New school year brings new security features to Office 365 Education

As schools prepare for the start of another school year and teachers get their classrooms ready to welcome students, Microsoft are introducing additional features to meet the needs of schools, teachers and students.

Today Microsoft are announcing changes to Office 365 Education that will make it easier for schools to meet their security and compliance needs at a time when teaching and learning are becoming increasingly collaborative and cloud-connected.

With today’s update Microsoft simplified their education lineup, moving to a single, free plan for all academic institutions and added several new features to help schools meet their security and compliance requirements.

In addition to the basic services—Office Online, 1TB of OneDrive storage, Exchange email and Skype—free Office 365 Education now includes advanced features such as:

  • Legal hold and eDiscovery to help you find, preserve, analyze and package electronic content for a legal request or investigation. This capability spans across email, documents and instant messaging.
  • Rights Management Services, which prevents file-level access without the right user credentials.
  • Data Loss Prevention to help you identify, monitor and protect sensitive information in your organization.

With these additional features, now included at no cost for Office 365 Education, schools can more easily maintain a safe, effective and compliant learning environment while providing world-class productivity tools for their teachers and students.

If you already have Office 365 Education, there’s nothing for you to do. These new features will simply show up as they become available.

School admins, if you’re not yet providing Office 365 Education to your entire school, contact Virtue Technologies today. We have deployed nearly 60,000 Office 365 seats across 86 customer sites.

For more information about Microsoft Office 365 visit our website or call us on 01695 731 233

Multi-factor authentication for Office365

You’ve probably seen a wealth of reports in the past couple of months regarding the stealing of intimate photos of celebrities and the subsequent posting of these images online. It’s believed this was made possible through the use of third party software which obtained the users’ login id and password, one way of preventing this from happening is to implement multi-factor authentication (or two-step verification) to stop the tool from being able to infiltrate the relevant service’s internet storage.

Multi-factor authentication increases the security of user logins for cloud services above and beyond just a password. With Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365, users are required to acknowledge a phone call, text message, or an app notification on their smartphone after correctly entering their password. Only after this second authentication factor has been satisfied can a user sign in.

This addition of multi-factor authentication is part of Microsoft’s ongoing effort to enhance security for Office 365, and they’re already working on Office desktop application improvements to Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365. Office 365 offers many robust built-in security features for all customers and also optional controls that enable subscribers to customise their security preferences.

After a user is enabled for multi-factor authentication, they will be required to configure their second factor of authentication at the next login. Each subsequent login is enforced and will require use of the password and second factor of authentication, any of the following may be used for the second factor;

  1. Call my mobile phone. The user receives a phone call that asks them to press the pound key. Once the pound key is pressed, the user is logged in.
  2. Text code to my mobile phone. The user receives a text message containing a six-digit code that they must enter into the portal.
  3. Call my office phone. This is the same as Call my mobile phone, but it enables the user to select a different phone if they do not have their mobile phone with them.
  4. Notify me through app. The user configured a smartphone app and they receive a notification in the app that they must confirm the login. Smartphone apps are available for Windows Phone, iPhone, and Android devices.
  5. Show one-time code in app. The same smartphone app is used. Instead of receiving a notification, the user starts the app and enters the six-digit code from the app into the portal.

mfa_01

It may not be intimate photos (we hope not!) that are stored in your Inbox or OneDrive but the risk is the same – could you afford for your account to be compromised, what are the consequences of somebody obtaining your user id and password? To find out how multi-factor authentication for Office365 can help eliminate this risk contact us on 01695 731233 or drop us an email to sales@virtuetechnologies.co.uk

The Internet: Where’s your data?

It is widely known the Internet is a global resource operating everywhere, in our homes, schools, workplaces and our pockets. In fact, it can be accessed from almost every place on earth – and even locations further out into space. But what about the data being accessed? Where is that stored and who is accessing it.

When looking at this, the results are interesting.

Let’s start by investigating the users. Who they are and where they are. The world’s population is now centric towards the East in locations such as India and China, with the Western world a bit behind. This is confirmed online also with China represented by about 568 million Internet users from a population of 1.3bn, and India represented by 153 million users from a population of 1.2bn. These highly populated ‘developing’ countries have had a massive uptake on Internet usage, but they still have a way to go. On the other side of the coin however, the USA has 255m Internet users from a population of 316 million.

From this it is clear the majority of web use is in the Far East. So what are they all doing? Where is the data that they all consume each and every day?

Well, this is where it gets very interesting.

Brazil (yes Brazil) has the third largest number of Internet hosts, with 26 million. In second place is Japan with 64 million hosts. However, leading the pack by a country mile is our old friends the USA with a whopping 505 million Internet hosts. That’s more hosts, providing services to the internet than the USA has people.

This clearly shows that the USA is still very much at the forefront of web services. I don’t know for sure, but I would estimate that most of these hosts are owned by companies located in Northern California.

So what does all this mean. Well, put simply – I have absolutely no idea – other than:

  • Yes, it’s an interesting fact.
  •  Yes, the USA is still the Daddy. If you make the link between web hosting and innovation, the bulk of the web is still being developed by our friends in San Francisco Bay area.
  • The bulk of consumers are from the Far East and they are consuming services from the USA.

So, does it really matter? Well I think it does in the long-term. Countries, companies and consumers are increasingly nervous about data being stored in other countries. Whether they are worried about other governments ‘having a peak’ or issues relating to the export of data.

People increasingly want their data stored in their own country. Blackberry have suffered problems with this issue in the past when their storage of BBM data caused large scale problems in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and India, with some counties blocking all users from using BBM in protest.

This is an increasingly important consideration for our education customers. As schools look at using web hosted teaching and administration solutions, they are thinking about where their data will actually be stored.

The good news is that providers are getting smart to this, with several providers now ‘guaranteeing’ that their data will be stored in a certain region and not others. Microsoft, for example, are transparent in where Office 365 data is stored and will ensure that is stays in a region that is appropriate to you. For information, UK customers have their data stored in the EU and the backup data centres are based in Holland and Ireland.