Just two years ago, Microsoft’s annual conference schedule spanned half a dozen events and at least twice as many topics, products, and technologies. But alas, to the overwhelming relief of our travel budgets, as of last year, many of them were folded into one conglomerate event: Ignite.
The $400+ billion company opted to keep the scope of this year’s keynote simple: intelligence, security, and collaboration. When it came to the first of those, we saw a lot of great improvements, such as the ability for Office apps to suggest charts, graphs, content, and even design layouts based on similar documents in your library and online. On the collaboration front, SharePoint, Yammer and Office 365 will all become more closely integrated, acting almost as if they’re one piece of software.
But what we really think is worth noting is all the security and compliance improvements coming to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365. Subscribers who manage their own security settings and those outsourcing administration to a service provider will certainly be delighted with a winning arsenal for fighting the cyber-war on malware.
Advanced Data Governance (ADG)
Continuing its never-ending effort to ease data compliance, Microsoft has announced Advanced Data Governance for Office 365. One of the most difficult aspects of data administration is sorting and organising which policies and frameworks various records fall under. ADG will make this task much easier with recommendations based on behavioral analysis and machine learning.
These tools make sifting through what to import and what to scrap much simpler by automatically delimiting relevant classifiers contained within records. Once it’s been identified and imported, the ADG dashboard uses Microsoft’s machine learning network to provide suggestions for deleting, moving, encrypting and sharing important data. For example, administrators might see subtle messages on the right-hand side of their dashboard informing them: “We detected content in your organisation that contains W-2, 1040, 1054, or other tax-related info. Would you like to create a retention policy to help make sure this important content is kept around for a while?”
If administrators choose to acknowledge these recommendations, automatic retention policies can be created based on classifiers similar to those in the importing process. Should every record created by HR staff automatically be retained for 5 years? What about records contained within a certain data type? ADG will make these tasks, and overall data governance, a breeze.
Strikingly similar to the ADG dashboard, Threat Intelligence is like a live feed of all the cyber-security threats probing your network. With an estimated 400 million monthly active Windows 10 devices, Microsoft is combing through trillions of data points to catalogue ‘normal’ behavior in hopes of defining ‘abnormal’ behavior beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Your IT security team can take a peek at real-time breakdowns of how many threats were thwarted, what type of malware they were, where they originated from, and who they targeted. Paired with these insights are global trends in cyber-security, investigation, and reporting so your team can prevent problems with proactive monitoring of threats other organisations are facing.
Microsoft believes that by providing information on targeted attacks, such as spear phishing, organisations can reinforce their security policies on high-risk components and staff. You may be directing your IT staff to spend most of its time guarding and educating the HR department, only to find out your Finance department is getting bombarded far more often.
Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)
Despite being integrated with Office 365 for about a year now, the Ignite conference released some big updates to ATP services. In addition to more detailed and practical malware reports, ATP functionality will combine coverage for OneDrive, SharePoint, and 365 applications with the operating-system-wide ATP protocols included in the Windows Defender suite.
One of the best features for 365’s ATP protocols is getting even better. Dynamic delivery already places email attachments into a virtual container to assess their intentions before delivering them to users, which is wonderful, but does create a noticeable amount of lag between sending and delivery. With the most recent improvement, emails will be sent instantaneously, while a placeholder alerts users that the attachment is being scanned — significantly reducing lag time.
From here on out, URLs in any 365 environment, whether they’re placed in an email or a word document, get the same virtual quarantine and treatment. By checking against a list of known malware offenders and performing behavioral analysis, administrators can virtually eliminate concerns regarding the growing threat of phishing attacks.
Finally, by migrating the iOS and Android versions of Outlook to an all Microsoft infrastructure, these apps are more legally compliant than ever. Revamped versions of the app ensure that data from your email account is never stored outside of your Office 365 boundaries — an important control factor for most regulatory schemes. Best of all, this migration took place on the back end of the service and doesn’t require an update by end-users.
Some, or all, of these 365 updates may sound beyond your technical expertise — and that’s OK. Our team is prepared to assist clients in all levels of ability, with all types of cloud architectures. That could take the shape of a strategic, collaborative Office deployment or a highly regulated data capture and storage solution. Regardless of what it is, our knowledge of cloud platforms is all-encompassing. Contact us today for answers to questions big and small.