Microsoft 365 Email Encryption

In today’s professional environment, we often find ourselves needing to share sensitive information with others, both in and outside of our organization. This can include medical files, financial documents, and personal information. There are multiple methods to share this information securely, but these can range from expensive software to time consuming project stand-ups.

However, there is a solution that is both cheap and simple to set up. With a Microsoft 365 business tenant, you have the option to implement Office 365 Message Encryption (OME). OME is recommended for sending sensitive information to people outside your organization, whether they are consumers or other businesses and regardless of which email provider they use (Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, etc.).

All you have to do is set up specific rules/triggers (ex: have a user enter ‘encryptme’ in the body of the email) and Exchange will mark their email for secure encryption (including attachments!). You could also skip the user entry portion and set rules for automatic encryption if outside your organization, on detection of sensitive data patterns, or even specific senders/recipients.

Ok, I know you’re thinking that this all sounds good, but how much is this going to cost me?

OME is built on Azure Rights Management (RMS). This is not automatically included in every M365 product license. The only licenses to include this as part of the package are E3 and above. All Business Basic/Standard and E1 will require the Azure Information Protection (AIP) add-on. This will cost you $2/user/month. However, the good news is that recipients do not require a M365 subscription or license to view encrypted messages. They will just need to enter a one-time passcode to open the message (if using Outlook, this will be handled in the background automatically).

Microsoft’s encryption offering is an easy (and cheap) method to sending sensitive information outside of your organization. The diverse rules that can be created will reduce the impact on your end users and will require less training on the what/when/why questions.


Use Microsoft Teams as a PBX

If you’re the owner of a small start-up company, you’ve been forced to decide “Do I need a business telephone number or do I just give everyone my cell number?”

For many small companies, the cost of a phone system (PBX) and phone service is hard to justify given how often it will be used. In addition to the cost, many VOIP handsets get their power from a special POE (“Power over Ethernet”) switch that you have at your office, but your remote employees probably don’t have at home. Firewall and VPN issues can add to the complexity.

Many companies are already using Microsoft Teams for internal communications, but – did you know you can link it to the phone network and make and receive phone calls?

For about $20/user/month in licensing fees (in addition to your existing Microsoft 365/Teams license fees), you can add Phone System to your Microsoft Teams environment.

As a pilot project, we just set this up internally at Technicality. We had been using Grasshopper as our “business phone”, but I didn’t like the fact that if someone called the business phone number, it was forwarded to my cell phone and I couldn’t tell if it was a business call or a personal call.

We ported our main number from Grasshopper and have set up an automated attendant (“For sales, press 1. For tech support, press 2…”) to answer calls to the main number. Each licensed Teams user now has their own direct dial (DID) number, so we can give out our direct number or have people call the main number and be transferred to us via the auto attendant.

Incoming calls can be answered on your computer (in the Teams client) or on your mobile phone (in the Teams app). The incoming Caller ID number shows up in the Teams app, so you can tell that you’re receiving a business call via Teams (as opposed to someone dialing your cell number).

Voicemail is included for each licensed user and incoming calls can automatically be sent to voicemail based on your Teams status. Teams automatically transcribes the voicemail message and you can see it in your Teams client or app.

I especially like the fact that you can type a script (for the automated attendant message or for your voicemail message) and Teams will create a “human sounding” voice message (as opposed to having to record and upload the file). If you want to hear what it sounds like – call 205.208.9050. The recording you hear was automatically generated from a typed script.

This isn’t a great solution for everyone. If you really need a physical phone, you can do that with Teams but it’s more complicated/expensive. But – if you’re a small, remote startup and already pretty comfortable with Teams, this may be worth a try to have a “business phone system” without additional phone equipment.

If you have questions or would like help with setting this up, you can call us at the number above, or book a time to discuss (complimentary) on our website.

And – you can quit giving out your cell number.