- Companies rushing deployment of cloud-based collaboration services, including Microsoft Office 365, "may not be fully considering" their security configurations, according to an alert issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
- The agency offered threat mitigations for deployments, including enabling multifactor authentication (MFA) for Azure Active Directory Global Administrators, or the "equivalent" to an on-premise Domain Administrator. Microsoft customers are responsible for enabling MFA as a default setting.
- The agency recommends organizations only use the Global Administrator account "when absolutely necessary" and adopt practices that include identifying user privilege. Office 365's Unified Audit Log requires enablement "before queries can run," according to CISA, because it aids in investigations if malicious activity is found.
Microsoft and other collaboration solution providers have seen massive upticks in usage in the last two months. During the company's Q3 2020 earnings, Microsoft revealed Teams had upwards of 200 million daily meeting participants and 75 million daily active users in April. In March, Teams reported 44 million daily active users.
But the rush to scale services or solutions is throwing up a red flag for the cybersecurity community. Because it's unknown for how much longer offices will remain closed, organizations will constantly have to answer and update these security questions:
How is a remote employee's identity proven?
What is the degree of repudiation?
How is a device's trustworthiness verified?
How is the internal network protected by an distrusted external device?
On the surface, cybersecurity leaders will likely know the answer to these questions. However, as companies onboard new personnel, or if employees use a new device, it becomes a matter of scale and keeping pace with changes.
Organizations were not given sufficient time to think through service adoption when everyone began working from home. The rush threatens an organization's existing security architecture.
If managers thought they were adopting a solution on a temporary basis, they might be blindsided when they find they can't actually rip it out later on.
CISA recognized organizations were "forced" to change how they collaborate, which led to "rapid" migrations to Microsoft Office 365 and similar. The hasty deployments could "undermine a sound O365-specific security strategy."
The near-universal work-from-home policy is challenging traditional modes of protection. With scattered employees, security intrinsically lands on endpoint protection and zero trust.
Zero trust, like the agency recommends, evaluates a user or device's privilege based on their trustworthiness. The Azure Active Directory Global Administrators have the most privilege, and ultimately carry the most risk.
Because the accounts are cloud-hosted, they are internet accessible, according to CISA. Without MFA, a bad actor could "maintain persistence as a customer migrates users to O365."