There was a security flaw discovered last week that exposes a vulnerability in Office 365, which splits a harmful link into two pieces, each within separate email messages, only to be reassembled into a malicious link later.

Microsoft’s response thus far is this: “Microsoft has a customer commitment to investigate reported security issues and provide resolution as soon as possible. We encourage customers to practice safe computing habits by avoiding opening links in emails from senders they don’t recognize.”

I have to agree with this stance. We cannot rely solely on technology to prevent ourselves from oursleves. This is where training is of utmost importance and it’s why I include ongoing training within the managed services plans that I offer at Resolute IT.

But back to technology, as much as there is the human factor – that one slice of cheese with the hole in just the right spot – the best practice is to have several other layers in place to mitigate that vulnerability. According to Cisco, layered security should like this:

Access control

Not every user should have access to your network. To keep out potential attackers, you need to recognize each user and each device. Then you can enforce your security policies. You can block noncompliant endpoint devices or give them only limited access. This process is network access control (NAC).

Antivirus and antimalware software

“Malware,” short for “malicious software,” includes viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, and spyware. Sometimes malware will infect a network but lie dormant for days or even weeks.

Application security

Any software you use to run your business needs to be protected, whether your IT staff builds it or whether you buy it. Unfortunately, any application may contain holes, or vulnerabilities, that attackers can use to infiltrate your network. Application security encompasses the hardware, software, and processes you use to close those holes.

Behavioral analytics

To detect abnormal network behavior, you must know what normal behavior looks like. Behavioral analytics tools automatically discern activities that deviate from the norm. Your security team can then better identify indicators of compromise that pose a potential problem and quickly remediate threats.

Data loss prevention

Organizations must make sure that their staff does not send sensitive information outside the network. Data loss prevention, or DLP, technologies can stop people from uploading, forwarding, or even printing critical information in an unsafe manner.

Email security

Email gateways are the number one threat vector for a security breach. Attackers use personal information and social engineering tactics to build sophisticated phishing campaigns to deceive recipients and send them to sites serving up malware. An email security application blocks incoming attacks and controls outbound messages to prevent the loss of sensitive data.


Firewalls put up a barrier between your trusted internal network and untrusted outside networks, such as the Internet. They use a set of defined rules to allow or block traffic. A firewall can be hardware, software, or both.

Intrusion prevention systems

An intrusion prevention system (IPS) scans network traffic to actively block attacks. Cisco Next-Generation IPS (NGIPS) appliances do this by correlating huge amounts of global threat intelligence to not only block malicious activity but also track the progression of suspect files and malware across the network to prevent the spread of outbreaks and reinfection.

Mobile device security

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting mobile devices and apps. Within the next 3 years, 90 percent of IT organizations may support corporate applications on personal mobile devices. Of course, you need to control which devices can access your network. You will also need to configure their connections to keep network traffic private.


Software-defined segmentation puts network traffic into different classifications and makes enforcing security policies easier. Ideally, the classifications are based on endpoint identity, not mere IP addresses. You can assign access rights based on role, location, and more so that the right level of access is given to the right people and suspicious devices are contained and remediated.

Security information and event management

SIEM products pull together the information that your security staff needs to identify and respond to threats. These products come in various forms, including physical and virtual appliances and server software.

Web security

A web security solution will control your staff’s web use, block web-based threats, and deny access to malicious websites. It will protect your web gateway on site or in the cloud. “Web security” also refers to the steps you take to protect your own website.

Wireless security

Wireless networks are not as secure as wired ones. Without stringent security measures, installing a wireless LAN can be like putting Ethernet ports everywhere, including the parking lot. To prevent an exploit from taking hold, you need products specifically designed to protect a wireless network.

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What if your fired employee has destroyed your company data?

I was trying to help a colleague earlier today who has a new client with a recently terminated employee. And before that employee left, the worker deleted all of their emails, which, of course, is company property. To make matters worse, they deleted everything from the Deleted Items folder. And nothing was found in the Recover Deleted Items tool.

By default, your email data is retained for just 14 days after a deletion. But if you enable Litigation Hold, then even deleted items are retained ‘forever’. Litigation Hold is only available in Office 365 plans that include Exchange Online Plan 2, such as the Enterprise plans. This is one of the very important reasons why I use the E3 plan and recommend it to all small business clients.

With Litigation Hold in place, then a Content Search reveals results in Office 365’s Security & Compliance section of the Admin portal, including maliciously deleted emails from long ago.

Limited Offer: I’d be pleased to conduct a live tour of Office 365 and its data governance features for you alone or for your entire group. Please use this link to schedule time for your convenience.

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