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Security has never been more critical

Author: Priit Timpson Time: 13.02.2023

Cybersecurity is the number one challenge that every business is facing as cyberattacks become more frequent and sophisticated.

Organizations struggle to navigate the ever-evolving threat landscape in which ransomware attacks increased by 150% in 2021, 579 password attacks are carried out every second, and nation-state attacks are also on the rise. At the same time, the pandemic accelerated digital transformation faster than anyone could’ve expected over the past two years.

Companies are constantly adding new cloud solutions, applications, and experiences to support more dynamic workforce and growing business needs, expanding attack surfaces for adversaries to take advantage of. Besides significant business disruptions, these attacks also result in devasting economic damages that the cost of cybercrime is expected to grow at 15% year over year, reaching $10.5 trillion by 2025. 

Challenges that companies are facing:

  • The need to secure entire digital estate
    • most organizations are using more than one cloud, and this introduces incredible complexity as security teams try to secure identities, devices, clouds, apps, platforms, and more across multiple cloud environments.
  • Security portfolios are complex, and products don’t work together
    • Disparate solutions can increase costs and hinder growth, making it harder for teams to anticipate vulnerabilities, manage risks, and navigate a rapidly evolving threat landscape and regulatory environment.
  • They lack a comprehensive view on the scope and depth of the risks
    • Cyber criminals do not discriminate, and organizations of all sizes, industries, and levels of preparedness are equally susceptible to cyber-attacks. And threats aren’t just external, sometimes they can also come from inside the organizations, be it intentional or accidental.
  • Not enough skilled security talent
    • Right now, in cybersecurity, there is a massive shortage of talent, slowing down organizations’ responses to cyber-attacks.

It is an asymmetric fight with not just a financial cost; but a human cost in time, peace of mind, increased anxiety, and a sense of control over one's environment. As risks increase, digital security supported by a community of defenders is essential to create a sense of freedom online, to safeguard assets, and foster trust in the technologies we’ve come to rely on. For people to innovate, it’s essential they feel safe.

This is where Microsoft steps in by taking a comprehensive approach to security by securing devices, identities, apps, clouds – multi-cloud and multi-platform.

The advantage of Microsoft Security:

  • Comprehensive protection across entire digital estate – identity, data, apps, endpoints, infrastructure, and network:
    • Multicloud: Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and hybrid
    • Multi-platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android
  • Prioritizing the right risks with unified management tools and strategic guidance created to maximize the human expertise.
    • Reducing the number of disparate point solutions that must interact with each other—particularly older, legacy systems—brings complexity down to a manageable level and closes critical gaps.
    • Integrated workflows help ensure that the right people across security, HR, legal, and compliance are involved to quickly investigate and act once a risk has been identified.

Microsoft’s security offering integrates over 50 security categories—helping improve end user experiences, decrease inefficiencies, and reduce the risk of costly data breaches.

Microsoft Defender provides deep context into alerts and incidents across endpoints, identities, cloud applications, email, data, and enterprise IoT. It leverages extensive automation to remediate affected assets and provides customers with a single console for prevention, detection, and response capabilities.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud offers customers a single place to view their security posture across Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform, and identify and prioritize security risks holistically. Customers can get a unified view in Azure Sentinel and then seamlessly drill down into an incident for more context in the Defender tools.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps provides rich visibility, control over data travel, and sophisticated analytics to identify and combat cyberthreats across all your Microsoft and third-party cloud services. It significantly decreases time and effort to remediate incidents and audit reporting.

Microsoft Sentinel is a cloud-native security information and event manager (SIEM) platform that uses built-in AI to help analyze large volumes of data across an enterprise. It is continuously adding new connectors on top of its existing library of 140+. It combines data from disparate data sets across both Microsoft and partner sources, then uses graph-based machine learning and a probabilistic kill chain to product high-fidelity alerts.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint’s industry-leading capabilities are extended across non-Windows platforms, such as macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, to help customers get visibility into all endpoints accessing corporate data and apply the necessary controls to minimize their growing attack surface. It effectively contains threats including those of the zero-day variety, helping end users vastly avoid the remediation calls and procedures and increasing their uptime.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager provides both on-prem and cloud-based tools that manage and secure a wide range of endpoints including desktops in the office, remote laptops and smartphones, and virtual desktops across multiple OS such as Windows, macOS, iOS, and Linux.  It saves both on-site and remote end users hours of time each year waiting for their devices to be provisioned or brought into compliance, enhancing end-user experience and productivity.

Azure Active Directory is a cloud-based identity and access management solution that provides secure and seamless access to all types of applications – from SaaS apps to on-prem apps to custom-build apps – to both human and non-human identities. It decreases the effort required by identity and access management teams to manage their day-to-day tasks.

Secure Score provides insights into current security state and recommended actions to help prioritize steps to prevent common misconfigurations and improve security posture.

Insider Risk Management leverages Microsoft Graph and other services to obtain native signals across Office 365, Windows 10, and Azure without the need for any endpoint agents to be deployed. It also provides a robust set of configurable templates tailored to reduce insider risks.

Microsoft Conditional Access uses signals from users, locations, devices, and applications to determine when to allow access, block, or require additional proofs like multi-factor authentication. 

Microsoft Authenticator and Windows Hello are passwordless methods that provide a simpler and more secure authentication experience. FIDO2 methods also enable users to authenticate easily and securely without requiring a password.

Office 365 Threat Intelligence monitors signals and gathers data from multiple sources including user activity, authentication, emails, and compromised PCs to help organizations protect Office 365 users from attacks.

Insider Risk templates use machine learning and intelligence to correlate signals to identify hidden patterns and risks that traditional or manual methods might miss.

Compliance Manager offers more than 300 templates for both Microsoft and non-Microsoft data for customers to manage and improve their compliance posture.

Peace of mind that comes with a comprehensive security solution leaves room to grow, create, and innovate.

Organization needs to think about security tolerance and needs, based on that licensing need to be planned.
Most comprehensive protection comes with Microsoft 365 E5 license but it's also priciest license (starting from 53,70 per user per month with yearly commitment). Finding the right balance between security and cost effectiveness is very important.
For small and medium size businesses best, starting point is Microsoft 365 Business Premium license witch cost starts from 18,60 per user per month with yearly commitment but gives necessary security features to protect users, endpoints and data:

  • Intune – endpoint management and application protection
  • Azure AD Premium – Conditional Access polices, password protection, Self-Service Password Reset, Dynamic groups, Group expiration etc.
  • Defender for Office 365 P1 – data and links additional protection
  • Defender for Business – advanced endpoint protection solution
  • Compliance policies to protect data – Data Loss Prevention, sensitivity labeling etc.

There is always the option to take needed protection and functionality with Add-on licenses, but looking at packeted solutions is usually a cheaper option.

Doing analysis and defining organizations' security posture will help decide what licenses are correct for now. Organizations change and so does the security needs and with this also the licensing needs.

It's an ongoing process to have correct and most effective solutions in place to raise organizations security and effectiveness.       

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