Much cybersecurity news today focuses on the emergence of new and complex threats and the widespread damage they can inflict on our society. Yet despite the rise in dynamic and sophisticated cyber attacks – and therefore an increase in developing complex defense mechanisms to combat them – the basic elements of cybersecurity remain fundamentally important to a secure enterprise.
Cybersecurity has always been the highest priority at Microsoft; we’ve invested millions over the past four decades to develop the most robust and secure platforms for our customers. But we also understand that an effective cybersecurity program must be built on a solid foundation of basic practices, including things like identity management and patch management. When agencies neglect basic cybersecurity responsibilities, it leaves the door open for attackers to inflict serious harm on their organization through intellectual property and business information theft, service disruptions, reputational damage, and more – losses that cost the global economy billions of dollars annually.
At its most basic, the fundamental elements of a secure enterprise must:
- Guide the Platform, by providing implementation guides for technologies and advice regarding platform needs;
- Assure the Platform, by using a secure architecture and taking advantage of cloud-based managed services where appropriate; and
- Protect the Platform, by understanding organizational infrastructure and being ready to respond when a security incident is reported.
Key to platform security is keeping software up to date. Software patches leverage the intelligence and research of the cybersecurity community to fix known vulnerabilities and prevent their exploit by attackers. Applying patches – such as those offered weekly by Microsoft – is a routine procedure that often gets too little attention; but it remains vital to enterprise security. If the patches are not installed throughout the enterprise on a timely basis, vulnerabilities exist that could easily be blocked.
Identity management is another security fundamental. This means knowing all system users, verifying their identity when they connect, and using that identity to determine what resources they will have access to. If you are not managing identity through Active Directory or an equivalent technology, a malicious actor assuming another identity can access an otherwise secure system and effectively become an insider threat.
Our worldwide team of Chief Security Advisors regularly briefs governments, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies on current threats and their potential social and economic impact to their organizations. Our Digital Crimes Unit is also a vigilant security force, often working directly with law enforcement to take down botnets that attacks systems and users.
Understanding and executing on the fundamentals, combined with the range of advanced cybersecurity services, can help global agencies Protect, Detect, Respond and Recover in today’s cyber environment and ensure their cybersecurity program is built on a solid foundation.