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Why Hackers are Targeting Microsoft 365 (And How to Protect Against It)


Hackers are increasingly targeting Microsoft 365 users in an attempt to steal sensitive data and disrupt business operations. These attacks can devastate businesses, causing data loss, downtime, and reputational damage.

To protect your business from these threats, it is important to understand how hackers are targeting Microsoft 365 users and what steps you can take to defend against them.

Using Microsoft 365? Find out why it’s a target for ransomware in 2022 and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you: Click to Tweet

Why Do Hackers Target Microsoft 365?

Why is Microsoft 365 a target? There are a few notable reasons, but the primary among them is that it’s one of the leading productivity platforms on the market, and it contains a wealth of sensitive information. This includes everything from email conversations to financial data to confidential business documents. Hackers know that gaining access to this information can be extremely valuable for financial gain or competitive advantage.

Target: The Large User Base

Microsoft 365 is used by millions of people around the world, making it a prime target for phishing attacks. Phishing is a type of cyberattack involving sending fraudulent emails or other messages to trick people into divulging sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. Hackers often target Microsoft 365 users because they know that the platform is widely used and that people are generally trusting of emails from familiar sources like Microsoft.

Target: The Complexity

Microsoft 365 is a complex platform with many different features and moving parts. This can make it difficult for users to keep track of all the different settings and options, leaving gaps that hackers can exploit. For example, hackers may be able to take advantage of weak passwords or poorly configured security settings to gain access to sensitive information.

Target: New Features

Microsoft 365 is constantly evolving and adding new features, which can create new opportunities for hackers to exploit. For example, a recent update to the platform introduced a new feature that allows users to sync their email across multiple devices. However, this new feature also created a security vulnerability that hackers could exploit to gain access to people's email accounts.

Hackers are targeting Microsoft 365 for its wealth of valuable info (and weak spots to exploit): Click to Tweet

How Do Hackers Target Microsoft 365?

Ultimately, Microsoft 365 is a target for hackers because it contains a wealth of valuable information and has weak spots that can be exploited. Here’s how hackers are gaining access:

- Phishing attacks: As mentioned above, hackers use phishing methods, sending emails that appear to be from Microsoft or another trusted source and tricking users into clicking on a malicious link or attachment. 

- Malware: Hackers can install malware on a user's device that gives them access to sensitive data or allows them to take control of the device.

- Password spraying: Hackers use automated tools to try common passwords against many Microsoft 365 accounts. This is often successful because many people use weak or easily guessed passwords. 

Each of these passwords takes less than one second to brute force through password spraying. If you’re using a variation of these passwords, or another popular keyphrase from the list, consider the risk. What damage could a hacker do to your IT infrastructure and most confidential data by simply guessing your credentials?

Current Threat: Ransomware Becomes More Volatile in 2022

According to the Sophos State of Ransomware 2022 report, the number of organizations that resorted to paying a ransom increased to 46% in 2022. This is staggering compared to 32% in 2021 and 26% in 2020. 

In an even more disturbing turn of events, the same report states that only 4% got all of their data back after paying. The number one method used to restore maliciously encrypted data was backups. Yet 61% of maliciously encrypted data was restored, on average, after the ransom was paid. 

This data presents solid evidence of the trends we’re seeing this year- Ransomware is becoming more volatile, more and more enterprises are pressured to pay the ransoms presented, and yet the majority of businesses are unable to recoup the data even after they pay the fees- $812,360 on average.

How to Mitigate Risk and Fight Back

As cyber insurance becomes harder to procure, enterprises realize the urgency of succinct cyberattack protection. When it comes to Microsoft 365, here’s where to mitigate risk and protect your organization.

- Enabling multi-factor authentication: This adds an extra layer of security to your Microsoft 365 accounts, making it more difficult for hackers to gain access.

- Educating your employees: Train your employees on how to spot phishing attacks and other malicious emails. This can help them avoid falling victim to an attack.

- Implementing security policies: Restrict access to sensitive data and systems and put in place other security measures such as data encryption.

-Implement Backups-as-a-Service: Ensure the protection of your emails, files, or calendar items with Opti9’s comprehensive backups-as-a-service (BaaS) for Microsoft 365.

How Opti9 Closes the Gap

Opti9 joins the fight against ransomware with backups-as-a-service (BaaS) for  Microsft 365. Opti9’s BaaS for Office 365 provides fully managed backups of your O365 environment so that you can recover your critical O365 data and resume critical business operations.. Featuring a “time-machine”-esque searching and the ability to restore specific files, emails, or data, our BaaS for O365 and Opti9’s expertise protects your enterprise from data loss due to cyberattacks, natural disasters, and human error.

6 Business Advantages of Using Opti9 BaaS for Microsoft 365

  • Flexible Control
  • Ensured Compliance
  • Instant Recovery
  • High Security
  • Easy Scalability
  • Data Freedom

Protect your data. Contact Opti9 for a free consultation today.

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