Balancing Secure Endpoint Management with User Experience for Microsoft 365 Users

According to Ponemon Institute, 68% of organisations have experienced one or more endpoint attacks that compromised data or IT infrastructure. IT teams face the daunting task of balancing secure endpoint management with providing a seamless user experience.  Striking the right balance is critical to maintaining security while ensuring that employees can work efficiently and effectively. Here are some tips and common trade-offs to consider:

Implement Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM):
Security: MEM unifies endpoint management to enforce security policies across all devices. It integrates Intune and Configuration Manager, offering a comprehensive solution for managing devices, apps, and policies. MEM allows IT administrators to enforce compliance policies, deploy software updates, and monitor device health from a single pane of glass. With features like Conditional Access, MEM ensures that only compliant and secure devices can access corporate resources, thus mitigating risks associated with non-compliant devices.
User Experience: MEM simplifies device management, reducing complexity and improving user support. By consolidating various device management tasks into a single platform, MEM minimises the need for multiple tools and interfaces. This streamlined approach allows IT teams to address issues more quickly and efficiently, enhancing overall user satisfaction. Additionally, MEM’s self-service capabilities empower users to resolve minor issues on their own, reducing downtime and dependency on IT support.

Adopt Zero Trust Security with Microsoft 365:
Security: Use Zero Trust principles to verify every access request, leveraging tools like Azure Active Directory (AAD) and Conditional Access. With 81% of businesses encountering malware attacks, this model is vital. Zero Trust involves continuous verification of user identity, device health, and context before granting access to resources. This approach significantly reduces the risk of unauthorised access and data breaches.
User Experience: Enhance convenience with Single Sign-On (SSO) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), providing secure access without sacrificing usability. SSO allows users to log in once and gain access to multiple applications, while MFA adds an extra layer of security with minimal user disruption. This balance ensures that users can access the resources they need efficiently while maintaining strong security.

Regularly Update and Patch:
Security: Keeping systems updated is essential, as 80% of breaches involve zero-day attacks. Utilise Windows Update for Business to automate patch management. This service ensures that all devices receive the latest security updates and patches promptly, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities being exploited by attackers.
User Experience: Schedule updates during non-peak hours to minimise disruptions and keep users informed of maintenance windows. This approach helps maintain productivity and ensures that updates do not interfere with critical business operations. Clear communication about update schedules can help users prepare for potential downtime.

Provide Training and Support through Microsoft Learn:
Security: Educate users on recognising threats and best practices, as 83% of malware threats exploit common directories such as %temp%, %appdata%, %cache% and %desktop%. Microsoft Learn offers comprehensive training resources that cover a wide range of security topics. Regular training sessions can keep users informed about the latest threats and how to protect against them.
User Experience: Continuous training and readily available support help users adapt to security measures smoothly. Providing users with the knowledge and tools they need to recognise and respond to security threats empowers them to be proactive in protecting their devices and data. Additionally, having a robust support system in place ensures that users can get help quickly when they encounter issues.

Utilise Microsoft Defender for Endpoint:
Security: Defender for Endpoint offers real-time threat detection and response, which is crucial as 69% of CIOs expect ransomware attacks. This advanced security solution uses machine learning and behavioural analysis to detect and respond to threats quickly, minimising potential damage. It also provides detailed reporting and alerts, allowing IT teams to stay informed about security incidents.
User Experience: Choose solutions that minimally impact performance, ensuring users’ workflows remain efficient. Defender for Endpoint is designed to run efficiently in the background, providing robust protection without significantly affecting device performance. This balance ensures that users can continue working without interruptions while maintaining a high level of security.

Optimise Remote Access with Microsoft 365 Tools:
Security: Secure remote access using VPNs, AAD, and encrypted connections. With 58% of the workforce teleworking, securing remote access is more critical than ever. Implementing secure remote access solutions ensures that users can connect to corporate resources safely from any location, protecting sensitive data from potential breaches.
User Experience: Leverage OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online for fast, reliable file access and collaboration, optimising network settings for speed. These tools provide seamless access to files and collaboration features, making it easy for remote workers to stay productive. Regularly monitoring and adjusting network settings can help maintain high-speed connections and reduce latency.

Customise Security Policies Using Intune:
Security: Tailor security policies via Intune based on roles, ensuring robust protection where needed most. Intune allows IT administrators to create and enforce customised policies that match the specific needs and risks associated with different roles within the organisation. This targeted approach ensures that high-risk roles receive the highest level of protection while maintaining flexibility for other users.
User Experience: Avoid overly restrictive measures that hinder productivity by customising policies to fit specific user needs. By aligning security policies with the actual needs of users, IT managers can provide adequate protection without imposing unnecessary restrictions that could impede workflow and productivity. 

Common Trade-Offs in Endpoint Management

Security vs. Usability:
Stricter measures like frequent password changes can frustrate users. Balance with SSO and MFA for security without compromising usability. Implementing user-friendly security measures that provide strong protection while minimising disruptions can help maintain a positive user experience.

Performance vs. Protection:
Security software may slow down devices. Choose efficient tools and schedule updates thoughtfully to minimise impact on productivity. Ensuring that security tools are optimised for performance and that updates are deployed during non-peak hours can help mitigate this trade-off.

Flexibility vs. Control:
Allowing software customisation can improve user satisfaction but pose risks. Implement controlled environments with approved software lists to balance flexibility and control. Providing users with some level of customisation within a controlled environment helps maintain security while accommodating user preferences.

Cost vs. Comprehensive Security:
Budget constraints may limit security measures. Prioritise essential investments and seek cost-effective solutions without compromising protection. Ensure you are maximising the value from your existing licenses. Deptive’s endpoint management assessment will identify opportunities for streamlining your endpoint management system.

Innovation vs. Stability:
The rapid adoption of new technologies can introduce vulnerabilities. Vet new tools thoroughly to integrate them securely and maintain stability. Ensuring that new technologies are carefully evaluated and securely integrated into the existing infrastructure can help prevent vulnerabilities while supporting innovation.

By leveraging these tips, you can develop a balanced approach to endpoint management that both protects organisational assets and enhances user experience. It’s essential to regularly assess and refine strategies to stay ahead of evolving security threats and meet the dynamic needs of users. This proactive approach ensures that security measures are robust while maintaining a seamless and productive environment for all users. For more insights, check out the full list of endpoint security statistics from Expert Insights.

Deptive’s approach to modern endpoint management starts with a comprehensive assessment. This helps you identify where you are in your MEM journey and what gaps you have in your deployment. We help you maximise value from existing licensing and build a roadmap to get you from where you are today, to where you want to be in the future.

If your endpoint management is constrained by legacy systems, your device deployment is time consuming or you want to provide your team with expert guidance, Contact us today to book an assessment.

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