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How To Strengthen Data Security For Office 365

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Amid an alarming rise in ransomware attempts and cloud data security breaches globally, Obsidian Systems, a supplier of open-source software solutions, advises South African businesses to reassess their data protection strategies for Microsoft Office 365.

Despite Microsoft’s robust and secure infrastructure, businesses must not overlook their critical role in the shared responsibility model.

Many companies, large and small, mistakenly assume their data is fully protected by the cloud service provider. However, this misconception exposes them to considerable risks, particularly concerning the data residing in production and sandbox environments.

“Data protection is an intrinsic responsibility of every business,” says Muggie van Staden, Managing Director of Obsidian Systems. “This includes data entering, living in, and leaving the system. It’s vital to maintain proactive, long-term protection for all our IT environments.”

Even beyond malicious users, there are many scenarios that can result in data loss. For example, accidental deletions, ransomware attacks, and delays in data restoration can all have severe implications on organisational operations. Regulatory fines, encrypted and unusable data, or potential business continuity disruptions are some scenarios that businesses may face.

To combat these risks, Obsidian advises enterprises to focus on four key Microsoft 365 data protection needs: Data isolation, extended retention, flexible restoration, and Service Level Agreement (SLA) compliance:

  • Data isolation: It is crucial to maintain separate backup copies outside of source environments. This best practice mitigates risks associated with data corruption and ransomware attacks.
  • Extended retention: Long-term data retention without native limitations can safeguard against accidental deletions and ensure recoverability, even when data losses are only discovered months later.
  • Flexible restoration: Quick and full-fidelity data recovery options can keep business disruptions to a minimum. Firms should not underestimate the potential time required to fully restore all data and site structures.
  • SLA compliance: Businesses need dedicated controls to fulfil Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) requirements. Meeting these standards is not just about compliance; it’s about ensuring business continuity.

“I can urge every company to leverage multi-layered security, which encompasses measures such as virtual air-gaps of backup data, AES-256 bit encryption, early threat detection capabilities, and zero-trust access controls,” says van Staden.

In today’s digital landscape, South African businesses cannot afford to be complacent. Data protection is a vital component of risk management and should be a top priority in every enterprise’s strategic planning.


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