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There’s more important data than you think stored in your Office 365 instance. While you have applications designed to host and manage most aspects of an organization, it’s inevitable that this information is utilized in a spreadsheet, presentation, document, etc. and is communicated to another employee, contractor, supplier, or partner.  And, if your organization relies on Office 365, that means the files containing your most important, sensitive, critical, protected, and proprietary bits of data are going to be stored in one form or another within Office 365.

And since the data is stored within Office 365 as part of normal everyday business processes, users begin to use the various services within Office 365 as their means to easily gain access to needed data. Because of this, it’s important that you back up the Office 365 services that are hosting this data. 

So, what data should you be backing up?

There are five basic types of data that you should concern yourself with protecting:

  1. Intellectual Property – This is your secret sauce – trade secrets, literary works, designs, drawings, etc.  While these should be handled with the utmost care and security, even these documents find themselves being sent or shared via unsanctioned platforms rather than staying put in a safeguarded repository. 
  2. Financial Data – Finance teams often need to do quite a bit of analysis, so the presence of spreadsheets containing all kinds of financial data should be expected. This can include sales history and projections, profit and loss statements, payables and receivables, and more. 
  3. Personally Identifiable Information – Personally Identifiable Information (PII) can be either employee data (in the case of HR) or details about prospects and customers collected as part of a marketing effort.
  4. Customer Data – Export files and reports containing customer details from your CRM platform are all too common in sales and marketing departments. This data also falls under PII.
  5. Business-Sensitive Data – This includes anything that would be damaging if it fell into the hands of a competitor: product roadmaps, product requirement documents, expansion plans, staffing objectives, etc. 

And, where in Office 365 is this data stored?

It depends on how your organization (and even individual departments within your organization) function. In some cases, files containing any of these types of data are sent via email (Exchange Online) to create an auditable trail and to confirm sending and receipt of the data. In other cases, the data is meant to be used for review by multiple people, so posting in a SharePoint document library could be useful, or in a Team chat. For those individuals who take work home with them (and during the current climate of nearly everyone working remotely), the use of OneDrive’s syncing capability makes sharing of documents easy while ensuring a local copy to work on while offline. 

Since this data is going to be utilized as part of daily business within Office 365, the lack of backing up Office 365 as a whole (since you aren’t going to just backup the files, lists, libraries, chats, and emails that contain the data types mentioned in this article)is an operational threat.  And, like any threat to the business, it’s imperative to understand the business impact of the loss of this data and determine a proper backup strategy to protect it. 

To learn more about the risk involved with hosting data within Office 365 and how backups can be used to mitigate that risk, download the eBook Modern Office 365 Data Protection Challenges today!