How to leverage Advanced Email Security & Compliance by migrating to Office 365?

MS Exchange Migration to Office 365

For a long time, it was thought that keeping your email locally is far safer than moving to the cloud for many organisations but now the opposite is probably more factual.

We talk about the potential loopholes with security with on premise solutions and how for many the cloud can be far safer. Also, the required security and compliance around an exchange migration to office 365.

Do you remember the early days of cloud computing before the term had really established itself?

If you suggested to an IT professional that they should move their precious email or data to the cloud the thought would make them feel faint and would shortly be followed up by a stream of reasons why it just would not work or it would be far too risky. 

The same sort of conversations were had in regards to network remote access in the past and now it’s accepted and common place.

Sales and Marketing Guru’s will tell you that to make a sale when providing a new product, you need to remove the objections one by one so that the only answer remaining is yes. Now most of the objections for take up of office 365 have been removed it just makes it very difficult to say no.

These days Cloud computing is far more established, secure, professionally accepted and take up in is rapid and will continue that way for the foreseeable future.

So, why today for many organisations, having their mailboxes in the cloud is safer than on-premise?

Unless you’re an organisation with a very structured methodology for change control then your Exchange email system is going to change configuration over time. 

For example, let say George was tasked with building you’re on premise Exchange system. An expert in is field with a conscientious working ethic and he sets out to document your email system as he builds it. 

He reads all the setup and configuration documents and you are presented with a pristine installation of Exchange Server with every one of the hundreds of configuration options set exactly as you required them. With George completing the system it doesn’t take long before his off elsewhere building more perfect Exchange installations. 

With George moving on Fred is put in charge of the new shiny email system and for a while he does his best to keep things working correctly but the company is busy and Fred is gets more responsibility so he forgets to update the patches on the email system or its on his list of things to do. He asks John if he could look after things while his involved with another projects. 

Now John has had no involvement in the original Exchange system build nor did he have and handover knowledge of how the system was configured. Off he goes to make his changes a user has requested on the system and as they say the rest is history. 

Security flaws start to open up, points of relayed emails are left open and users are given access where they shouldn’t. Overtime and unchecked the flaws become complex problems and the complex problems may become outages. And in a busy organisation the flaws may not be noticed for quite a while.

Some will say that with good change control in place this won’t happen but it does and I have seen it in companies that do have change control, because it’s human nature to cut corners even if the processes are in place. They need to be actively enforced as well.

If your providing hosted email as a services, then you need to get it right and do it well or your business will crumble very quickly so consistency, reliability and quality of service are key. Change control MUST be adhered to, staff must be highly qualified, security must be tight and policies/compliance must be followed or the whole system will come crashing down.

A quick look on the office 365 web site will show you a very long list of compliance and security statements they have achieved. Can you say the same for your premise system?

Threat-protection technologies help protect against and provide visibility about spam, malware, viruses, phishing attempts, malicious links, and other threats, all built in to Office 365. Click To Tweet
While not perfect, the Office 365 offering is a compelling solution for most organisations so it’s easy to see why take up is rapid.

Secure Score
Secure Score
On top of a robust Office 365 system Microsoft also provides tools to harden your entire Office 365 system further from attack. Anyone who has admin permissions (global admin or a custom admin role) for an Office 365 Business Premium or Enterprise subscription can access the Secure Score at https://securescore.office.com

Secure Score is a security analytics tool that will help you understand what you have done to reduce the risk to your data, and show you what you can do to further reduce that risk. Click To Tweet

Rather than reacting or responding to security alerts, the Secure Score lets you track and plan incremental improvements over a longer period of time.

Secure score makes detailed suggestions on how you can improve security within your specific account on office 365, from Minor suggested changes like restricting mailbox delegation and email forwarding to enabling Cloud App Security Console and Mobile device management.

Online archiving, introduced in Exchange 2010 allowed email arching for those that needed to keep email for the longer term but also securely. PST files, standalone files exported from outlook that could be moved or lost and located anywhere were the preferred option before this. The main purpose of email archiving is to preserve electronically stored information (ESI), because it may be needed for future use, like for litigation or regulatory compliance.

With the GDPR regulation now in place within Europe, justification for the length of time information is kept and how securely, Office 365 goes a long way to aid you in this area.

GDPR creates requirements around how personal data is collected, stored, processed, and deleted. To help lead you down the right path, Office 365 provide tools and guidance to facilitate ease in discovering, governing, protecting, and monitoring the personal data in your organisation.

Office 365 tools can help you manage the full content lifecycle, from importing and storing data at the beginning, to retaining and then deleting it at the end.

These tools are simply not available as standard with on premise solutions and therefore need to be established at extra cost or you can attempt to manage things manually.

Security should extend beyond the realms of office 365 as well. Your transition to Office 365 needs to be secure as the system itself. 

If you are completing an exchange 2007 migration to office 365 and decide to export and import using PST files, a traditional way to migrate emails, then you are putting your data at risk, especially in physical transit between offices. 

Keeping your data encrypted at all stages in transit is a must, so utilise the tools provided by Microsoft or an Exchange Web Services tool like our Migration Monster services for a simpler method of transition and complete all parts of your migration online.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/exchange/mailbox-migration/mailbox-migration
https://www.migration-monster.com/office-365-migration

For example, if carrying out an exchange 2010 migration to office 365 then both options are a secure solution but Microsoft approach requires a higher level of technology knowledge and the complexity of establishing connectivity consumes more setup/migration time. Exchange Web Services solutions only require webmail access to both servers and you’re ready to start migrating within minutes.

Office 365 does not support an office 365 tenant to tenant migration so their knowledge base will direct you to a Microsoft Partner or an Exchange Web Services migration tool for the completion of a secure migration.

We hope you find this article useful.

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