How Does Azure Protect Microsoft Office 365?

Azure is a pay-per-use public cloud service that lets you quickly build, deploy, and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft datacenters. It is a professional cloud platform that offers flexible infrastructures and is easy to operate. It gives you the freedom to create, compile, manage, and deploy business applications.

One of its best features is that it can integrate with Microsoft Office 365. While using both, it is essential to keep data in Microsoft 365 secure, which is where Azure Security comes in. This article will explain the primary security services offered by Azure that are compatible with Microsoft 365.

How Does Azure Work With Microsoft 365?

Microsoft Office Applications with Guy in Cape

Azure provides security services for all three IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS models, but what does that mean in terms of Microsoft 365 security?

In the case of the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) model, virtual machines are created in Azure. While the security of the operating system and the installed software remains your responsibility, Azure will take care of the security of the virtual machines and networks.

For platform as a service (PaaS) models, Azure will be responsible for providing the security mechanisms on the operating system and part of the essential software. Finally, in a software as a service (SaaS) model—where Microsoft 365 falls under—Azure will care for all software security. So, if Azure is working alongside Microsoft 365, it will protect all activities and processes you do with Microsoft 365.

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The combination of Azure and Microsoft 365 expands the security capabilities of the latter since it’s not capable of tackling today’s cybersecurity threats by itself. As Microsoft services become the target of more and more hackers because of the sheer amount of personal and company data stored there, Azure Security becomes essential to act as an extension to Microsoft 365. It allows you to personalize your work experience, increase productivity, and provide enhanced up-to-date security.

Azure’s Security Features

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The most basic example is the Azure Active Directory solution, which helps Microsoft 365 implement company-level policies and manage identities in a hybrid way (meaning between Azure and Microsoft 365 users). Administrators and employees can log in and have unique access to internal and external resources if you grant permission.

In addition, it allows the use of multi-factor authentication, with which it is possible to use an additional element to validate access. Azure Active Directory also provides single sign-on functionality, allowing users to access multiple services with one password. Plus, it can implement resources blocks, which protect data from being accidentally deleted or modified.

Azure Security Center is another monitoring service that provides threat protection across your entire Azure connected services, such as Microsoft 365. It provides you with security recommendations for threats detected. It is available in an accessible mode, enabled by default, and is a standard model, which adds advanced threat detection capabilities.

Azure Key Vault protects encryption keys for your Microsoft 365 data and any other application in your system. This service stores the secret keys of the applications in a centralized location with access control. You can keep secrets, keys, and certificates, and the critical vault can also manage encryption keys for your storage accounts and data lakes.

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Azure Firewall is a service that allows you to create and apply security policies on Microsoft 365 and any other network applications and services; it is configured based on your IP address. It also uses Azure Monitor to manage logs.

Azure DDoS Protection Basic is a service that protects against DDoS-type attacks. It acts on resources exposed to the Internet, filtering unwanted traffic. As the name suggests, this is a basic security layer that monitors traffic and is automatically enabled in Azure. Microsoft also offers a premium DDoS Protection Standard service that adds other mitigation capabilities.

And lastly, network security groups allow you to filter network traffic to and from Azure resources using virtual networks. Azure can configure entry and exit rules with priorities indicating IP addresses, ports, and protocols.

How to Turn On Azure’s Security Features

Pointer hovering over the word "Security" on computer

Since most of the Microsoft 365 services already run primarily on Azure infrastructure, you only need to make sure all of its security features are turned on to protect your Microsoft 365 data properly.

First, you need to access Azure Security Center. You can find it under Azure services on the portal home page or simply by searching for “Azure Security Center.” On the Overview page of the Security Center, you will find a summary of all security components that are being monitored by Azure, including most of the ones mentioned above.

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To activate or deactivate security features, click on the Security Policy tab to make your personalized configurations. The Security and Policy tab is located in the Policy & Compliance section. Once you’re in, you can make sure all of Azure’s security features are activated and working correctly, with the sole exception being the Azure Active Directory solution.

To activate this one, you must configure Microsoft 365 to allow its use. So, log in to the Office 365 main console, go into the Office 365 Admin Center and click on the Azure Active Directory Admin Center (it will be labeled Azure AD). Once you’re there, a new web browser window will open automatically, directing you to the Microsoft Azure subscription page to configure Azure Active Directory.

Protect Your Microsoft Office 365 Data With Azure

The goal of using Microsoft 365 with Azure is to empower users to meet today’s business challenges. It makes organizations feel more in control of the Microsoft platform and develop services and solutions that better adapt to their day-to-day workflows. And as most businesses start to operate in the cloud, Microsoft 365 has become invaluable for organization and workforce efficiency.

The services offered range from computing, data and applications, security, networking, and virtual stores. Unfortunately, Microsoft 365 does not come with robust security features, yet once paired with Azure, security elements can be combined to minimize the impact of incidents on your Microsoft 365 infrastructure, data, and workflow.

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