Microsoft 365 security

Leverage cloud resources to minimize tax-time pain points

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During tax season, accounting firms and accounting or finance departments within larger organizations always face challenges. And with staff, clients, and partners working largely from home, those challenges can be accentuated. Fortunately, combining Microsoft 365 with Barracuda’s cloud-first solutions can make it easy to overcome those challenges and mitigate the risks associated with them.

Clearly some of these challenges are specifically related to the larger cybersecurity landscape, and we’ve addressed those challenges in an earlier blog post. Here we’ll be focusing more on workflow and information management issues, although these ultimately can also increase the risk of data breaches and other cyberattacks.

Dealing with data sprawl

Hybrid environments have a way of exacerbating the already nagging problem of data sprawl. Users are all too likely to use their email inbox as a storage place for important or sensitive documents, or to keep them in random folders on their device hard drives. This not only increases the risk of data being compromised by cybercriminals; it also increases costs and slows down productivity, especially during times like tax season when huge amounts of data needs to be found and processed on a tight schedule.

Migrating to Microsoft 365 for your productivity apps makes it easier to minimize this trend by automatically using OneDrive as a central repository for all documents and data. Whether on-site or remote, user devices can easily be set up to save all documents to OneDrive, ensuring they are secured. In addition, the use of a third-party cloud-based backup service such as Barracuda Cloud-to-Cloud Backup is highly recommended to make sure that data is preserved even in the case of accidental or malicious deletion.

Exploding email

The overall volume of business email is continuing to grow rapidly — exceeding 319 billion business and consumer emails sent per day in 2021. Not coincidentally, phishing attacks continue to grow in both number and sophistication, and they are still by far the top vector for initiating attacks that result in financial fraud, extortion, and costly data breaches.

Modern phishing attacks are typically not detectable by traditional email gateway protection solutions, including those with Advanced Threat Protection capabilities. However, Microsoft 365 cloud email along with an advanced inbox-protection solution that uses artificial intelligence to spot anomalous communications — such as Barracuda Phishing and Impersonation Protection — can dramatically reduce the number of phishing attempts that land in users’ inboxes. A good way to get a snapshot of just how much malicious email is already lurking in your users’ inboxes is to use Barracuda Email Threat Scanner, a free online inbox-scanning service.

Ever-expanding attack surface

Many current trends are contributing to a dramatic expansion of the attack surface for most organizations. From the global increase of dependence of cloud-hosted SaaS applications, to the dramatic surge in acquisition and consolidation transforming the finance and accounting industries, IT security is growing too complex for traditional self-configured point security solutions.

The way to mitigate this problem is to adopt a new generation of comprehensive cloud-delivered security solutions that provide the holistic network and application protection of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) for today’s complex hybrid environments:

  • Barracuda Cloud Application Protection combines powerful WAF capabilities with other advanced features to block DDoS and bot attacks, secure APIs, prevent client-side threats, and enforce identity and access controls to deliver complete web app and API protection.
  • Barracuda CloudGen WAN is a cloud-first solution designed to deliver highly secure, full-featured SD-WAN to optimize network performance by harnessing the full power of Microsoft cloud resources.
  • Barracuda CloudGen Access goes beyond SSO and VPN access controls to implement true Zero Trust Access that continuously monitors multiple factors to ensure that only permitted users and devices can gain access to specific network resources during permitted times.

Anytime performance, security, and efficiency

Tax season places an extra burden on accounting firms and internal organizations. But by leveraging the cloud to centralize data storage and sharing with Microsoft 365, and by using Barracuda’s advanced solutions to ensure security, efficiency, and frictionless operations, you can ensure that things go smoothly and safely year-round.

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