Microsoft Defender now unifies SIEM and XDR

At #Ignite2020 (September 2020), Microsoft announced a change to their Security and threat protection with a new, unique approach designed to “empower security professionals to get ahead of today’s complex threat landscape” with fully integrated SIEM and XDR (eXtended Detect and Response) tools from a single vendor so you get the best of both worlds. – much of the summary below is taken from the wider Microsoft Blog.

As part of this, Microsoft are unifying their XDR tech under the Microsoft Defender brand.

“The new Microsoft Defender is now the most comprehensive XDR in the market and prevents, detects, and responds to threats across identities, endpoints, applications, email, IoT, infrastructure, and cloud platforms”.

With Microsoft Defender, Microsoft are both rebranding our existing threat protection portfolio and adding new capabilities, including additional multi-cloud (Google Cloud and AWS) and multi-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS) support.

Microsoft Defender is delivered in two main areas,

  • Microsoft 365 Defender for end-user environments and
  • Azure Defender for cloud and hybrid infrastructure.

Microsoft 365 Defender

This delivers XDR capabilities for identities, endpoints, cloud apps, email, and documents, using AI to reduce the SOC’s work items. Microsoft claims this can consolidated 1,000 alerts to just 40 high-priority incidents and that built-in self-healing technology fully automates remediation with a success rate of over 70%, ensuring the SOC can focus on “other tasks” that better leverage their knowledge and expertise.

An image of the Microsoft 365 Defender dashboard.

As part of this, the following branding changes have also been made to the Microsoft 365 security services:

  • Microsoft Threat Protection is now Microsoft 365 Defender

  • Microsoft Defender ATP is now Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

  • Office 365 ATP is now Microsoft Defender for Office 365

  • Azure Advanced Threat Protection is now Microsoft Defender for Azure

As well as the name change, several new features are now also available or coming:

  • New mobile for Apple iOS (now in Preview) and Android support now released. As a result, Microsoft now delivers endpoint protection across all major OS platforms.
  • Extension of the current macOS support with addition of threat and vulnerability management.
  • Priority account protection in Microsoft Defender for Office 365 will help security teams focus on protection from phishing attacks for users who have access to the most critical and privileged information. 

Azure Defender

Azure Defender is an evolution of the Azure Security Center threat protection capabilities and is accessed from within Azure Security Center and delivers XDR capabilities to protect multi-cloud and hybrid workloads, including VMs, databases, containers, IoT, and more. 

An image of Defender.

Aligned with the Microsoft 365 brand changes, there are also new name changes as well as some new features naturally!

  • Azure Security Centre Standard is now Azure Defender for Servers
  • Azure Security Centre for IoT is now Azure Defender for IoT 
  • Advanced Threat Protection for SQL is now Azure Defender for SQL 

Along with the name change, these new features were also announced: 

  • New unified experience for Azure Defender that makes it easy to see which resources are protected and which need protection.
  • Added protection for SQL servers on-premises and in multi-cloud environments
  • Added protection for virtual machines in multi-cloud
  • Improved protections for containers, including Kubernetes-level policy management and continuous scanning of container images in container registries.
  • Support for operational technology networks with the integration of CyberX into Azure Defender for IoT.

The video below from Microsoft shows how it all works

Video from Microsoft Mechanics on the New Microsoft Defender

 

And finally…. let’s not forget Azure Sentinel

Whilst the XDR capabilities of Microsoft Defender delivered through Azure Defender and Microsoft 365 Defender provides rich insights and prioritised alerts, to gain visibility across your entire environment and include data from other security solutions such as firewalls and existing security tools, we connect Microsoft Defender to Azure Sentinel, Microsoft cloud-native SIEM.

Azure Sentinel is deeply integrated with Microsoft Defender so you can integrate your XDR data in only a few clicks and combine it with all your security data from across your entire enterprise.

An image of Azure Sentinel.

You can read the full Microsoft Blog on this here:

“Application Guard” for Office Desktop Apps enters public preview

Image of Office Application Splash Screen

Microsoft has released a new security feature for Microsoft 365 into Public Preview. This new feature, known as “application guard“, has been designed to help prevent risky, malicious, or untrusted files from accessing your trusted resources.

This feature is turned off by default, and it’s currently only available to organisations that have Microsoft 365 E5 or Microsoft 365 E5 Security licenses.

When enabled however, files from the internet and other potentially unsafe (not yet scanned or trusted) locations can contain viruses, worms, or other kinds of malware that can attempt to infect or harm users’ devices and data, in the case of malware, spread to other areas.

With the new Application Guard feature enabled, Office apps will open files from potentially unsafe locations in Application Guard, which is a secure container (in memory) that is isolated and shielded from other applications, device hardware, processes, and system memory through hardware-based virtualisation.

When enabled, users will see a change to the standard Office splash screen on the first launch of an untrusted office document that indicates that Application Guard for Office has been enabled, and that the file is being opened in a secure environment. In addition, the application will also display a visual indicator, such as a callout in the ribbon and the taskbar icon, to inform the user that the Application Guard is running.

Screenshot showing Office Application GuardImage of Office Application Splash Screen

What is nice about this new feature is that unlick the previous “protected mode” which limited editing functions for example and prevented some aspects of the document or excel macros from running, with Application Guard, users do NOT get a compromised experience, meaning they can securely read, edit, print, and save those files without having to re-open files outside the “safe” container.

As I said at the start, this feature is off by default and needs to be enabled by IT admin using a group policy or a CSP entry in your MDM . Details on how to enable Application Guard are provided by Microsoft here

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/security/office-365-security/install-app-guard?view=o365-worldwide

 

 

Cisco Live 2020: “To power an inclusive future for all”

The Cisco Live 2020 keynote yesterday (June 16 2020) followed the same theme as many of the other leading tech vendor events and focussed primarily on the current social and economic climate brought about by the global COVID19 pandemic before touches on new Cisco Webex and Cisco SecureX features which were the core focus of announcements on day 1.

Key Priorities Announced

“Possibilities” was the main theme of the keynote on Tuesday 16th June, in which Chuck Robbins summarised the current climate and demand on technology as the need to reimagine applications, secure data, transform traditional network and data centre infrastructure, and the “empowering” of teams through technology as being more important now than ever. which namely allowed Cisco to ire-introduce and emphasise some of the new core features coming to their Webex and SecureX platforms. 

Outside of this, most of the keynote didn’t focus on new announcements, but openly discussed the chaos that #Covid19 has thrown on the world nicely introducing the keynotes’ main theme – simple “Possibilities”. 

2020 has been a difficult and challenging year,”, “We started out with a new decade with hope, and we never imagined that in June we would have experienced what we’ve experienced this year.” Chuck Robbins, Cisco Live 2020

Chuck Robbins went on to talk about the combination of the COVID19 pandemic, and the fundamental change to business, employees and how we work, combined with the urgency, rapid change in direction and crazy tasks that every organisation has been faced with ensuring the technology, people and business can function from home which has of course been a challenge for many organisations globally. 

One of those big challenges included shifting office workers to a remote work style. This stark change, on top of all of the exterior issues, has taken a toll–both on the enterprise and individuals.” Chuck Robbins, Cisco Live 2020

Additions to Webex and SecureX

Javed Khan, VP of collaboration at Cisco, was next on the virtual stage joined by Gee Rittenhouse, senior VP at Cisco, to discuss some of the new features being added to their WebEx and SecureX platforms.

Webex 

With so many people working from home now and for the foreseeable future due to #COVID19, video and web conferencing use has skyrocketed across all major platforms, namely Zoom, Microsoft Teams and of course WebEx.

By April 2020, Cisco said they were seeing more than 25 billion meeting minutes a month (which was up nearly 3 fold  which is three times the size of the normal monthly average and said that “We have the unique opportunity to use our collaboration technology and our amazing people to help power an inclusive future for all.

We already know the future of Webex (currently in preview) will bring an enhanced experience leveraging what Cisco have called “Cognitive Collaboration” which will deliver insights about upcoming meetings, contacts as well as information about your day to reduce the need to keep flicking between Webex and Outlook.

NewWebEx
New WebEx Preview interface

 

Next, Javed Khan formerly announced the addition of the Webex Assistant, a personal digital assistant that can be used within the WebEx platform to enable handsfree operation and event in meeting administration WebEx meetings. With the Webex Assistant, users can “ask” Webex to record the meeting, take notes, and even send highlights to attendees when the meeting has finished. 

Picture of Cisco WebEx Assistant

Security built in was another focus of WebEx improvement, with extended data loss prevention (DLP) retention, Legal Hold tools for chat and content which is also coming to Webex Meetings. Cisco also announced an expansion to their end-to-end encryption including AES 256 Bit encryption with GCM mode for increased protection for meeting data and resistance against tampering. Security around meetings has of course been very top of mind for many whereby Zoom have had their reputation dented over claims and fears of poor security across their platform. 

Cisco also announced the Webex Desk Pro – an “AI powered” collaboration device that features a 27-inch 4K display, 71-degree HD camera and digital whiteboarding which looks like a cross between a Surface Studio and a Cisco EX device.

Picture of a Cisco WebEx Desk Pro

Cisco said that they would be “doubling down on AI” and that they would be adding even more intelligence into their contact centre solutions, converting customer support agents into “super agents” to ensure that they always have all the all the right information at their fingertips to allow them to solving customer issues faster than ever.  Javed Khan said that the goal of Cisco Contact Centre platform is to “improved customer satisfaction and improved customer loyalty.”

It’s also very apparent that Cisco are going to be dropping the “Webex Teams” name and moving to “Webex App” or simply back to just “Webex” as part of their next update integrations. I think this is a good move as to be honest, customers got confused when Webex Teams simply got Teams, which, let’s face it, every assumed they meant Microsoft Teams!

SecureX Update

From a security perspective, another huge focus for Cisco, Gee Rittenhouse talked about some of the new optimised features within SecureX, which he called 
“the most comprehensive cloud native platform in the industry.”

Gee Rittenhouse continued his explanation of the SecureX platform, stating that “In one place, you can see your entire environment, threats and incidents, and resolve policy changes.” 

Cisco SecureX dashboard

This was followed by a quick demo in which Cisco illustrated how Cisco SecureX customers could directly see all the possible security threats across their network through a single view/dashboard.  They demo showed a “kill chain” explorer view whereby, upon clicking on a particular detected threat, the system generated a relationship graph so that the SecOp team can see everything related to that single threat along the ability to then block it across the organisation with a just couple of clicks. There is also some automation behind this allowing some auto remediation as you’d expect. 

Cisco said they have a huge and growing number of integration partners, and are sharing intelligence and threat protection details with other leading security vendors including Microsoft, McAfee, and many others

Summary

As you’d expect from Cisco – huge focus on collaboration and security which right now is top of mind as many organisations get ready for a quite different future for the time-being at least.

What did you think? Did you attend the conference? What were your key takeaways and what did I miss?

 

Revamped alert page now live in Microsoft Defender ATP

Microsoft have released a completely redesigned alert page in the Microsoft Defender Security Center (which is now in public preview).

The new Microsoft Defender ATP alert page is designed to help security admins more effectively triage, investigate, and take effective actions on alerts. Microsoft say that the changes to the page were guided by customer feedback on how to make the experience better and as a result the new page constructs a detailed alert story with full context which will provides the following:

  • Improved focus – at the forefront so that analysts have less clicks to get to relevant insights.
  • An investigation-oriented approach – alerts related to the same execution tree will appear on the same page, increasing efficiency, and awareness to the investigation scope.
  • Easier to take actions – with necessary actions built into the workflow, doing what you need just became that much faster.
New Defender ATP alert page

To learn more about the new Microsoft Defender ATP alert page, see the Microsoft Defender ATP alert page documentation.

Microsoft “Authenticator app” now lets users change their passwords directly from the app

The Microsoft Authenticator app on Android has been updated and now lets users change security information and passwords right from within the app. This update also lets users view recent sign in activity, such as recent login attempts or changes to their account. This features update bring the android version upto date with the iOS version, which got this update back in May.

With the updated version, users can tap on the account name in the app which then opens a full-screen page for that account’s settings. Here it provides the one-time passcode for second-factor authentication, along with other options such as changing the password, updating security information, reviewing recent activity, and removing the account from authenticator should you wish.

These options are presented directly inside the app in a kind of in-line browser that lets users perform these actions without needing to switch to a browser or make these changes on the web. This works for corporate accounts as well as personal Microsoft accounts such as those with personal Microsoft 365 accounts.

Note: the account management options are not be available to Azure AD accounts as Microsoft want to empower IT admins to choose which options are made available to users from the Authenticator App.

Users can download the Microsoft Authenticator app for Android from the Google Play Store here.

Microsoft announces “Cloud for Healthcare” at #MSBuild2020

As Microsofts’ annual dev conference Build opened today (May 19 2020), Microsoft announced the launch of the Microsoft Cloud For Healthcare, — a new Microsoft Industry Cloud solution.

Microsoft said that the solution aims to integrate Microsoft Cloud with an “industry-specific data model” “cross-cloud connectors,” and APIs to better help serve the global healthcare industry.

Global capabilities uniting the healthcare industry

The Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare wi bring together capabilities from across many Microsoft Cloud Services 365. This includes Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and if course Azure. This will be powered by a common data model which will allow the sharing of data across various applications to provide better analytics. Microsoft say that this will allow health providers globally to provide better services for patients, clinicians and doctors by helping make it easier to deploy resources to the needs of all hospital and care units.

For example, Cloud for Healthcare, will focus on what Microsoft has identified as important needs for the field, like engaging patients, facilitating health team collaboration and improving operational efficiency, all with strict security measures.

Sample Health App powered services


Of course, an important component of healthcare is aftercare, where medical professionals need to keep in touch with their patients to follow up on their recovery and any post opp treatment, tools available to do so are generally limited to follow-up phone calls and emails, which are not only tedious but can sometimes not meet security standards or provide the best care.

Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot Service will be available as part of this service, which Microsoft say is behind more than 1,500 instances of COVID-19-based bots that have gone live globally since March 2020. These bots can help alleviate the strain on emergency hotlines for public and provide health providers while addressing common questions that patients might have.

Availability

Microsoft has said that a public preview will be coming in coming days and will be free for 6 months for evaluation, with general availability bringing late this calendar year.

Microsoft has also said that although the healthcare industry will be “first served” with the solution, they also promised that more industry-specific clouds solutions will follow.

Thoughts..

What do you think.. Is industry specific Cloud solutions a good next step for Microsoft?

Microsoft’s made Azure Single Sign-On and MFA free*.

Microsoft have announced that any customer using a subscription of a their commercial online services (Azure, Dynamics, Office 365 etc.) can connect all their cloud applications to Azure AD for single sign-on (SSO), and protect this access with multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a huge additional security benefit at no extra cost –  other than internal (or partner) resource to configure and test it. Using MFA alone is proven to reduce the attack surface and prevent over 99% of breaches caused by credential theft. 

Using SSO reduces the number of sign-in prompts for employees, reduces the number of different user ID and password combinations needed also enables one-click access to the most used line of business applications  – and it should make working remotely even easier and more secure – since user access control can be made central – and under the protection and safeguard of Azure AD.

Microsoft has also added several other Azure AD enhancements which will help simplify identity and access management and improve the experiences for all those working remotely – these include the following:

  • Streamlined identity management
  • Improve application configuration and security for Azure AD SSO
  • Seamless and secure collaboration
  • Safeguard identities with industry-leading security
  • App gallery integration

“SMS sign in” for Microsoft Teams* now in public preview.

Another #MicrosoftTeams feature is rolling out (ok so it’s in public preview so pretty much rolled out).

This time is a feature aimed more at front line workers like retail for example who may oy have a mobile phone to access their busienss apps.

Introducing SMS based user sign-in

With SMS based user sign-in, users can simply sign-in with their phone number and receive a code via SMS, which will then log them in (the number needs to be registered against them in Azure Active Directory).

How’s it works?

Worth noting that this is just in preview and is still some key features missing (a key one being this doesn’t yet work with MFA… But it will).

As I mentioned in the introduction SMS-based authentication, lets users sign in without needing to provide, or even know, their username and password. After their account is created by an identity administrator, they can enter their phone number at the sign-in prompt, and provide an authentication code that’s sent to them via text message. This authentication method simplifies access to applications and services, especially for front line workers.

Whilst this will work for any Office 365, it’s primary aim is to help front line workers use and login to Team in mobile device as the illustration below shows

Each user enabled for SMS-sign in must have one of the following Azure AD or Microsoft 365 licenses:
– Azure AD Premium P1 or P2 or
– Microsoft 365 F1 or F3

Current limitations

Microsoft have clearly detailed a number of limitations which will apply during the public preview including.

  • SMS-based authentication isn’t currently compatible with Azure Multi-Factor Authentication.
  • With the exception of Teams, SMS-based authentication isn’t currently compatible with native Office applications.
  • SMS-based authentication isn’t recommended for B2B accounts.
  • Federated users won’t authenticate in the home tenant. They only authenticate in the cloud.

To learn more and for instructions in how to active and configure SMS sign in, see the Microsoft supporting information here.

Other Azure AD Passwordless options.

For additional ways to sign in to Azure AD without a password, such as the Microsoft Authenticator App or FIDO2 security keys, you can review the Passwordless authentication options for Azure AD.

Microsoft says their Cloud Usage has jumped 775% due to COVID-19

Microsoft’s Azure Cloud and Office 365\Teams collaboration services have seen a significant, in fact colossal, spike in usage over the past week as companies globally continue to deal with an increase in remote workers due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and lock downs that are being put in place to help control the infection rate and curb the impact on the world’s health services like our incredible NHS.

Microsoft said yesterday that in the last week it has seen a 775% increase in the use of its cloud services in regions where enforced social distancing and lock downs have been put in place such as here in the UK, most of Europe and many States in the US.

Microsoft Teams is seeing more than 900 million meeting and calling minutes per day.

Microsoft had  previously stated just last week that they was prioritising traffic for critical front line and public services such as NHS as well as also tuning and reprioritising services to cope with this unprecedented demand. This includes prior temporary limits on free offers (outside key workers and NHS for example) to prioritise capacity for existing customers and the downgrading of video in Teams for example to help manage traffic. Microsoft has said that these limits are typically being isolated to regions/locations that are seeing the most demand and that customers impacted can use alternative regions to get around some of the performance hits while they even out and scale out their services to handle the new demands.

Last week, Microsoft has some issues with adding new services to Azure in some regions, including the UK which caused them to “drop below the typical 99.99% success rates.”. This was caused by the huge surge in new Azure Virtual Desktop services being spun up as organisations looked to quickly enable remote desktop to facilitate homeworking after the UK mandated work from home as part of the UK Covid19 lock down measures.

COVID-19 sees huge demand and growth

Microsoft said last week that Teams has “seen a very significant spike” in usage and counted more than 44 million daily users. This week new numbers have revealed that last week they also saw more than 900 million meeting and calling minutes per day.

Windows Virtual Desktop has also seen a 300% increase in the last week with hundreds of thousands of new Desktops being added globally.

Other collaboration platforms like Cisco’s Webex and Zoom have seen similar surges in network traffic tied to the COVID-19 outbreak.

It’s not just Microsoft though…

Microsoft of course isn’t the only Web conferencing provider seeing such growth. Other collaboration platforms including Cisco Webex and Zoom have seen similar surges in network traffic tied to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Cisco has also reported large growth and demand and said Webex traffic from China had increased by more than 2,000% since the outbreak began and that more than 30% of its enterprise customers have reached out for help getting their employees set up to work from home.

Since the start of the outbreak, Microsoft, Zoom and Cisco have made their platforms available for free to most businesses affected by COVID-19 and are having to work relentlessly to expand the capacity of their services to ensure as few disruptions as possible…. All have had growing pains and as the lock downs continue globally, it probably won’t be the last time!

Continue reading “Microsoft says their Cloud Usage has jumped 775% due to COVID-19”

Protect yourself from COVID-19 themed “PHISHING” attacks

Microsoft sent out warnings last week about an rise in phishing attacks and scare mongering related to the coronavirus outbreak with many cybercriminals playing on people’s fear in order to steal personal data.

Criminal groups have various ways to attack vulnerable people, including malware, but Microsoft have emphasised that “91 percent of all cyberattacks start with email” and almost all are aimed at tricking their targets into handing over their credentials.

Microsoft has a robust set of security and protections servives designed to detect and block malicious emails, links and attachments with Outlook.com, Office 365, Office 365 ATP, Microsoft Exchange, and Microsoft Defender all working in together to protect. These services leverage advanced machine learning, heuristics, and anomaly analysers to detect malicious behaviours in email to try to prevent these landing in user mailboxes and to protect them should they get through and users click on the links.

Unfortunately technology alone will never be 100% foolproof, therefore it’s important for users and for IT to ensure the latest security updates are deployed, services are enabled (a staggering number of organisations have services like Office Advanced Threat Protection for example but don’t use it) and use advanced anti-malware and Endpoint Protection service, such as Microsoft Defender.

MFA is Critical to Identity Protection

If you don’t use multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all of your personal and business Office 365 (and other mail products like Gmail etc.), I’d strongly suggest you enable it and use Microsoft’s Authenticator to protect you.

Combined with Password Self Reset and Risk Based Conditional access MFA can detect and prevent over 99% of phishing attacks by preventing user identities since logins are protected by an additional login authentication step (just like you need to access your online banking).

Education is still key

It’s still important for users to be vigalenr and to educate themselves around what to look for..

Bad spelling and grammar, suspicious links and attachments and emails that look to good to be true, should always raise your suspicions… Even with the extensive protection, if you are suspicious about an email, never click on links or open any attachments, especially those with weird file extensions such as pdf.exe” or “txt.hta”

Cybercriminals (especially now) use urgency and scare as an attack vector. Microsoft warn users about the current trends which should always trigger an alarm:

  • Threats. These types of emails cause a sense of panic or pressure to get you to respond quickly. For example, it may include a statement like “You must respond by end of day.” Or saying that you might face financial penalties if you don’t respond.
  • Spoofing. Spoofing emails appear to be connected to legitimate websites or from your boss, or medical insurer, but take you to phony (often legitiame) scam sites or display legitimate-looking pop-up windows. Always check the website and the Url.
  • Altered web addresses. A form of spoofing where web addresses that closely resemble the names of well-known companies, but are slightly altered; for example, “www.micorsoft.com” or “www.mircosoft.com”.
  • Incorrect spelling or salutation of your name.
  • Mismatches. The link text and the URL are different from one another; or the sender’s name, signature, and URL are different.

What do I do if I get a suspicious link?

If you think you have encounter a suspicious email or website, speak to your IT team. Microsoft also recommends using the built-in tools in Outlook on the Web, on the desktop Outlook app and in the Outlook Mobile app to report suspicious messages.

If you’re using Microsoft Edge, you can also report suspicious sites by clicking the More (…) icon > Send feedback > Report Unsafe site.

Final word

While bad actors are attempting to capitalize on the COVID-19 crisis, they are using the same tactics they always do. You should be especially vigilant now to take steps to protect yourself,” the company said today. You can learn more about Microsoft’s recommendations on their Security blog.