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Microsoft bolsters data security in 365

Microsoft said the latest 365 security features provide better protection for corporate data. The improvements guard sensitive information against attacks and leaks.

Microsoft has introduced 365 security enhancements to protect corporate data dispersed across PCs and mobile devices used by remote workers.

The latest security features, unveiled this week at the Microsoft Ignite virtual conference, are in the 365 Defender suite. The improvements prevent the sharing of sensitive data and streamline security for mobile workers.

Launched at last year's Ignite, 365 Defender is a unified set of tools to secure applications, email and endpoint devices. The product comes with some Microsoft 365 licenses.

This year's improvements to Defender help IT professionals learn more about threats. The updates, currently in preview, include a Learning Hub containing instructional materials and a standardized set of alerts. Other features provide threat analytics reports on active threats and how to prevent them.

Microsoft added data loss prevention (DLP) options. A feature in preview allows multiple people to work simultaneously on a protected document in 365 applications. The company said the change allows for better employee collaboration while also using Microsoft Information Protection to safeguard data. Information Protection locks confidential documents from unauthorized users.

Another update in preview lets IT professionals apply their DLP policies to the Chrome browser to prevent the sharing of sensitive information. IT can set sharing policies from the 365 Compliance Center.

Microsoft 365 app logos
Microsoft has announced changes meant to bolster corporate data protection in 365 apps.

Microsoft plans to release an iOS and Android app this month that's designed to let mobile workers connect securely to 365 apps with less hassle. Microsoft said the app combines VPN capabilities and endpoint security software, functions previously handled by two apps, Microsoft Tunnel and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. With the change, workers will need to install only Defender for Endpoint on their phones.

Cybersecurity has become an area of increased attention for the enterprise. The sudden shift to remote work in the early days of the pandemic brought an increase in cybercrime. In the weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the FBI reported a 300% jump in cybersecurity complaints.

Hackers target sensitive data stored on laptops and phones outside the office. Businesses have responded by spending more on cybersecurity in 2021, according to Enterprise Strategy Group.

Microsoft has addressed that demand by providing security tools with its productivity apps, Constellation Research analyst Liz Miller said. "All roads point to security with Microsoft," she added.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering end-user computing topics such as desktop management. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and ;Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

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