If you have made or are planning to make the move to Microsoft 365, there is one very dangerous assumption you need to steer clear of.

YOU, not Microsoft, are responsible for making sure that your data is backed up and protected.

We at IT Support LA have been introducing clients to all manner of cloud service for years – in fact, we were named one of 25 (and 1 of only 2 in the IT Support Los Angeles Community) North American Best Cloud Consulting Services for 2021 by UpCity, a B2B consulting firm that connects clients with verified, reputable vendors across a broad spectrum of industries.

The incorrect assumption that we must dispel time after time is that the ‘The Cloud’ is synonymous with Cybersecurity. As a longtime partner of Microsoft, we feel that their security measures are second to none – for what they do.

What security does Microsoft 365 provide?

There are several levels of protection: Basic anti-malware software; Exchange Online protections; Microsoft Defender for Office 365; SharePoint Online and OneDrive Ransomware protection. More on these HERE.

Microsoft provides the tools, but even with their online support, it falls the your company – preferably your IT support department or Managed IT Services  provider to enact the Cybersecurity factors that are included in the plan you choose.

In Microsoft’s own words, (from their website – where all descriptions are explained in full):

Microsoft Recommends that you complete the tasks listed in the following table that apply to your service plan:

Task M365 Business StandardM365 Business Premium
Set up multi-factor authenticationYY
Train your usersYY
Use dedicated admin accountsYY
Raise the protection level against malware in mailYY
Protect against RansomwareYY
Stop auto-forwarding for emailYY
Use Office Message EncryptionN/AY
Protect email from phishing attacksN/AY
Protect against malicious attachments and files with Safe AttachmentsN/AY
Protect against phishingN/AY

Backups for Microsoft 365

What Microsoft offers is Native Backups, but it does not create a comprehensive backup plan for you. So – do you need independent backups?

If you poll experienced members of the IT Support Los Angeles Community, you will get one of two opinions:
YES:  This is YOUR data – You built your company from the ground up – do NOT leave its survival in the hands of Microsoft. This is the answer you would most often hear.
NO:  Microsoft has backups – you don’t need more.

Microsoft hosts a secure cloud platform and do regular security scans but backing up your data is up to you. Your data is stored in the Microsoft Azure cloud, but Section 6b of their Service Agreement specifically states that they do not guarantee that your data or content can be retrieved in the event of a disruption or outage.

Microsoft stores your data in the cloud. This does not constitute a comprehensive Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan. While their security is second to none in the world today, it’s important to remember this #1 Cybersecurity FACT:

Anything can be hacked.

Cybersecurity versus Cyber Criminals is a never-ending game of ‘Whack-a-Mole’. Rather than firewalls and AV (Anti-Virus) think of it as a stronghold under attack: you have barbed wire and a wall, so crooks get wire cutters and a ladder. They breach the wall, so you build a higher wall – the crooks bring taller ladders next time. You build a moat and they bring rafts - and so on and so on. Make no mistake about it: Sometimes the bad guys win.

If your data is all in the cloud and the cloud is hacked, you are only safe if you have automatically encrypted backups. Microsoft 365 does offer automatic data encryption, which means that if it is stolen, the thieves can’t read it. This does not protect you against your encrypted data from being destroyed or otherwise lost.

Backup, Backup, Backup!

Note that Local Backups are not necessary if you have placed the entirety of your operations, apps and data in the Microsoft Azure Cloud, but setting up your system to save all data both locally and in the cloud will be an extra layer of protection – and disaster recovery and data retrieval is much quicker using locally backed up data. The 3rd solution – Cloud to Cloud Backup – becomes much more important once you work entirely within the realm of Microsoft 365.

Local Backup
Cloud Backup
Cloud to Cloud Backup

When making the move to Microsoft 365, part of the game plan with your IT support department or Managed Services Provider MUST be to set up a secure, multi-level backup system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does Microsoft 365 include malware protection?

A: The anti-malware software provided by Microsoft 365 (from their website) provides for:
1) Automatic scans of the environment
2) Periodic scans of the file system (at least weekly)
3) Real-time scans of files as they are downloaded, opened or executed
4) Automatic download and application of signature updates at least daily from the vendor's     virus definition site
5) Alerting, cleaning, and mitigation of detected malware

Q: What is the best backup for Office 365?

A: According to afi.di, a Georgia company that specializes in digital data protection, the best is actually one of the software platforms we use here at IT Support LA. They ranked the top 9 providers based on a number of factors from performance and reliability to cost and the #1 backup software was Veeam.

Q: What is the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 365?

A:  Office 365 is no longer offered as a standalone product. It is now part of Microsoft 365, which is a much broader all-inclusive program. Many of O365’s features can be found in Microsoft Office 2021 for those not wishing to go all-in on M365.

Q: Do I need Microsoft 365 to use Word?

A: No - a number of the original apps in Office 365 can be found FREE online. Word Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Calendar and Outlook apps are all available. C|net tells you how to get them HERE.