Cloud Cybersecurity: Three Pillars of Modern Security Controls

January 21, 2019   //   Security, ,

In today’s world, it’s clear that managing security is a struggle for many organizations. With each passing minute, not only do the number of attacks increase, but the sophistication, scope, and aggressiveness also intensify. According to Microsoft, the average large organization gets 17,000 security alerts each week. Analyzing such an enormous amount of data is one of the biggest challenges facing modern businesses and a large reason why we’re seeing security breaches on the rise.

As you look for solutions to address these challenges, reducing complexity by leveraging some of the latest innovative technologies in the cloud will be at the cornerstone of an effective cybersecurity solution. Microsoft Azure has emerged as a way to bring these desired results to businesses by consolidating and optimizing IT infrastructure, removing unwanted complexities, and significantly reducing IT costs. With a wide array of security tools and capabilities, one of the best reasons to use Azure is to strengthen your security posture.

Three Pillars of Modern Security Controls

In this blog, we take a closer look at some of the latest cloud technology that is dramatically changing the way we think about cyber defense. While we couldn’t even begin to scrape the surface of all the modern security capabilities of Azure in one article, we believe a good place to start is with three pillars of security controls that are going through the biggest transformations — identity, devices, and data.

Identity

The IT and security threat landscape has undergone a substantial transformation over the past decade. As businesses move beyond the traditional workspace by allowing employees to work remotely using their personal devices and accessing a variety of apps both on-premises and in the cloud, today’s sensitive company data no longer exists within the corporate network. In addition, many popular cloud offerings provide the ability to share data directly with accounts from partner organizations. Prior to the explosion of BYOD devices and cloud applications, a traditional perimeter-centric defense worked adequately because resources only existed behind firewalls. Today, this approach is no longer enough to keep your data safe.

In a mobile-first, cloud-first world, there is a lot to be gained by the centralization and simplification of identity security controls. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) combines core directory services, application access management, and identity protection into a single solution. Azure AD is a centralized place for managing access across all your services, helping to reduce complexity and the likelihood of mistakes that leave your organization vulnerable to security breaches. In particular, a centralized authentication system simplifies the application of consistent policies, unifies authentication and access logs, and provides a single point to enable features like multifactor authentication.

Single sign-on (SSO) is another capability available with Azure AD. With multiple devices, apps, and services available to users, managing identity solutions is not only an administrative nightmare for IT, but also a problem for end-users who have to remember multiple passwords. The beauty of SSO is its simplicity; the service authenticates users on a single platform, allowing them to access resources both on-premises and in the cloud using the same credentials to sign in. Organizations that don’t create common identity through SSO are going to have more users reusing passwords or creating weak passwords, which in turn exposes the organization to the threat of unauthorized access.

Devices

Devices are proliferating, putting pressure on IT to manage multiple devices per user. To further complicate matters, today’s mobile workforce extends beyond the office and typical work hours. Whether it’s a lost device or a phishing attack, you can no longer assume a “wall” will keep hackers out.

IT admins are now faced with a complicated dilemma: how do you provide the resources your users need to do their work while protecting data from risk? This is where Microsoft Intune comes in. Intune offers mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) to allow organizations to manage a diverse mobile environment using a single, unified mobile solution to enforce policies.

Intune is included with Microsoft 365 and integrates with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). Therefore, we recommend taking the leap to Office 365 now, if you haven’t already. The more applications you have running in the cloud, the more you can start using these new automated security capabilities.

Data

Once you’ve adopted Office 365 cloud applications – such as Email, Exchange Online, File Shares, SharePoint Online, etc. – your ability to apply data-level security is enhanced. Microsoft data-protection tools ensure that important data stays secure and only the right people have access to it.

In today’s digital workplace, it has become routine to communicate sensitive information with colleagues and other associates via email, including passwords, social security numbers, confidential terms-and-conditions, etc. For those still operating in a traditional on-premises setting, making sure this sensitive data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands has become nearly impossible, not to mention extremely expensive. With built-in information-protection technologies in Office 365, users can seamlessly exchange encrypted emails to help prevent inappropriate sharing of sensitive data and documents. Additionally, Office 365 data loss prevention (DLP) tools make it easy to meet compliance challenges by helping protect content such as HIPAA-related and GDPR-related data. As an added bonus, these applications are all housed together in one place, so you can manage and monitor everything from a single location.

Managed Defense in a Cloud-First World

Even with the secure foundation that Azure provides, you’re not off the hook for managing security internally. While the cloud has significantly centralized and simplified the security scope, it still requires modern businesses to provide focused protection on each user’s identity, devices, and data. Essentially, the cloud doesn’t eliminate your security responsibility, it changes it.

Fortunately, more services providers are emerging that understand the needs of midsize companies and can help bridge the gap. Our certified experts have expansive practical experience identifying and closing security gaps, managing complex security breaches, and protecting your data in the cloud. Contact Us to learn more about our Managed Defense services.