Microsoft 365 Security Assessments for Housing Associations

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microsoft 365 security for housing association

It’s hard for housing associations right now. As the UK faces huge economic pressure resulting from the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, Brexit, and interest rate increases from the Bank of England, it’s vital that the important services housing associations offer to tenants aren’t thwarted any further by opportunistic cyber criminals.  

Cyber-attacks across all industries continue to rise and the financial impact is accumulating. The UK Government has encouraged all organisations to be more vigilant of cyber threats and to follow its guidance to strengthen their cyber security practices, since almost one in three businesses (31%) report experiencing breaches or attacks at least once a week. 

Sadly, housing providers aren’t exempt from the spate of cyber-attacks that have occurred recently – some of which were high-profile cases that made the headlines. Cyber criminals target the affordable housing sector attempting to pillage the vast amounts of personal data held within and, in some cases, have even held the housing association to ransom. 


What is a Microsoft environment security assessment?

Working with several housing associations, Littlefish are well versed in the sector’s challenges, and we recognise that cyber security can seem murky and changeable (not to mention expensive) to many. We also understand how vital it is that the technology stack utilised by housing associations is up-to-date, flexible and secure – and this is exactly why the vast majority choose Microsoft 365 to deliver easy to manage, cost-effective services for their customers.

Still, the Microsoft security stack is always evolving and changing. So much so, that many housing associations aren’t making the most of the number of security features that are already included in their current Microsoft licencing – or else aren’t utilising them at all. 

Furthermore, and like many organisations, some housing associations aren’t certain about where their vulnerabilities lie when it comes to cyber security and where, for instance, things could be improved to strengthen their cyber security. This is not just limited to technology, but includes processes, controls, policies, standards, and even education programs. 

A Microsoft security assessment is designed to offer an overall cyber security ‘health check’ of your M365 environment. It also feeds into a continuous improvement cycle, as strategic advice and guidance is shared with the housing association once the assessment is complete.

Cyber assessments can be tailored to specific organisational requirements or concerns (e.g. compliance regulations), but the overall aim is to assist in helping housing associations understand their security stance and take positive action to improve their security maturity.


What is included in a Microsoft environment security assessment?

Upon completing a Microsoft environment security assessment, housing associations will receive a M365 security assessment report. This is an extensive document which highlights any gaps in the controls set, the risks they present, and the prioritisation of recommendations to address them.  

The assessment is broken down into various elements which focus on security and securing data:
  • Security and access
  • MFA settings
  • Identity protection
  • Conditional access
  • Microsoft Defender for Office 365
  • Collaboration and external sharing
  • Microsoft SharePoint admin centre
  • Endpoint management
  • Microsoft Exchange online
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Secure Score
  • General


What are the benefits of a Microsoft environment security assessment for housing associations? 

Knowledge, as they say, is power – and for housing associations, as they carry out important work to improve communities, making cyber security a priority can be a huge comfort for employees and tenants alike. 

Identifies vulnerabilities 

A Microsoft 365 security assessment offers housing associations a detailed insight into the specific security vulnerabilities they’re exposed to. It identifies and prioritises cyber security risks, allowing the organisation to execute pointed risk mitigation.

Informs investment decisions 

By understanding the inherent cyber risks inside your housing association, investments in technology and security can be made in an informed, precise, and deliberate manner. Housing associations benefit from peace of mind knowing their investments are informed, responsible and that you are able to leverage existing technologies, whilst planning your journey for future expansion and increased security posture. 

Offers one fixed cost

Cyber assessments are offered at one fixed cost for housing associations, offering stability and predictability for tight budgets. Fixed costs simplify the process of identifying, responding, and remediating against cyber threats.

Documents compliance

All documentation created as part of the service can be used as evidence for compliance purposes and audits, helping housing associations fulfil their regulatory obligations by keeping personal data secure. 

Effects cost savings

A security assessment can identify any un-used or under-used security features, helping to keep your data secure and removing unnecessary third-party costs. 

Steers cultural change

Cultural change is hard to achieve but cost-effective to deliver. Findings from an M365 cyber assessment can contribute to cultural change by increasing cyber security awareness and empowering employees with effective information. 

Littlefish are a Microsoft Solutions Partner and work with many housing associations already, helping these organisations to understand their current cyber security function and take positive action to continuously improve. If you’d like to discuss taking a Microsoft 365 security assessment with us, please get in touch using the contact button.

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