Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online – How Secure is Microsoft’s Cloud-Based CRM?

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If you're starting to investigate CRM in the cloud, questions about security are probably quite high up on your list. After all, if you choose to implement a cloud-based CRM solution, you’ll be putting a lot of important information ‘out there’. You don’t want to lose it, have it accessed by people you don’t want to see it, or worse still, have your data stolen by one of the (far too many) unscrupulous individuals or organisations around.

Microsoft has invested exceptional amounts in its cloud-computing infrastructure. Security is a key factor in ensuring its cloud computing strategy is successful, so they’ve taken the security of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online extremely seriously. The result is that it’s a highly secure CRM application. Microsoft has a large team of skilled professionals, IT, and security experts that are looking after the infrastructure, software, and system 24/7. Because of this, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is actually a lot more secure than many ‘on-premise’ deployments of the product.

Security with Ease of Use

While users and businesses have to be confident in the security of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, it’s also important that this security doesn’t diminish the user-experience. Ease of use, familiarity and high user adoption rates are after all some of the key features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. While building security in to the product ‘from the ground up’, Microsoft has also ensured that it hasn’t added anything that is cumbersome or makes the online product any harder to use than the on-premise version. The result is that a lot of the security features actually go unnoticed by the average user.

End-to-End Approach

It’s easy to think that cloud software security is all about hi-tech encryption and protocols. These are of course an important part of it, but Microsoft has taken an end-to end, holistic approach to the security of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. This means they have incorporated strong security within the application itself, as well as a variety of other safeguards within the product’s environment.

Starting with the physical, there are stringent security measures at all of the Microsoft data centres. These include tight controls on who is allowed in to the buildings, and who is given permission to access the system and database. Back-up data is highly secured and held offsite, and physically protected against natural disasters as well as man-made threats. Similarly, the data that Microsoft support staff and technicians can access is also limited, while at the same time enabling them to provide an excellent service.

Preventing Malicious Attacks

One of the most common potential security breaches we hear about in cloud applications is the unauthorised interception or access of data as it is transmitted between the user's PC and the cloud-based servers. There are various ways Microsoft significantly reduces the chances of this happening. These secure data on a number of levels to help avoid incidental corruption, malicious attack, and web-based communication attacks.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online shares most of the security features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployed on-premise. These features work together to secure data and enable organisations to define the security rights of each of its users. These are based on roles, objects, and teams. For example, a user assigned as a system administrator can do a lot more than a user assigned as a salesperson. It’s possible to allow only certain users to see certain leads, or allow only members of particular teams to have certain permissions. On a field level, it is possible to restrict who can update, create, or read certain fields.

Security Mechanisms

The security of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is also enforced and enhanced by the other applications it works with. For example, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online uses the convenience, yet high security of Windows Live ID, while other security mechanisms protect the server, channel, and operating system. Microsoft Outlook has strong security built-in, so when you’re using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online from within Outlook, it also takes advantage of, and adds to, these security features.

If security is a consideration for you when choosing between Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and On-premise, it’s important to consider how secure your on-premise server, applications, and software will be if you choose on-premise. How secure is your system? What procedures, people, expertise, and resources do you have in place? How often do you back up, security test, monitor, patch, and update your software?

There are a variety of hi-tech and ‘behind the scenes’ precautions, routine tests, audits, and other security measures in place that protect Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. These keep it updated against threats, as well as helping reduce the likelihood of it being unavailable.

In addition to having technology in place to prevent attacks, Microsoft also actively monitors its global network. It has tools in operation which will detect early signs of potential malicious activity, so if there is a breach, the chances are it will be found out and dealt with early on.

Financially-Backed Guarantee

No matter how much time, money, and resources a business invests in security, no-one can guarantee that everything will work 100% all of the time. But it’s possible to get pretty close, – and Microsoft has put money on it! Microsoft provides a financially-backed guarantee that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will be available at least 99.9% of the time. If it’s not, you get cash back.

For more information about the security of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, or other queries about Microsoft Dynamics CRM, please contact Concentrix TSG.

By Concentrix TSG – UK Microsoft Dynamics and CRM Specialists

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