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As Copilot for Microsoft 365 becomes widely available, many businesses are weighing the security risks of implementing Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered productivity tool.

Copilot can ingest data from anywhere the user has access, raising the risk of exposing sensitive documents and protected data, as organizations frequently overshare data and don’t enforce adequate access management policies.

Before launching Copilot, Microsoft recommends businesses assess their current Microsoft 365 and network security efforts and implement a zero-trust framework to close any gaps that grant unneeded access to personal and company information, don’t comply with data privacy regulations, or provide an “in” for bad actors.  

Why Zero Trust?

Zero trust is a cybersecurity strategy based on the assumption that no user or device can be trusted, regardless of whether the application or system is being accessed from inside or outside the business’s security perimeter.

This is a departure from the traditional mindset that anyone inside the company network can automatically be trusted, whereas anyone outside should be treated as suspicious.

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With more employees working remotely and cyber threats becoming more sophisticated and harder to detect, security teams can’t afford to base policies on these outdated assumptions. A zero-trust framework implements a variety of technologies that verify and authenticate identity, control and limit access, monitor for suspicious activity, encrypt data, and segment networks to mitigate risk across the business ecosystem.

Zero-Trust Principles and How to Use Them to Secure Your Microsoft 365 Environment

Before deploying Copilot for Microsoft 365, Microsoft suggests organizations focus on three fundamental principles of zero trust.

Verify Explicitly

Authenticate and authorize user access based on all available data points, including identity, location, biometrics, device, role, and activity.

This can be executed by validating user credentials, implementing device requirements, enforcing app permissions, and monitoring behaviors (e.g., a device requesting access from a location it never has before).

Use Least Privilege Access

Leverage just-in-time and just-enough-access (JIT/JEA) policies, risk-based adaptive policies, and data protection technology to limit users to the minimum access needed to perform their job. 

This can be accomplished by enforcing JEA to prevent oversharing, applying sensitivity labels to your data, introducing data loss prevention policies, and verifying that appropriate permissions are assigned to files, folders, Microsoft Teams, and email. 

Assume Breach

Adopt the mindset that a security breach is inevitable and proactively implement threat detection, response, and remediation to minimize the “blast radius.”

This mindset can be put into action by segmenting networks to minimize network penetration, verifying end-to-end encryption, tracking AI-driven analytics to detect anomalies and inconsistencies, and leveraging extended detection and response (XDR) technology—like Logically’s SentryXDR—to analyze, correlate, detect, and respond to known and unknown threats.

Microsoft-Recommended Steps for Implementing a Zero-Trust Framework 

Microsoft documentation illustrates how to apply the zero-trust principles to your Microsoft 365 environment before launching Copilot. To maximize the impact of zero trust, you must apply these principles to the entire architecture—users, devices, and applications.

Step 1: Deploy or validate your data protection.

Zero-trust principles: Verify explicitly; Use least privilege access

Protect your organization’s data from overexposure or oversharing by assigning your data sensitivity levels and ensuring compliance with data management and privacy regulations.

Step 2: Deploy or validate your identity and access policies.

Zero-trust principles: Verify explicitly; Use least privilege access

Mitigate the risk of bad actors exploiting Copilot to access sensitive data by implementing risk-based authentication and conducting regular access reviews to minimize data oversharing.

Step 3: Deploy or validate app protection policies.

Zero-trust principles: Use least privilege access; Assume breach

Establish and enforce policies that prevent unauthorized sharing of organization data between apps on a device to help contain potential breaches and limit the impact of compromised devices.

Step 4: Deploy or validate device management and protection.

Zero-trust principle: Verify explicitly

Utilize Microsoft 365’s device management and protection features by ensuring devices are enrolled in Microsoft Intune, adhering to health and compliance standards, allowing administration of device settings, and monitoring device risks.

Step 5: Deploy or validate your threat protection services.

Zero-trust principle: Assume breach

Leverage Microsoft 365 or third-party threat protection services to prevent common email- and device-based attacks, reduce Windows device attack surfaces, and detect and respond to security incidents.

Step 6: Deploy or validate secure collaboration with Microsoft Teams.

Zero-trust principles: Verify explicitly; Use least privilege access

Review your Microsoft Teams environment configurations to ensure each Team or project has at least baseline protection, plus higher-level protections for more sensitive projects. This is also a good time to review your security policies for sharing files with people outside your organization and giving access to external contributors.

Step 7: Deploy or validate user permissions to data.

Zero-trust principle: Use least privilege access

Prevent overexposing or oversharing data by enforcing JEA, conducting access reviews, and implementing permissions requirements, organizational policies, and user training.

How Logically Can Help

Logically’s team of specialists understands the intricacies and risks of deploying Copilot in your Microsoft 365 environment, and we are here to help you navigate the process with our new Copilot readiness assessment.

Our technical team’s extensive knowledge of Copilot enables them to help you leverage artificial intelligence to get more productivity, collaboration, and value from your Microsoft 365 applications and maximize your ROI from day one.

The Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness assessment is designed to help you prepare your Microsoft 365 environment for Copilot deployment by ensuring that your data architecture, system permissions, and security policies align with Copilot requirements and cybersecurity best practices.

Contact the Logically Team and schedule your Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness assessment now!

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