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Alternative ways for security professionals and IT to achieve modern security controls in today’s unique remote work scenarios

March 26th, 2020 No comments

With the bulk of end users now working remotely, legacy network architectures that route all remote traffic through a central corporate network are suddenly under enormous strain. The result can be poorer performance, productivity, and user experience. Many organizations are now rethinking their network infrastructure design to address these issues, especially for applications like Microsoft Teams and Office 365. At Microsoft, for example, we adopted split tunneling as part of our VPN strategy. Our customers have asked us for guidance on how to manage security in this changing environment.

An architecture that routes all remote traffic back to the corporate network was originally intended to provide the security team with the following:

  • Prevention of unauthorized access
  • Control of authorized user access
  • Network protections such as Intrusion Detection/Prevention (IDS/IPS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation
  • Data loss prevention (DLP)

In this post, we’ll address alternative ways of achieving modern security controls, so security teams can manage risk in a more direct-to-internet network architecture.

Prevention of unauthorized access

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) helps increase authentication assurance. We recommend requiring it for all users. If you are not ready to deploy to all users, consider entering an emergency pilot for higher risk or more targeted users. Learn more about how to use Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Conditional Access to enforce MFA. You will also want to block legacy authentication protocols that allow users to bypass MFA requirements.

Control of authorized user access

Ensure only registered devices that comply with your organization’s security policies can access your environment, to reduce the risk that would be posed by resident malware or intruders. Learn more about how to use Azure AD Conditional Access to enforce device health requirements. To further increase your level of assurance, you can evaluate user and sign-on risk to block or restrict risky user access. You may also want to prevent your users from accessing other organizations’ instances of the Office 365 applications. If you do this with Azure AD tenant restrictions, only logon traffic needs to traverse the VPN.

Network protections

Some of the protections that you may have traditionally provided by routing traffic back through your corporate network can now be provided by the cloud apps your users are accessing. Office 365, for example, is globally distributed and designed to allow the customer network to route user requests to the closest Office 365 service entry point. Learn more about Office 365 network connectivity principles. We build resiliency into Office 365 to minimize potential disruption. We protect Office 365 and Azure from network attacks like DDoS on behalf of our customers.

With the above controls in place, you may be ready to route remote users’ traffic directly to Office 365. If you still require a VPN link for access to other applications, you can greatly improve your performance and user experience by implementing split tunneling.

We strongly recommend that you review VPN and VPS infrastructure for updates, as attackers are actively tailoring exploits to take advantage of remote workers. Microsoft Threat Intelligence teams have observed multiple nation state and cybercrime actors targeting unpatched VPN systems for many months. In October 2019, both the National Security Agency and National Cyber Security Centre issued alerts on these attacks. The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have published useful guidance on securing VPN/VPS infrastructure.

DLP

To help you prevent the accidental disclosure of sensitive information, Office 365 has a rich set of built-in tools. You can use the built-in DLP capabilities of Teams and SharePoint to detect inappropriately stored or shared sensitive information. If part of your remote work strategy involves a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, you can use Conditional Access App Control to prevent sensitive data from being downloaded to users’ personal devices.

Malware detection

By default, SharePoint Online automatically scans file uploads for known malware. Enable Exchange Online Protection to scan email messages for malware. If your Office 365 subscription includes Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), enable it to provide advanced protection against malware. If your organization uses Microsoft Defender ATP for endpoint protection, remember that each user is licensed for up to five company-managed devices.

Additional resources

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Work remotely, stay secure—guidance for CISOs

March 12th, 2020 No comments

With many employees suddenly working from home, there are things an organization and employees can do to help remain productive without increasing cybersecurity risk.

While employees in this new remote work situation will be thinking about how to stay in touch with colleagues and coworkers using chat applications, shared documents, and replacing planned meetings with conference calls, they may not be thinking about cyberattacks. CISOs and admins need to look urgently at new scenarios and new threat vectors as their organizations become a distributed organization overnight, with less time to make detailed plans or run pilots.

Based on our experiences working with customers who have had to pivot to new working environments quickly, I want to share some of those best practices that help ensure the best protection.

What to do in the short—and longer—term

Enabling official chat tools helps employees know where to congregate for work. If you’re taking advantage of the six months of free premium Microsoft Teams or the removed limits on how many users can join a team or schedule video calls using the “freemium” version, follow these steps for supporting remote work with Teams. The Open for Business Hub lists tools from various vendors that are free to small businesses during the outbreak. Whichever software you pick, provision it to users with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and set up single-sign-on, and you won’t have to worry about download links getting emailed around, which could lead to users falling for phishing emails.

You can secure access to cloud applications with Azure AD Conditional Access, protecting those sign-ins with security defaults. Remember to look at any policies you have set already, to make sure they don’t block access for users working from home. For secure collaboration with partners and suppliers, look at Azure AD B2B.

Azure AD Application Proxy publishes on-premises apps for remote availability, and if you use a managed gateway, today we support several partner solutions with secure hybrid access for Azure AD.

While many employees have work laptops they use at home, it’s likely organizations will see an increase in the use of personal devices accessing company data. Using Azure AD Conditional Access and Microsoft Intune app protection policies together helps manage and secure corporate data in approved apps on these personal devices, so employees can remain productive.

Intune automatically discovers new devices as users connect with them, prompting them to register the device and sign in with their company credentials. You could manage more device options, like turning on BitLocker or enforcing password length, without interfering with users’ personal data, like family photos; but be sensitive about these changes and make sure there’s a real risk you’re addressing rather than setting policies just because they’re available.

Read more in Tech Community on ways Azure AD can enable remote work.

You’ve heard me say it time and again when it comes to multi-factor authentication (MFA): 100 percent of your employees, 100 percent of the time. The single best thing you can do to improve security for employees working from home is to turn on MFA. If you don’t already have processes in place, treat this as an emergency pilot and make sure you have support folks ready to help employees who get stuck. As you probably can’t distribute hardware security devices, use Windows Hello biometrics and smartphone authentication apps like Microsoft Authenticator.

Longer term, I recommend security admins consider a program to find and label the most critical data, like Azure Information Protection, so you can track and audit usage when employees work from home. We must not assume that all networks are secure, or that all employees are in fact working from home when working remotely.

Track your Microsoft Secure Score to see how remote working affects your compliance and risk surface. Use Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to look for attackers masquerading as employees working from home, but be aware that access policies looking for changes in user routines may flag legitimate logons from home and coffee shops.

How to help employees

As more organizations adapt to remote work options, supporting employees will require more than just providing tools and enforcing policies. It will be a combination of tools, transparency, and timeliness.

Remote workers have access to data, information, and your network. This increases the temptation for bad actors. Warn your employees to expect more phishing attempts, including targeted spear phishing aimed at high profile credentials. Now is a good time to be diligent, so watch out for urgent requests that break company policy, use emotive language and have details that are slightly wrong—and provide guidance on where to report those suspicious messages.

Establishing a clear communications policy helps employees recognize official messages. For example, video is harder to spoof than email: an official channel like Microsoft Stream could reduce the chance of phishing while making people feel connected. Streaming videos they can view at a convenient time will also help employees juggling personal responsibilities, like school closures or travel schedule changes.

Transparency is key. Some of our most successful customers are also some of our most transparent ones. Employee trust is built on transparency. By providing clear and basic information, including how to protect their devices, will help you and employees stay ahead of threats.

For example, help employees understand why downloading and using consumer or free VPNs is a bad idea. These connections can extract sensitive information from your network without employees realizing. Instead, offer guidance on how to leverage your VPN and how it’s routed through a secure VPN connection.

Employees need a basic understanding of conditional access policies and what their devices need to connect to the corporate network, like up-to-date anti-malware protection. This way employees understand if their access is blocked and how to get the support they need.

Working from home doesn’t mean being isolated. Reassure employees they can be social, stay in touch with colleagues, and still help keep the business secure. Read more about staying productive while working remotely on the Microsoft 365 blog.

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Empower Firstline Workers with Azure AD and YubiKey passwordless authentication

March 12th, 2020 No comments

At the end of February, Microsoft announced the FIDO2 passwordless support for hybrid environments. The integration of FIDO2-based YubiKeys and Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is a game changer. It combines the ubiquity of Azure AD, the usability of YubiKey, and the security of both solutions to put us on the path to eliminate passwords in the enterprise. Think about that for a moment. Imagine never being asked to change your password again, no more password spreadsheets or vault apps. No more phishing and password spray! Would it be too much to compare it to the moon landing? Probably. But it’s at least as monumental to security as the introduction of passwords themselves. Now think about how much passwordless authentication will improve everyday work for Firstline Workers. Today I’ll share why usability and user experience are so important and how you can modernize work (and security) while reducing costs for Firstline Workers. I’ll also provide advice on transitioning your hybrid environment to passwordless.

User experience matters

Do you want to know why attackers have been so successful? Because they’ve paid attention to user experience. The tools they use to trick users to hand over passwords have been carefully updated to feel legitimate to users. One tool even has a Help Desk, if you can believe that! And it’s working. Many users don’t even realize they’ve given up their password. Bad actors can focus on usability because the economics of hacking are cheap. They don’t have to be present to interrupt a sign-in, and they only need one password to gain access and move laterally to increase privileges. They don’t need a high success rate to achieve a good payoff, which allows them to take the time to get it right. They use that time to research companies for good targets and improving the user experience of their phishing attempts.

Yubico understands the importance of usability and makes security tools accessible and easy to use. Our flagship product, YubiKey, was designed with these principles in mind. The YubiKey is a hardware token with a cryptographic element that supports FIDO2 standards. It is not a password storage device, nor does it contain any personal information. With traditional passwords, the server requests a password, and if the user hands over the password, the server has no way to validate if that user should have that password. With a YubiKey, the server sends a challenge to the user. The user plugs the key in and touches it to sign the challenge. It requires the user to be physically present, so it eliminates remote takeovers of accounts. The ability to work from anywhere in the world is what enables cybercrime.

 

Equally important is its simplicity. Users don’t need to find a code on a separate device or remember complicated passwords or a PIN. The same key can be used across all their devices and accounts, and you can attach it to a keychain. (Take a look at this video to see it in action.)

Transform the Firstline Worker experience, securely

The biggest opportunity for the Azure AD and YubiKey integration to make a real difference is with Firstline Workers. Firstline Workers are more than 2 billion people worldwide who work in service- or task-oriented roles across industries such as retail, hospitality, travel, and manufacturing. They are often mobile, and many serve as the first touchpoint with your customers. Incredibly important to your business, they have been underserved by the cloud revolution. Firstline Workers typically aren’t issued a computer, and the computers they do use may not have a lot of connectivity. This makes it difficult to stay connected to corporate communications or interact digitally with coworkers. It can also prevent them from efficiently doing their jobs. For example, it can be challenging to serve customers if an employee needs to sign into an available computer to answer a question.

One call center reduced the steps to sign in from 13 steps to six—that’s a 60 percent reduction.

There are a lot of hidden costs to password resets. To reduce this time, Firstline Worker passwords often never change. They have developed the same familiar bad habits as office workers: they write down passwords or reuse the same one across multiple sites. Lurking in the wings are the bad actors who just need one password to infiltrate your organization.

YubiKey reduces that risk and empowers your Firstline Workers. With a YubiKey users can easily move from device to device. This can dramatically improve the work experience. It also drives better business outcomes. One call center that implemented YubiKey authentication cut its sign-in process from 13 steps to six—that’s a 60 percent reduction. Reducing time spent signing in can drive huge costs reductions.

The Azure AD and YubiKey integration can support your digital transformation goals in the field. Firstline Workers will easily access the information they need whether that is for customer service or building new products—with significantly less risk of an account takeover.

Transition your hybrid environment to passwordless

YubiKey is a good fit for companies who are invested in Microsoft technology because the device includes several generations of solutions. It works with legacy applications (we can protect anything from Windows XP on up) and cloud solutions like Azure and Office 365. It can support one-time passwords (OTP) with Active Directory or smart card capabilities. If you use Active Directory Federation Services to authenticate, there is a plugin that integrates with on-premises. It’s also compatible with cloud-based authentication, and we are working with Microsoft on integration with Azure Active Directory. Our latest YubiKey 5 Series supports the following authentication technologies:

  • FIDO2
  • U2F
  • PIV
  • Yubico OTP
  • OATH HOTP

As a first step towards passwordless, no matter your environment, start by implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) everywhere, using the YubiKey as a hardware-based backup to a username and password.

Learn more

Yubico is committed to developing new technology to help users trust what they are doing online. We are working with Microsoft to build the latest and greatest into Azure AD. Join us at one of our co-hosted workshops with Microsoft where we will walk you through how you can plan your journey towards eliminating passwords.

Read Alex Simons’ blog announcement about Azure Active Directory support for FIDO2 security keys.   For more information on Microsoft Security solutions, visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/business.

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Microsoft identity acronyms—what do they mean and how do they relate to each other?

March 2nd, 2020 No comments

As a security advisor working with one to three Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) each week, the topic of identity comes up often. These are smart people who have often been in industry for decades. They have their own vocabulary of acronyms that only security professionals know such as DDoS, CEH, CERT, RAT, and 0-Day (if you don’t know one or several of these terms, I encourage you to look them up to build your vocabulary), but they often find themselves confused by Microsoft’s own set of acronyms.

This is the first in a blog series that aims to lessen some confusion around identity by sharing with you some of the terms used at Microsoft. Terms like MFA, PIM, PAM, MIM, MAM, MDM, and a few others. What do they mean and how do they relate to each other?

Multi-Factor Authentication or MFA

Let’s start with what identity means to Microsoft. Identity is the ability to clearly and without doubt ensure the identification of a person, device, location, or application. This is done by establishing trust verification and identity verification using what Microsoft calls Multi-Factor Authentication or MFA. This is a combination of capabilities that allow the entity to establish trust and verify who or what they are.

MFA is an authentication method in which a computer user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence (or factors) to an authentication mechanism: something the user and only the user knows (such as a password or PIN), something the user and only the user has (such as a mobile device or FIDO key), and something the user and only the user is (a biometric such as a fingerprint or iris scan).

Microsoft does this with technologies such as Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) in the cloud combined with Windows Hello. Azure AD is Microsoft’s identity and access management solution. Windows Hello is a Windows capability that allows a user to verify who they are with an image, a pin, or other biometric. The person’s identity is stored via an encrypted hash in the cloud, so it’s never shared in the clear (unencrypted). A cryptographic hash is a checksum that allows someone to proof that they know the original input (e.g., a password) and that the input (e.g., a document) has not been modified.

Privileged Identity Management or PIM

What is Privileged Identity Management or PIM? Organizations use PIM to assign, activate, and approve privileged identities in Azure AD. PIM provides time-based and approval-based role activation to mitigate the risks of excessive, unnecessary, or misused access permissions to sensitive resources.

Key features of PIM include:

  • Just-in-time privileged access to Azure AD and Azure resources.
  • Time-bound access to resources.
  • An approval process to activate privileged roles.
  • MFA enforcement.
  • Justification to understand why users activate.
  • Notifications when roles are activated.
  • Access reviews and internal and external audit history.

Privileged Access Management or PAM

What is Privileged Access Management or PAM? Often confused with PIM, PAM is a capability to help organizations manage identities for existing on-premises Active Directory environments. PAM is an instance of PIM that is accessed using Microsoft Identity Manager or MIM. Confused? Let me explain.

PAM helps organizations solve a few problems including:

  • Making it harder for attackers to penetrate a network and obtain privileged account access.
  • Adding protection to privileged groups that control access to domain-joined computers and the applications on those computers.
  • Providing monitoring, visibility, and fine-grained controls so organizations can see who their privileged admins are and what they are doing.

PAM gives organizations more insight into how admin accounts are being used in the environment.

Microsoft Identity Manager or MIM

But I also mentioned MIM… What is this? Microsoft Identity Manager or MIM helps organizations manage the users, credentials, policies, and access within their organizations and hybrid environments. With MIM, organizations can simplify identity lifecycle management with automated workflows, business rules, and easy integration with heterogenous platforms across the datacenter. MIM enables Active Directory to have the right users and access rights for on-premises apps. Azure AD Connect can then make those users and permissions available in Azure AD for Office 365 and cloud-hosted apps.

OK, so now we know that:

  • PIM is a capability to help companies manage identities in Azure AD.
  • PAM is an on-premises capability to manage identities in Active Directory.
  • MIM helps organizations manage users, credentials, policies, and on-premises access.

Mobile Application Management or MAM

What’s left… Oh yes: Mobile Application Management or MAM. MAM is important because if organizations can only manage identities—but not the apps then they miss a key aspect of protecting data. MAM is connected to a Microsoft capability called Microsoft Intune and is a suite of management features to publish, push, configure, secure, monitor, and update mobile apps for users.

MAM works with or without enrollment of the device, which means organizations can protect sensitive data on almost any device using MAM-WE (without enrollment). If organizations enable MFA, they can verify the user on the device. MAM also helps manage that apps the trusted user or entity can access. If you add in the Mobile Device Management or MDM feature of Intune, you can force enrollment of devices and then use MAM to manage the apps.

It’s well known that Microsoft has a lot of acronyms. This is the first in a series of blog posts aimed to assist you in navigating the acronym forest created by companies and industry. The Microsoft Platform includes a powerful set of capabilities to help encourage users to make the right decisions and gives security leadership, like you, the ability to manage and monitor identities and control access to critical files and network assets.

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MISA expands with new members and new product additions

February 24th, 2020 No comments

Another RSA Conference (RSAC) and another big year for the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA). MISA was launched at RSAC 2018 with 26 members and a year later we had doubled in size to 53 members. Today, I am excited to share that the association has again doubled in size to 102 members.

New members expand the portfolio of MISA integrations

Our new members include a number of ecosystem partners, like RSA, ServiceNow, and Net Motion, which have developed critical integrations that benefit our shared customers and we look forward to deepening our relationship through MISA engagement.

New MISA member RSA is now using Azure Active Directory’s risky user data and other Microsoft security signals to enrich their risk score engine. Additionally, RSA also leverages the Graph Security API to feed their SIEM solution, RSA NetWitness with alerts from the entire suite of Microsoft Security solutions.

 “RSA is excited to showcase the RSA SecurID and RSA NetWitness integrations with Microsoft Security products. Our integrations with Microsoft Defender ATP, Microsoft Graph Security API, Azure AD, and Microsoft Azure Sentinel, help us to better secure access to our mutual customer’s applications, and detect threats and attacks. We’re excited to formalize the long-standing relationship through RSA Ready and MISA to better defend our customers against a world of increasing threats.”
—Anna Sarnek, Head of Strategic Business Development, Cloud and Identity for RSA

The ServiceNow Security Operations integration with Microsoft Graph Security API enables shared customers to automate incident management and response, leveraging the capabilities of the Now Platform’s single data model to dramatically improve their ability to prioritize and respond to threats generated by all Microsoft Security Solutions and custom alerts from Azure Sentinel.

“ServiceNow is pleased to join the Microsoft Intelligent Security Alliance to accelerate security incident response for our shared customers. The ServiceNow Security Operations integration with Azure Sentinel, via the graph security API, enables shared customers to automate incident management and response, leveraging the capabilities of the Now Platform’s single data model to dramatically improve their ability to prioritize and respond to threats.”
—Lou Fiorello, Head of Security Products for ServiceNow

Microsoft is pleased to welcome NetMotion, a connectivity and security solutions company for the world’s growing mobile workforce, into the security partner program. Using NetMotion’s class-leading VPN, customers not only gain uncompromised connectivity and feature parity, they benefit from a VPN that is compatible with Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS devices. For IT teams, NetMotion delivers visibility and control over the entire connection from endpoint to endpoint, over any network, through integration with Microsoft Endpoint Manager (Microsoft Intune).

“NetMotion is designed from the ground up to protect and enhance the user experience of any mobile device. By delivering plug-and-play integration with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, the mobile workforce can maximize productivity and impact without any disruption to their workflow from day one. For organizations already using or considering Microsoft, the addition of NetMotion’s VPN is an absolute no-brainer.”
—Christopher Kenessey, CEO of NetMotion Software

Expanded partner strategy for Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

The Microsoft Defender ATP team worked with our ecosystem partners to take their rich and complete set of APIs a step further to extend the power of our combined platforms. This helps customers strengthen their network and endpoint security posture, add continuous security validation and attack simulation testing, orchestrate and automate incident correlation and remediation, and add threat intelligence and web content filtering capabilities. Read Extending Microsoft Defender ATP network of partners to learn more about their partner strategy expansion and their open framework philosophy.

New product teams join the association

In addition to growing our membership, MISA expanded to cover 12 of Microsoft’s security solutions, including our latest additions: Azure Security Center for IoT Security and Azure DDoS.

Azure Security Center for IoT Security announces five flagship integration partners

The simple onboarding flow for Azure Security Center for IoT enables you to protect your managed and unmanaged IoT devices, view all security alerts, reduce your attack surface with security posture recommendations, and run unified reports in a single pane of glass.

Through partnering with members like Attivo Networks, CyberMDX, CyberX, Firedome, and SecuriThings, Microsoft is able to leverage their vast knowledge pool to help customers defend against a world of increasing IoT threats in enterprise. These solutions protect managed and unmanaged IoT devices in manufacturing, energy, building management systems, healthcare, transportation, smart cities, smart homes, and more. Read more about IoT security and how these five integration partners are changing IoT security in this blog.

Azure DDoS Protection available to partners to combat DDoS attacks

The first DDoS attack occurred way back on July 22, 1999, when a network of 114 computers infected with a malicious script called Trin00 attacked a computer at the University of Minnesota, according to MIT Technology Review. Even after 20 years DDoS continues to be an ever-growing problem, with the number of DDoS attacks doubling in the last year alone and the types of attacks getting increasingly sophisticated with the explosion of IoT devices.

Azure DDoS Protection provides countermeasures against the most sophisticated DDoS threats. The service provides enhanced DDoS mitigation capabilities for your application and resources deployed in your virtual networks. Technology partners can now protect their customers’ resources natively with Azure DDoS Protection Standard to address the availability and reliability concerns due to DDoS attacks.

“Extending Azure DDoS Protection capabilities to Microsoft Intelligent Security Association will help our shared customers to succeed by leveraging the global scale of Azure Networking to protect their workloads against DDoS attacks”
—Anupam Vij, Principal Product Manager, Azure Networking

Learn more

To see MISA members in action, visit the Microsoft booth at RSA where we have a number of our security partners presenting and demoing throughout the week. To learn more about the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association, visit our webpage or the video playlist of member integrations. For more information on Microsoft security solutions, visit our website.

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Azure Sphere—Microsoft’s answer to escalating IoT threats—reaches general availability

February 24th, 2020 No comments

Today Azure Sphere—Microsoft’s integrated security solution for IoT devices and equipment—is widely available for the development and deployment of secure, connected devices. Azure Sphere’s general availability milestone couldn’t be timelier. From consumer device hacking and botnets to nation state driven cyberterrorism, the complexity of the landscape is accelerating. And as we expand our reliance on IoT devices at home, in our businesses and even in the infrastructure that supports transit and utilities, cybersecurity threats are increasingly real to individuals, businesses and society at large.

From its inception in Microsoft Research to general availability today, Azure Sphere is Microsoft’s answer to these escalating IoT threats. Azure Sphere delivers quick and cost-effective device security for OEMs and organizations to protect the products they sell and the critical equipment that they rely on to drive new business value.

To mark today’s general availability milestone, I sat down with Galen Hunt, distinguished engineer and product leader of Azure Sphere to discuss the world of cybersecurity, the threat landscape that businesses and governments are operating in, and how Microsoft and Azure Sphere are helping organizations confidently and securely take advantage of the opportunities enabled by IoT.

 

ANN JOHNSON: Let me start by asking about a comment I once heard you make, where you refer to the internet as “a cauldron of evil.” Can you give us a little insight into what you mean?

GALEN HUNT: Well, I actually quote James Mickens. James is a former colleague at Microsoft Research, and he’s now a professor at Harvard. Those are his words, the idea of the internet being a cauldron of evil. But I love it, because what it really captures is what the internet really is.

The internet is a place of limitless potential, but when you connect a device to the internet, you’re also creating a two-way street; anybody can come in off the internet and try to attack you.

Everything from nation states to petty criminals to organized crime is out there, operating on the internet. As we think about IoT—which is my favorite topic—being aware of the dangers is the first step to being prepared to address them.

ANN JOHNSON: When you’re thinking about folks that are in charge of security organizations, or even folks who have to secure the environment for themselves, what do you view as the biggest threats, and also the biggest opportunities for companies like Microsoft to address those threats?

GALEN HUNT: I think the biggest threat is—and I’m coming at this from the IoT side of things—as we’re able to connect every single device in an enterprise or every single device in a home to the internet, there’s real risk. By compromising those devices, someone can invade our privacy, they can have access to our data, they can manipulate our environment. Those are real risks.

In the traditional internet, the non-Internet-of-Things internet, the damage that could be done was purely digital. But in a connected IoT environment, remote actors are able to affect or monitor not just the digital environment but also the actual physical environment. So that creates all sorts of risks that need to be addressed.

In response, the power that a company like Microsoft can bring is our deep experience in internet security. We’ve been doing it for years. We can help other organizations leverage that experience. That’s a tremendous opportunity we have to help.

ANN JOHNSON: So, with that, walk us through what Azure Sphere is—how do you see our customers and our partners leveraging the technology?

GALEN HUNT: There are four components to Azure Sphere: three of them are powered by technology and one of them is powered by people. Those components combine to form an end-to-end solution that allows any organization that’s building or connecting devices to have the very best of what we know about making internet-connected devices secure.

Let’s talk about the four components.

The first of the three technical components is the certified chips that are built by our silicon partners, they have the hardware root of trust that Microsoft created. These are chips that provide a foundation of security, starting in the silicon itself, and provide connectivity and compute power for these devices.

The second technical component of Azure Sphere is the Azure Sphere operating system. This runs on the chips and creates a secure software environment.

The third technical component is the cloud-based Azure Sphere security service. The security service connects with every single Azure Sphere chip, with every single Azure Sphere operating system, and works with the operating system and the chip to keep the device secured throughout its lifetime.

ANN JOHNSON: So, you’ve got hardware, software, and the cloud, all working together. What about the human component?

GALEN HUNT: The fourth component of Azure Sphere is our people and all their security expertise. Our team provides ongoing security monitoring of Azure Sphere devices and, actually, of the full ecosystem. As we identify new types of attacks and new emerging security vulnerabilities, we will upgrade our operating system and the cloud services to mitigate against those new kinds of attacks. Then we will deploy updates to every Azure Sphere-based device, globally. So, we’re providing ongoing support, and ongoing security improvements for those devices.

ANN JOHNSON: I want to make this real for folks. Walk me through a use case; where would somebody actually implement and use Azure Sphere? How does their infrastructure or architecture fit in?

GALEN HUNT: Okay, let’s start with a device manufacturer. They say, okay we’re going to create a new device, and we want to have that device be an IoT device. We want it to connect to the internet, so it can be integrated into an organization’s digital feedback loop. And so, they will buy a chip, an Azure Sphere-based microcontroller or SoC, which will serve as the primary processing component, and they build that into their device. The Azure Sphere chip provides the compute power and secured connectivity.

Now, of course not everybody is building a brand-new device from scratch. There are a lot of existing devices out there that are very valuable. Sometimes they’re too valuable to take on the risk of connecting them and exposing them to the internet. One of the things we’ve developed during the Azure Sphere preview period is a new class of device that we call a “guardian module.” The guardian module is a very small device—no larger than the size of a deck of cards—built around an Azure Sphere chip. An organization interested in connecting existing devices can connect through the guardian module and pull data from that existing device and securely connect it to the cloud. The guardian modules, powered by Azure Sphere, are a way to add highly secure connectivity—even to existing devices—that’s protected by Microsoft.

ANN JOHNSON: Interesting, it solves a pretty big problem with device security, especially as we continue to see a massive proliferation of devices in our environment, most of which are unmanaged. What do you think is slowing the broad adoption of security related to connected devices?

GALEN HUNT: Well, there are a couple of things. I think the biggest barrier, up until now, has been the lack of an end-to-end solution. For companies that have had aspirations to build or to buy highly secured devices, each device has been a one-off. Customers have had to completely build a unique solution for each device, and that just takes an incredible amount of expertise and hard work.

The other obstacle I’ve found is that organizations realize that they need secure devices, but they just don’t know where to begin. They don’t know what they should be looking for, from a device security perspective. There’s a bit of a temptation to look for a security feature checklist instead of really understanding what’s required to have a device that’s highly secured.

ANN JOHNSON: I know you’ve given this a lot of consideration and your background gives you a deeper view into what it takes to secure devices. You wrote a paper on the seven properties of highly secure devices, based on a lot of research you’ve done on the topic. How did you coalesce on the seven properties and how customers can implement them securely?

GALEN HUNT: Yes, I’m a computer scientist, and for over 15 years I ran operating systems research in Microsoft Research. About five years ago, someone walked into my office with a schematic, or a floor map, of a brand new—actually, still under development—microcontroller. This was actually the very first of a new class of a microcontroller.

A microcontroller, for anybody who is not familiar, is a single-chip computer that has processer, and storage, memory, and IoT capabilities. Microcontrollers are used in everything from toys, to appliances, even industrial equipment. Well, this was the first time I had seen a microcontroller, a programmable microcontroller, with the physical capabilities required to be able to connect to the internet—built in—and at a price point that was just a couple of dollars.

When I looked at this thing, I realized that for the price of a cup of coffee, anything on the planet that had electricity could be turned into an internet device. I realized I was looking at the fifth generation of computing, and that was a terribly exciting thought. But the person who had come into my office was asking, what kind of code should we run on this so that it would be secure if we did want to build internet-connected devices with it?

And what I realized, really quickly, was that even though it had some great security features, it lacked much of what was required to build a secure device from a software perspective, and that set me off on journey. I imagined this dystopian future where there are nine billion new insecure devices being added to the world’s population, every year.

ANN JOHNSON: Sure, the physical risks of device hacking make nine billion insecure IoT devices a daunting thought.

GALEN HUNT: Well for me, that was a really scary thought. And as a scientist, I said, well we know that Microsoft and our peer companies have built devices that have been out on the internet. They’ve been connected for at least a five-year period and have withstood relentless attacks from hackers and other ne’er-do-wells. The driving question of our next phase of work was: why are some devices highly secure, and what is it that separates them?

And we did a very scientific study of finding these secure devices and trying to figure out the qualities and the properties that they had in common, and this led to our list of these seven properties. We published that paper, which then led to more experiments.

Now, the devices we found that had these seven properties were devices that had hundreds of dollars in electronics in them, and, you know, that’s not going to scale to every device on the planet. You’re not going to be able to add hundreds of dollars of electronics to every device on the planet, like a light bulb, in order to get security.

Then we wondered if we could build a very, very small and a very, very economical solution that contained all seven properties. And that’s what ultimately led us to Azure Sphere. It’s a solution that, really, for just a few dollars, any company can build a device that is highly secured.

ANN JOHNSON: So, the device itself is highly secured; it has all these built-in capabilities, but one of the biggest problems our customers face is fundamentally a talent shortage, right? Is there something that we’re inherently doing here, with Azure Sphere, that could make it easier for customers?

GALEN HUNT: Yes. Fundamentally what we’re trying to do is create a scalable solution, and it is Microsoft talent that helps these companies create these highly secure devices. There’s something like a million-plus openings in the field of security professionals. Globally there’s a huge talent shortage.

With Azure Sphere we allow a company that doesn’t have really deep security expertise to draft off of our security talent. There are a few areas of expertise that one has to have in order to build a highly-secure device with similar capabilities to Azure Sphere.

Sometimes I’ll use the words technology, talent, and tactics. You have to have the technical expertise to actually build a device that has a high degree of security in it. Not just a device with a checklist of features, but with true integration across all components for gap-free security. Then, once the device is built and deployed out into the wild, you need the talent to fight the ongoing security battle. That talent is watching for and detecting emerging security threats and coding up mitigations to address them. And finally, you’ll have to scale out those updates to every device. That’s a really deep set of expertise, talent, and tactics and, for the most part, it’s very much outside of what many companies know how to do.

When building on top of Azure Sphere, instead of staffing or developing all of this expertise outside of their core business, organizations can instead outsource that to Microsoft.

ANN JOHNSON: That’s a really great way to put it. It also gives you that end-to-end security integration, right? Because I would imagine Azure Sphere is going to integrate with all of Microsoft’s infrastructure and services?

GALEN HUNT: In building Azure Sphere, we leveraged pretty deeply a lot of expertise and a lot of talent that we have at Microsoft. Take, for example, the infrastructure that we use to scale out the deployment of new updates. We leveraged the infrastructure that Microsoft created for the Windows update service—and, our operating system is much, much smaller than Windows. So now we have the capability to update billions of devices, globally, per hour. We also have a place where we can tie Azure Sphere into the Azure Security Center for IoT.

We also really drew on all of the expertise around Visual Studios for very scalable software development. We brought that power even to the smaller microcontroller class devices.

And the hardware root of trust that we put inside of every single Azure Sphere chip. That hardware root of trust is not something that we just created, just woke up one day and said, hey, let’s build a hardware root of trust from scratch. We actually built it based on our learning from the Xbox console.

The Xbox console, over 15 years has made three huge generational leaps. Those consoles can live in hostile environments—from a digital security perspective and a physical security perspective. So, we’ve taken everything we’ve learned about how to make those devices highly secured and applied it to building the hardware root of trust inside Azure Sphere. These are some of the ways that we’re really leveraging a lot of Microsoft’s deep expertise.

ANN JOHNSON: Today, marks the general availability of Azure Sphere—which I’m super excited about, by the way! But I know you’ve been thinking for a long time about how we solve some of these bigger problems, particularly the explosion of IoT, and how customers are going to have to think about that within the next two, to three, to five, to ten years from now. What are the challenges you see ahead for us, and what are the benefits our customers will be able to realize?

GALEN HUNT: We’re excited as well—it’s a huge milestone for the team. Even at this point, at GA, we’re only at the beginning of our real journey with our customers. One of our immediate next steps is scaling out the silicon ecosystem. MediaTek is our first silicon partner. Their MT3620 chip is available in volume today, and it’s the perfect chip, especially for guardian modules and adding secure connectivity to many, many devices.

With microcontrollers, there are many, many verticals. They range in everything from toys to home appliances, to big industrial equipment. And no single chip scales across that entire ecosystem effectively, so we’ve engaged other silicon partners. In June, NXP, the world’s number one microcontroller manufacturer, announced their timeline for their very first Azure Sphere chip. And that chip will add much larger compute capabilities. For example, they’ll do AI, and vision, and graphics, and more sophisticated user interfaces. And then in October, Qualcomm announced that they’ll build the very first cellular native Azure Sphere chip.

The other place we see ourselves growing is in adding more enterprise readiness features. As we’ve engaged with some of our early partners, for example, Starbucks, and have helped them deploy Azure Sphere across their stores in North America, we’ve realized that there’s a lot we can do to really help integrate Azure Sphere better with existing enterprise systems to make that very, very smooth.

ANN JOHNSON: There’s a lot of noise about tech regulations, certainly about IoT and different device manufacturing procedures. How are we thinking about innovation in the context of balancing it with regulation?

GALEN HUNT: So, let’s talk about innovation and regulation. There are times when you want to step out of the way and just let people innovate as much as possible. And then there are times as an industry, or as a society we want to make sure we establish a baseline.

Take food safety, for example. The science of food safety is very well established. Having regulations makes sure that no one cuts corners on safety for the sake of economic expediency. Most countries have embraced some kind of regulations around food safety.

IoT is another industry where it’s in everybody’s favor that all devices be secure. If consumers and enterprises can know that every device has a strong foundation of security and trustworthiness, then they’ll be more likely to buy devices, and build devices, and deploy devices.

And so I really see it as an opportunity whereby collectively and, with governments encouraging baseline levels of security, agreeing on a strong foundation of security we’ll all feel confident in our environment, and that’s really a positive thing for everybody.

ANN JOHNSON: That’s really a great perspective, and I think that we’ve always been that way at Microsoft, right? We view regulation in a positive way and thinking that it needs to be the right regulation across a wide variety of things that we’re doing, whether it be AI, just making sure that it’s being used for ethical use cases.

Which brings me to that last-wrap question, what’s next, what are your next big plans, what’s your next big security disruption?

GALEN HUNT: We recently announced new chips from NXP and Qualcomm, we’ll continue our focus on expanding our silicon and hardware ecosystem to deliver more choice for our customers. And then beyond that, our next big plan is to take Azure Sphere everywhere. We’ve demonstrated it’s possible, but I think we’re just starting to scratch the surface of secured IoT. There’s so much ability for innovation, and the devices that people are building, and the way that we’re using devices. When we’re really able to close this digital feedback loop and really interact between the digital world and the physical world, it’s just a tremendous opportunity, and so that’s where I’m going.

ANN JOHNSON: Excellent, well, I really appreciate the conversation. Azure Sphere is a great example of the notion that while cybersecurity is complex, it does not have to be complicated. Azure Sphere helps our customers overcome today’s complicated IoT security challenges. Thank you, Galen, for some great insights into the current IoT security landscape and how Microsoft and Azure Sphere are advancing IoT device security with the broad availability of Azure Sphere today.

 

If you are interested in learning more about how Azure Sphere can help you securely fast track your next IoT innovation.

 

About Ann Johnson and Galen Hunt

Ann Johnson is the Corporate Vice President of the Cybersecurity Solutions Group at Microsoft where she oversees the go-to-market strategies of cybersecurity solutions. As part of this charter, she leads and drives the evolution and implementation of Microsoft’s short- and long-term security, compliance, and identity solutions roadmap with alignment across the marketing, engineering, and product teams.

Prior to joining Microsoft, her executive leadership roles included Chief Executive Officer of Boundless Spatial, President and Chief Operating Officer of vulnerability management pioneer Qualys, Inc., and Vice President of World Wide Identity and Fraud Sales at RSA Security, a subsidiary of EMC Corporation.

Dr. Galen Hunt founded and leads the Microsoft team responsible for Azure Sphere. His team’s mission is to ensure that every IoT device on the planet is secure and trustworthy. Previously, Dr. Hunt pioneered technologies ranging from confidential cloud computing to light-weight container virtualization, type-safe operating systems, and video streaming. Dr. Hunt was a member of Microsoft’s founding cloud computing team.

Dr. Hunt holds over 100 patents, a B.S. degree in Physics from University of Utah and Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Rochester.

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New Microsoft Security innovations and partnerships

February 20th, 2020 No comments

Today on the Official Microsoft Blog, Ann Johnson, Corporate Vice President of the Cybersecurity Solutions Group, shared how Microsoft is helping turn the tide in cybersecurity by putting artificial intelligence (AI) in the hands of defenders. She announced the general availability of Microsoft Threat Protection, new platforms supported by Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), new capabilities in Azure Sentinel, and the general availability of Insider Risk Management in Microsoft 365.

Today, we’re also announcing:

  • An expanded public preview of FIDO2 security key support in Azure Active Directory (AD) to encompass hybrid environments. Workers can now sign in to work-owned Windows 10 devices with their Azure AD accounts using a FIDO2 security key instead of a password and automatically get single sign-on (SSO) to both on-premises and cloud resources.
  • New integration between Microsoft Cloud App Security and Microsoft Defender ATP that enables endpoint-based control of unsanctioned cloud applications. Administrators can now control the unauthorized use of cloud apps with protection built right into the endpoint.
  • Azure Security Center for IoT now supports a broader range of devices including Azure RTOS OS, Linux specifically Ubuntu and Debian, and Windows 10 IoT core. SecOps professionals can now reason over signals in an experience that combines IT and OT into a single view.
  • Two new features of Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), campaign views and compromise detection and response, are now generally available. Campaign views gives security teams a complete view of email attack campaigns and makes it easier to address vulnerable users and configuration issues. Compromise detection and response speeds the detection of compromised users and is critical to ensuring that attacks are blocked early, and the impact of a breach is minimized.
  • In partnership with Terranova, we will offer customized user learning paths in Office 365 ATP later this year. User education needs to be part of every organization’s security strategy and we are investing to raise security awareness training efficacy.

These innovations are just a part of our commitment to built-in and cross-platform security that embraces AI and is deeply integrated together.

This integration also spans a broad ecosystem of security vendors to help solve for our customers’ security and compliance needs. We now have more than 100 members in the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association, including new members such as ServiceNow, Thales, and Trend Micro, and new IoT security solution providers like Attivo Networks, CyberMDX, CyberX, and Firedome to alleviate the integration challenges enterprises face.

To recognize outstanding efforts across the security ecosystem, on February 23, 2020—the night before the RSA Conference begins—we’ll host our inaugural security partner awards event, Microsoft Security 20/20, to celebrate our partners.

Good people, supported by AI and automation, have the advantage in the ongoing cybersecurity battle. That’s why we continue to innovate with new security and compliance solutions to help our customers in this challenge.

The post New Microsoft Security innovations and partnerships appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Free import of AWS CloudTrail logs through June 2020 and other exciting Azure Sentinel updates

February 20th, 2020 No comments

SecOps teams are increasingly challenged to protect assets across distributed environments, analyze the growing volume of security data, and prioritize response to real threats.

As a cloud-native SIEM solution (security information and event management), Azure Sentinel uses artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to help address these challenges. Azure Sentinel empowers SecOps teams to be more efficient and effective at responding to threats in the cloud, on-premises, and beyond.

Azure Sentinel

Intelligent security analytics for your entire enterprise.

Learn more

Our innovation continues, and we have some exciting news to share for the RSA 2020 conference including the ability to import AWS CloudTrail data for free through June 2020, opportunities to win up to $1,000 for community contributions, and many other product updates.

Enable unified response across multiple clouds—now with free import of AWS CloudTrail data through June 2020

More than 60 percent of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy—a combination of private and multi-cloud deployments. We’re committed to help SecOps teams defend the entire stack, not just Microsoft workloads. That’s why Azure Sentinel includes built-in connectors to bring together data from Microsoft solutions with data from other cloud platforms and security solutions.

You can already ingest data from Azure activity logs, Office 365 audit logs, and alerts from Microsoft 365 security solutions at no additional cost. To further help our customers secure their entire multi-cloud estate, today we’re announcing the ability to import your AWS CloudTrail logs into Azure Sentinel at no additional cost from February 24, 2020 until June 30, 2020.

New and existing customers of Azure Sentinel can take advantage of this offer by using the built-in connector for AWS CloudTrail logs. Data retention charges after 90 days period and other related charges are applicable during this time as per Azure Sentinel terms. Learn more about Azure Sentinel pricing.

Image of AWS CloudTrail logs.

Once connected to your AWS CloudTrail logs, you can visualize and get relevant insights using built-in workbooks. You can even customize these dashboards and combine insights from other sources to meet your needs:

Image of AWS network activities.

Detections and hunting queries developed by Microsoft Security experts will make it easier to identify and respond to potential threats in your AWS environment:

Image showing credential abuse in AWS CloudTrail.

Gain visibility into threats targeting IoT

With the exponential growth in connected devices creating an uptick in attacks targeting IoT, it is critical for enterprise SecOps teams to include IoT data in their scope. A new Azure Security Center for IoT connector makes it easy for customers to onboard data from Azure IoT Hub-managed deployments into Azure Sentinel. Customers can now monitor alerts across all IoT Hub deployments along with other related alerts in Azure Sentinel, inspect and triage IoT incidents, and run investigations to track an attacker’s lateral movement within their enterprise.

With this announcement Azure Sentinel is the first SIEM with native IoT support, allowing SecOps and analysts to identify threats in these complex converged environments.

In addition, Upstream Security, a cloud-based automotive cybersecurity detection and response company, is launching integration with Azure Sentinel. This will enable customers to send threats detected by Upstream Security’s C4 platform to Azure Sentinel for further investigation.

Collect data from additional data sources

We’re continually adding new data connectors from leading security solutions and partners. Each of these data connectors have sample queries and dashboards to help you start working with the data immediately in Azure Sentinel:

  • Forcepoint—Three new connectors enable customers to bring in data from Forcepoint NextGen Firewall logs (NGFW), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) logs and events, and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) incident data in Azure Sentinel.
  • Zimperium—Customers can use the Zimperium Mobile Threat Defense (MTP) connector to get Zimperium threat logs in Azure Sentinel.
  • Squadra technologies—Customers can get their Squadra secRMM (security removable media manager) event data for the USB removable devices in Azure Sentinel.

Bring SIGMA detections to Azure Sentinel

The SOC Prime Threat Detection Marketplace—which includes 950+ rules mapped to MITRE ATT&CK to address over 180 attacker techniques—now supports Azure Sentinel analytics rules. The SOC Prime marketplace provides unprecedented access to the latest threat detection content from the SIGMA community, SOC Prime team, and its Threat Bounty Program members. New detection rules are continuously created and updated by security researchers and published daily at the SOC Prime marketplace, helping companies to detect latest threats, vulnerability exploitation attempts and enable TTP-based threat hunting. Once the rules are published, using the Azure Sentinel integration you can instantly deploy them from within TDM to your Azure Sentinel instance with just one click.

Use ReversingLabs threat intelligence to inform threat response

ReversingLabs brings two new integrations to Azure Sentinel, enabling customers to leverage rich ReversingLabs threat intelligence for hunting and investigation in Azure Sentinel. The first integration features an Azure Sentinel Notebooks sample that connects to the Reversing Labs API to enable hunting scenarios that include ReversingLabs threat intelligence data. In addition, a new ReversingLabs TitaniumCloud connector for Azure Logic Apps and sample playbook enable security incident responders to automatically identify key information about file-based threats to rapidly triage incoming alerts.

Detect threats with greater confidence using new machine learning models

Azure Sentinel uses AI-based Fusion technology to stitch together huge volumes of low and medium fidelity alerts across different sources and then elevates the combined incidents to a high priority alert that security professionals can investigate. Learn how Azure Sentinel evaluated nearly 50 million suspicious signals for Microsoft in a single month to create just 23 high confidence incidents for our SecOps team to investigate.

In addition to the existing machine learning detections that look for multi-stage attacks, we are introducing several new scenarios in public preview using Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and Palo Alto logs. These new detections will help SecOps teams to identify attacks that may otherwise be missed and reduce the mean time to remediate threats.

Manage incidents across multiple tenants and workspaces

Managed security service providers and large enterprises often need a central place to manage security incidents across multiple workspaces and tenants. Integration of Azure Sentinel with Azure Lighthouse now lets you view and investigate incidents from different tenants and workspaces in a central pane. This will also help enterprises who need to keep separate workspaces in different regions to meet regulatory requirements while managing incidents in a central place.

Join the Azure Sentinel private preview in Azure Government

Azure Sentinel is now available in private preview in Azure Government, starting with US Gov Virginia region. To join the preview please contact us at sentinelazuregov@microsoft.com.

Azure Sentinel is currently going through the FedRAMP-High certification process, and Microsoft anticipates achieving compliance by the summer of 2020.

Get rewarded up to $1,000 for your contributions to the Azure Sentinel community

Cybersecurity is a community-driven effort with defenders helping each other to scale against sophisticated, rapidly evolving threats. Azure Sentinel has a thriving community of threat hunters that share hunting, detection and investigation queries, automated workflows, visualizations, and much more in the Azure Sentinel GitHub repository.

We’re announcing a special program for our threat hunter community, featuring:

Review the Recognition and Rewards documentation and see our newly redesigned GitHub experience.

Try Azure Sentinel and visit us at the RSA Conference 2020

Since the general availability of Azure Sentinel last September, there are many examples of how Azure Sentinel helps customers like ASOS, Avanade, University of Phoenix, SWC Technology Partners, and RapidDeploy improve their security across diverse environments while reducing costs.

It’s easy to get started. You can access the new features in Azure Sentinel today. If you are not using Azure Sentinel, we welcome you to start a trial.

Our team will be showcasing Azure Sentinel at the RSA Conference next week. Take a look at all the featured sessions, theater sessions and other activities planned across Microsoft Security technologies. We hope to meet you all there.

Also, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters and follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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Azure Sentinel uncovers the real threats hidden in billions of low fidelity signals

February 20th, 2020 No comments

Cybercrime is as much a people problem as it is a technology problem. To respond effectively, the defender community must harness machine learning to compliment the strengths of people. This is the philosophy that undergirds Azure Sentinel. Azure Sentinel is a cloud-native SIEM that exploits machine learning techniques to empower security analysts, data scientists, and engineers to focus on the threats that matter. You may have heard of similar solutions from other vendors, but the Fusion technology that powers Azure Sentinel sets this SIEM apart for three reasons:

  1. Fusion finds threats that fly under the radar, by combining low fidelity, “yellow” anomalous activities into high fidelity “red” incidents.
  2. Fusion does this by using machine learning to combine disparate data—network, identity, SaaS, endpoint—from both Microsoft and Partner data sources.
  3. Fusion incorporates graph-based machine learning and a probabilistic kill chain to reduce alert fatigue by 90 percent.

Azure Sentinel

Intelligent security analytics for your entire enterprise.

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You can get a sense of how powerful Fusion is by looking at data from December 2019. During that month, billions of events flowed into Azure Sentinel from thousands of Azure Sentinel customers. Nearly 50 billion anomalous alerts were identified and graphed. After Fusion applied the probabilistic kill chain, the graph was reduced to 110 sub graphs. A second level of machine learning reduced it further to just 25 actionable incidents. This is how Azure Sentinel reduces alert fatigue by 90 percent.

Infographic showing alerts to high-fidelity incidents.

New Fusion scenarios—Microsoft Defender ATP + Palo Alto firewalls

There are currently 35 multi-stage attack scenarios generally available through Fusion machine learning technology in Azure Sentinel. Today, Microsoft has introduced several additional scenarios—in public preview—using Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and Palo Alto logs. This way, you can leverage the power of Sentinel and Microsoft Threat Protection as complementary technologies for the best customer protection.

  • Detect otherwise missed attacks—By stitching together disparate datasets using Bayesian methods, Fusion helps to detect attacks that could have been missed.
  • Reduce mean time to remediate—Microsoft Threat Protection provides a best in class investigation experience when addressing alerts from Microsoft products. For non-Microsoft datasets, you can leverage hunting and investigation tools in Azure Sentinel.

Here are a few examples:

An endpoint connects to TOR network followed by suspicious activity on the Internal network—Microsoft Defender ATP detects that a user inside the network made a request to a TOR anonymization service. On its own this incident would be a low-level fidelity. It’s suspicious but doesn’t rise to the level of a high-level threat. Palo Alto firewalls registers anomalous activity from the same IP address, but it isn’t risky enough to block. Separately neither of these alerts get elevated, but together they indicate a multi-stage attack. Fusion makes the connection and promotes it to a high-fidelity incident.

Infographic of the Palo Alto firewall detecting threats.

A PowerShell program on an endpoint connects to a suspicious IP address, followed by suspicious activity on the Internal network—Microsoft Defender ATP generates an alert when a PowerShell program makes a suspicious network connection. If Palo Alto allows traffic from that IP address back into the network, Fusion ties the two incidents together to create a high-fidelity incident

An endpoint connects to a suspicious IP followed by anomalous activity on the Internal network—If Microsoft Defender ATP detects an outbound connection to an IP with a history of unauthorized access and Palo Alto firewalls allows an inbound request from that same IP address, it’s elevated by Fusion.

How Fusion works

  1. Construct graph

The process starts by collecting data from several data sources, such as Microsoft products, Microsoft security partner products, and other cloud providers. Each of those security products output anomalous activity, which together can number in the billions or trillions. Fusion gathers all the low and medium level alerts detected in a 30-day window and creates a graph. The graph is hyperconnected and consists of billions of vertices and edges. Each entity is represented by a vertex (or node). For example, a vertex could be a user, an IP address, a virtual machine (VM), or any other entity within the network. The edges (or links) represent all the activities. If a user accesses company resources with a mobile device, both the device and the user are represented as vertices connected by an edge.

Image of an AAD Detect graph.

Once the graph is built there are still billions of alerts—far too many for any security operations team to make sense of. However, within those connected alerts there may be a pattern that indicates something more serious. The human brain is just not equipped to quickly remove it. This is where machine learning can make a real difference.

  1. Apply probabilistic kill chain

Fusion applies a probabilistic kill chain which acts as a regularizer to the graph. The statistical analysis is based on how real people—Microsoft security experts, vendors, and customers—triage alerts. For example, defenders prioritize kill chains that are time bound. If a kill chain is executed within a day, it will take precedence over one that is enacted over a few days. An even higher priority kill chain is one in which all steps have been completed. This intelligence is encoded into the Fusion machine learning statistical model. Once the probabilistic kill chain is applied, Fusion outputs a smaller number of sub graphs, reducing the number of threats from billions to hundreds.

  1. Score the attack

To reduce the noise further, Fusion uses machine learning to apply a final round of scoring. If labeled data exists, Fusion uses random forests. Labeled data for attacks is generated from the extensive Azure red team that execute these scenarios. If labeled data doesn’t exist Fusion uses spectral clustering.

Some of the criteria used to elevate threats include the number of high impact activity in the graph and whether the subgraph connects to another subgraph.

The output of this machine learning process is tens of threats. These are extremely high priority alerts that require immediate action. Without Fusion, these alerts would likely remain hidden from view, since they can only be seen after two or more low level threats are stitched together to shine a light on stealth activities. AI-generated alerts can now be handed off to people who will determine how to respond.

The great promise of AI in cybersecurity is its ability to enable your cybersecurity people to stay one step ahead of the humans on the other side. AI-backed Fusion is just one example of the innovative potential of partnering technology and people to take on the threats of today and tomorrow.

Learn more

Read more about Azure Sentinel and dig into all the Azure Sentinel detection scenarios.

Also, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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Unifying security policy across all mobile form-factors with Wandera and Microsoft

February 19th, 2020 No comments

The way we work is evolving—technology enables more effective employees by helping them to be productive where and when they choose. Businesses have also been enjoying the productivity benefits of an always-on and always-connected workforce.

While new business applications and device form-factors helped to accelerate these changes, organizations are now discovering the challenges with managing security and compliance policies in the modern workplace. As devices physically leave the corporate campus, administrators need tools to effectively manage end user applications and the corresponding access to company data; this is a particularly complex challenge for businesses who manage mobile devices running a variety of operating systems with significantly different management capabilities.

Mobile devices also introduce new IT challenges that can seriously impact business operations, such as:

  • Legacy security infrastructure such as Secure Web Gateways aren’t built for mobile devices, and backhauling traffic isn’t feasible for enforcing acceptable use policies, meaning that inappropriate content could be accessed, or shadow IT tools used, potentially creating legal liability for the business.
  • Insecure apps and content risks such as mobile phishing represent new attack vectors; modern app distribution methods and mobile-specific attack vectors (e.g., SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger) represent significantly expanded surface area that IT teams must now protect.
  • Excessive mobile data usage can lead to bill shock and result in unexpected financial risk for businesses of all sizes.

The modern business needs to manage risk in the simplest and most effective way, while simultaneously enabling worker productivity. Embracing tools that meet the needs of mobile work will improve employee and organizational productivity, and ultimately make the business more agile.

Mobility comes in many form factors and OSs, leading to admin complexity

The explosion in the number of iOS and Android smartphones and tablets sold over the last decade is a testament to their revolutionary impact in providing always-on communication, productivity, and organizational tools. Mobility has been great for businesses; according to Frost and Sullivan, portable devices increase productivity on work tasks by 34 percent and save employees 58 minutes per day.

While smartphones have been at the forefront of transforming personal productivity and improving business operations, they are not the only form-factor available for work that is performed on-the-go. Many worker tasks, such as manipulating large data sets or refining high resolution images, require specialized hardware such as a large display or a trackball to optimize the user experience and efficiency. A different type of mobile tool is needed for certain remote workers with job-specific tasks.

Windows devices have long been a key tool for enabling office employees, and in recent years, laptops have become lightweight and highly portable, making them as versatile as mobile devices. Many laptops now also include a physical SIM or eSIM to enable always-on connectivity, and the 2-in-1 form factor is proving to be a popular choice for office workers because of the resulting flexibility in working style.

Challenges managing a diverse mobile workforce go beyond the device

Supporting Windows devices outside of the office creates new challenges for IT teams—principally, how does the admin effectively manage users working remotely? Separate tools exist to manage apps and user access on different operating systems, creating management overhead. Additionally, Windows devices are typically attached to Wi-Fi and other unmetered networks where users are not constrained in how much data they can consume without penalty. As these devices are enabled for mobile data networks, these powerful systems need to be more intelligent in the way they consume data.

The difference in managing apps and data on mobile vs on Windows led to increased complexity for the admin. For example, Microsoft Word may be deployed via an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution such as Microsoft Intune on mobile, while on Windows, System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) may be used. The different management infrastructures required for these tools have increased overhead and created challenges for IT teams maintaining more than one service to manage employees that simultaneously use mobile and Windows devices for working.

Any changes to users, such as employees joining or leaving the company, must be replicated across both tools. Additionally, the different tools have disparate controls, meaning that it is impossible to apply consistent security, acceptable use, and Conditional Access policies. Applying policies inconsistently can result in users receiving inappropriate privileges or disparate access to services across different form factors and operating systems. As a result, employees may be drawn to using a corporate-approved app on their Windows device but an unapproved consumer variant on their mobile device, leading to increased risk.

Strategies for effectively enabling a mobile workforce

It is just as important to protect users working remotely as it is to protect users within the network perimeter. Extending security policy in a consistent manner to mobile devices can be achieved with three services: a Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) service such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager, inclusive of both Microsoft Intune and Configuration Manager, an Identity and Access Management (IAM) service such as Azure Active Directory (AD), and a network-based risk management service such as the Wandera Mobile Security Suite that protects against cyber threats and usage risks.

Organizations looking to adopt this suite of services for unified policy should seek solutions that are deeply integrated in order to achieve a fully secure and manageable mobility stack. Wandera and Microsoft have partnered together to offer an integrated secure technology stack:

  • UEM services bridge the management gap between Windows and mobile devices. Microsoft Endpoint Manager enables administrators to push applications and configuration profiles to enable homogeneous management across both mobile and Windows devices.
  • Pairing Microsoft Endpoint Manager with Azure AD means that the profiles can be managed at a user level, instead of at the device level, further improving management consistency.
  • Wandera Mobile Security Suite allows administrators to define security and acceptable use policies at the network level, agnostic to the device that is being used. This means that applications and websites can be whitelisted or blacklisted, preventing users from using dangerous or unapproved services regardless of device type.

For example, a business may choose to use OneDrive for storing files in the cloud and want to prevent other file sharing services from being used. Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Azure AD can be used to push and configure the OneDrive application to the Windows and mobile devices, enabling employees to use this service. Wandera Mobile Security Suite can then be used in tandem to prevent employees from using other services such as Dropbox, preventing the user from accessing shadow IT in the form of application and web browser versions.

Many organizations have found that the lack of consistent controls create new attack surfaces that hackers use to penetrate the organization and mischievous employees abuse to circumvent IT policies. It is not uncommon for users to be blocked by acceptable use policies as they browse to unsanctioned content from a desktop computer, only to enable tethering on a mobile device to circumvent the policy.

Managing different technologies and applying different policies creates undue complexity for admin teams and prevents business flexibility, potentially leading to overlooked security gaps. Wandera Mobile Security Suite’s in-network security technology allows content security policies to be applied consistently across different device types. This means that phishing attacks, which are how 90 percent of data breaches begin, can be prevented regardless of device type. Mobile Security Suite is also able to block spam sites and stop malware communicating with command-and-control (C2) servers.

Mobile data management is another area of disparate control for businesses. The rich set of features in Wandera Mobile Security Suite for managing data usage on mobile devices can help an organization prevent bill shock caused by data overages or roaming on any iOS, Android, or Windows 10 device, with detailed and holistic reporting so businesses can understand how they use data and where risk may enter through mobile usage.

Better together—Microsoft and Wandera

Businesses can benefit from the strong integration between Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Azure AD, and Wandera Mobile Security Suite, making device management processes seamless. The combined solution streamlines device lifecycle management, involves a single source-of-truth for users and roles that is applied consistently between products, and makes security policies more intelligent and effective by ensuring that all components in the solution are sharing intelligence to remediate threat as soon as it’s detected.

Using Azure AD to centrally manage user identities simplifies administration, as credentials do not need to be created across multiple systems. When an employee is added in Azure AD, a profile will automatically be created in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, enabling their devices to be managed. In turn, Wandera Mobile Security Suite can be integrated with Microsoft Endpoint Manager so that the same acceptable use, content security, and data management policies can be applied seamlessly. This workflow functions when an employee leaves the business, unenrolling them from all services, making integration of services an easy way to manage a device’s lifecycle and ensuring that sensitive data remains secure

The integrated solution also enables differentiated access for users through applying policies by role. The three services can be linked directly so that an organization’s directory hierarchy can be shared, and acceptable use policies applied to the user level simply and easily.

Enabling employees is very important for productivity, but equally as important is preventing unwanted parties accessing confidential information and critical systems. Infecting an endpoint is an easy way for malicious parties to infiltrate a businesses’ technology systems.

The integrated solution also incorporates risk signals from a variety of sources to ensure that the user, device, and data are safe. Microsoft Endpoint Manager provides a risk assessment of the device configuration, including whether the lockscreen is configured properly. Azure AD is able to determine when sign-in behavior is anomalous or risky, through signals integration with Azure AD Identity Protection. Wandera Mobile Security Suite provides an added set of security assessments on the device that includes vulnerability scans, app vetting, and Man-in-the-Middle checks. All of these risk signals are brought together through a single Conditional Access policy.

Best practices for mobility management with iOS, Android, and Windows 10 devices

As mobile employees are enabled with mobile iOS, Android, and Windows 10 devices, businesses need to embrace technology that will give admins the necessary controls to effectively manage employee devices consistently. Businesses need to be able to manage productivity tools, by providing access to acceptable applications and blocking unwanted applications. Organizations need to provide strong security across devices to close gaps in their defenses and prevent common threats from impacting business operations. Finally, businesses should ensure that Windows devices do not cause unexpected data charges by employing cost control tools.

To be able to effectively enforce acceptable use, content security, and control costs across a device fleet with many different device types, businesses should utilize integrated solutions that can support consistent management. Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Azure AD, and Wandera Mobile Security Suite provide features that organizations need to embrace a mobile fleet. Bringing these three services together creates a powerful joint solution that can improve businesses’ lifecycle management, policy application, and identity and security management.

Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Check out our security solutions that help to address these issues. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post Unifying security policy across all mobile form-factors with Wandera and Microsoft appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Mattress Firm deployed Azure Active Directory to securely connect Firstline Workers to their SaaS apps and to each other

February 13th, 2020 No comments

Today, we have another interesting story for the Voice of the Customer blog series. Tony Miller and Jon Sider of Mattress Firm deployed Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to create a secure authentication experience for employees, including their Firstline Workforce. Much like sleep and a good mattress provide the foundation for a productive and enjoyable life, Tony and Jon show how Azure AD provides the secure foundation for a connected omnichannel experience. They were able to cut internal costs, quickly onboard their Firstline Workers, connect their employees to each other, and deliver a better authentication experience.

Read more from Tony and Jon to learn how you can use Azure AD to improve your customer experience.

Azure AD simplifies user provisioning and protects Firstline Workers’ identities

As America’s largest specialty mattress retailer, Mattress Firm aims to deliver a personalized experience to all our customers no matter how they interact with us. An exceptional customer experience requires a connected workplace. When a customer makes a purchase online and then visits a store for a second purchase, our sales associates, or “Firstline Workers,” should understand their full story and total lifetime value. If a customer needs to change the delivery time of a mattress, it should be easy for a customer services rep to contact the driver and reschedule the delivery. These connection points are invisible to the customer but can turn an ordinary interaction into a great one. To help us realize this aspiration, we deployed several Microsoft 365 products—one of which was Azure AD—to securely and simply unite communication across corporate and all the stores.

The foundation of strong cross-company collaboration is secure and simple user authentication. Our sales associates access several different software-as-a-service (SaaS) and on-premises apps to communicate and complete tasks. Many of these apps require a separate account, which meant users signed into multiple accounts throughout the day. We were concerned that some were reusing passwords, opening us up to risk. Our identity team was also overburdened. They were responsible for setting up accounts for each user, updating permissions as needed, and revoking accounts when users left the company. To resolve these challenges, we deployed Azure AD, which allowed us to decrease the size of the identity team, deliver a simpler user access experience to our employees, and gain more visibility into security threats.

Migrated identity and access management from Okta to Azure AD

Before we selected Azure AD, we investigated various identity and access management (IAM) options. We had previously deployed Okta, which fulfilled many of our requirements. However, we were simultaneously increasing our investment in Microsoft 365. We reviewed both Okta and Azure AD and discovered that Azure AD delivers better controls and security for Office 365 and its data than Okta at a much lower cost in addition to single sign-on (SSO) to other applications. At that point it was an easy sell, and we migrated all our users to Azure AD.

Decreased the size of the identity team

We are a large company with over 8,500 employees, stores in 49 states across the country, and 73 distribution centers across the biggest markets. Our physical footprint allows us to deliver a mattress within an hour to 89 percent of the population. Like many retailers we have a lot of employment churn. Each day, we process between 10-100 user identity status changes. Before Azure AD, a team of 12 people were responsible for provisioning the right accounts and access to each user. Twelve people is a large team, but it was required because for each change—whether that was a new hire, a promotion, or someone leaving the company—an identity team member needed to manually grant access or change privileges to them one at a time. This took a lot of time, and it was error prone.

Once we deployed Azure AD and set up automated provisioning, the onboarding process sped up significantly. Today, someone in human resources sets up a new employee in our HR system and within four hours the employee is onboarded to all their accounts. Our Identity Manager was able to redeploy most of the people on the provisioning team to higher priority work. Now there are just two people who manage the environment. We’ve realized a huge costs savings from this transition—about $500,000 per year in hard dollars, but tons of soft costs saved!

Infographic explaining Azure AD automated provisioning, with Azure AD in the middle; Active Directory, Cloud HR, and SCIM surrounding it.

Azure AD automated provisioning simplifies the process of provisioning the right access and applications to each user.

Delivered a simpler and more secure user access experience

Our users have also benefited from the rollout of Azure AD and automated provisioning. We enabled SSO so users can sign in once and access all the apps they need for work. We integrated Azure AD with about 40 apps, including Workday, Back Office, Salesforce, our VOIP administrator, Citrix, Tools video, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Concur, Tableau, WebEx, our benefits portal, our 401K provider, and all the Office 365 apps. Our employees love the new process. It is now rare that they must use another account to access work apps.

Infographic showing apps connected to Azure Active Directory.

With Azure AD SSO, users sign in once and have access to all their apps.

Azure AD has also given us peace of mind. Our customers provide a full set of information when they purchase a mattress from us. They trust us to protect their first-party data. Azure AD offers tools to better safeguard our identities. We control access to the first-party data based on employment status. We also enabled Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to Workday and off-premises sign-ins. That means whenever a user attempts to sign in to Workday or if they attempt to access any other system from off-site, we force a second form of authentication. Users get a secure code from the Microsoft Authenticator app, which validates their identity with Azure AD. This significantly reduces our security risk, and employees find it easy to use—a win for everybody.

We also enabled conditional access policies to reduce or block access when sign-in circumstances are risky. For example, Azure AD can evaluate the riskiness of a client app or the location of a user trying to gain access. If the risk is high enough, we can block access or force a password reset to confirm identity. Another good example of our conditional access approach is the leave of absence policy. While users are on a leave, we limit the apps they can access to the ones they really need: Workday and our benefits portal. These flexible, customizable policy strike the right balance between enabling productivity while minimizing our exposure.

Infographic showing signals (user, location, device, app, real-time risk) being verified (allowed, requiring MFA, or blocked).

Azure AD can evaluate user and location, application, device, and real-time risk before allowing access.

Improved threat visibility

Security doesn’t end with our access policies. Azure AD also provides tools that Security Operations (SecOps) use to better understand security incidents. The Azure AD authentication logs and the Office 365 application access information provides useful insights. We now better understand when users try to access applications with VPNs or from unauthorized networks. This intelligence informs our security strategy and policies.

Azure AD has provided the foundation for a secure and connected employee experience. As we operationalize communication tools like Microsoft Teams, we are confident that the information that employees share is less likely to get compromised. Employees are empowered to work together to meet and exceed customer expectations. We rest easy because our customer data is more secure.

Azure Active Directory

Protect your business with a universal identity platform.

Get started

Learn more

I hope you’re able to apply Mattress Firm’s learnings to your own organization. For more tips from our customers, take a look at the other stories in the Voice of the Customer blog series. Also, check out the Mattress Firm case study to see how other Microsoft 365 solutions have helped them improve the customer experience.

Here are several additional resources:

Finally, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters and follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post Mattress Firm deployed Azure Active Directory to securely connect Firstline Workers to their SaaS apps and to each other appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Mattress Firm deployed Azure Active Directory to securely connect Firstline Workers to their SaaS apps and to each other

February 13th, 2020 No comments

Today, we have another interesting story for the Voice of the Customer blog series. Tony Miller and Jon Sider of Mattress Firm deployed Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to create a secure authentication experience for employees, including their Firstline Workforce. Much like sleep and a good mattress provide the foundation for a productive and enjoyable life, Tony and Jon show how Azure AD provides the secure foundation for a connected omnichannel experience. They were able to cut internal costs, quickly onboard their Firstline Workers, connect their employees to each other, and deliver a better authentication experience.

Read more from Tony and Jon to learn how you can use Azure AD to improve your customer experience.

Azure AD simplifies user provisioning and protects Firstline Workers’ identities

As America’s largest specialty mattress retailer, Mattress Firm aims to deliver a personalized experience to all our customers no matter how they interact with us. An exceptional customer experience requires a connected workplace. When a customer makes a purchase online and then visits a store for a second purchase, our sales associates, or “Firstline Workers,” should understand their full story and total lifetime value. If a customer needs to change the delivery time of a mattress, it should be easy for a customer services rep to contact the driver and reschedule the delivery. These connection points are invisible to the customer but can turn an ordinary interaction into a great one. To help us realize this aspiration, we deployed several Microsoft 365 products—one of which was Azure AD—to securely and simply unite communication across corporate and all the stores.

The foundation of strong cross-company collaboration is secure and simple user authentication. Our sales associates access several different software-as-a-service (SaaS) and on-premises apps to communicate and complete tasks. Many of these apps require a separate account, which meant users signed into multiple accounts throughout the day. We were concerned that some were reusing passwords, opening us up to risk. Our identity team was also overburdened. They were responsible for setting up accounts for each user, updating permissions as needed, and revoking accounts when users left the company. To resolve these challenges, we deployed Azure AD, which allowed us to decrease the size of the identity team, deliver a simpler user access experience to our employees, and gain more visibility into security threats.

Migrated identity and access management from Okta to Azure AD

Before we selected Azure AD, we investigated various identity and access management (IAM) options. We had previously deployed Okta, which fulfilled many of our requirements. However, we were simultaneously increasing our investment in Microsoft 365. We reviewed both Okta and Azure AD and discovered that Azure AD delivers better controls and security for Office 365 and its data than Okta at a much lower cost in addition to single sign-on (SSO) to other applications. At that point it was an easy sell, and we migrated all our users to Azure AD.

Decreased the size of the identity team

We are a large company with over 8,500 employees, stores in 49 states across the country, and 73 distribution centers across the biggest markets. Our physical footprint allows us to deliver a mattress within an hour to 89 percent of the population. Like many retailers we have a lot of employment churn. Each day, we process between 10-100 user identity status changes. Before Azure AD, a team of 12 people were responsible for provisioning the right accounts and access to each user. Twelve people is a large team, but it was required because for each change—whether that was a new hire, a promotion, or someone leaving the company—an identity team member needed to manually grant access or change privileges to them one at a time. This took a lot of time, and it was error prone.

Once we deployed Azure AD and set up automated provisioning, the onboarding process sped up significantly. Today, someone in human resources sets up a new employee in our HR system and within four hours the employee is onboarded to all their accounts. Our Identity Manager was able to redeploy most of the people on the provisioning team to higher priority work. Now there are just two people who manage the environment. We’ve realized a huge costs savings from this transition—about $500,000 per year in hard dollars, but tons of soft costs saved!

Infographic explaining Azure AD automated provisioning, with Azure AD in the middle; Active Directory, Cloud HR, and SCIM surrounding it.

Azure AD automated provisioning simplifies the process of provisioning the right access and applications to each user.

Delivered a simpler and more secure user access experience

Our users have also benefited from the rollout of Azure AD and automated provisioning. We enabled SSO so users can sign in once and access all the apps they need for work. We integrated Azure AD with about 40 apps, including Workday, Back Office, Salesforce, our VOIP administrator, Citrix, Tools video, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Concur, Tableau, WebEx, our benefits portal, our 401K provider, and all the Office 365 apps. Our employees love the new process. It is now rare that they must use another account to access work apps.

Infographic showing apps connected to Azure Active Directory.

With Azure AD SSO, users sign in once and have access to all their apps.

Azure AD has also given us peace of mind. Our customers provide a full set of information when they purchase a mattress from us. They trust us to protect their first-party data. Azure AD offers tools to better safeguard our identities. We control access to the first-party data based on employment status. We also enabled Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to Workday and off-premises sign-ins. That means whenever a user attempts to sign in to Workday or if they attempt to access any other system from off-site, we force a second form of authentication. Users get a secure code from the Microsoft Authenticator app, which validates their identity with Azure AD. This significantly reduces our security risk, and employees find it easy to use—a win for everybody.

We also enabled conditional access policies to reduce or block access when sign-in circumstances are risky. For example, Azure AD can evaluate the riskiness of a client app or the location of a user trying to gain access. If the risk is high enough, we can block access or force a password reset to confirm identity. Another good example of our conditional access approach is the leave of absence policy. While users are on a leave, we limit the apps they can access to the ones they really need: Workday and our benefits portal. These flexible, customizable policy strike the right balance between enabling productivity while minimizing our exposure.

Infographic showing signals (user, location, device, app, real-time risk) being verified (allowed, requiring MFA, or blocked).

Azure AD can evaluate user and location, application, device, and real-time risk before allowing access.

Improved threat visibility

Security doesn’t end with our access policies. Azure AD also provides tools that Security Operations (SecOps) use to better understand security incidents. The Azure AD authentication logs and the Office 365 application access information provides useful insights. We now better understand when users try to access applications with VPNs or from unauthorized networks. This intelligence informs our security strategy and policies.

Azure AD has provided the foundation for a secure and connected employee experience. As we operationalize communication tools like Microsoft Teams, we are confident that the information that employees share is less likely to get compromised. Employees are empowered to work together to meet and exceed customer expectations. We rest easy because our customer data is more secure.

Azure Active Directory

Protect your business with a universal identity platform.

Get started

Learn more

I hope you’re able to apply Mattress Firm’s learnings to your own organization. For more tips from our customers, take a look at the other stories in the Voice of the Customer blog series. Also, check out the Mattress Firm case study to see how other Microsoft 365 solutions have helped them improve the customer experience.

Here are several additional resources:

Finally, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters and follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post Mattress Firm deployed Azure Active Directory to securely connect Firstline Workers to their SaaS apps and to each other appeared first on Microsoft Security.

NERC CIP compliance in Azure

February 12th, 2020 No comments

When I did my first North American Electric Reliability Corporation—Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC CIP) compliance project it was 2009. NERC CIP was at version 3. It was the first mandatory cybersecurity standard that the utility I was working for had to meet. As it does today, the Bulk Electric System (BES) had the responsibility to keep North America powered, productive, and safe with near 100 percent uptime. Critical infrastructure for us is not email and payroll systems, it’s drinking water and hospitals. Leading the way to the cloud was not top of mind. The NERC CIP standards were written for on-premise systems.

NERC CIP compliance was a reason many participants in the BES would not deploy workloads to the cloud. NERC CIP version 6 is now in force. NERC has recognized the change in the technology landscape including the security and operational benefits that well architected use of the cloud has to offer.

Microsoft has made substantial investments in enabling our BES customers to comply with NERC CIP in Azure. Microsoft engaged with NERC to unblock NERC CIP workloads from being deployed in Azure and Azure Government.

All U.S. Azure regions are now approved for FedRAMP High impact level. We use this to establish our compliance to NERC and the Regional Reliability Councils.

In June 2019, NERC Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) conducted an audit of Azure in Redmond, Washington. NERC, NERC regional auditor organizations, and the NERC CIPC (Critical Infrastructure Protection Committee) were represented.

We prepared a NERC CIP compliance guide for Azure, and a Cloud Implementation Guide for NERC Audits, which includes pre-filled Reliability Standard Audit Worksheet (Reliability Standard Audit Worksheet (RSAW)) responses. This will help our customers save time and resources in responding to audits.

NERC’s BES Cyber Asset 15-minute rule is important to deploying appropriate NERC CIP workloads to Azure. This rule sets out requirements for BES Cyber Assets that perform real-time functions for monitoring or controlling the BES under the current set of CIP standards and the NERC Glossary of Terms. BES Cyber Assets, under the 15-minute rule, are those that would affect the reliable operation of the BES within 15 minutes of being impaired.

Under the current rules, BES Cyber Assets—like Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA) and Energy Management Systems (EMS)—are not good candidates a for move to the cloud for this reason.

Importantly, the NERC CIP standards also recognize that the needs of Bulk Electric System Cyber System Information (BCSI) are different from BES Cyber Assets. BCSI is information that could be used to gain unauthorized access or pose a security threat to the Bulk Electric Cyber System. BCSI is not subject to the 15-minute rule.

Many of the workloads that will benefit most from the operational, security, and cost savings benefits of the cloud are BCSI.

Machine learning, multiple data replicas across fault domains, active failover, quick deployment, and pay for use benefits are now available for BCSI NERC CIP workloads when they’re moved to or born in Azure.

Examples include:

  • Transmission asset status, management, planning, and predictive maintenance.
  • Transmission network planning, demand forecasting, and contingency analysis.
  • Common Information Model (CIM) modeling and geospatial asset location information.
  • Operational equipment data and SCADA Historical Information System.
  • Streaming of operational phasor data to the cloud for storage and analytics.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and Advanced Analytics for forecasting, maintenance, and outage management.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) scenarios for transmission line monitoring and maintenance.
  • NERC CIP audit evidence, reports, and records.

We can use information retention and protection on confidential documents with BCSI sensitive information. Azure’s machine learning helps us improve smart grid and do predictive maintenance on plant equipment. We can experiment, fail fast, and stand up infrastructure in hours, not months. The powerful tools and agile technologies that other industries rely on are now available for many NERC CIP workloads.

There are currently over 100 U.S. power and utility companies that use Azure. NERC CIP regulated companies can enjoy the benefits of the cloud in Azure.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the use of Azure public cloud and Azure Government for NERC CIP compliance.

Thanks to Larry Cochrane and Stevan Vidich for their excellent work on Microsoft’s NERC CIP compliance viewpoint and architecture. Some of their documents are linked above.

Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post NERC CIP compliance in Azure appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Visionary security partners to be honored at the very first Microsoft Security 20/20 event

February 6th, 2020 No comments

Microsoft Security 20/20 is nearly here and our team is putting the final touches on what we think will be a memorable event. Microsoft Security 20/20 will put the spotlight on companies and individuals with a clear-eyed view of the security challenges we face and smart solutions to help solve them. By working together, we advance the vision of what’s possible—and our joint customers’ security is stronger because of it.

“Solving our mutual customers’ security challenges is very much a team sport. I’m excited to recognize these leaders in the ecosystem at Microsoft’s inaugural security awards.”
—Andrew Conway, General Manager, Security Product Marketing

About the event

At the inaugural Microsoft Security 20/20 partner awards, we’ll celebrate finalists in 16 award categories that span security integration partners, system integrators, and managed security service providers. The awards gala will take place February 23, 2020—the Sunday before the RSA Conference in San Francisco. All finalists have been invited to attend this private event. Opening remarks from Ann Johnson, Corporate Vice President of the Cybersecurity Solutions Group, will center around Microsoft’s vision for the security ecosystem and how—together—we’ll help our customers get clarity on security.

“The themes for Microsoft Security 20/20 are vision and clarity. Microsoft is focused on protecting our customers and there is no vision for the future that doesn’t involve security partners. We’re hosting the first Microsoft Security 20/20 partner awards gala to honor security partners that are making an impact through technology development and customer enablement.”
—Rob Lefferts, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Threat Protection

Better together

I passionately believe that the security ecosystem must work together to realize a future where people, information, and companies are safer. Microsoft Security 20/20 honors partners that have developed and delivered exceptional Microsoft-based solutions and services during the past year that put us on the path toward that vision.

The award categories and finalists were selected by a cross functional group within Microsoft. These finalists were chosen among a global field of top Microsoft partners for demonstrating excellence in innovation, integration, and customer implementation. Winners will be chosen based on a vote from a broad swath of Microsoft Security experts, which includes engineers, marketers, partners, managers, security architects, and more.

This blog would not be complete without showcasing each and every one of these amazing companies and visionary industry leaders, because in a kaleidoscope of security threats and news, these finalists offer an inspiring vision for the future.

ISV Partner of the Year

Software vendors that have shown innovation and the ability to drive revenue.

Emerging ISV Disruptor

Partners who show growth potential and have innovative emerging capabilities.

Most Prolific Integration Partner

Partners with numerous integrations across Azure and Microsoft 365 security.

Customer Impact

Independent software vendors (ISVs) that have driven a significant number of customers wins.

Identity Trailblazer

Partners that are driving major identity-related initiatives and educating the market on how to be protect identities.

Security Trailblazer

Partners that are driving major security-related initiatives and educating the market on how to be more secure.

Security Workshop Partner of the Year

Service partners that are driving the most high-quality security workshops.

Azure Security Deployment Partner of the Year

Service providers that are increasing usage and adoption rates for Azure security products.

Microsoft 365 Security Deployment Partner of the Year

Service providers that are increasing usage and adoption rates for Microsoft 365 security products.

Security System Integrator of the Year

System Integrators that are working closely with the Cybersecurity Solutions Group to close deals and integrate Microsoft into customers’ environments.

Security Advisory of the Year

Security advisory firms that are building core competencies on top of Microsoft Security solutions and working closely with the Cybersecurity Solutions Group to act as a trusted advisor to Microsoft customers.

Top Managed SOC/MDR

Security operations centers that are supporting the largest customers in the world and building strong intellectual property that layers on top of Microsoft Security solutions.

MSSP/TDR Disrupter

Threat, detection, and response experts that are changing the game for managed security services.

Top Github Contributor

With input from the GitHub team, we identified individuals who are going above and beyond to support the open source community with their GitHub contributions.

Industry Changemaker

Individuals who are making a standout contribution to improving the security community.

Election Security Partner of the Year

Organizations that are effecting change for one of our most critical global security challenges—election security.

Learn more

To learn more about Microsoft Security partners, see our partners page. To find out more about what Microsoft’s up to at RSA Conference 2020, read this blog.

Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post Visionary security partners to be honored at the very first Microsoft Security 20/20 event appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Guarding against supply chain attacks—Part 2: Hardware risks

February 3rd, 2020 No comments

The challenge and benefit of technology today is that it’s entirely global in nature. This reality is brought into focus when companies assess their supply chains, and look for ways to identify, assess, and manage risks across the supply chain of an enterprise. Part 2 of the “Guarding against supply chain attacks” blog series examines the hardware supply chain, its vulnerabilities, how you can protect yourself, and Microsoft’s role in reducing hardware-based attacks.

Unpacking the hardware supply chain

A labyrinth of companies produces mobile phones, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, servers, and other technology products that improve our lives. Product designers outsource manufacturing to one or more vendors. The manufacturer buys components from known suppliers. Each supplier buys parts from its preferred vendors. Other organizations integrate firmware. During peak production cycles, a vendor may subcontract to another company or substitute its known parts supplier with a less familiar one. This results in a complex web of interdependent companies who aren’t always aware that they are connected.

Tampering with hardware using interdiction and seeding

Tampering with hardware is not an easy path for attackers, but because of the significant risks that arise out of a successful compromise, it’s an important risk to track. Bad actors compromise hardware by inserting physical implants into a product component or by modifying firmware. Often these manipulations create a “back door” connection between the device and external computers that the attacker controls. Once the device reaches its final destination, adversaries use the back door to gain further access or exfiltrate data.

But first they must get their hands on the hardware. Unlike software attacks, tampering with hardware requires physical contact with the component or device.

So how do they do it? There are two known methods: interdiction and seeding. In interdiction, saboteurs intercept the hardware while it’s on route to the next factory in the production line. They unpackage and modify the hardware in a secure location. Then they repackage it and get it back in transit to the final location. They need to move quickly, as delays in shipping may trigger red flags.

As hard as interdiction is, it’s not nearly as challenging as seeding. Seeding attacks involve the manipulation of the hardware on the factory floor. To infiltrate a target factory, attackers may pose as government officials or resort to old fashioned bribery or threats to convince an insider to act, or to allow the attacker direct access to the hardware.

Why attack hardware?

Given how difficult hardware manipulation is, you may wonder why an attacker would take this approach. The short answer is that the payoff is huge. Once the hardware is successfully modified, it is extremely difficult to detect and fix, giving the perpetrator long-term access.

  • Hardware makes a good hiding place. Implants are tiny and can be attached to chips, slipped between layers of fiberglass, and designed to look like legitimate components, among other surreptitious approaches. Firmware exists outside the operating system code. Both methods are extremely difficult to detect because they bypass traditional software-based security detection tools.
  • Hardware attacks are more complex to investigate. Attackers who target hardware typically manipulate a handful of components or devices, not an entire batch. This means that unusual device activity may resemble an anomaly rather than a malicious act. The complexity of the supply chain itself also resists easy investigation. With multiple players, some of whom are subcontracted by vendors, discovering what happened and how can be elusive.
  • Hardware issues are expensive to resolve. Fixing compromised hardware often requires complete replacement of the infected servers and devices. Firmware vulnerabilities often persist even after an OS reinstall or a hard drive replacement. Physical replacement cycles and budgets can’t typically accommodate acceleration of such spending if the hardware tampering is widespread.

For more insight into why supply chains are vulnerable, how some attacks have been executed, and why they are so hard to detect, we recommend watching Andrew “bunny” Huang’s presentation, Supply Chain Security: If I were a Nation State…, at BlueHat IL, 2019.

Know your hardware supply chain

What can you do to limit the risk to your hardware supply chain? First: identify all the players, and ask important questions:

  • Where do your vendors buy parts?
  • Who integrates the components that your vendor buys and who manufactures the parts?
  • Who do your vendors hire when they are overloaded?

Once you know who all the vendors are in your supply chain, ensure they have security built into their manufacturing and shipping processes. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends that organizations “identify those systems/components that are most vulnerable and will cause the greatest organizational impact if compromised.” Prioritize resources to address your highest risks. As you vet new vendors, evaluate their security capabilities and practices as well as the security of their suppliers. You may also want to formalize random, in-depth product inspections.

Microsoft’s role securing the hardware supply chain

As a big player in the technology sector, Microsoft engages with its hardware partners to limit the opportunities for malicious actors to compromise hardware.

Here are just a few examples of contributions Microsoft and its partners have made:

  • Microsoft researchers defined seven properties of secure connected devices. These properties are a useful tool for evaluating IoT device security.
  • The seven properties of secure connected devices informed the development of Azure Sphere, an IoT solution that includes a chip with robust hardware security, a defense-in-depth Linux-based OS, and a cloud security service that monitors devices and responds to emerging threats.
  • Secured-core PCs apply the security best practices of isolation and minimal trust to the firmware layer, or the device core, that underpins the Windows operating system.

Project Cerberus is a collaboration that helps protect, detect, and recover from attacks on platform firmware.

Learn more

The “Guarding against supply chain attacks” blog series untangles some of the complexity surrounding supply chain threats and provides concrete actions you can take to better safeguard your organization. Read Part 1: The big picture for an overview of supply chain risks.

Also, download the Seven properties of secure connected devices and read NIST’s Cybersecurity Supply Chain Risk Management.

Stay tuned for these upcoming posts:

  • Part 3—Examines ways in which software can become compromised.
  • Part 4—Looks at how people and processes can expose companies to risk.
  • Part 5—Summarizes our advice with a look to the future.

In the meantime, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post Guarding against supply chain attacks—Part 2: Hardware risks appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Azure Security Benchmark—90 security and compliance best practices for your workloads in Azure

January 23rd, 2020 No comments

The Azure security team is pleased to announce that the Azure Security Benchmark v1 (ASB) is now available. ASB is a collection of over 90 security best practices recommendations you can employ to increase the overall security and compliance of all your workloads in Azure.

The ASB controls are based on industry standards and best practices, such as Center for Internet Security (CIS). In addition, ASB preserves the value provided by industry standard control frameworks that have an on-premises focus and makes them more cloud centric. This enables you to apply standard security control frameworks to your Azure deployments and extend security governance practices to the cloud.

ASB v1 includes 11 security controls inspired by, and mapped to, the CIS 7.1 control framework. Over time we’ll add mappings to other frameworks, such as NIST.

ASB also makes it possible to improve the consistency of security documentation for all Azure services by creating a framework where all security recommendations for Azure services are represented in the same format, using the common ASB framework.

ASB includes the following controls:

Documentation for each of the controls contains mappings to industry standard benchmarks (such as CIS), details/rationale for the recommendations, and link(s) to configuration information that will enable the recommendation.

Image showing protection of critical web applications. Azure ID, CIS IDs, and Responsibility.

You can find the full set of controls and the recommendations at the Azure Security Benchmark website. To learn more, see Microsoft intelligent security solutions.

Image of Azure security benchmarks documentation in the Azure security center.

ASB is integrated with Azure Security Center allowing you to track, report, and assess your compliance against the benchmark by using the Security Center compliance dashboard. It has a tab like those you see below. In addition, the ASB impacts Secure Score in Azure Security Center for your subscriptions.

Image showing regulatory compliance standards in the Azure security center.

ASB is the foundation for future Azure service security baselines, which will provide a view of benchmark recommendations that are contextualized for each Azure service. This will make it easier for you to implement the ASB for the Azure services that you’re actually using. Also, keep an eye out our release of mappings to the NIST and other security frameworks.

Send us your feedback

We welcome your feedback on ASB! Please complete the Azure Security Benchmark feedback form. Also, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters and follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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Categories: Azure Security, Compliance, Secure Score Tags:

How companies can prepare for a heightened threat environment

January 20th, 2020 No comments

With high levels of political unrest in various parts of the world, it’s no surprise we’re also in a period of increased cyber threats. In the past, a company’s name, political affiliations, or religious affiliations might push the risk needle higher. However, in the current environment any company could be a potential target for a cyberattack. Companies of all shapes, sizes, and varying security maturity are asking what they could and should be doing to ensure their safeguards are primed and ready. To help answer these questions, I created a list of actions companies can take and controls they can validate in light of the current level of threats—and during any period of heightened risk—through the Microsoft lens:

  • Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)—It simply cannot be said enough—companies need MFA. The security posture at many companies is hanging by the thread of passwords that are weak, shared across social media, or already for sale. MFA is now the standard authentication baseline and is critical to basic cyber hygiene. If real estate is “location, location, location,” then cybersecurity is “MFA, MFA, MFA.” To learn more, read How to implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).
  • Update patching—Check your current patch status across all environments. Make every attempt to patch all vulnerabilities and focus on those with medium or higher risk if you must prioritize. Patching is critically important as the window between discovery and exploit of vulnerabilities has shortened dramatically. Patching is perhaps your most important defense and one that, for the most part, you control. (Most attacks utilize known vulnerabilities.)
  • Manage your security posture—Check your Secure Score and Compliance Score for Office 365, Microsoft 365, and Azure. Also, take steps to resolve all open recommendations. These scores will help you to quickly assess and manage your configurations. See “Resources and information for detection and mitigation strategies” below for additional information. (Manage your scores over time and use them as a monitoring tool for unexpected consequences from changes in your environment.)
  • Evaluate threat detection and incident response—Increase your threat monitoring and anomaly detection activities. Evaluate your incident response from an attacker’s perspective. For example, attackers often target credentials. Is your team prepared for this type of attack? Are you able to engage left of impact? Consider conducting a tabletop exercise to consider how your organization might be targeted specifically.
  • Resolve testing issues—Review recent penetration test findings and validate that all issues were closed.
  • Validate distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection—Does your organization have the protection you need or stable access to your applications during a DDoS attack? These attacks have continued to grow in frequency, size, sophistication, and impact. They often are utilized as a “cyber smoke screen” to mask infiltration attacks. Your DDoS protection should be always on, automated for network layer mitigation, and capable of near real-time alerting and telemetry.
  • Test your resilience—Validate your backup strategies and plans, ensuring offline copies are available. Review your most recent test results and conduct additional testing if needed. If you’re attacked, your offline backups may be your strongest or only lifeline. (Our incident response teams often find companies are surprised to discover their backup copies were accessible online and were either encrypted or destroyed by the attacker.)
  • Prepare for incident response assistance—Validate you have completed any necessary due diligence and have appropriate plans to secure third-party assistance with responding to an incident/attack. (Do you have a contract ready to be signed? Do you know who to call? Is it clear who will decide help is necessary?)
  • Train your workforce—Provide a new/specific round of training and awareness information for your employees. Make sure they’re vigilant to not click unusual links in emails and messages or go to unusual or risky URLs/websites, and that they have strong passwords. Emphasize protecting your company contributes to the protection of the financial economy and is a matter of national security.
  • Evaluate physical security—Step up validation of physical IDs at entry points. Ensure physical reviews of your external perimeter at key offices and datacenters are being carried out and are alert to unusual indicators of access attempts or physical attacks. (The “see something/say something” rule is critically important.)
  • Coordinate with law enforcement—Verify you have the necessary contact information for your local law enforcement, as well as for your local FBI office/agent (federal law enforcement). (Knowing who to call and how to reach them is a huge help in a crisis.)

The hope, of course, is there will not be any action against any company. Taking the actions noted above is good advice for any threat climate—but particularly in times of increased risk. Consider creating a checklist template you can edit as you learn new ways to lower your risk and tighten your security. Be sure to share your checklist with industry organizations such as FS-ISAC. Finally, if you have any questions, be sure to reach out to your account team at Microsoft.

Resources and information for detection and mitigation strategies

In addition, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

About the author

Lisa Lee is a former U.S. banking regulator who helped financial institutions of all sizes prepare their defenses against cyberattacks and reduce their threat landscape. In her current role with Microsoft, she advises Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and other senior executives at large financial services companies on cybersecurity, compliance, and identity. She utilizes her unique background to share insights about preparing for the current cyber threat landscape.

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Threat hunting in Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

January 7th, 2020 No comments

As members of Microsoft’s Detection and Response Team (DART), we’ve seen a significant increase in adversaries “living off the land” and using compromised account credentials for malicious purposes. From an investigation standpoint, tracking adversaries using this method is quite difficult as you need to sift through the data to determine whether the activities are being performed by the legitimate user or a bad actor. Credentials can be harvested in numerous ways, including phishing campaigns, Mimikatz, and key loggers.

Recently, DART was called into an engagement where the adversary had a foothold within the on-premises network, which had been gained through compromising cloud credentials. Once the adversary had the credentials, they began their reconnaissance on the network by searching for documents about VPN remote access and other access methods stored on a user’s SharePoint and OneDrive. After the adversary was able to access the network through the company’s VPN, they moved laterally throughout the environment using legitimate user credentials harvested during a phishing campaign.

Once our team was able to determine the initially compromised accounts, we were able to begin the process of tracking the adversary within the on-premises systems. Looking at the initial VPN logs, we identified the starting point for our investigation. Typically, in this kind of investigation, your team would need to dive deeper into individual machine event logs, looking for remote access activities and movements, as well as looking at any domain controller logs that could help highlight the credentials used by the attacker(s).

Luckily for us, this customer had deployed Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) prior to the incident. By having Azure ATP operational prior to an incident, the software had already normalized authentication and identity transactions within the customer network. DART began querying the suspected compromised credentials within Azure ATP, which provided us with a broad swath of authentication-related activities on the network and helped us build an initial timeline of events and activities performed by the adversary, including:

  • Interactive logins (Kerberos and NTLM)
  • Credential validation
  • Resource access
  • SAMR queries
  • DNS queries
  • WMI Remote Code Execution (RCE)
  • Lateral Movement Paths

Azure Advanced Threat Protection

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This data enabled the team to perform more in-depth analysis on both user and machine level logs for the systems the adversary-controlled account touched. Azure ATP’s ability to identify and investigate suspicious user activities and advanced attack techniques throughout the cyber kill chain enabled our team to completely track the adversary’s movements in less than a day. Without Azure ATP, investigating this incident could have taken weeks—or even months—since the data sources don’t often exist to make this type of rapid response and investigation possible.

Once we were able to track the user throughout the environment, we were able to correlate that data with Microsoft Defender ATP to gain an understanding of the tools used by the adversary throughout their journey. Using the right tools for the job allowed DART to jump start the investigation; identify the compromised accounts, compromised systems, other systems at risk, and the tools being used by the adversaries; and provide the customer with the needed information to recover from the incident faster and get back to business.

Learn more and keep updated

Learn more about how DART helps customers respond to compromises and become cyber-resilient. Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post Threat hunting in Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) appeared first on Microsoft Security.

How to secure your IoT deployment during the security talent shortage

December 17th, 2019 No comments

Businesses across industries are placing bigger and bigger bets on the Internet of Things (IoT) as they look to unlock valuable business opportunities. But time and time again, as I meet with device manufacturers and businesses considering IoT deployments, there are concerns over the complexity of IoT security and its associated risks—to the company, its brands, and its customers. With the growing number and increased severity of IoT attacks, these organizations have good reason to be cautious. With certainty, we can predict that the security vulnerabilities and requirements of IoT environments will continue to evolve, making them difficult to frame and address. It’s complex work to clearly define a security strategy for emerging technologies like IoT. To compound the challenge, there’s a record-setting 3-million-person shortage of cybersecurity pros globally. This massive talent shortage is causing the overextension of security teams, leaving organizations without coverage for new IoT deployments.

Despite the risks that come with IoT and the strain on security teams during the talent shortage, the potential of IoT is too valuable to ignore or postpone. Decision makers evaluating how to pursue both IoT innovation and security don’t need to steal from one to feed the other. It isn’t a binary choice. There is a way to augment existing security teams and resources, even amidst the talent shortage. Trustworthy solutions can help organizations meet the ongoing security needs of IoT without diminishing opportunity for innovation.

As organizations reach the limit of their available resources, the key to success becomes differentiating between the core activities that require specific organizational knowledge and the functional practices that are common across all organizations.

Utilize your security teams to focus on core activities, such as defining secure product experiences and building strategies for reducing risk at the app level. This kind of critical thinking and creative problem solving is where your security teams deliver the greatest value to the business—this is where their focus should be.

Establishing reliable functional practices is critical to ensure that your IoT deployment can meet the challenges of today’s threat landscape. You can outsource functional practices to qualified partners or vendors to gain access to security expertise that will multiply your team’s effectiveness and quickly ramp up your IoT operations with far less risk.

When considering partners and vendors, find solutions that deliver these essential capabilities:

Holistic security design—IoT device security is difficult. To do it properly requires the expertise to stitch hardware, software, and services into gap-free security systems. A pre-integrated, off-the-shelf solution is likely more cost-effective and more secure than a proprietary solution, and it allows you to leverage the expertise of functional security experts that work across organizations and have a bird’s-eye view of security needs and threats.

Threat mitigation—To maintain device security over time, ongoing security expertise is needed to identify threats and develop device updates to mitigate new threats as they emerge. This isn’t a part-time job. It requires dedicated resources immersed in the threat landscape and who can rapidly implement mitigation strategies. Attackers are creative and determined, the effort to stop them needs to be appropriately matched.

Update deploymentWithout the right infrastructure and dedicated operational hygiene, organizations commonly postpone or deprioritize security updates. Look for providers that streamline or automate the delivery and deployment of updates. Because zero-day attacks require quick action, the ability to update a global fleet of devices in hours is a must.

When you build your IoT deployment on a secure platform, you can transform the way you do business: reduce costs, streamline operations, light up new business models, and deliver more value to your customers. We believe security is the foundation for lasting innovation that will continue to deliver value to your business and customers long into the future. With this in mind, we designed Microsoft Azure Sphere as a secured platform on which you can confidently build and deploy your IoT environment.

Azure Sphere is an end-to-end solution for securely connecting existing equipment and creating new IoT devices with built-in security. Azure Sphere’s integrated security spans hardware, software, and cloud, and delivers active security by default with ongoing OS and security updates that put the power of Microsoft’s expertise to work for you every day.

With Azure Sphere, you can design and create innately secured IoT devices, as well as securely connect your existing mission-critical equipment. Connecting equipment for the first time can introduce incredible value to the business—as long as security is in place.

Through a partnership with Azure Sphere, Starbucks is connecting essential coffee equipment in stores around the globe for the first time. The secured IoT implementation is helping Starbucks improve their customer experience, realize operational efficiency, and drive cost savings. To see how they accomplished this, watch the session I held with Jeff Wile, Starbucks CIO of Digital Customer and Retail Technology, at Microsoft Ignite 2019.

Learn more

With a secured platform for IoT devices, imagination is the only limit to what innovation can achieve. I encourage you to read Secure your IoT deployment during the security talent shortage to learn more about how you can build comprehensive, defense-in-depth security for your IoT initiatives, so you can focus on what you’re in business to do.

Also, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters and follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

Azure Sphere

A comprehensive IoT security solution—including hardware, OS, and cloud components—to help you innovate with confidence.

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Categories: Azure Security, IoT, Threat protection Tags:

Improve cyber supply chain risk management with Microsoft Azure

December 9th, 2019 No comments

For years, Microsoft has tracked threat actors exploiting federal cyber supply chain vulnerabilities. Supply chain attacks target software developers, systems integrators, and technology companies. Tactics often include obtaining source code, build processes, or update mechanisms to compromise legitimate applications. This is a key concern for government cybersecurity in the cloud, as the expanding digital estate requires movement towards a Zero Trust security model.

There are several techniques to attack cyber supply chains in Information Communications and Technology (ICT) products and services. Supply chain attacks are most concerning because they target vulnerabilities in your infrastructure before you even deploy your assets and software.

Attackers can:

  • Compromise software building tools to ensure that their malware is imprinted into all software generated from the building tools.
  • Replace software update repositories with malicious replicas that distribute malware across entire software ecosystems.
  • Steal code-signing certificates to make malicious software appear as legitimate code.
  • Intercept hardware shipments to inject malicious code into hardware, firmware, and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).
  • Pre-install malware onto IoT devices before they arrive to target organizations.

Managing Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) to defend against supply chain attacks

Defending against supply chain attacks requires a comprehensive approach to managing Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM). Federal risk managers must deploy strong code integrity policies and technical screening controls to ensure their software complies with organizational directives such as applying NIST SP 800-53A security controls for Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance. Code integrity requires full non-repudiation of software to validate information producer associations, identity, and chain of custody for systems and components (NIST SP 800-161, 2015). One critical opportunity for addressing code integrity in your supply chain is to implement and adhere to a secure software development lifecycle for applications that you develop in-house and that you acquire from third-party supply chain partners.

Microsoft continues to use the Security Development Lifecycle, a fundamental process of continuous learning and improvement in the security, integrity, and resiliency of our enterprise applications. We require supply chain providers to adhere to these practices as well.

Organizations should employ asset monitoring and tracking systems such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) and digital signatures to track hardware and software from producers to consumers to ensure system and component integrity. FIPS 200 specifies that federal organizations “must identify, report, and correct information and information system flaws in a timely manner while providing protection from malicious code at appropriate locations within organizational information systems” (FIPS 200, 2006).

How Microsoft fights against malware

Microsoft understands how to fight malware and have worked hard for many years to offer our customers leading endpoint protection to defend against increasingly sophisticated attacks across a variety of devices. These efforts have been recognized, for example, in this year’s 2019 Gartner Endpoint Protection Platforms Magic Quadrant. In addition, Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) integrates directly with Microsoft Azure Security Center to alert your security teams of threat actors exploiting your vulnerabilities.

Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms.*

Endpoint Protection Platforms can support software development and fight malware, but government organizations must follow recommendations for software vendors and developers by applying patches for operating systems and software, implementing mandatory integrity controls, and requiring Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for administrators.

Azure Security Center Recommendations help government organizations eliminate security vulnerabilities before an attack occurs by facilitating actions to secure resources, including OS vulnerability detection, mandatory controls, and enforcing authentication with MFA and secure access with just-in-time (JIT) virtual machine access.

When you remediate recommendations, your Secure Score and your workloads’ security postures improve. Azure Security Center automatically discovers new resources you deploy, assesses them against your security policy, and provides new recommendations for securing them.

Azure Security Center also facilitates cyber learning through gamification. Secure Score allows your SecOps and Security Governance Risk & Compliance (SGRC) teams to remediate vulnerabilities through a points-based system. This capability can enhance system configurations and reinforce supply chain risk management in a single pane of glass for your infrastructure security posture, and even includes a regulatory and compliance dashboard to facilitate federal compliance requirements and can be tailored to your organization.

Security of federal information systems requires compliance with stringent standards such as NIST SP 800-53, FISMA, CIS Benchmarks, and FedRAMP Moderate. Azure Blueprints facilitates compliance with these standards ensuring a secure-by-design approach to federal information security. Azure Blueprints enable cloud architects and information technology groups to define a repeatable set of Azure resources that implements and adheres to an organization’s standards, patterns, and requirements.

Azure Blueprints are a declarative way to orchestrate the deployment of various resource templates and other artifacts such as role assignments, policy assignments, and Azure Resource Manager templates. Azure Blueprints also provide recommendations and a framework to directly apply compliance requirements to your environment while monitoring configurations through Continuous Monitoring (CM).

Employing a comprehensive monitoring program

Protecting your supply chain also requires a comprehensive monitoring program with cyber incident response and security operations capabilities. Azure Sentinel is a cloud-native security information and event manager (SIEM) platform that uses built-in artificial intelligence (AI) to help analyze large volumes of data across an enterprise—fast. Azure Sentinel aggregates data from all sources, including users, applications, servers, and devices running on-premises or in any cloud, letting you reason over millions of records in a few seconds.

Azure Sentinel leverages the Microsoft Graph, which detects threats, reduces false positives, and puts your responders on target. Azure Sentinel Workbooks optimize productivity with dozens of built in dashboards to enhance security monitoring.

Azure Sentinel Analytics allow your cyber defenders to employ proactive alerting to detect threats impacting your supply chain security. Azure Sentinel Playbooks includes over 200 connectors to leverage full automation through Azure Logic Apps. This powerful capability allows federal agencies to compensate for the cyber talent gap with Security Automation & Orchestration Response (SOAR) capabilities while leveraging machine learning and AI capabilities. Azure Sentinel deep investigation allows your incident response teams to dig into incidents and identify the root cause of attacks.

Azure Sentinel’s powerful hunting search-and-query tools are based in the MITRE ATT&K Framework, allowing your responders to proactively hunt threats across the network before alerts are triggered. The Azure Sentinel community is growing on GitHub and allows your team to collaborate with the information security community for best practices, efficiencies, and security innovation.

Azure Sentinel

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Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) is a growing concern within the federal sector. Microsoft is committed to bolstering government cybersecurity in the cloud. Microsoft Azure goes the distance to protect your network against supply chain attacks through Microsoft Defender ATP’s industry leading Endpoint Protection Platform, Azure Security Center’s comprehensive continuous monitoring platform, Azure Blueprints approach to rapidly deploying a compliant cloud, and Azure Sentinel’s cloud-native SIEM that harnesses the limitless power of the cloud through threat intelligence, machine learning, AI, and automation.

Learn more about government cybersecurity in the cloud with Microsoft

Here are some of the best resource to learn more about government cybersecurity in the cloud with Microsoft:

Also, join us for the Microsoft Ignite Government Tour in Washington, D.C., February 6, 2020.

Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters and follow us at @MSFTSecurity or visit our website for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

Are you a federal government agency that needs help with cybersecurity? Reach out to TJ Banasik or Mark McIntyre for additional details on the content above, or if you have any other questions about Microsoft’s cybersecurity investments for the federal government.

 

*This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of larger research documents and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner documents are available upon request from Microsoft. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

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