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Is an Expiring Cloud Session a Threat to Your Business?

Cloud

Imagine this scenario: You are in the Cloud working on a file. After being signed for a couple of hours, you suddenly got kicked out of your account. And then it happened again a few hours after signing back in. This cycle went on and on for weeks, and you wonder if it has something to do with the internet connection.   

Possible. But that isn’t the main reason. Getting kicked out of your account is a usual circumstance that occurs when your session times out. If you’re not familiar, a session is basically the time you are in the Cloud to work on a file. As these sessions are not meant to be permanent, they will expire.  

Should you be concerned?  

Here at ITS, we’ve been helping hundreds of businesses migrate to Cloud as seamlessly as possible. In this article, we’ll go over every question you might have regarding Cloud sessions, including:  

  • What is a Cloud session, and how long does a typical session last? 
  • What causes a Cloud session to expire, and how to overrule it? 
  • Is an expiring Cloud session a threat to your business? 

What is a Cloud session, and how long does a typical session last? 

cloud storage used on a laptop in top of a table

Microsoft refers to a session as a representation of a unique connection between your computer and a server computer. A session begins when you log in to your computer and access a particular software service. It ends when you log out–willingly or not.  

The server uses a session to keep track of your work status. When a session expires while you’re in the middle of working on a project, the Cloud will save your progress so you can pick it up where you left off once you sign back in.  

If you’re subscribed to Microsoft 365, the default timeout will apply for the following applications.  

  • Outlook Web app – For the web version of Outlook, the default timeout is six hours.  
  • SharePoint Online – If the user opts to stay signed in by clicking the ‘keep me signed in’ button, the session will last five days until they’ll be asked to sign in again. 
  • Mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows 10 – The default session timeout is one hour for those who will access OneDrive or SharePoint on mobile devices. 

That would be the case if your IT department did not change anything in the setting. Otherwise, external conditions may contribute to the session expiry.  

Cloud Computing Myths

What causes a Cloud session to expire, and how to overrule it? 

Here are the three most common causes: 

1. Idleness  

a clockIf you have been idle for too long, your session will time out.  

Inactivity timers have a set length time for you to be away from your keyboard, usually from 10-30 minutes. If you reach that specific threshold limit, you will get a notification that you’re about to get signed out. If you fail to click the ‘stay signed in’ button, the server will automatically end your session. 

While you can easily log back in every time you get kicked out, the long-term solution is quite simple. Microsoft gives you two options for this. You can either:  

Update the policy 

  1. In the Microsoft 365 admin center, select Org settings, go to the Security & Privacy tab, and choose Idle session timeout. 
  2. In the dropdown menu, select a different timeout value and then click Save. 

Or  

Delete the policy 

  1. In the Microsoft 365 admin center, select Org settings, go to the Security & Privacy tab, and choose Idle session timeout.
  2. Uncheck Turn on to set the period of inactivity for users to be signed off from Office web apps and select Save. 

2. Unstable internet connection or disconnection 

loading screenDoes your internet speed affect your Cloud access? The answer is yes. If your internet connection is unstable, it can cause your Cloud session to terminate, prompting a session expired message to pop up once you get reconnected. To resolve this, ITS’ Operations Director, Peter Swarowski, says  

“If your remote loses internet connection, you may get a black screen. You can close the tab and reopen it to see if it will work. If not, refresh your computer or router.” 

In addition, if you’re using the internet from a geo-restricted area through a Virtual Private Network or a VPN, this might have some issues with the connection as well. 

“Most VPNs don’t automatically reconnect after an interruption with the connection, so you may have to re-establish the VPN setting and reconnect to the Cloud session,” Swarowski stated.   

3. Virus or malware 

a malware infectionLastly, an unsecured network may also cause you to get yourself signed out of a Cloud session. If your computer is infected with a virus or malware, it may have complications establishing or keeping an active session.  

To avoid this, adopt a cyber hygiene routine. These are just some tips to keep your IT infrastructure protected: 

 

Read: 14 Cyber Hygiene Tips to Keep Your Business in Tip-top Shape 

Is expiring Cloud session a threat to your business? 

Conversely, Swarowski noted why an expiring session could be an intentional positive thing for your business. 

“Some people may say, “I don’t want to be inconvenienced, and I don’t want my session ever to expire,” right? The problem with that is it opens up this security issue where if bad software or malware gets into their computer, they can steal those session states and log in as you later on. And if they never expire, they could keep reusing that until the hackers get what they want. But if you have a session policy that allows it to expire at least once a day, the attackers will ultimately lose access and not cause you any damage.” he explained.  

On top of that, an automatic session timeout can prevent inactive accounts from slowing down the system and consuming valuable bandwidth. The benefit, as Swarowski said, outweighs the inconvenience.  

Need help navigating the Cloud? 

Through the Cloud, businesses were given options to store and access their entire lines of business applications remotely. This has allowed them to thrive amid the sudden large-scale remote transition. But since the science of cloud evolves regularly, sometimes it can get overwhelming to manage.  

We can help. 

As a Managed IT Service Provider, ITS ensures that our clients are well-informed and fully equipped with the knowledge to understand different cloud technologies and discern which makes the most sense for their business. Learn more about the fundamentals of the Cloud by reading our Ultimate Guide to Cloud Computing. 

Cloud Computing Myths