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The latest Microsoft 365 update comes about two years too late

Microsoft 365
(Image credit: Microsoft)
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Over the next couple of months, Microsoft will gradually roll out a new security feature for the web version of its popular collaboration and productivity platform, Microsoft 365.

Announcing the news in a blog post (opens in new tab), the company’s Product Manager for Office Identity, Namit Gupta, explained IT managers will be able to set up a tenant-wide timeout policy to automatically sign out users after a period of inactivity on Microsoft 365 web apps.

Besides Outlook and SharePoint, which already benefit from this functionality, the update will soon be introduced to the web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive and the Microsoft 365 admin center.

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Customer feedback

According to Gupta, the new feature was introduced after reviewing community feedback, with many business struggling with employees no longer working from the safety of the office since the start of the pandemic.

“Based on multiple customer conversations and feedback sessions, it became evident that our customers were looking for a more predictable and coherent solution covering the entirety of Microsoft 365 web apps,” the announcement reads.

“Idle session timeout is one of the many controls you can use with Microsoft 365 to balance user productivity (opens in new tab) and security to meet your organizational security requirements.”

Microsoft believes the update will improve the overall security posture of organizations using its collaboration platform.

Remote workers (opens in new tab)using private devices for work, as well as other people’s endpoints found in coffee shops, and libraries, present a unique risk to the organization. From time to time, workers remain logged into their Microsoft 365 accounts, leaking sensitive data to whoever uses the device after them.

Besides being more secure, Microsoft hopes such a feature will also help businesses stay compliant with data privacy laws and regulations.

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.