Microsoft Office has been the industry standard in desktop productivity for more than 20 years, and is the software suite of choice for businesses of all sizes and across all industries. Nonetheless, neither the popularity or quality of Office 365 means you can simply put your compliance efforts on autopilot. Meeting government regulations isn’t getting any easier, and it’s certainly not something you can afford to take for granted.
Contrary to popular belief, Office 365 isn’t compliant with industry regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH right out of the box. That’s not because Microsoft isn’t doing its job – it’s because compliance is your responsibility. The only thing that Microsoft can do, or any other technology provider for that matter, is provide tools to help you achieve compliance.
Simply installing Office 365 and storing all your data in OneDrive doesn’t mean you’re using a fully compliant system. What Microsoft does provide is a program to aid your compliance efforts by creating the necessary security policies and implementing the right controls. This is handled by the web-based Security & Compliance Center, which is available to all business subscribers.
Higher subscription plans offer a wider range of controls and compliance templates. For example, Enterprise E5 plans provide extras like advanced data governance and advanced eDiscovery, which are important tools for companies operating in the legal sector.
How Office 365 Helps You Improve Digital Security
While it’s technically possible to adhere to regulations using even the cheapest Office 365 subscription tiers, access to the Security & Compliance Center makes compliance far easier, since it can define role-based access controls, configure alerts, and have security reports automatically delivered to administrators. Ultimately, it’s how you use the tools available to you that determine whether you’re compliant.
One of the most important security and compliance features in Office 365 is multifactor authentication (MFA), which is available on all subscription plans. MFA does away with your reliance on using passwords to secure your digital assets by providing a secondary authentication method when a user logs in for the first time from an unrecognized device. For example, users might receive an access code on their smartphone. You can set up features like this on a per-user basis or create groups of users based on their role or seniority.
Which Compliance Regulations Does Office 365 Support?
Given its widespread adoption across virtually every industry, Office 365 supports more than 70 compliance regulations governing the use and collection of personal data of various types. The Security & Compliance Center provides templates for supported regulations, which you can use to accelerate your compliance efforts when building your IT infrastructure. For example, any defense contractors and subcontractors operating in the United States need to be compliant with the DFARS regulation, while healthcare organizations and their associates must be compliant with HIPAA and HITECH regulations, which govern patient health data.
The Bottom Line
The most important thing to remember with any compliance regime is that you’re ultimately responsible for how you secure customer information. However, that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Recent years, for example, have seen a growth in the Compliance-as-a-Service model, which outsources all the necessary tasks to certified professionals. When managed services provider is handling your IT, they should be able to walk you through the process and provide the tools and expertise necessary to ensure you don’t step out of line.
F1 Solutions provides IT services to companies in Huntsville. We work with a range of industries including government contractors subject to DFARS compliance as well as healthcare providers and associates subject to HIPAA and HITECH legislation. Call us today to learn how we can help.