On-premise Microsoft Exchange servers are a growing target for cyberattacks due to the vulnerabilities in the software. The fact it is difficult to patch and update only adds to the threat. Since exchange servers are accessed through a web service, it makes it easier for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities.
Microsoft has recommended that companies migrate to 365 Exchange Online, a cloud-based email service, to take advantage of real-time security and instant updates. However, before migrating to a cloud-based service, there are several things to consider, including how to assess your current exchange environment, the data migration process and ensuring your configuration is successfully applied to 365 Exchange Online.
Existing Microsoft Exchange server vulnerabilities and why they are difficult to patch
Microsoft Exchange is a complex software application that has been in development for over 20 years. The vulnerabilities that exist are difficult to patch because they often involve interdependent mechanisms in the software. When a patch is released, it can often break functionality and cause significant problems for email administrators. Take, for example, CVE-2022-41082 and CVE-2022-41040, the most recent vulnerabilities that were added to its Exploited Vulnerabilities Catalog by the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
Microsoft reported two zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, 2016 and 2019 on September 29, 2022. Since then, Microsoft has rolled out three mitigation efforts, however, they were all bypassed within hours.
While the threat continues to persist, system admins have found the mitigation efforts slow and the patches too tough and technical. To add to the chaos, the threat-attackers do not need access to an authenticated user account but can exploit the vulnerabilities in Exchange using any email user’s account, irrespective of their clearance level.
Risks of on-premise Exchange servers vs. benefits of migrating to a cloud-based email service
As vulnerabilities in on-prem Exchange servers continue to be exploited, email administrators are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their systems secure. Since the patching process for Microsoft Exchange is complex and time-consuming, it often causes more problems than it solves. For these reasons, Microsoft strongly recommends customers migrate to a cloud-based email service such as 365 Exchange Online.
Cloud-based email services offer real-time security and instant updates that keep systems protected from the latest threats. Additionally, migrating to a cloud-based email service can significantly reduce the amount of time and resources required to manage Exchange servers.
Whether you are an MSP working on migration projects on behalf of your clients or an IT professional carrying out your own migration, Network Detective Pro has a full set of pre-configured Exchange Assessment reports that enable you to automatically generate all the data you need to streamline the migration process from on-premise Exchange servers to 365 Exchange Online.
Things to consider when migrating to a cloud-based email service
The process of migrating from an on-prem Exchange server to 365 Exchange Online can be complex. Microsoft offers a few different tools to help with the migration process, including the Office 365 Migration Center and the Exchange Deployment Assistant. There are also several third-party tools that can be used to assist with the migration process.
It is important to note that before beginning the migration process, it is recommended that you create a backup of your on-premise Exchange server. This will ensure that you can recover any data that may be lost during the migration process.
Questions to ask before migrating to a cloud-based email service
When considering a move to a cloud-based email service, there are a few key questions that you should ask yourself to ensure a successful migration. First, you need to consider the size of your current Microsoft Exchange environment and estimate its future growth. This will help you determine what type of cloud-based email service will best meet your needs.
- What is the current size of my Exchange environment?
- What is the estimated growth rate of my Exchange environment?
- What are my current email storage and archiving requirements?
- What are my compliance requirements for email data?
- How much downtime can my business tolerate during the migration process?
- Do I have the necessary resources to successfully complete the migration process?
How can network assessments help simplify Exchange migration?
Network assessments are a key part of any migration to the cloud. They help determine how your network is currently configured and identify any areas that may need to be updated for your Exchange migration to be successful. It also helps you understand how your exchange environment will interact with the cloud-based email service you are migrating to. This information can be critical in ensuring a smooth transition for your users. You can compare the data from pre and post-assessments to check that all your permissions and configurations have been successfully migrated.
What to look for in an effective network assessment tool
Using network assessments to help you automate your migration to Exchange Online is not just about being able to generate the information needed but also about having a management plan for your data.
Looking for a tool that will help you automate your Exchange Migrations? Check out Network Detective Pro. Request a demo today.
Before you consider the migration, your assessment tool should be able to provide detailed reports on all the essential information you need to ensure the process goes as smoothly and efficiently as possible, including:
- Exchange Server properties
- Mailbox Usage and Permissions
- Retention Policies
- Distribution Lists
- And much more
The reports should also communicate potential issues found and help you prioritize them based on their risk score while providing suggested remedial steps.
Once you have completed your migration, you should be able to run cloud assessment reports. It will allow you to compare your new Exchange Online environment to ensure all the relevant permissions and policies match your existing on-premise environment before completing the final switchover.
Learn more about how Network Detective Pro is the fastest and easiest way to access all your Exchange assessment data, request a demo today.