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Boost security with Microsoft 365 Business Premium 

Boost security with Microsoft 365 Business Premium 

Introduction

Microsoft offers a wide range of products for businesses, and with so many to choose from it can be difficult to work out which subscription is right for your organisation. As new features and products are released, it makes sense to re-evaluate the package you’re using and see whether a different one would better suit your needs. 

Many of our clients started with Microsoft 365 Business Standard and then moved to Microsoft 365 Business Premium, attracted by the additional security features it offers. Larger companies with over 300 users will find one of the Enterprise subscriptions more suitable. 

This is the first of two blogs on MS 365 Business Premium. You can find the second blog here How to Manage and Protect your Devices and Data with Microsoft 365 Business Premium‘.

A comprehensive range of products 

Microsoft offers a number of suites, grouped into different categories according to customer profile and needs.  

Some limited customisation of plans is possible, for example choosing whether to include Microsoft Teams (for collaboration, communication, meetings and messaging) or electing to add Microsoft 365 Copilot (a powerful AI assistant that integrates into your applications to boost productivity). If you are interested in learning more about MS 365 Copilot, you can find details in our blog on the topic here: ‘Let Microsoft 365 Copilot free you from the daily grind.’

It is also possible to purchase certain other applications as add-ons (e.g. Defender), but it makes more sense and is more cost-effective to subscribe to a Microsoft plan that comes with the security programs bundled.  

There are several plans to choose from and if your current plan does not offer the features you require, you can upgrade or change your plan to one that does. 

The main business plans 

Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium are from a family of products that caters to small and medium businesses with up to 300 users. That range also includes a less functional version, Business Basic, that does not include desktop versions of the applications (it has web and mobile versions only, and those versions lack some of the features available in the desktop apps). 

Business Standard contains desktop, web and mobile versions of familiar applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook as well as OneDrive (for cloud storage of files), SharePoint (shared document management and storage), Exchange (email server), Loop (a collaboration platform) and Clipchamp (for video editing and design).  

Business Premium builds on that by including everything that is in Business Standard and adding powerful security features. The subscription costs more, but because of what is included, it’s a cost-effective option for many businesses who need these types of tools (which would be more expensive to source separately). 

The Enterprise subscriptions (identified by the E in their name, for example Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E5) are aimed at the corporate market, catering for large businesses with over 300 users. E3 is the cheaper option of the two and they both include the same core productivity applications, but businesses that need advanced security and compliance capabilities should consider E5 which comes with additional security tools as well as business analytics software.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard vs Microsoft 365 Business Premium 

Both Business Standard and Business Premium contain the essential Microsoft Office applications your organisation uses on a daily basis.  

Business Standard offers very little control over an organisation’s users, devices and data.  

Business Premium provides that control by adding what Microsoft describes as “comprehensive security and management features to safeguard business data and assets across devices”. This leaves the organisation much more secure and with greater peace of mind. 

Of course, it’s only worth paying extra for things your business needs and will use, but at a time when cyber threats are rising exponentially, every business can benefit from these features and the resulting improvements in productivity and security. The cost of a cyber breach (in time, money and reputation) means that the product pays for itself the first time it prevents an attack. 

The additional features present in Business Premium fall broadly into the following categories: 

  • Identity and access management (Microsoft Entra ID Plan 1)  
  • Device management and protection (Microsoft Intune and Microsoft Defender) 
  • Information protection (Microsoft Azure Information Protection Plan 1) 

As they are all Microsoft products, the applications integrate well with each other and with your Windows and Office software, creating a seamless experience. There is some overlap between some of the programs and their features, which combine to protect your data, devices and information from the growing threat of cyber attack. 

Below you will find details of some of the main ways that MS 365 Business Premium helps with identity and access management and in the companion piece to this blog here: How to Manage and Protect your Devices and Data with Microsoft 365 Business Premium’. We will explore its device management and information protection features. 

Identity and access management 

Entra ID Plan 1 provides identity and access management tools that enhance security and simplify access, saving time and boosting productivity. 20% of security breaches occur due to weak or stolen credentials, making this an obvious area to improve cybersecurity. 

With Single Sign-On, it’s a breeze to log on to multiple applications, reducing the amount of time wasted managing passwords and making it faster for users to get access to the resources they need. 

Multi-Factor Authentication adds an additional layer of protection and has been shown to prevent the majority of identity attacks. 

Conditional Access allows your organisation to permit or restrict access to apps or data depending on criteria such as user, location, device used, authentication and risk level. For example, you may want to limit access to Office 365 so that only users on devices at your office are allowed. Or perhaps remote users are permitted as long as they are using corporate devices (not personal devices) and have passed multifactor authentication. This would prevent scammers being able to access the system. 

Business Benefits 

The identity and access management features described above reduce friction when accessing apps and data without compromising security. In fact, security and compliance are enhanced.  

A study commissioned by Microsoft and published in March 2023 demonstrated that using Entra gives a boost to efficiency, a measurable increase in productivity, a reduction in password reset requests, better compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and a reduction in the likelihood of a cyber breach. The report observed that the benefits enjoyed mean that Entra pays for itself. 

While Microsoft Business Standard might give you the Office tools you need, you miss out on some key security features that can protect you against cyber attacks. Business Premium contains those security tools. 

In our next blog on Microsoft Business Premium, we will take a look at some of the ways that Intune and Defender provide device management and protection, as well as the information protection offered by Azure (AIP). Together, these features provide an essential security boost, along with productivity benefits. You’ll find it here: How to Manage and Protect your Devices and Data with Microsoft 365 Business Premium’.

If you would like to discuss which Microsoft product is the best fit for your business, or find out about the upgrade process, please contact us.

HBTech