AI Cyber Security Vulnerability Management

Beyond the Surface: Unveiling Effective Security Management & Monitoring for Microsoft 365

In an era where digital transformation is not just an option but a necessity, Microsoft 365 has emerged as the cornerstone of corporate productivity, enabling seamless communication, collaboration, and information management worldwide.

However, the reliance on Microsoft 365 also introduces significant security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cyber adversaries, making security vulnerability management an indispensable component of organisational cyber hygiene.

The first step in effective vulnerability management is understanding the threat landscape. Microsoft 365, with its vast user base, is a prime target for cyber attacks.

Phishing attempts, ransomware attacks, and data breaches are just the tip of the iceberg. These threats exploit vulnerabilities in configurations, unprotected user accounts, and human error. Below, we identify and list those vulnerabilities.

Key Vulnerabilities in Microsoft 365

Several vulnerabilities are inherent in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, including but not limited to:

  • Account Compromise: The absence of Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) and the presence of weak or reused passwords can lead to account breaches, giving attackers unfettered access to corporate data. Enabling auto-forwarding rules for a breached mailbox is one of the most common adversary activities once they access the tenant. Most of the time, those accounts belong to high-profile employees or even CEOs and business owners.
  • Phishing and Spear Phishing Attacks: Due to the large number of businesses onboarded, the Microsoft 365 email platform is often targeted by phishing scams, tricking users into divulging sensitive information. Here, the Law of Averages kicks in; they’ll target nearly everyone to find the weakest link among them and make their way in.
  • Misconfiguration: Incorrect configurations can expose data to unauthorised access. Default settings might not align with best security practices, leaving the Attack Surface wide open and necessitating a thorough review and adjustment.
  • Insider Threats: Malicious or negligent insiders can misuse their access to sensitive data, intentionally or unintentionally harming the organisation.

The Role of Automation in Effective Vulnerability Management

Managing vulnerabilities in Microsoft 365 requires a proactive, multilayered, but most importantly, continuous assessing and monitoring approach.

While conducting regular security audits and using tools like the Secure Score in Microsoft 365 can help, automation is needed to stay ahead of the curve and deal with threats effectively and strategically.

We need to proactively identify and stop emerging threats on the spot before they become serious incidents that will most likely affect operations, and automation helps us do that by monitoring our environment 24x7x365.

Complementing Microsoft 365’s built-in security capabilities allows us to incorporate a defence-in-depth strategy and increase our chances of not being named in the news as another compromised entity.

As part of this strategy, at COMPTEC I.T, we incorporate our automated platform solution to monitor, detect, identify and remediate threats and anomalies within our tenant. Some of the solution’s key features are the following:

  1. Log Monitoring and Alerting for all events: Fully utilise the Unified Audit Log (UAL) to inform us of any activities generated in our tenant on any user account. This account could be active or dormant, own a mailbox or not, or be assigned administrative privileges. Whatever it is, once it lands in UAL, the solution pulls everything and reports it immediately through customised alerting rules and playbooks.
  2. Geolocation restrictions: Configure geographic rules that model business locations and travel so that users can safely work remotely from the allowed locations. Alerts will only be generated for truly unexpected access attempts. We can also configure those geolocation rules to be time-bound so they can be set ahead of time and expire when no longer required.
  3. Pwned check: Following NIST guidance that user-provided passwords must be checked against existing data breaches, an ongoing API search call checking for pwned passwords in hundreds of millions of real-world passwords previously exposed in data breaches is a must. Finding such exposure makes related passwords unsuitable for ongoing use, as they are at greater risk of being used to take over other accounts as they are searchable online below and downloadable for other online systems.
  4. Security baselines: While the built-in Secure Score does a good job of identifying risks, our solution’s scoring is superior to it because it allows for exceptions that model actual business needs. This works by picking a best practice template, modifying it to your needs, and setting exceptions to model acceptable business exceptions. This accepted level becomes your accepted compliance 100% level. That means being compliant with your industry’s compliance requirements and not against a generic set of practices.

Wrapping it up

Microsoft 365 security vulnerability management is an ongoing process that demands vigilance, proactive strategies, and continuous improvement. In the realm of Cyber Security, complacency is the enemy.

In today’s AI era, there is no excuse for continuing to do what you could do easily manually and on an on-demand basis, automatically seizing the full potential automation brings.

By utilising an automated solution, we harness the strengths of AI and automation and provide a solid response to the challenges of the ever-growing threats.

Call to Action

The journey towards robust cybersecurity is continuous, but with the right strategies and tools, your organisation can navigate this landscape confidently and securely.

Contact us today to understand how your Microsoft 365 setup aligns with your business and industry requirements so we can draw and implement the required measures together.

▶ Greece & Europe: Xanthopoulos

▶ Australasia: Argyropoulos