Routine Methods to Secure Your Microsoft Environment With an Extra Layer of Protection Against Ransomware Office 365

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ransomware office 365
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Ransomware is a growing threat to your business, so one thing to do is to secure your Microsoft environment with anti-ransomware Office 365 methods. A ransomware attack can be potentially devastating for your business. So it only makes sense to deploy the best-in-line security practices and methods to defend against the growing threat.

To outline how devastating ransomware attacks can be, we need to look at what the malware is capable of. For any business that handles critical data through the Office 365 suite, protecting against ransomware is one way to secure sensitive data and prevent data breaches.

Before we explain the routine methods, security practices, and ways to defend against ransomware attacks provided by Microsoft, allow us to explain how dangerous ransomware is.

The Devastating Nature of Ransomware Attacks

Due to ransomware attacks on big, small, and medium-sized businesses, companies are forced to shore up security holes and implement top security practices to protect data. Ransomware affects your M365 environment by infecting your system and encrypting files.

In most cases, hackers send malicious emails that harbor the malware. To ensure a ransomware malware attack is successful, hackers will impersonate a coworker, a relative, or another individual the victim trusts. Since the victim has no reason not to trust a file sent through email from someone they trust, the victim will download the file.

This is followed by an immediate infecting of local files stored on their personal computer or device, making it impossible to do anything once the malware spreads. The hacker will then display a ransom demand. Most hackers tend to work with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and will demand a ransom payment made in said currencies. A ransomware attack involves additional malware that deletes files or collects data.

The only way for the victim to regain control of their device and data is by paying the ransom. But as most of you will guess, paying the ransom doesn’t mean you’ll get your data back. Fortunately, even hackers have a reputation to uphold. So most successfully made ransom payments will give your data back. But unfortunately, ransomware attacks will also collect data in addition to the ransom before giving back control of your device and data.

So, expect the hackers to seize copies of your data.

So that’s how a ransomware attack usually goes. Since the preferred method of corrupting systems is through email, companies that use Office 365 or any other Microsoft 365 environment are natural targets.

Microsoft offers several advanced threat protection features: Microsoft Defender, OneDrive, Outlook encryption, setting mail flow rules, etc. But unfortunately, even these practices stand no chance against ransomware. So, how do you protect your Microsoft environment against ransomware? Let’s find out.

Routine Methods and Security Practices to Protect Against Ransomware Attacks

The best way to deal with ransomware is to prevent it from reaching your mailbox. For Microsoft environments, Outlook is the email service of choice. So adding extra protection layers to your Outlook mailboxes will give you the best chance to repel a ransomware attack.

Microsoft Office offers protection for email and cloud storage against ransomware. Here are the routine methods and security practices to repel a ransomware attack using Microsoft 365 native security features.

Use OneDrive

OneDrive is a cloud storage application that makes it seamless to store sensitive data throughout the Microsoft Office 365 environment. With OneDrive, you can store backups of important files and have a seamless way to restore files.

The great thing about OneDrive is that stored files are accessible across multiple devices. So if you need to access important data from another device, you must log in to your OneDrive account. With OneDrive sync, all data will be available on the cloud. From there, you can easily recover ransomware encrypted files.

OneDrive is a cloud data loss solution that makes it seamless to recover files under any circumstances, not just under ransomware encryption. However, if you are experiencing a ransomware attack, disable the auto synchronizing data feature of OneDrive to ensure the malware doesn’t create executable files encrypted locally in OneDrive.

Create Mail Flow Rules

Even with OneDrive providing a safe space to store important data, protecting your business email is the best way to repel a ransomware attack. Luckily, Office 365 ransomware attacks can be easily repelled by creating mail flox rules. A mail flow rule is a form of Exchange Online protection that blocks file types that could contain malware.

To do that, you will need to log in to the Exchange admin center and create the rules. For example, a mail flox rule could warn users before opening any attachment. In addition, you can set up the rule to display the message when the email contains a file extension that matches a known ransomware file metadata.

You can also specify the exact file extensions and even words and phrases. Again, Microsoft offers a helping hand by keeping a database for known ransomware file extensions. The list includes the likes of dotm, docm, xlsm, sltm, xla, xlam, xll, pptm, potm, ppam, ppsm, sldm. However, there are many more ransomware file extensions, words, and phrases you can block. You can find entire databases of known ransomware file extensions and add each to the mail flow rule. 

Fortunately, you can also block a message from appearing in your mailbox if it contains an attachment with the specified file extension. If you don’t download the attachment, you won’t fall prey to the malware’s data encryption capabilities. Effectively, you prevent data corruption and ransomware encryption from infecting your system using the Microsoft advanced threat protection features.

Conclusion

Microsoft anti-ransomware Office 365 protection can block the malware from your inboxes. In addition, with OneDrive and other organization storage applications such as SharePoint, you can backup critical data to prevent data loss.

But that said, Microsoft isn’t fully capable of protecting your organization against malware. As such, you should turn your attention to anti-ransomware Office 365 third-party software specially designed to provide ransomware protection.