Security and Compliance Governance Designed for Third-party Communications

Microsoft Office 365 empowers users to collaborate and exchange sensitive content through Teams, OneDrive, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and SharePoint. But doing so can present privacy and compliance risks to organizations due to security that isn’t good enough. Multitenancy comingles sensitive content and encryption keys with hundreds of other companies’ content and encryption keys in a single server. This creates multiple vulnerabilities that cybercriminals and rogue nation-states can exploit. Microsoft Office 365 Message Encryption (OME) uses a weak cryptographic algorithm. Microsoft can also see and access customers’ content and must respond when the government issues a subpoena or warrant. Other security issues, such as file-size limitations and geofencing gaps, present additional risks.

The Kiteworks Private Content Network consolidates all your sensitive content communications—including Microsoft Office 365—into a zero-trust, policy-driven platform that enables organizations to enforce IT and privacy policies centrally and demonstrate adherence to myriad data privacy regulations easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Microsoft Outlook is considered secure for sending sensitive files, especially if additional security measures are taken. Outlook offers standard encryption, spam filtering, and malware protection features that can help protect your data. Moreover, Microsoft 365, which includes Outlook, also provides advanced security measures such as advanced threat protection (ATP) that help defend against sophisticated threats hidden in email attachments and links, and can also secure sensitive data with encryption. However, while Outlook is secure, the security can be compromised if the email recipient’s email platform is not secure. Also, the email can be intercepted while in transit or while stored on email servers or on a user’s computer. So, to share sensitive files, it is often recommended to use a secure file sharing platform and share the link through email instead. Always remember to use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible.

Yes, Microsoft Outlook is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Microsoft has stated that all of their services, including Outlook, are fully compliant with the regulations set out by the GDPR. They have implemented strong data protection protocols and introduced new features to strengthen data security, privacy, and compliance capabilities for their users. Additionally, Microsoft has implemented extensive documentation and reporting capabilities to help businesses prove their compliance with GDPR regulations. It’s worth noting that while the Outlook platform itself is GDPR compliant, businesses must still ensure they use it in a GDPR-compliant manner. This includes ensuring any personal data is processed legally and securely.

Yes, Microsoft Outlook is HIPAA compliant, provided that a signed Business Associate Agreement (BAA) is in place and the account is configured correctly. Microsoft supports HIPAA compliance and has implemented a number of features to ensure security and privacy of health information. However, the compliance also depends on how the software is being used by the organization or individuals to ensure the privacy and security rules of HIPAA are followed.

Some ways you can make Microsoft Office 365 more secure include:

  1. Enable multi-factor authentication
  2. Set up alerts for suspicious activity
  3. Use Microsoft Secure Score to measure your organization’s security posture, provide recommendations, and apply a score based on system settings, user behavior, and other parameters
  4. Use advanced threat protection (ATP)
  5. Use information rights management
  6. Regularly review user access
  7. Train staff on cybersecurity basics
  8. Use encrypted email
  9. Utilize mobile device management (MDM)
  10. Regularly update and patch your Microsoft Office 365 platform

Kiteworks enhances the security of Microsoft Office 365 with a single-tenant deployment either on-premises or in a private, hybrid, or FedRAMP virtual private cloud, in contrast to the vulnerable multitenant cloud of Microsoft Office 365, where an attacker can breach multiple customers’ data sets with a single exploit. Kiteworks also safeguards emails and attachments with strong encryption exclusively, including AES-256, TLS, S/MIME, and OpenPGP. This is more secure than the exploitable Office 365 Message Encryption (OME), which uses a weak cryptographic algorithm and the Electronic Code Book (ECB), which attackers can exploit to obtain sensitive information from emails. Finally, Kiteworks has least-privilege defaults for all settings. Users must be granted explicit access to content, and explicit rights to forward it, by admins or trusted business managers. This is more secure than the insecure default access settings of Microsoft Office 365, where anonymous sharing is enabled by default for SharePoint and OneDrive.



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