Common Security Threats and How Microsoft Security Helps Mitigate Them
Advanced modern technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization have completely revolutionized the workforce. Remote working arrangements have now become increasingly commonplace. Along with this advancement is an expanded network footprint characterized by myriads of virtualized workloads. This includes personal devices and computers that represent multiple points of connectivity as well as potential vulnerabilities.
In the middle of all this, we find every organization’s weakest link as far as cyber security is concerned: the human element. Untrained employees, who comprise a huge percentage of the workforce in most organizations, will readily click malicious URLs or browse suspicious websites. All without realizing that they may be enabling malicious scripts to run and allowing weaponized documents to get past their systems’ standard defenses.
Bad actors are well aware of these human tendencies and are always out to exploit them in dozens of different ways. This represents a few of the numerous ways in which organizations are susceptible to potential cyber-attacks.
Attack vectors that commonly lead to data leaks within organizations
Security threats within an organization can originate from within the organization or from outside.
- Internal threat
The threat originates from within the organization itself and includes acts of espionage or various methods of employee data theft.
External sharing of sensitive information
In some instances, a competitor or some other party interested in the company’s data can approach an employee and offer them payment in exchange for sensitive, privileged information.
Compromised employees or industrial spies may share sensitive data with outsiders. They pose a serious internal threat to data security.
With mobile or remote employees, a lost device may fall into the hands of anyone who can then access their files and download them for use in any harmful way.
Mobile employees, especially cloud users, may also attempt to log into the company’s database remotely from an unknown PC. If the PC is infected, this can seriously compromise the security of the data itself.
- External threat
This threat is initiated by forces from outside the organization and often exploits various weaknesses in the data security system or network infrastructure. Unintentional data leakage can occur through any of the following:
Phishing refers to the fraudulent attempt by bad actors to obtain sensitive information including usernames, passwords, and sometimes credit card data – depending on the intentions of the attacker. They often do this by disguising themselves as a trustworthy party in electronic communication methods such as emails.
Normally, the data thief creates a Web page replicating an existing one to trick a user into submitting their personal, financial, or login details that the cybercriminal can then use for illicit purposes.
In many cases, the untrained individual receives an email from what appears to be a reliable source asking for reauthentication. Upon clicking the link and providing the requested information – often a username and password – this individual allows the attacker to infect their machine with malware. The cyber-thief may additionally be able to steal the individual’s identity.
Once an employee’s device is compromised, the attack can spread throughout the organization in any of the following forms.
- Internal sharing of malware
Through an infected device, an attacker can spread the malware throughout the organization’s network. They may be able to access various databases to which the victim has privileged access. They can then steal whatever data they want once the network is compromised.
- Identity theft
With stolen credentials, an attacker will have unrestricted access to sensitive information while disguised as an employee. A stolen identity gives the bad actor an easy way into the organization’s network. Once inside, they can set about moving around, searching for sensitive information to steal while impersonating a legitimate user.
How Microsoft Security increases your protection against these threats
Microsoft has multiple ways in which it can increase your protection against various threat scenarios at different levels. For starters, there is the Windows Defender Antivirus program which could block known threats on user’s devices.
Microsoft also has the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection program that can detect, investigate, and respond to new or unknown threats using the power of AI – eventually mitigating the infection on personal devices.
Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection allows for a reputation check, making sure that the URLs you’re clicking on are legitimate. This can be a great way to safeguard employees from phishing attacks.
This also comes with Multifactor Authentication that is specifically designed to prevent hackers from logging in to the potential victim’s account. This is a perfect way to protect users from identity theft. Requiring the device to be compliant also helps prevent the spread of malware from one infected device to another.
Microsoft has the Office 365 Cloud App Security which spots abnormal behavior. This means it can prevent intentional data leakage and seal off that loophole.
To protect the data itself, Microsoft has Azure Information Protection which allows for policy controls to be put in place ensuring that only certain people can view these files.
Intune, a security management tool, also allows users to create conditional access rules in their device around the data itself. This ensures the safety of data in the case of a lost device or attempted login from unknown PCs. An untrusted device wouldn’t be able to access files protected by Intune.
With these protection metrics, Microsoft 365 is the go-to solution for any organization. These security measures work to safeguard your network from various security threats by preventing, controlling, detecting, and responding to any threat scenario.