Insights from a specialist: how your Microsoft licensing will protect your school’s data

Cheryl Lapham, Microsoft Business Manager for Education at Phoenix, provides insights into how Microsoft licensing leads to several benefits, including improved security, better management, and good experiences for all.

Along with millions of other people, I watched the BBC News coverage about cyber security in schools a few weeks ago. This story talked about lessons being cancelled, technology becoming more inaccessible, and in extreme cases, entire schools closing, due to increasing cyber threats.

One headteacher talked about how the attacks impacted everything, from IT suites and classroom technology to door locks, security cameras, canteen tills, and more. It demonstrates how technology can be disrupted by threat actors who are desperate to gain access to vital data.

A number of headteachers mentioned how there simply wasn’t enough money in their budgets to spend on expensive security systems to protect the IT environment and the data collected.

We’re hearing more educational organisations struggling with budgets due to the current cost of living in the UK. In the current cost of living crisis, organisations like yours are struggling to deploy the stronger security and governance solutions needed to protect against attacks.

Microsoft licensing for cyber security 

These challenges got me thinking about small, cost-effective changes schools can make to secure assets. Most educational organisations in the UK have some form of Microsoft licensing agreement, but many don’t realise how many benefits and tools are available to them through those agreements.

For example, take a school that has staff and students licensed with Microsoft 365 Education A3. Through this agreement, they have…

Entra ID Plan 1 

Microsoft Entra ID Plan 1 (formerly known as Azure Active Directory P1) offers several key features for identity and access management:

  • Authentication, Single Sign-On, and application access: Entra ID Plan 1 provides robust authentication methods, single sign-on capabilities, and seamless access to applications, both on-premises and in the cloud
  • Administration and hybrid identity: it supports advanced administration features, including dynamic groups, self-service group management, Microsoft Identity Manager, and cloud write-back capabilities (allowing self-service password reset for on-premises users)
  • End user self-service: users can manage their own accounts, reset passwords, and perform other self-service tasks
  • Multifactor authentication and conditional access: Entra ID Plan 1 enhances security with multifactor authentication and fine-grained conditional access policies
  • Identity protection: it helps detect and prevent identity-related risks and threats
  • Event logging and reporting: comprehensive logging and reporting features allow monitoring and auditing of identity-related activities

Defender for EndPoint Plan 1

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is an enterprise endpoint security platform designed to help organisations to prevent, detect, investigate, and respond to advanced threats.

Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 includes the following capabilities:

Azure Information Protection Plan 1 

Administrators need increased security because sensitive information is stored in locations that are beyond the reach of traditional security tools. Microsoft Azure Information Protection aims to add this extra layer of security around data stored in email, the cloud and on-premises file servers.

Azure Information Protection (AIP), previously known as Rights Management Services, is a cloud-based service used to encrypt data and restrict some functions via a content labelling system. These labels prevent unauthorised actions such as printing, viewing, copying, and downloading content, based on the organisation’s policies.

The above are just some of the services available to Microsoft education volume licensing customers as part of their agreements.

Training staff and students 

All of these solutions are great for protecting against growing threats, but the most important contribution to security that an organisation can make is educating staff and students. Human error is the leading cause of cyber breaches, so training all members of your organisation is key for preventing disruptive attacks.

Again, the cost of training can be high.

Teach cyber security with Minecraft 

Empower your students to be safe online with lessons in cyber security, online safety, and digital citizenship. Explore a full curriculum progression that includes career pathways, making integrating cyber security lessons easy, no matter what you teach.

Minecraft Education’s cyber security curriculum helps learners of all ages become cyber heroes – protecting their data, using the Internet safely, and modelling digital citizenship.

Microsoft Learn for security, compliance, and identity 

Learn how you can keep your organisation resilient and agile across platforms, clouds, and services with Microsoft security, compliance, and identity solutions. Microsoft Learn has the resources you need to add to existing skills and build new ones.

  • Learn for free, at your own pace and time
  • Explore content for all skill levels
  • Create and share your own collection of content
  • Learn in your preferred language

Want to further discuss your options? 

Get in touch and book a call with Cheryl to discuss your Microsoft licensing needs today.

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Cheryl Lapham
Cheryl Lapham

Cheryl Lapham joined Phoenix in 2015 as Microsoft Business Manager for Education. Cheryl is a Microsoft Licensing Specialist responsible for advising education and research customers on the most cost-effective and compliant software licensing solutions, in addition to advising on solutions and services to empower staff and students. With over 33 years in the IT industry, Cheryl has worked with a range of education customers from individual schools to the largest UK universities and research establishments, providing tailored licensing solutions that align with business and academic objectives.

See all posts by Cheryl Lapham