GDPR Data Subject Requests with Office 365

GDPRGDPR Data Subject Access Requests

With GDPR taking effect on May 25, any company operating in the European Union must be able to deal with Data Subject Access Requests (DSRs). Section 3 of Article 15 says that “The controller shall provide a copy of the personal data undergoing processing [to the data subject].”

In the context of Office 365, the controller is the administrator of an Office 365 tenant while the personal data is anything held in an Office 365 data store relating to the data subject (a person). An organization has up to 30 days to respond to a request, which might come from a current or former employee, or someone who does business with the organization. Here’s an interesting blog post describing the kind of request you might receive. Continue reading → GDPR Data Subject Requests with Office 365

Microsoft Switches Office 365 Groups to Private by Default

Microsoft’s original vision for Office 365 Groups emphasized openness. Anyone could create a group and all groups were public. The aim was to foster collaboration and make sure that anyone could join in any group discussion as they liked.

Time passes by and software matures in the fierce heat of customer opinion. The original dedication to openness is less than it was. A group creation policy allows tenants to restrict the creation of new groups to a limit set of users. Teams hides groups that it creates from Exchange clients to avoid the chance of confusing users and Yammer-originated groups are invisible anywhere outside Yammer.

And now, Microsoft has decided to change the default access type for a group from public to private to satisfy  the third-highest rated request for Groups on Uservoice, the place where customers voice their opinion about changes they’d like Microsoft to make.

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Change Happens for Outlook First

Microsoft announced that they are rolling out the change iin Message Center notice MC134487 on April 20. OWA is the first client to go private-by-default (Figure 2), followed by the four other Outlook endpoints for group creation (Outlook for Windows and Mac, Outlook mobile for iOS and Android). Microsoft can change OWA quickly, but it takes a lot longer to work user interface changes into the other clients, so you can expect public-by-default to be around for a while yet.

OWA create new Office 365 Group

If you think that the change is bad and want to keep public by default, you can update the Exchange Online organization configuration with PowerShell. For example:

 

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Other applications will consider this change and work it into their plans. Teams already creates its groups as private unless an owner selects public while SharePoint plans to change its default to private to match the Outlook endpoints. Expect to see a notification to this effect soon.

 

Changing Access Type with Clients

Looking back, it seems bizarre that when Microsoft launched Office 365 Groups in November 2014, you couldn’t change the access type after creation. The ability to change access type by editing group properties arrived in June 2016. Now, it’s a matter of updating the group through OWA, Outlook, or the mobile apps (Figure 3).

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Some might be surprised at the level of administration group owners can perform with Outlook mobile. It’s there because Microsoft deprecated the original Groups app last February. Since then, Microsoft has moved administrative features over to Outlook.

Updating Access Type with PowerShell

Tenant administrators and group owners can also update the access type with PowerShell. Here’s how to update a single group.

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And here’s how to change all the public groups in a tenant to be private to match the new philosophy.

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Education Drives Some Change in Office 365

Microsoft is doing well with Groups and Teams in the education market, especially in the U.S., and it is unsurprising to see them respond to these customers by making groups private by default. Some corporate customers will like the change too, while those who don’t can switch back to the old behavior as described above. I guess everyone likes the idea of being open, but when pressure goes on, privacy is the primary concern for many.

 

 

Blog post form Petri by Tony Redmond

Data Resiliency in Microsoft Office 365

Given the complex nature of cloud computing, Microsoft is mindful that it’s not a case of if things will go wrong, but rather when. Microsoft designed their cloud services to maximize reliability and minimize the negative effects on customers when things do go wrong. We have moved beyond the traditional strategy of relying on complex physical infrastructure, and Microsoft have built redundancy directly into the cloud services. They use a combination of less complex physical infrastructure and more intelligent
software that builds data resiliency into our services and delivers high availability to the customers.
This post describes data resiliency in Microsoft Office 365 from two perspectives:
1. How Microsoft prevents customer data from becoming lost or corrupt in Exchange Online,
SharePoint Online, and Skype for Business; and
2. How Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Skype for Business protect customer data
against malware and ransomware. Continue reading → Data Resiliency in Microsoft Office 365

Demystifying Hybrid Free/Busy: what are the moving parts?

Hybrid Free/Busy is one of those things that many people do not fully understand. If everything works well, the complexity is hidden from view and people working in various parts of organization can seamlessly work together. But if things go wrong… you will appreciate deeper understanding of what makes it work. This is why we wanted to create the blog post series on the subject.

In this article, we will discuss how Free/Busy works in an Exchange Hybrid configuration. In next blog post, you will learn what are the most common problems along with how we go about diagnosing those (often) complex issues.

So, what is Free/Busy? Free/Busy is a feature that allows you to see when others are free (their calendar shows availability), busy (their calendar shows them as busy), or even Out of Office, or Something Else (tentative or working away) so that you can find an appropriate time for your meetings. Calling it all “Free/Busy/OOF/Something-Else” didn’t sound so cool to marketing hence “Free/Busy”. In a Hybrid deployment, we usually have some mailboxes in Exchange On-Premises and some mailboxes in Exchange Online (users are in different premises) and this has to work there too. Continue reading → Demystifying Hybrid Free/Busy: what are the moving parts?

Create an Office 365 Backup Policy

backup-cloud-button.jpgDon’t get stumped by a request to recover deleted email messages in Office 365. Know what Microsoft offers, and plan ahead to stop mailbox content from performing a disappearing act.

Some Office 365 adopters assume a move to Microsoft’s cloud comes with automatic data protection. But administrators must prepare backups or find out the hard way when messages and other important material are lost — with no chance of recovery. Continue reading → Create an Office 365 Backup Policy

Security and compliance in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is built on the Office 365 hyper-scale, enterprise-grade cloud, delivering the advanced security and compliance capabilities our customers expect.

Teams is Tier C-compliant at launch. This includes the following standards: ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SSAE16 SOC 1 and SOC 2, HIPAA, and EU Model Clauses (EUMC). Within the Microsoft compliance framework, Microsoft classifies Office 365 applications and services into four categories. Each category is defined by specific compliance commitments that must be met for an Office 365 service, or a related Microsoft service, to be listed in that category.

Services in compliance categories C and D that have industry-leading compliance commitments are enabled by default. Services in categories A and B come with controls to turn on or turn off these services for an entire organization. Details can be found in the Compliance Framework for Industry Standards and Regulations. Teams also supports Cloud Security Alliance compliance.

Teams also enforces team-wide and organization-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest. Files are stored in SharePoint and are backed by SharePoint encryption. Notes are stored in OneNote and are backed by OneNote encryption. Continue reading → Security and compliance in Microsoft Teams

What Does GDPR Mean For You & Office 365

By now you will have heard about the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will be coming into effect shortly. This was started by the European Commission in 2012 and finally generally agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council in December 2016. This new plan is to replace the current Data Protection Directive 95/46/ec.

Most companies have already adopted privacy processes and procedures consistent with the Directive, the GDPR contains a number of new protections for EU data subjects and threatens significant fines and penalties for non-compliant data controllers and processors once it comes into force in the spring of 2018. There are some core areas that are of great importance when trying to understand this new policy, as well as seeing how it fits into existing policies and also platforms that you may be using. Continue reading → What Does GDPR Mean For You & Office 365

Microsoft Recommending Non Expiring Passwords to O365 Customers

My Office 365 admin portal displayed a new recommendation when I logged in last week. Microsoft is recommending that user account passwords be set to never expire. My tenant is currently set to an expiry period of 90 days, whereas a newer tenant I was doing some testing with last month has defaulted to 730 days. I am not sure whether a tenant created today will default to 720 days or to non-expiring passwords.

This recommendation has so far appeared only in tenants that I have access to that are configured with First Release for everyone, and that aren’t enabled for directory synchronization. I imagine that the recommendation is being rolled out slowly.

The thought of non-expiring passwords might raise a few eyebrows in some organizations. For a long time the accepted position for passwords was to change them regularly. This thinking comes from a time when passwords were the single factor of authentication for most systems, with multi-factor authentication being relatively rare. Times have changed though, and recent research has concluded that requiring users to change their passwords regularly will usually lead to them:

  • choosing weaker passwords to begin with, because they don’t want to learn complex new passwords each time they are forced to change it
  • choosing new passwords that are only a minor variation of their previous password, e.g. Monday01 changes to Monday02

So what should we do if we aren’t requiring our users to regularly change their passwords? Continue reading → Microsoft Recommending Non Expiring Passwords to O365 Customers

How to Secure Conversations and Data in Microsoft Teams

ms-teams.jpgWith the news at Microsoft Ignite that Teams is here to stay, and going to be the primary collaboration client in Office 365, it is going to be important for organisations to understand how to secure the data and conversations stored within Microsoft Teams.

Where is the data?

The first key thing to understand what types of data you are talking about, and where it is actually stored. Every “Team” is build on an Office 365 Group, and this is where the majority of the Team related data will be stored. Each Channel in the Team will provision a new folder in the Group’s Document Library, and this is where files shared in Group conversations will be stored. Each Group also has a Group Mailbox, and this is where conversations held within channels are stored.

However, users can also communicate directly via chat, and share files from this interface. In this instance, the conversations will be stored in the user’s mailbox, and the files they share will be stored in OneDrive.

That’s great, but what does this mean when it comes to compliance? Continue reading → How to Secure Conversations and Data in Microsoft Teams