anomaly detection alerts of suspicious insider activities
• Data forensics determines the extent of the damage and the best recovery options
• Employee investigations of prior activities add insights
• Data off-boarding to departing employee’s manager
• Unlimited data retention and isolation offers “time travel” as far back as needed to recover data, even if the attack happens outside of Microsoft’s retention window
• Audit logs can be used to monitor unauthorized data restores, which could indicate data leaks
Not surprisingly, ransomware is a major concern for many organizations. Ransomware threats to Office 365 are exacerbated by OneDrive’s characteristics, making it prone to malware propagation. As a collaboration tool, OneDrive’s file synchronization and sharing rapidly spreads malware, infecting more files, including files in recycling bins. Office 365 offers tools to protect your perimeter against attacks. However, with increasingly sophisticated attacks, no prevention is full-proof. When ransomware strikes, your organization may be exposed. By the time the attack is detected, many files may be corrupt and unrecoverable, and the time and scope of the attack is unknown. In the best-case scenario, Office 365 native only allows recovery from versions at an individual file level. This approach is painful when dealing with multiple corrupt files. In the worst-case scenario, if the attack started outside the Microsoft retention window, you have no recourse or means to return to clean data. Only a third-party solution can quickly recover your system to clean data and meet your business continuity SLAs.
If Office 365 data is attacked by ransomware, Druva’s solution is designed to quickly recover your data and return users to full productivity:
• Anomaly detection and data forensics to conduct investigations, alert on unusual activity and pinpoint time and scope of a ransomware attack
• Indefinite data retention enables full and quick recovery to pre-attack “point in time” data
• Recover in minutes through single-click bulk recovery and meet your SLAs
• Easy-to-use self-service recovery, as well as admin, initiated recovery
• Flexible recovery options, including “in place” or “as a copy,” or “outside” Office 365 using bulk, flexible, and granular options as needed
• Full data isolation in an external location ensures recovery to clean data, regardless of the scope of the attack
4. Data retention gaps and compliance
In regulated industries, such as pharmaceuticals and healthcare, data retention is a core requirement. Data retention is also a key component in many organizations’ data governance policies. Microsoft Business editions have a data retention policy limited to 30-93 days, depending on your licensing tier and use case, whereby data retention differs for Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive. Additionally, Office 365 only offers 90 days of maximum audit history, which may be insufficient. And not to mention that Office 365 data is retained in the same primary environment, thus not providing sufficient data isolation to comply with disaster recovery requirements. Such data retention gaps expose your organization and puts you at risk of non-compliance with government and organization policies. More expensive Microsoft Enterprise tier plans offer some data governance capabilities but they require complex data retention and policy tag configurations. On the other hand, a third-party data protection solution helps retain data and audit logs to ensure compliance with regulation and protection during a disaster.