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Office 365 Compliance: Meet Security & Compliance Requirements. Are you the Office 365 Office 365 security compliance admin for your organization who needs those requirements? This guide is specifically designed to help you accomplish that.

The article commences with an overview that introduces the Microsoft 365 Purview compliance portal and outlines its offerings. Additionally, we look into licensing requirements and management for Microsoft 365 Compliance.

Subsequently, we explore practical implementation of the Microsoft 365 compliant portal to satisfy security and compliance requirements.

Specifically, section 2 defines compliance assessments and step by step outline for reviewing your organization’s Microsoft compliance score.

Section 3 comprehensively discusses remedial actions to address issues identified and enhance your organization’s score. Lastly, we explain how to define and monitor compliance alerts.

Overview of Office 365 Compliance Tools to Meet Security and Compliance Requirements

As organizations migrate their IT needs to the cloud, such as Microsoft 365. As they face increasing pressure to meet security, privacy, and regulatory requirements. To address these needs, Microsoft offers the “Microsoft Purview Compliance Portal,” for data protection.

This portal offers various tools, including Compliance Manager, Data classifiers, and other privacy management tools.

It’s important to note that Microsoft 365 services, including Microsoft Purview Compliance, require assigning suitable licenses to all members of your organization who access and use the portal.

For instance, team members must have a Microsoft 365 E5 subscription. Alternatively, organizations opt for the Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance add-on.

Important note:
Customers currently licensed for Enterprise Mobility + Security E3, Office E3, or Microsoft 365 E3 are the only ones permitted by Microsoft to purchase or try the Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance suite as an add-on.

In the following sections of the article, we guide you through the steps to utilize the Microsoft Purview Compliance Portal for reviewing and meeting compliance requirements.

Step 1: Define Compliance Assessments

Once you have confirmed that you meet the licensing prerequisites, your first step in reaching Office 365 compliance requirements is to define Compliance Manager assessments. These assessments assist organizations in determining the baselines necessary to meet industry specific regulations.

Businesses evaluate their adherence to industry or regional regulations effectively.

Additionally, compliance admins have the ability to create a single assessment that encompasses multiple Microsoft 365 services. For example, create an ISO assessment that includes both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft 365.

To read more, refer to Microsoft “Build and manage assessments in Compliance Manager.”

When you are prepared to create assessments, navigate to the Assessments tab on the Compliance Manager page. From there, click the “Add assessments” icon to begin the process.

Step 2: Review Your Organization's Microsoft Compliance Score

Once you have created Compliance Manager assessments, step 2 is reviewing your organization’s compliance score. It assesses the progress your organization has made in aligning with Microsoft’s recommended improvement actions.

The compliance score is not a pass or fail evaluation but rather assists compliance admins in understanding their organization’s compliance status, such as prioritize actions based on compliance risk assessments.

To access your Microsoft compliance score, click the compliance.microsoft.com link.

Additionally, please refer to the following subsections for guidance on interpreting the compliance score and determining the approach to the “Improvement Actions.” 

Review Solutions that Affect Your Score

Microsoft Purview Compliance Manager offers 2 features that help security and compliance admins. They improve their organization’s score by reviewing solutions to see how they affect their score.

In addition, admins analyse the “Compliance score breakdown” to review and address Improvement Actions. A detailed discussion follows in the next subsection.

When it comes to solutions, the Compliance manager overview tab presents top actions that have a significant impact on your compliance score. To access these solutions, scroll down to the “Solutions that affect your score” section.

Within this section, you assess the Solution, its score contribution, and find a link to additional actions that are taken to improve your scores.

Review the Compliance Score Breakdown

Your organization’s overall compliance score merely offers a numerical value. However, gaining an understanding of this score requires taking a first step: examining the “Compliance score breakdown.”

The breakdown presents the report in 10 categories, each assigned a specific score. Additionally, within each category, the report provides 2 crucial pieces of information: completed and outstanding actions, along with a link to view improvement actions in the class.

To access the Microsoft Compliance breakdown for your Microsoft 365 environment, scroll down on the overview tab of the Compliance Manager page.

Refer to the notes to grasp the compliance activities assessed in each category. Moreover, if you wish to view the improvement actions that require remediation, click the “View improvement actions” link.

We discuss this in detail in step 3 later in this guide.

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Step 3: Meet Office 365 Security and Compliance Requirements by Reviewing Improvement Actions

In this section, we guide you through the steps to improve your organization’s compliance score. We outline the process of reviewing Improvement Actions through the “Compliance score breakdown.”

To review and act on the Improvement Actions recommended by the Purview Compliance Manager, simply scroll down to the “Compliance score breakdown” section. The Compliance Manager breaks down your score into 10 categories.

Each category, click “View improvement actions” to see the recommended actions.

Next, open the category in the Improvement Actions tab as directed by the Compliance Manager, and review actions required to pass that segment.

On this page, you have various options for action. For example, assign all the items in the category to a team member.

Alternatively, choose to work on an improvement action yourself by clicking on it. The page provides a “how to implement”.

Also provide evidence using the evidence tab.

Once completed the recommended actions, click the “Edit implementation details” button to change the status. Repeat this process for all implementation actions.

Step 4: Define Alert Policies and Monitor Compliance Alerts

Once you complete steps 1 to 3, monitor compliance events actively. To accomplish this, create alert policies, that enable you to monitor and receive notifications for events that impact your organization’s ability to meet Office 365 security and compliance.

To define your alert policies, access the “Alert policies” tab and click the “+ add” button. Refer to the screenshot below, which highlights the different sections of an alert policy.

When creating an alert policy, you need to specify the matching conditions you want to monitor. Additionally, determine the actions you want the alert policy to execute.

In the actions section, define the severity of the alerts and select a notification method.

Once you have configured your Compliance Manager alert policies, go to the “Alerts” tab to view generated alerts. The Overview tab provides information about the policy.

Also take certain actions on the policy by clicking the “Actions” button. Furthermore, the “Events log” tab displays all alerts generated by the policy.

Office 365 Compliance: Meet Security & Compliance Requirements Conclusion

In conclusion, effectively meeting security and compliance requirements in Office 365 is crucial for organizations to protect their sensitive data and maintain regulatory compliance. By following the outlined steps in this article, businesses navigate the compliance landscape.

In the 1 step of this guide, we emphasize the importance of defining compliance assessments, enabling organizations to assess their current compliance posture accurately. Then step 2 highlights the significance of reviewing the Microsoft Compliance Score to identify areas that require attention and improvement.

Step 3 emphasizes the need to thoroughly review and implement the recommended improvement actions to address identified compliance gaps and enhance security. This step ensures organizations stay aligned with Office 365 security and compliance requirements.

Lastly, step 4 focuses on creating alert policies, enabling continuous monitoring of compliance events. By promptly responding to compliance alerts, organizations mitigate risks and maintain a secure environment.

By following these steps, organizations effectively navigate the Office 365 compliance landscape and uphold their commitment to data security and regulatory compliance. Implementing these practices ensures a robust security posture and peace of mind for businesses and their customers.


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Victor Ashiedu

Victor Ashiedu

Victor is an IT pro based in Manchester, UK. With over 22 years of experience managing Windows Server, Active Directory, and Powershell, and 7 years of expertise in Azure AD and Office 365, he's a seasoned expert in his field. When he's not working, he loves spending time with his family - a wife and a 5-year-old. Victor is passionate about helping businesses succeed in today's fast-changing tech landscape.

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