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Effective Cybersecurity Automation Tools for SMEs Using Microsoft 365

Security Concerns for Cloud-based Services

With one in three SMEs adopting cloud-first strategy more than ever, cybersecurity concerns have only grown exponentially. In the wake of the pandemic, nearly 95% of cybersecurity professionals have shown concerns regarding public cloud security. Microsoft Office 365 is at the heart of most small to mid-sized businesses. Combined with a rapid cloud adoption rate, security concerns are not far behind.

Microsoft offers a variety of software solutions ranging from Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Protection, Exchange Online Protection for mailbox spam and malware, Cloud App Security for watching over the third party apps and mitigating potential threats. It is also true that the year 2020 chalked out new benchmarks for the vastness of cyber-attacks with the infamous Solorigate. With this multi-staged cross-domain attack, one thing is clear, the zero trust model seems more than just a marketing buzzword.

The increasing level of sophistication of threat actors in 2021 and increased usage of several cloud services by organisations today, calls for additional advanced security measures. But can SMEs afford the complex configuration, the learning curve and tech-savviness needed to use these solutions? It would be fair to say that the security is not jeopardised due to lack of features in platforms like Office 365, it is due to the organisations’ inability to understand, configure, and implement those features.

As correctly stated by Chad Savoy, the general manager of Spanning Cloud Apps, a cloud-to-cloud SaaS backup company:

Most organizations expect cloud providers to provide the security and compliance measures they need in order to feel secure, but very few know how to use the features that are available to them or even understand the limitations of operating in the cloud.

What’s the Solution?

Thankfully, in today’s day and age, we have advanced machine learning and AI algorithms that can make up for this gap. Third-party solutions ensure that SMEs do not entangle in the complexity of the native solutions, and also enhance their security with affordable and time-saving alternatives. Through this article, we shall discuss various security solutions for SMEs that will help save precious hours by the virtue of being easy-to-use, adaptive and automated.

Security Pain Points for SMEs

Let us understand the main pain points when it comes to security for SMEs and what are the available solutions to fix them.

Monitoring and Detection

Pain Point: In a report by Core View, the main pain points of IT professionals were assessed. About 80% of the respondents faced problems with monitoring and blocking access from compromised accounts. 71% stated issues with auditing, managing and controlling privileged access into Office 365 applications. Nearly 57% mentioned problems with centrally managing security policies across all communication channels, within Office 365 and on other platforms.

Solution: Apps like Octiga, that focus on prevention, detection and recovering from Office 365 breaches at an organisation level, can alleviate these pain points. Its risk and remediation dashboard provides a single place for identifying threats, sending alerts, disabling user rules, access protocols & authorisation and compliance.

Octiga Dashboard

Email Endpoint Security

Pain Point: Microsoft Office 365 offers Exchange Online Protection (EOP) and Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) for email security against malware and phishing. The security concern is that neither of the two is of enterprise class level. Thus a need arises for organisations to opt for complementary third-party security solutions. Security risks like  service uptime and availability, no fully compliant email archiving, and absence of multi-layered security against advanced threats, make it essential to include third-party email security solutions to strengthen these weak links.

Solution: There are many tools to enhance Office 365 email security. With simplicity as our main criteria, the top of our list includes Mimecast and Proofpoint. Mimecast is a globally acknowledged cloud-based email management platform that serves both large and small-to-midsized organisations. It offers platform as a subscription, with Office 365 protection against email threats such as malware, phishing, and account compromise. Proofpoint is another multi-layered email security platform. The best features include, an easy to deploy Office 365 environment and the possibility to be configured by end-users to manage their allow/deny lists, access their own quarantine, and email archive which save time spent by the IT team.

Device Endpoint Security

Pain Point: Present work-from-home scenario and rise in BYOD culture, has made it very difficult for SMEs to secure the weakest link in their security posture- ‘devices’. Now we have Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, for effective virus and malware detection, but many SMEs are looking for more feature sets for stronger protection and find it difficult to identify and detect all threats with this solution. Apart from being complex to set up, it also accounts for many false positives, which makes it more time and effort consuming, considering the size of the organisation.

Solution: Sentinel One is an excellent network security solution. It is suitable for both large, medium and small sized organisations. Its AI technology detects and contains the threats at a very early stage and prevent them from reaching device endpoints. It is proficient in inspecting, files, emails, credentials, documents, payloads, memory storage and browsers deeply. Serving both on-premise and cloud environment, Sentinel One offers full visibility across networks autonomously from the endpoint.  

For addressing the increasing BYOD usage and the security concerns that come along, FirstPoint cellular connection security is one of the most effective solutions out there. It is fully OS agnostic and protects SIM or eSIM-based device identity against hackers at the network level. It is easy to implement considering that it doesn’t require any software installation on the protected devices.

Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Pain Point: When it comes to IAM, SMEs face issues like password fatigue, manual provisioning and de-provisioning process, extending the on-premise corporate directories (like Azure AD) to cloud, compliance visibility, managing single sign in without building several integrations and keeping a track of maintenance. It is so exhausting that managing a small business along these issues becomes painful.

Solution: Cloud-based unified access management solutions like One Login offers single sign-on (SSO) that makes it a lot easier for SMEs to secure and manage access to web apps in the cloud and behind the firewall.

If we are talking about password management then LastPass is a very good tool for SMEs. Besides secure storage for passwords, credit cards, and digital notes, it also provides integration of password management and MFA services. This ensures that every business device access point is secured with an SSO. The fact that password managers are way more simpler to implement compared to IAM, makes them an attractive solution for organisations of small size.


The present threat landscape, especially when it comes to the cloud is changing rapidly, moving towards more sophisticated and automated security solutions. It is equally important to invest in cloud awareness for company executives and training employees in cybersecurity besides using third-party applications. The technological advances in AI and ML in cybersecurity provide significant opportunities for organisations to breathe a sigh of relief, sit back and focus on running their business.  

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