How do you create a cybersecurity strategy? Another of the questions we frequently get asked.

We live in strange and unprecedented times. One thing is for certain, although many of us are confined to working from home, cybercriminals will be continuing their quest to scam, spoof and con us whenever they can. No matter what is going on in the world.

To be honest, it is easy money for them because we make it so. There are approximately 60,000,000 people in the UK. If they manage to get 1p out of everyone that is £600,000 and how many of us would miss 1p? So, if you multiply that by the number of people in the world (currently estimated to be 7.5 billion) It is a lot of potential targets and hugely lucrative! That is the main reason the cybercriminal fraternity is growing and becoming more sophisticated all the time. Which means we need to be constantly vigilant and do everything we can to protect ourselves.

That said, at Unleashed, our business is protecting your business against cyber attacks.

Securing your data and systems should be your number 1 priority as we move toward 2021. If your data and systems are compromised or lost – so is your business and nobody wants that! But for your IT department, this is also becoming a major headache. As employees are working from home they want the same IT capability from a wider array of devices. That causes headaches as they become more difficult to secure.

Business leaders are constantly balancing the challenge of giving employees better and more elaborate means of collaboration (or sharing data). They need to be able to innovate to allow their businesses to grow. This means the challenge of cyber protection is greater than ever.

Fortunately, there is a product that most businesses are using that can help you.

Microsoft 365

In one of my previous posts, I talked about the benefits of Microsoft 365 premium over the standard software.   In this post, we are going to be using Microsoft 365 Premium to help you to create a cybersecurity strategy.

How do you create a cybersecurity strategy?

There are six steps to protecting your business using Microsoft 365.

  1. Planning for rapid response

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated. This means they are no longer content to get a few pounds here and there. They are playing the long game and looking for richer rewards from businesses. Their main aim is to have a long term presence within your network. Why? You may ask. Because they are looking to steal data and credentials. They want to modify internal processes, re-route your network traffic and setup social engineering scams. AND, they are now targeting your mobile devices and your home networks.

They do this by using a wide array of tools. Such as the stolen user credentials and malware that automatically deletes itself to avoid detection. This means a typical attack can last about 140 days before it is detected, by then the damage is done.

How does Microsoft 365 help?

Microsoft 365 takes a holistic approach to security, it protects your network edge, (Front door) your data, and can automatically remediate and fix problems for you.

  1. Protecting Identities

Microsoft states “Organisations can protect their data regardless of where it is stored, how it is accessed or with whom it is shared”

We all know that a data breach can be very costly, yet they happen daily. This means your business challenge is to ensure you have enough security controls enabled to stop or at least gain visibility of these cybersecurity threats. You also need to guard against the rising trend of end-users using their own devices (tablets and mobile phones). These are not as locked down as your corporate devices, and may not even be sanctioned for use by the IT department.

In our permanently connected world, identity can be shared across numerous devices. This means if a user logs into a Laptop, they can share these credentials on a tablet or mobile phone. And with a single password security becomes very difficult.

The answer to this is (Multifactor authentication) or MFA. This offers a secondary level of security that requires something other than your end-user password to access the device. In other words, when you try to login to a device it will ask for your user name and password. But you won’t be allowed you access the device until you put in another one-time code. This is normally received by a text message to your mobile or via a hardware token.

Statistics have shown 60% of data breaches are from a compromised device.

How does Microsoft 365 help?

This allows your business to set identity and access management controls across your whole IT estate. This means, your focus is now on managing devices rather than tracking devices. Also, if you do get a breach, you will have the advantage of being able to investigate how it occurred.

  1. Defending the threat

In our ever-connected Internet world, cybercriminals are using sophisticated phishing, malware/spyware attacks, browser and software exploits and social media engineering to get any data they can on you. This means you need to be on your toes and always maintain visibility to any threat coming through any medium. And as we know, this is difficult.

Traditional security tools maintain an always-on approach. However, we now need to look at it from a different angle. We have to assume that we have already been breached. Of we are about to be breached. We then need to find a way to lower the time of detection from 140 days to 0 days.

How does Microsoft 365 help?

Microsoft 365 offers protection in a combination of ways. It still employs traditional methods, like anti-spam and anti-malware. But to augment these solutions, it brings in user and entity behaviour analytics (UEBA) and Endpoint detection and response (EDR). Which means you have a much more rounded security approach.

  1. Protecting your data

As you will now know, data is the new oil and as such is just as precious. However, now more than ever before, data is becoming more difficult to manage and it is often outwith the control of the IT department as your employees are using data to collaborate more with colleagues, customers and partners. As this drives productivity and innovation, we, IT people want to make this as easy as possible but still have a modicum of control. Especially with GDPR now part of UK law and heavy fines for those who don’t adhere or take it seriously.

We all know that employees will always take the path of least resistance and if this means bypassing your data control processes they will. So, it is up to the business to ensure your data is properly controlled and classifying and encrypting data are the best methods which keeping productivity flowing. By automating, we can stop human error and control sensitive data such as credit card or personally identifiable information. We can add visual markings such as headers/footers and watermarks and automatically encrypt sensitive material. This enables IT to track the activity of sensitive data and see who has accessed it – regardless of where it is stored.

How does Microsoft 365 help?

Microsoft 365 gives you the ability to detect, classify, protect and monitor data at rest or in motion. This is regardless of where that data is stored or sent.

  1. Managing cloud use

Whether we like it or not, the cloud is prevalent in almost every business in some form or other. This can be with Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications like Microsoft 365 or a cloud finance app like Xero or sage. And even if you don’t use these applications you can be almost certain your employees will. This trend is known as Shadow IT and the sad fact is only 8% of businesses know the scope of on-line applications within there organisation.

More worrying is that these cloud services are far outpacing internal applications. So control is a major issue, this is because typical IT network security solutions are not designed to give visibility of SaaS applications. Blocking these applications is not a good idea as employees will always find a way around that and use them anyway. So, we have to embrace them and protect the employee and business, as this is now the new normal.

In 2016, Gartner has predicted by 2020 a third of successful cyber attacks are on Shadow IT applications.

How does Microsoft 365 help?

Part of the Microsoft security offering is a cloud access security broker (CASB). This piece of software will allow your business to see which cloud apps an employee is using. From there, you can determine any risk associated and how the application is being used. You can see what sort of data is being sent to the cloud and if there any anomalies in user behaviour. And if you don’t like what you see, you can block them.

  1. Moving to the cloud

Eventually, everything will inevitably be cloud-based and this has major benefits. The first is security, as it is cheaper and easier to protect cloud services. This is because cloud security is deemed to be a shared responsibility between the provider and you.  One of the main reasons for cloud-based services is that it is easier to work from remote locations. As you are accessing the cloud directly, you don’t need to go through your main office network. This means access is quicker and more cost-effective.

Before you leap, there are certain questions you need to ask.

  • How is my data stored and protected?
  • Is privacy by design, incorporated?
  • How robust is the cloud infrastructure and are you constantly investing to make it better?
  • Where will my data be stored and who will have access?
  • Do you adhere to all the compliance regulations?

How does Microsoft 365 help?

Microsoft Azure is one of the biggest cloud providers and it is where Microsoft 365 is hosted. If you haven’t already moved to 365 then you will migrate all email and a lot of your data into Azure. Any Microsoft partner will be able to help you answer the questions above.

But to answer the most obvious question, with Azure your data is secure and hosted in the UK in either data centre north or data centre south and you can even replicate data between the two, for full failover and resilience.

Hopefully, you will have found this article useful and a good follow up from our last one. This data has been taken from a Microsoft bulletin that is 33 pages long and I have condensed it down to make it easier and hopefully more enjoyable to read without a lot of the technical stuff.

If you would like to know more or talk to us about any aspect of this blog, then please get in touch.