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How Microsoft secures its 365 platform

Microsoft 365 is an all-in-one package that includes the Office 365 suite, Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise Mobility+Security for a complete and interconnected experience on the cloud.

A trusted product is inevitably tied to robust security standards. Microsoft’s Datacentre Security team provides an inside look at how it secures the 365 service and infrastructure. In protecting consumer data and battling increasingly sophisticated hackers, the team focuses on three areas.

Minimising the risk of compromise

Microsoft builds tools and architecture that protect the 365 service from its personnel and the infrastructure itself.

The motto for security against internal operators is Zero Standing Access, meaning personnel charged with developing, maintaining and repairing the core service have no elevated access to the infrastructure.

Even with approved elevated privileges, a specific restrictive account is provisioned just for that activity. Going beyond account level, network controls are in place to restrict the types of connections that can be made into the service, as well as the types of connections permitted between service partitions.

Mitigating risk if the worst happens

Microsoft builds capability to detect and respond to threats if a successful attack occurs. Even if the architectural protections and access control put in place are effective, it cannot be trusted that these will always hold.

The work in this area spans security monitoring and incident response, with automation and scale as key priorities.

In order to catch and stop attacks against the 365 service, Microsoft’s systems must be intelligent enough to proactively and accurately alert the team to potential issues.

Constant validation

Planning for the worst means Microsoft is always on the lookout for security gaps, and this is done through regular and automatic validation via two key methods:

  • Architectural and configuration assessment: verifying that promises made about the service hold and do not regress e.g. that specific networks are correctly segmented, or that machines are up-to-date with required patches.

  • Post-exploitation validation: simulating attacks against the infrastructure in order to verify that the monitoring and response systems work as expected in the production environment.

Read the full post or get the security whitepaper from Microsoft's blog.

By Jo Lo
Jo Lo

About the author

Jo Lo

Jo is a digital producer at Pattern. Jo has a background in communication, and has worked as a producer and editor for organisations such as Les Mills International, Tailor, Auckland Libraries and XtraMSN/Telecom. From 2007-2009, Jo was the web editor for Taste and Metro magazines.