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February 15, 2024
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 min read

How Secure is Microsoft OneDrive for Business?

Explore how to secure Microsoft OneDrive for business against cyber threats with encryption, real-time monitoring, and DLP solutions.

How Secure is Microsoft OneDrive for Business?
Calendar Icon White
February 15, 2024
Clock Icon
 min read

How Secure is Microsoft OneDrive for Business?

Explore how to secure Microsoft OneDrive for business against cyber threats with encryption, real-time monitoring, and DLP solutions.


OneDrive integrates with Windows, offering AES 256-bit encryption and two-factor authentication.

Common Security Risks

  • Lack of end-to-end encryption
  • Privacy concerns due to Microsoft's file scanning policies
  • Risks from weak passwords and improper access control
  • Vulnerability to malware, viruses, insider threats, and DoS attacks.
  • Data theft and loss risks; GDPR compliance challenges.

Best practices to enhancing security in OneDrive

  • Implement strong passwords, regular updates, strict access control, and network security.
  • Utilize Strac OneDrive DLP for real-time monitoring, automated data classification, redaction, intelligent alerting, and compliance management.

In August 2023, it was discovered that Microsoft OneDrive, which holds over half of all sensitive Microsoft Office documents, could be exploited by hackers through a ransomware attack. This exposed a significant security flaw between Windows and security systems, highlighting concerns about the safety of storing sensitive information on cloud services.

As we explore the security features of Microsoft OneDrive, a question arises: Can we trust that our data is truly secure in the cloud, or are we potentially putting ourselves at risk without even realizing it?

Is OneDrive Safe and Secure?

Besides serving as a cloud storage, Microsoft's OneDrive enables users to easily manage their documents, contacts, notes, passwords, and photos across all Windows devices. 

Due to this broad integration, Microsoft prioritizes securing your data with AES 256-bit standard for all uploads, downloads, and backups, providing a high level of encryption. Additionally, they offer two-factor authentication to further protect against unauthorized access. To ensure the safety of your information during transmission, OneDrive also implements the SSL/TLS encryption standard. 

But the question is, is this enough?

Common Security Concerns in OneDrive

However, OneDrive faces the same security risks as other cloud applications, which can lead to data corruption, loss, or theft. Below are the security concerns related to Microsoft OneDrive categorized into five key areas:

1. Encryption and privacy concerns

  • Lack of end-to-end encryption: A major concern with OneDrive is the absence of end-to-end encryption and a zero-knowledge policy. This situation means Microsoft controls the encryption keys, which could compromise the security of your files. Furthermore, under certain circumstances, such as government warrants, Microsoft may be compelled to hand over user data due to the lack of client-side encryption.
  • Privacy policy issues: Microsoft scans and analyzes files stored in OneDrive to improve services and offer personalized features. While this may enhance user experience, it raises privacy concerns, especially under strict privacy laws like the GDPR that require explicit consent for data processing. Microsoft's broad access to data might not fully align with these regulations.

2. Access and authentication risks

  • Weak credential management: Users with simple passwords and without two-factor authentication are at a higher risk of getting hacked. Using weak or commonly used passwords and insecurely storing them on sticky notes can make it easier for attackers to gain unauthorized access.
  • Improper access control: Incorrect file access controls to a private document can lead to the document being unintentionally shared with a larger group than intended.

3. Cybersecurity threats

  • Malware and viruses: Like many cloud services, OneDrive is vulnerable to malware and viruses, which can lead to data loss or theft. If a virus-infected file is uploaded to OneDrive, it could spread to other devices synced with the account. For example, a user may unwittingly upload an infected file, spreading the virus on all connected devices.
  • Insider threats and misconfigurations: Employees with access could intentionally or unintentionally leak sensitive information. Misconfigurations, such as sharing incorrect links, could expose confidential files to the public. DoS attacks involving overloading OneDrive services can make them unavailable, hindering business operations.

Also read: Strac DLP Shields Office 365 Data from Breaches

4. Data management and integrity

  • Data theft risks: The risk of data theft is higher when personal devices are used to replicate data, especially if IT administrators lack control over these devices. Employees could access and copy sensitive data from less secure personal devices.
  • Data loss: The sync feature in OneDrive poses a risk of unintentional deletions or changes across all devices, potentially leading to permanent data loss. An accidental deletion or corruption on one device will replicate across all synced devices.

5. Compliance and system vulnerabilities:

  • Legal and compliance risks: Storing customer data on OneDrive without ensuring GDPR compliance could lead to legal issues, particularly if data is transferred to non-EU servers without the necessary protections, breaching GDPR regulations.
  • System and software integrity: Failing to update software like Windows can lead to vulnerabilities. Unpatched security flaws in Windows could be exploited to access OneDrive files illegally.

Best Practices for Maximizing OneDrive Security in Enterprises

Organizations can implement the best practices below to minimize cyber threats and breaches:

1. Strong authentication practices

  • Use of strong passwords: Businesses must implement a policy requiring passwords to contain a combination of letters, numbers, and special symbols and ensure that passwords are not reused for different services. A password manager can help manage these complex passwords effectively. Additionally, you can password-protect individual OneDrive folders with a strong password for added security.
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA): By implementing 2FA, administrators can customize login protocols based on user roles, geographical locations, or specific activities, ensuring that sensitive information is accessible only to verified individuals. OneDrive for Business MFA provides various authentication options—including text messages, phone calls, and app notifications—allowing users to select the method that best suits their preferences

Implement this by requiring a password and a verification code from an application like Microsoft Authenticator during account logins, including services like OneDrive. The verification code can be delivered via phone call, SMS, or a third-party app, adding an extra layer of security. MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) significantly improves the protection of login credentials and encourages practices that mitigate the risk of phishing and other cyber threats.

2. Device and data encryption

Ensure all company devices that can access OneDrive are equipped with encryption. This way, if an employee misplaces their phone, the data on OneDrive will stay protected and inaccessible to unauthorized users.

3. Employee awareness and training

Conduct quarterly cybersecurity training for employees that educates them on phishing attack simulations and how to identify, report, and evade phishing. Advise against storing sensitive information like passwords and payment details on OneDrive, particularly within shared folders and stress the importance of vigilance with links and attachments from unfamiliar sources.

4. Software maintenance and updates

Implement a system that automates the deployment of security updates Regularly update operating systems and applications to avoid any security gaps or software vulnerabilities. Enabling the auto-update feature for Windows will ensure that all necessary updates are installed automatically, reducing the risk of any potential issues arising from outdated software.

5. Access management and control

  • Managing access permissions: Regularly review and adjust the file permissions on OneDrive. This is especially important for sensitive files, as you want to limit access to only those employees who need it. Use audit logs to monitor file access and detect any unusual activity. It's also important to assign appropriate permissions for different users and regularly check access logs. Limit access to confidential data by granting necessary permissions only for specific tasks.
  • Network security: To ensure network safety, firewalls block any unnecessary inbound and outbound traffic. This can be done by allowing specific types of traffic, such as OneDrive while blocking known malicious IP addresses. Regularly updating antivirus definitions across the network is crucial for overall protection. Also, properly configuring the firewall can act as a first defense against cyberattacks by closing unused ports and only allowing connections from trusted IP addresses. Employing an antivirus program is also important.

6. Automated security management

The Office 365 admin center implements and enforces security policies that can automatically disable accounts with suspicious activity, such as repeated failed login attempts. This tool is valuable for security administrators who need to manage Office 365 and configure OneDrive security settings. With these measures in place, potential issues and vulnerabilities can be detected and addressed without extensive manual intervention.

7. Backup and recovery solutions

While OneDrive's built-in security tools are not enough to fully protect your data and ensure recoverability, installing a third-party solution will provide the necessary backup and restore capabilities in the event of a disaster or breach. Set up a strong backup system that automatically saves your OneDrive data. This will allow you to recover any lost or compromised information without having to pay a ransom if you experience a ransomware attack.

Introducing Strac OneDrive DLP Solution

Strac One Drive DLP solution protects businesses with the following core features:

1. Real-time monitoring: Stay ahead of data breaches on OneDrive

Strac OneDrive DLP solution keeps track of user activity, identifying and alerting any unauthorized or suspicious access to sensitive information in real time. With real-time monitoring and data classification features, Strac DLP protects confidential information on OneDrive.

2. Automated data classification: Simplifying data management on OneDrive

The Strac OneDrive DLP feature automatically categorizes data according to its level of sensitivity and compliance, effectively managing and tagging information to protect sensitive data.

3. Redaction capabilities: Safeguarding sensitive information on OneDrive

With Strac's advanced automated redaction capabilities, you can ensure the security and privacy of your data is well-maintained. This feature lets you easily remove or mask any sensitive information in documents before sharing or downloading them.

4. Intelligent alerting system: Proactive notifications on OneDrive

Strac OneDrive DLP provides efficient and reliable alerts for potential data leaks or breaches. It utilizes advanced machine learning algorithms to ensure high accuracy and reduce false positives, avoiding alert fatigue.

5. Compliance management: Ensuring regulatory compliance on OneDrive

Strac OneDrive DLP is a powerful compliance management tool specifically designed to ensure regulatory compliance on the OneDrive platform. Its ability to identify regulated data and enforce regulatory policies simplifies the process of staying compliant. Additionally, it offers useful features such as audit trails and detailed reporting to help demonstrate compliance during audits.

6. User-friendly and customizable: Tailoring Strac to your OneDrive needs

Strac is a highly customizable tool designed to cater to your specific needs on OneDrive. It offers a user-friendly interface with detailed reporting and analysis of all sensitive data stored on OneDrive, including information on shared files and their distribution over time. With Strac, you can easily manage and monitor your OneDrive data in a way that suits you best.

Get started with Strac to protect your OneDrive!

Founder, Strac. ex-Amazon Payments Infrastructure (Widget, API, Security) Builder for 11 years.

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