Office 365 Advanced Security Management brings powerful protection for a price

Microsoft's new premium security product is aimed at guarding companies while getting them into Office 365

Enterprises using Microsoft's Office 365 have a new security product that they can use to better lock down their organizations -- for a price. 

The company introduced a new Advanced Security Management service on Wednesday that gives companies a trio of tools aimed at helping detect security threats, provide granular controls and let IT administrators track if people in their organization are using unauthorized services.

It's another part of Microsoft's push to lure businesses over to its subscription-based productivity suite. By providing more advanced security capabilities, Microsoft may be able to convince security-conscious businesses to buy into Office 365, rather than avoid a subscription or choose one of Office's competitors like Google Apps for Work.

Advance Security Management's threat detection capabilities allow administrators to set up policies for detecting possible security anomalies. The service will scan user behavior, looking for indicators that something's not right and then informing IT. It uses behavioral analytics to help IT make better calls about whether or not someone is acting normally, or if something could be wrong. 

In addition, IT administrators can also use the service to set granular controls that protect against a variety of threats. For example, the system makes it easy to detect and block when a user is downloading an unusually large amount of data, and can then automatically generate an alert for IT personnel.

After that, an administrator can act to shut down the offending user's access right from the alert. Alternately, it's also possible for an admin to set the system up to automatically act on certain alerts so that human intervention isn't necessary to protect a company's systems.  

As more end users bring outside, unapproved software into the work environment, it can be important for IT administrators to at least monitor what services are being used without their say-so. Advanced Security Management will monitor the usage of about 1,000 different applications at a company, including productivity and online storage apps.

That detection is important to help IT departments clamp down on unauthorized apps and services, or figure out how they can secure those applications alongside their existing infrastructure.  

Customers that already pay for the top of the line Office 365 E5 plan will get the new advanced security capabilities for free. Other Office 365 Enterprise customers can pay US$3 per user per month for these capabilities. 

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Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
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