Category: Microsoft

Some of the Most Helpful Features of Windows 11

Windows 11 has been out for a few months now, beginning rollout in October of 2021. It has been largely well-received and seen as stable with very few bugs noted.

One of the reasons that Windows 11 has been welcomed with open arms for both home and business computer upgrades is that it isn’t a dramatic experience difference from Windows 10. This upgrade is mainly focused on helping users do tasks faster and find things more easily.

If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to upgrade to Windows 11, continue reading while Firewell Technology Solutions goes through several of the most helpful features below that might make you want to upgrade sooner rather than later.

 

And if you have already upgraded your machine to Windows 11 or purchased a new PC with the OS installed, you’ll want to look over these features to make sure you haven’t been missing out on some productivity enhancers.

Snap Layouts

One challenge that tends to be universal across multiple users is the struggle with trying to work in more than one window at a time on your PC screen. You can end up spending time resizing the windows just right, then need to open a window to full size to reach a scroll bar and end up back at square one.

Many users will app-switch, meaning they switch between one app window that is fully open and another that isn’t. This is also time-consuming.

In a study of user productivity, it was found that 56% of app users said that switching between apps makes it difficult to get essential work done and costs them at least 30 minutes per day.

We here at Firewell Technology Solutions believe in working efficiently with technology, so we’re especially pleased with snap layouts in Windows 11.

This feature is designed to solve the window-sizing and multitasking problem by providing the user with several options for window arrangements that snap windows into place. The view is designed so you can reach all scroll bars and menu items in a particular app window.

This is one of the most time-saving features of the new operating system and it’s very intuitive and easy to use.

Texting & Video Calls from Teams on the Desktop

If you’re one of those people that hates typing out texts on a tiny smartphone screen only to have it altered by a rogue auto-correction, then the new Teams integration in Windows 11 is going to be a welcome change.

Teams is now natively integrated on the taskbar, there is no application you need to install. Setup only takes a few minutes and involves you putting in your name and a mobile phone number.

Using the Microsoft Teams icon from the desktop, you can instantly begin connecting to people via SMS or video/audio chat. You can even share a screen during your meetings.

The To Do Widget

One of the new features in Windows 11 that doesn’t look fully finished is the widgets panel. This feed has a few basic applications in it at the moment, and more are expected to come, which will make it even more useful.

You get to this panel through an icon on the taskbar, and the widget feed can be tailored with local weather, traffic, news, and more.

One of the helpful features you can use right now is the To Do widget. It allows you to quickly create a task list and check off those tasks without having to open another application.

The widget can be added in seconds to your panel and can be quite a time-saver because of the easy access right from your desktop.

Streamlined Start/Search Menu

If you’re still using your file explorer to search for documents, you can save a lot of time by using the Start/Search menu instead. Click the Windows icon on the taskbar (which has now been moved to the middle instead of far left) and type your search keyword at the top.

This is a master search that will bring up documents, settings, applications, and even web pages. Searching using the Start Menu is faster than trying to find a file in the Explorer.

The newly streamlined interface also reduces the clutter of the old Windows Start Menu making it easier to get where you need to go.

Task View

Task view is the virtual desktop feature that had been introduced in Windows 10. This remains a very handy feature for separating the different areas of your work to stay focused.

You can use the task view icon on the taskbar to create a different virtual desktop with different open applications and documents. For example, you could keep your email open on one virtual desktop and then use another when you’re in a video call and sharing screen.

Get Help with a Smooth Upgrade to Windows 11

An upgrade of an entire company to a new OS can be time-consuming. Save time and skip any downtime by working with Firewell Technology Solutions to roll out a smooth upgrade and get users trained on the new features.

 


Featured Image Credit

This article, adapted, has been republished with permission from The Technology Press.

How OneNote Can Streamline Team Collaboration (And Four Tips to Make the Most of This Program)

 

OneNote is a digital note-taking tool that comes with plenty of benefits for users. But what you may not have realized yet is how powerful this app can be for enhancing team collaboration.  

Note-taking.

This is an essential part of day-to-day operations for many business owners, managers, and teams. After all, people can’t rely on their memory alone to recall everything that gets talked about each day—especially when it concerns important matters.

When it comes to note-taking, traditional methods such as pen and paper are effective but aren’t easily shareable and accessible, yet modern-day businesses need something that allows them to work fast and collaboratively. That’s why Firewell Technology Solutions helps businesses opt-in for digital solutions like Microsoft OneNote.

OneNote is a productivity tool that leverages cloud and Microsoft technologies to make information capturing, storage, and sharing a breeze.

Think of OneNote as a hub for all notes that allows you to organize them in many ways. It even allows pinning multimedia documents next to simple text.

If you’re looking for a robust digital note-taking tool, OneNote may be the solution for you.

Keep reading to discover the numerous ways in which this tool can be helpful for you and your business.

Why Should You Rely on OneNote?

OneNote is not just a powerful tool for notetaking—it’s also a useful tool that allows you to perform various functions for easy information processing.

We here at Firewell Technology Solutions particularly like Microsoft OneNote because of benefits like these:

Benefit #1: Promoting Real-Time Collaboration

OneNote is part of Microsoft’s fully-cloud based Office 365 suite. This means OneNote users can share files with other team members or clients in real-time. Multiple people can view and edit their notes simultaneously, allowing for a seamless collaboration anytime.

A great thing about real-time editing is that you can track all changes to the file. You can even restore the previous version of a document in case of accidents.

Businesses that run in multiple locations can benefit from this feature as well, for people located across the country can work on the same project without affecting team collaboration.

Simply put, there’s no need to trade emails and waste time waiting for responses—managers can have an easy time collaborating with their team instantly without ever leaving the office.

Benefit #2: OneNote Secures Sensitive Information

Doing business online and sharing sensitive data comes with security risks. This is especially true for notebook software. Fortunately, OneNote comes with a set of security features that protect your data from being exposed to third parties.

For example, you can lock specific sections with passwords while having all your information secured with 3DES encryption at all times. And if your password-protected documents remain inactive for a long time, the software will automatically lock them to prevent data leaks.

Benefit #3: Integration With Other Software

Like other Office 365 suite apps, OneNote has great integration abilities. You can sync your OneNote with Outlook to send email information directly to the app and vice versa.

What’s more, you can integrate this software with non-Microsoft apps as well. Some notable plugins include Zapier, Slack, Trello, Evernote, Dropbox, Salesforce, and many others. This integration keeps all your essential apps synchronized which allows your team to be more productive each day.

Benefit #4: OneNote for Project Management

OneNote has dozens of uses for general business. However, it’s especially suitable for project management.

Project managers often deal with issues such as team member misunderstandings, communication delays, or project bottlenecks. But thanks to Microsoft’s note-taking tool, many of these issues are quickly alleviated.

Project management can become more straightforward. It’s because OneNote makes it easy for the manager to track each team member’s achievements. They can update timelines, check off completed tasks, or assign new ones with ease.

Take OneNote to the Next Level 

If you have never used OneNote before, you may be interested to learn about some tips to help you get the most out of the software.

Tip #1: Creating Quick Notes

Quick Note is a great feature that lets you write down a thought when you’re out having lunch or away from the office.

Imagine being in the store and remembering you haven’t responded to an important email. You can take your phone, open the One Note app, and create a Quick Note reminding you of this task.

The next time you open OneNote on your computer, you’ll see the message there.

This feature is similar to Sticky Notes, as it lets you jot down any idea or thought in a matter of seconds. All your notes will be saved in the “Unfiled Notes” section of your “Quick Notes” notebook, a place where all your notes are saved by default.

Tip #2: Searching Across All Notes

Searching for notes becomes more challenging as time passes. If you’re an active user, you can find yourself storing hundreds of notes in a matter of months. But don’t worry, as there are tons of options to organize your notes as well as search for it.

OneNote has a built-in search option to make note finding easier.

All you need to do is click on the magnifying glass or hit “Ctrl” (or “Command” for Mac) + “F” on your keyboard and look for a phrase or word. The software will go over all your typed, handwritten, and even picture notes.

You can further narrow the search by selecting the drop-down arrow and choosing the desired option. You’ll see all matching results highlighted in your notes.

As you find the note you needed, you can close the search by pressing “X” on the right-hand corner.

Tip #3: Using Pre-Made Templates

OneNote is designed to have a blank canvas for each new note. And it’s what gives users a whole lot of flexibility. However, you can find this approach to be too basic sometimes. So, why not add some style, structure, and color to the app?

Thankfully, there are tons of pre-made templates to choose from. You can download a template with decorative backgrounds, to-do lists, planners, and more.

Note that you can use the templates only on new OneNote files. The ones that already contain text won’t work since most designs require content to appear in a specific place on the page.

If you need to add a template to your existing note, simply create a new one, then copy the existing text over.

Tip #4: Scanning Documents from Your Smartphone

Do you need to take notes from a scanned document? That’s not an issue for OneNote. You can use the Microsoft Lens: PDF Scanner App (available for Android and iOS) to take high-quality scans of multiple documents using your phone and upload them to OneNote.

Become the Master of Notetaking

Digital note-taking tools have helped thousands of workers and managers become more productive. OneNote is one such software that seems to have it all – abundant features, flexibility, and ease of use.

Whether you’re a business owner who wants to boost your team’s performance or a project manager that needs better tracking of the project timeline, OneNote has something in store for everyone.

If you’d like to learn more about how this powerful tool can help you make your business better, feel free to reach out to us. We can have a 10-15-minute chat about this topic or about other ways Firewell Technology Solutions can help with your business technology.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

The 7 Effective Features to Maximize Your Productivity on Microsoft OneDrive

 

Microsoft OneDrive is more than a file-sharing platform. It allows you to streamline your work in ways you never thought were possible. Learn how it can help boost workplace productivity. 

We’ll be frank: Firewell Technology Solutions strongly believes that organizing your business is crucial to its success!

The truth is that dealing with messy files and folders is of no help to you, to your colleagues, nor to your clients. Instead, it keeps you unproductive and negatively impacts your business in a variety of ways.

Fortunately, Microsoft OneDrive can be a significant help in this area—especially when it comes to improving workflow in a business. This suite of apps has tons of features that can help the whole team be more effective at handling their workload.

For example, you can organize your folders on a cloud platform starting with 1TB (1024 gigabytes!) worth of space, do file backups, share files, etc. You can also share your PDFs, audio, photos, slides, and important work files in one place.

Overall, you can maximize your productivity on Microsoft OneDrive by tapping into several handy features. This article lists 7 of them.

The 7 Features

Feature #1: Sharing Files While Controlling Access

Microsoft OneDrive has robust sharing capabilities that allow for work collaboration. All you need to do is click on a file or folder you wish to share and create a shareable link or invite others to access that file.

What’s more, every file and folder on this platform has its own sharing link that’s highly customizable. You can also determine user permissions for each item – whether the person with access can only view or can edit or comment.

Additionally, you can add a time limit for file or folder access.

Feature #2: Publishing Files to the Internet

Microsoft OneDrive is among the best platforms out there for publishing files online. You and your team can access the uploads from anywhere in the world so long as you have an internet connection.

A great thing about published files is that they sync to all devices that use the OneDrive app. This means the files you uploaded to your computer will be visible on your phone app and vice versa. All it takes to access those files is signing into your Microsoft OneDrive account.

Feature #3: Voice Typing

If you need to upload a written file on OneDrive, you can use Microsoft Word and dictate the text instead of typing. This will save you a lot of time when working with both short and longer files.

You can use words such as “period” and “next line” to let the recorder know how to organize your speech. Once you’re done recording, proofread your text to finish.

Feature #4: Assigning Tasks to Employees With Comments

Microsoft OneDrive makes it easy to tag a person and assign them a task for a specific file section. Whether they need to revise, proofread, manage sources, or rearrange their work, you can easily let them know what they need to do by adding comments.

Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Open the file that needs task assigning on Microsoft Word.
  2. Use your mouse to highlight the part that needs reworking and right-click on it.
  3. Select “Comment” for the Comment section to appear to the right of the highlighted text.
  4. Type “+” or “@” then a person’s name to tag them in that comment. You can also tag people by entering their email addresses.

The tagged person will then receive a notification about this action and be invited to open the file.

Feature #5: Using Templates

Microsoft OneDrive supports free templates for a variety of Microsoft Apps. You can use Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, all loaded with hundreds of templates for different project types.

To choose or look for templates, open the app you want to use, create a new document, and choose one of the templates available; you can browse for more templates by clicking the “more templates” option.

Feature #6: Sorting Your Files by Size 

Microsoft OneDrive sorts your uploaded files and folders alphanumerically by default, although you can sort by date modified. This is useful because it gives you quick access to files you work with often.

But if you want to free up some OneDrive storage space, you may want to sort the files according to their size and delete the ones you don’t use often that take too much space.

Microsoft guarantees 93 days of file retention in the case that a file was accidentally deleted. Firewell Technology Solutions also implements backup systems that will retain infinite versions of your OneDrive files for a year or more.

Feature #7: Doing Advanced Search

Maybe you’re searching for a document with specific keywords appearing in multiple files. In this case, you can use the advanced search on OneDrive. The platform allows you to filter your results by location, file type, owner, shared with, date modified, and more.

All you need to do is click on the “Search Options” icon at the far right of the search bar.

Get the Most Out of Microsoft OneDrive

Organizing your files is crucial to making you and your employees more productive in running your business. And Microsoft OneDrive more than proves its worth in this aspect.

OneDrive is a great tool that comes with numerous features to help you organize your files and folders, share them with the world, assign tasks, exchange valuable information, and more.

The seven features mentioned above will help you streamline your work processes and make file creation, sharing, and search more straightforward.

If you’d like to learn more about how Firewell Technology Solutions and Microsoft OneDrive (and, by extension, Microsoft SharePoint) can help you improve your business, I’d be happy to tell you about it. Get in touch with us today to have a 10-15-minute chat on this topic.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Is Updating from Windows 10 to 11 Worth It? Here Are the New Features in the OS (And Some Missing Ones)

Getting used to Windows 11 shouldn’t be too challenging. On the contrary, the OS comes with several intuitive features to enhance productivity.

Microsoft recently introduced Windows 11 as the company’s latest operating system. And compared to Windows 10, this OS has various features that can increase your productivity and provide a better user experience.

As soon as you start using Windows 11, you’ll see a marked improvement over its predecessors.

For example, it has refined several household features, such as video conferencing and video management. You also get enhanced note-taking, data input, and a user-friendly interface that should help you complete your duties more efficiently.

Many other features can help boost your productivity, and this article will talk about them in detail; however, Firewell Technology Solutions also notes some features Microsoft didn’t include in Windows 11.

Windows 11 – What’s New?

Feature #1: New Taskbar

Previous Windows versions feature an iconic taskbar, but it can sometimes get clunky. Windows 11 deals with the cruft and provides a streamlined solution.

The new taskbar is perfect for expediting work, as it can contain a list of recent cloud and local files. You can also pin various apps to improve access and utilize a search bar that allows for convenient web browsing.

Another highlight of the taskbar is clean lines and widgets that display essential information (e.g., weather, photos, and news).

This should be a tremendous upgrade from the busy display of Windows 10.

Feature #2: Windows Grouping and Snapping

The enhanced Snap Group and Snap Layout features allow you to resize and manage windows more easily. You also get to keep essential apps grouped to maintain high productivity.

Using the features is relatively straightforward: just hover the mouse over the maximize button on the desired app to reveal your layout options. You can choose between several arrangements, such as four-app grids and side-by-side layouts.

And if your team needs to perform basic window management, they can still grab and pull windows to the edge of their screen.

This feature improves desktop organization, which is especially useful for people working with two or more monitors or ultrawide displays. They can reduce clutter rapidly, enabling them to focus on their tasks.

Feature #3: Improved Accessibility Options

Windows 11 follows in the footsteps of many smartphones to simplify setting changes and make them easily accessible. Pulling up your control panel now only requires one tap or click in the taskbar coroner, replicating Apple’s Control Center.

Furthermore, Windows 11 apps feature aesthetic, curved corners, and your Settings incorporate more options you can tweak. For instance, blind or vision impaired users can take advantage of cutting-edge audio cues. There are also desktop themes to help reduce eye strain, which is essential if you work long hours.

On top of that, the new operating system has revamped voice typing. You can activate this with a simple keyboard shortcut. This feature supports most major languages, including English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, and Portuguese.

Windows 11’s better accessibility means your team will no longer have to keep relying on your IT service provider to set things up for them.

Feature #4: Better App Store 

Many apps can enhance workplace productivity, but you’ll first need to find them on your PC’s app store. Fortunately, Windows 11 came up with an organized and coherent platform to make the search easier.

Besides universal apps, you can check out the applications compatible with your devices. The platform can also handle programs from third-party stores and manage app installation on the internet.

Feature #5: Smooth Notetaking

If you’re using a touchscreen device, taking notes in Windows 11 should now be highly satisfying. This feature offers haptic feedback to generate physical sensations when drawing lines on the screen or checking boxes with your pen.

Moreover, the Ink Workspace allows you to add preferred apps instead of using the standard snipping tool and Whiteboard. It gives you easy access to creativity tools the moment you pull out your pen.

Which Features Were Left Behind?

Overall, Windows 11 should work great for your business. But bear in mind that Microsoft left out some features that were a staple in previous versions: 

Excluded Feature #1: Taskbar Customization

Windows 10 users can move their taskbar from the horizontal position to the left, right, or upper part of their screen. In contrast, the Windows 11 taskbar is fixed at the bottom of the display, and you can’t customize the dimensions.

The taskbar customization feature would have been helpful because it would let you use space more efficiently.

Another significant change is that you can no longer move the Time and Date on your taskbar. Windows 10 didn’t have this problem since you could toggle off the Clock feature in your Settings.

The default taskbar layout might be fine, but some users prefer higher customizability than what Windows 11 offers.

Excluded Feature #2: Drag-and-Drop Features

Windows 10 and some earlier versions allowed you to drag several items to change their position. For example, you could drag a Word document onto your Word icon on the taskbar to open it.

This function is disabled in Windows 11. There’s no way to drag and drop or save any program or file onto your taskbar.

Excluded Feature #3: Cortana

Cortana is a voice assistant counterpart of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. Many people are used to it and may be disappointed to hear that it’s not a part of the Windows 11 system setup. You can’t even locate it in your start menu.

The good news is that the Cortana application can still be found – it’s just hidden away. And you can enable it by visiting Settings and navigating to Apps & Features.

A Wise Investment

While Windows 11 isn’t perfect since it removed many valuable features, it’s still an excellent platform to help increase your productivity.

Whether you need to organize your desktop more conveniently or take enjoyable notes, the OS won’t let you down. Plus, you get a revamped taskbar and powerful Voice Typing compatible with most major languages.

Overall, Windows 11 can be a terrific asset for your business.

If you want to find out more about incorporating this new OS to boost productivity in your organization, contact Firewell Technology Solutions today. We can have a 10-15-minute chat to help you address key productivity issues in your company with the help of Windows 11.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

It’s No Internet Explorer! 7 Features of Microsoft Edge That Make the App a Productivity Powerhouse

Many business owners shy away from Microsoft Edge, thinking it’ll slow down their operations. However, the browser has been massively upgraded and can help boost productivity.

We here at Firewell Technology Solutions have been die-hard Google Chrome users for years! However, Microsoft has made great strides in its web browsing technology since the days of Internet Explorer. Enter Microsoft Edge, a refined version that arguably provides the best web experience for business users.

Unlike the old Internet Explorer, this browser now relies on Google’s Chromium engine to provide faster loading, better compatibility, and enhanced support. Plus, Microsoft releases regular updates to tweak various features of the browser.

With Microsoft Edge, you can now surf the internet more privately, optimize performance, enable cross-device support, and enjoy many other slick functions.

Best of all, these features have been well-designed: they don’t clutter the interface and are easy to find. They’re also user-friendly, which means your team won’t have to rely on your IT service provider for help with simple tasks involving the browser.

Overall, Microsoft Edge has come a long way since its release and boasts several features you can use to boost productivity. These are the seven key features of Microsoft Edge we here at Firewell Technology Solutions believe are of most interest to business users.

Microsoft Edge and its Key Features

Feature #1 Wireless Sharing 

One of the most attractive features of Edge is Share. It allows you to transfer browser content to nearby devices without leaving the website you’re viewing.

The Share feature is simple and clean. It works like social-sharing buttons but contains more customization options and controls.

Wi-Fi sharing might be the most practical option, but you can also choose between other services, such as OneNote and Mail.

Feature #2 Multiple Profiles

Microsoft Edge provides another convenient feature – setting up multiple profiles.

This well-designed function lets you share your browser with other team members without disclosing your preferences or information. Such a feature makes the browser a practical tool for separating your work and personal stuff.

To make this work, you won’t even have to ask your IT service provider to do the task.

When adding a new profile to Edge, you do it by simply linking to a different Microsoft account. This newly-linked account has a unique history, favorites, and other relevant settings compared to other profiles on the same browser.

There’s also the option to switch between connected profiles automatically. To do that, the browser will prompt you to use the correct profile when launching a page.

Users save time and increase productivity as a result.

In addition to the productivity boost, Firewell Technology Solutions recommends separating business browsing from personal browsing for increased security, too.

Feature #3 Website Pinning 

Most browsers have the Pin feature to help users access their favorite websites quickly. They need only to launch the program to load the pages automatically.

However, this function can be problematic.

If you close the window with pinned sites before closing the remaining windows, the pinned sites are lost. This can be a massive problem for your workers, especially when working on a critical project. Their productivity suffers since they often need to re-pin sites.

Microsoft Edge solves this issue with the Pin to Taskbar option.

As the name suggests, it lets you pin sites to your computer’s taskbar. Once you open the desired page, click this feature in the ‘More’ menu. The way, the next time you need to access the website, clicking the icon on the taskbar should do the trick.

Feature #4 Privacy Control 

Tracking Prevention is a Microsoft Edge feature that helps prevent social media, advertisers, and other trackers from tracking your online activity. It can protect your privacy and make your browsing less personalized, which is essential for any professional environment.

This feature consists of three privacy levels: 

  • Basic – This level permits most trackers. Therefore, ads and content are personalized based on your team’s activity, but known harmful trackers are blocked.
  • Balanced – The second level blocks trackers from unopened websites, leading to fewer ads and less personalization. Like the first level, this one also blocks known trackers.
  • Strict – The final level promises the most privacy. There will be minimal personalization, with some parts of websites disabled to fend off threatening trackers.

Feature #5 Reading List 

Your team often marks articles for later revisiting but end up cluttering their bookmarks. Fortunately, Microsoft Edge has a powerful feature to overcome this obstacle: The Reading List.

This feature allows you to save articles and synchronize the saved list with other devices. More importantly, it doesn’t mess up the Favorites or Bookmarks tab, allowing your team to get back to them in no time.

If they come across an interesting webpage, they need only strike the Star symbol in the address bar, choose the Reading List and press Add.

There’s also a convenient Reading Mode that helps remove any clutter to further improve workplace efficiency.

Feature #6 Tab Preview

You and your team probably perform a lot of research daily. This means you often need to use a bunch of tabs, and the number can quickly get overwhelming. As a result, you get lost in all the clutter, hindering your progress.

Microsoft Edge lets you avoid this scenario through the Tab Preview feature. It shows a preview of any open tab through a panel located at the top of your screen.

Launched after the Creators Update, it can be activated by clicking the chevron icon. Once you locate your tab, tap on your chevron icon to make the panel disappear.

Feature #7 Mute Tabs 

You may enjoy listening to music to improve your focus. But as you’re invested in your work, a newly opened tab can start playing a high-pitched dialogue, breaking your concentration.

Luckily, you can get back on track by enabling the Mute Tabs feature on Microsoft Edge.

Just find and right-click the annoying tab to reveal the function. Activating it allows you to work without noisy distractions and maintain high productivity.

Stick to Microsoft Edge, and You Won’t Look Back

One of your primary duties as a business owner is to ensure productivity across the entire team. If your employees underperform, customer satisfaction may dwindle, and the competition may grab your clients.

We’ve listed seven key Microsoft Edge features to help you boost productivity, but this browser has a lot more to offer.

And there’s no need to think you’ll face the same issue as Internet Explorer users. This program is a massive upgrade designed to streamline your experience and help your team conduct their duties more efficiently.

If you’re looking for more tips to take your productivity to the next level, Firewell Technology Solutions has your business covered! We would be happy to arrange a 15-minute obligation-free chat to determine how to improve your business.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

11 Effective Security Measures To Bolster Your Microsoft 365 Data Protection

Making the most of your Microsoft 365 apps requires you to adopt appropriate security measures.

Microsoft 365 is one of the best collaboration and productivity tools around. It provides users with seamless communication, scalability and supports remote work with various features. The security is also solid due to a wide array of defense mechanisms. 

But this doesn’t mean you’re impervious to cyberattacks. 

Data leakage, unauthorized access, and malware can still jeopardize your system and offer ideal entry points for hackers. Should your business fall victim, the consequences can be dire, ranging from operational disruptions to severe reputational damage. 

This is why we here at Firewell Technology Solutions believe that the only way to fend off hackers is to take your Microsoft 365 data protection to the next level. This article suggests 11 super effective security measures to help shield your data in Microsoft 365.

The 11 Effective Security Measures

Security Measure #1 – Activate Microsoft 365 Multi-Factor Authentication

Microsoft 365 users have just one method of verifying their identity when using a username and password. Unfortunately, many people don’t follow robust password protocols. If you’re doing the same, you’re exposing your organization to intrusions.

That’s where multi-factor authentication (MFA) comes into play.

It can boost your Microsoft 365 security with one-time passphrases or other factors to verify user identity. Best of all, this measure is easy to apply.

However, enabling MFA should only be your first step. The next one is to activate Security Defaults, a Microsoft feature that enforces MFA in each administrator account.

Another great idea is to implement MFA in all accounts without administrator permissions. It’s because these accounts can still endanger services and apps in your ecosystem.

Security Measure #2 – Use Session Timeouts

Many employees fail to log out of their accounts and lock their mobile devices or computers. This can grant hackers unlimited access to enterprise accounts, enabling them to compromise your data.

Incorporating session timeouts into internal networks and accounts automatically logs users out after a certain inactivity period. That means hackers can’t take over their devices and access sensitive information.

Security Measure #3 – Refrain From Public Calendar Sharing

Calendar sharing enables your employees to synchronize and share schedules with colleagues. While this facilitates team collaboration, it can also give hackers insight into your operations and vulnerable users.

For example, if your security administrator is on vacation and this information is publicly available, attackers can use this window to launch malware.

Security Measure #4 – Employ Advanced Threat Protection

Advanced threat protection (ATP) is a robust solution that recognizes and prevents advanced threats that usually bypass antivirus and firewall defenses.

It grants access to a database that receives real-time updates, allowing users to understand the threats and integrate the data into their analysis.

ATP notifies you about attacks, the severity, and the method that stopped them, regardless of the source. It’s especially effective at preventing phishing.

It relies on machine learning and a massive database of suspicious sites notorious for malware delivery or phishing attempts.

Security Measure #5 – Leverage Policy Alerts

Microsoft 365 lets you establish your policy notifications in the compliance center to meet your company’s security needs. For example, they send your employees tips on sending sensitive information whenever they’re about to send a message to a contact outside your network.

These warnings can safeguard against data leaks while educating your team on safe data sharing methods.

Security Measure #6 – Secure Your Mobile Access

Your team often uses smartphones to access work email, contacts, documents, and calendars, especially if they work remotely. So, securing their devices should be your top priority when protecting data. 

The best way to do so is to install Microsoft 365 mobile management features. They can let you manage your security policy, permissions, restrictions, and wipe crucial information from stolen or lost devices. Firewell Technology Solutions believes this is an absolute must for healthcare providers and other service providers subject to HIPAA compliance regulations, yet all businesses should consider ways to manage corporate data on mobile devices.

Security Measure #7 – Deactivate Legacy Protocol Authentication

It’s worth noting that legacy protocols don’t support several security features in Microsoft 365 that reduce the chances of intrusion, such as MFA. This can make them perfect gateways for adversaries who want to target your organization.

That said, your best bet is to deactivate legacy protocols to mitigate risks.

However, you may not want to disable legacy authentication if your team needs it for older email accounts. The good news is that you can still make your network safer by restricting access to users who don’t need this protocol.

Security Measure #8 – Integrate Role-Based Access Control

Access management is a convenient security feature that can limit the flow of private information across your business. It allows you to establish the users who can access data in your company.

For instance, you can minimize data leaks by preventing rank-and-file team members from reading and editing executive-level files.

Security Measure #9 – Rely on Unified Audit Log 

Unified audit log (UAL) includes logs from several Microsoft 365 services, such as Azure AD, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams. Enabling it can give the administrator insight into malicious activity and actions that violate organizational policies.

You may also want to incorporate your logs into an existing SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tool. Doing so enables you to connect logs with current log monitoring and management solutions to reveal abnormal activity. Plus, it can improve the overall security of your Microsoft 365 suite.

Security Measure #10 – Encrypt Emails in Microsoft 365

Encrypting sensitive data is often the last resort when dealing with data breaches. But if cyber attackers access your emails, robust encryption tools can make them unreadable. That’s why email encryption is something worth looking into.

This feature is essential for Microsoft 365 users who share emails and files regularly.

Security Measure #11 – Train and Educate Your Employees in Microsoft 365 Apps for Business

The above measures are undoubtedly effective, but they may amount to nothing if you leave your employees out of the picture. In fact, human error is the leading cause of most data breaches.

One of the best ways to prevent security breaches in your business is to schedule employee security training and education. It can raise their awareness of potential threats and guide them on how to address them.

This is especially important when recruiting employees. Make sure they undergo in-depth security training before granting them access to sensitive data and organizational devices.

Don’t Leave Your Business’s Data Protection to Chance 

Microsoft 365 offers a bunch of intuitive and convenient tools. The experience can be so smooth that you may even forget about protecting your data.

However, you’re taking a huge gamble in doing so, as it leaves your system open for hackers.

With that in mind, applying the defense mechanisms mentioned in this article will dramatically decrease security threats to your business.

Firewell Technology Solutions can help you further ensure your security when using Microsoft 365 apps. Contact us for a 10-15-minute chat that’s obligation-free. Let’s discuss how you can keep cyber threats at bay.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.