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Data Security Best Practices for Copilot for Microsoft 365

In today’s digital workplace, organizations are leveraging AI tools like Copilot for Microsoft 365 to revolutionize the way they work. However, data is an incredibly valuable asset, and ensuring data security has become a top priority while using these tools, according to a Deloitte study. 

So how can you ensure data readiness for your Copilot for Microsoft 365 deployment?

In this blog post, we discuss how to secure your data using “just-enough-access permissions” and automated policies to maintain data security. We also provide a framework to ensure that your data is protected as you deploy Copilot for Microsoft 365 and how you can sustain data security effectively and efficiently to experience the transformative power of this tool to its fullest.  

3 Best Practices to Secure Your Data When Deploying Copilot for Microsoft 365  

As you begin using Copilot for Microsoft 365, it’s important to remember the power of this technology. Copilot for Microsoft 365 can access information from anywhere it has access to, which is why it’s crucial to understand where your sensitive or overshared content is stored in your Microsoft 365 environment. This understanding will enable you to implement robust security measures to keep your data secure.

Here are three best practices to keep your data secure while using Copilot for Microsoft 365: 

  1. Run a risk assessment.

Before you can mitigate risk, you need to understand where it exists in your environment. Assess your risk by identifying risky behavior, such as overshared or unprotected sensitive information (think personally identifiable information (PII), financial, or regulated data, or content with anonymous sharing links). 

You can do this manually by using Microsoft’s eDiscovery feature, which allows you to search for and identify sensitive information in your library. Unfortunately, you need to run independent queries against your library – i.e., you’d need to run separate searches for social security numbers, routing numbers, credit card information – the list goes on. You’d also then need to review the permissions of each workspace with sensitive information to confirm if they are appropriately stringent. And that doesn’t even cover how you will find overshared content (hint: it requires going folder by folder, file by file, to review each sharing link).

Better yet, scan your environment for risks automatically with AvePoint Insights. AvePoint Insights scans and aggregates sensitivity and activity data across your Microsoft 365 tenant so you can instantly detect and resolve permissions issues. Implementing this proactive measure prevents Copilot for Microsoft 365 from accessing information intended only for restricted use. 

avepoint-insights

  1. Clean up permissions and enforce policies.

A recent Gartner study reveals that concerns around AI security are often misplaced; among organizations that have encountered an AI-related security incident or privacy breach, 60% reported that data was compromised by an internal party.  

Although detecting and preventing attacks is important, it’s essential for business leaders to not only work toward a secure AI deployment but also focus on mitigating human risk. So, it’s crucial to implement proper security measures and educate employees on best practices to reduce the risk of internal data breaches.

To ensure your data remains secure while using Copilot for Microsoft 365, cleaning up permissions and enforcing policies is vital. This precautionary measure will serve your data security needs as well as prevent unauthorized access to your data.  

As we’ve already discussed, doing this manually can be tricky; you’ll either need to go through each container to adjust permissions or, if you use security groups, you can adjust access and permissions by groups, which will save you a lot of time. Keep in mind, though, that if there are any users inadvertently left out of a security group, their permissions will need to be adjusted independently.   

Alternatively, the Insights dashboard enables you to edit in bulk from actionable reports, acting quickly to mitigate any suspicious or risky behavior. 

avepoint-insights-intelligent-remediation

You can also take this proactive approach a notch higher by implementing policies that impose secure practices, such as limiting membership to Microsoft Teams or sites that contain confidential information.  

AvePoint Policies is a smart route to achieve this, as it can automatically apply the necessary security rules to your Teams, Groups, Sites, and OneDrive, or your entire Microsoft 365 tenant if needed. Policies monitors configuration drift and reverts out-of-policy changes as often as every two hours to ensure proper access controls and permissions are applied without relying on end-user execution.  

  1. Maintain your security measures. 

Once you have established a secure and compliant environment for your data, it is important to maintain it. However, the task of maintaining control over who has access to what data across different cloud platforms is becoming more challenging, and a recent study confirms this: There are over 40,000 types of permissions available to users, services, and devices, of which 50% are considered high risk.

Therefore, regularly reviewing and updating your security policies are crucial to ensure that they remain up-to-date. This includes monitoring user activity, permissions, and access controls, as well as implementing new policies to address new and emerging concerns. 

AvePoint Insights provides automated reporting for IT in at-a-glance dashboards and proactive alerts to flag any irregular or suspicious activity. If the solution flags an issue, you can easily adjust your security measures from within the tool to promptly respond to what it finds, so you can act on any potential concerns in a timely manner. 

secure-data-copilot-avepoint-insights-risk-profile

Centralized management and enforcement of policies across Microsoft 365 is also crucial, which can be achieved through AvePoint Policies. It automatically enforces policies, reduces the risk of human error, and monitors for policy violations in real-time, notifying administrators to remediate the issue promptly. 

Together, AvePoint Insights and AvePoint Policies provide automated solutions for identifying and mitigating potential risks, ensuring consistent policy enforcement, and prompt remediation of policy violations, laying a sound data security foundation for Microsoft 365 Copilot use, and safeguarding your data against unauthorized access. 

Unlock Copilot for Microsoft 365’s Transformative Power 

Recent data from the earliest users of Copilot for Microsoft 365 reveals impressive results in terms of productivity, creativity, and time. With 70% of users reporting increased productivity, 68% stating improved work quality, and a 29% faster completion rate for tasks such as searching, writing, and summarizing documents, the potential to boost productivity and revenue is massive.  

To unlock this potential while maintaining compliance and security, you must secure your data. By implementing the data readiness measures discussed here, you can create a secure environment that enables you to derive maximum value from Copilot for Microsoft 365.  

To further accelerate your digital workplace success with AI, check out our free webinar, Microsoft 365 Copilot 101. And if you’re ready to take your Copilot experience to the next level, AvePoint has a full suite of Copilot for Microsoft 365 data readiness solutions to help you get started. 

microsoft-copilot-101-webinar

Abby Payuyo
Abby Payuyo
Abby Payuyo is a Senior Technical Marketing Writer at AvePoint, covering Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. With over 20 years of experience in marketing communications and technical writing, including a recent stint in cybersecurity, Abby creates content that helps organizations navigate the challenges of the modern workplace with the help of AI & ML solutions.

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