Leveraging Cloud Reporting Insights to Minimize Security Risk
Financial institutions face the constant threat of cyber security attacks. Yet many of them fail to realize the very real and significant security risks around the multitude of cloud-based services that support their organization.
Most banks and credit unions use Microsoft 365 (M365) and Azure Active Directory (AD) to enable employee communication (Exchange Online), collaboration (SharePoint/Teams), and productivity (PowerPoint/Word/Excel). Although these Microsoft cloud services work efficiently, their “always-on” nature exposes users to security risks. Cyberattacks are becoming more prevalent and destructive, with hackers unleashing more sophisticated kinds of ransomware, business email compromise, and phishing schemes. But attackers are targeting organizations of all types and sizes, which means even smaller institutions must be vigilant about protecting their data.
Cloud security is vitally important, as many companies end up with their users’ credentials for sale on the dark web. IBM’s Security X-Force research found almost 30,000 cloud accounts— between July 2020 and July 2021—potentially for sale on dark web marketplaces. In addition, threat actors continue increasing their efforts to defraud victims through ransomware. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) indicates ransomware attacks strike a new target every 14 seconds, stealing information, upending operations, and exploiting businesses. Frequently, ransomware attackers target organizations that belong to a critical infrastructure sector, such as financial services. In 2022, critical infrastructure entities were the victims of nearly 900 of the 2385 ransomware complaints received by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
To even begin to mitigate cyberattacks, financial institutions need insights that increase the visibility of security risks and reveal signs of compromise. Fortunately, Microsoft cloud services include a variety of auditing and reporting features that institutions can employ to minimize cybersecurity risks. For example, they can use these features to closely monitor configuration settings and user activity within M365, Exchange, and SharePoint. This can provide valuable insights into security configuration, threat protection, and identity and access management.
Here are some key aspects that institutions can track in Microsoft 365:
- Azure AD account activity: Insights into abnormal user sign-in patterns, identity-based risks, and compromised user accounts.
- Threat intelligence: Information on malware campaigns, suspicious URLs, and phishing attacks
- Advanced threat detection: Information on security incidents, alerts, and vulnerabilities that can indicate potential security breaches or suspicious activities.
- Data loss prevention: Visibility into policy violations, incidents, and user activity related to sensitive data.
Being able to analyze data from Microsoft’s reporting features gives financial institutions a powerful benefit. It makes it easier for them to identify potential security threats, detect suspicious activities, and take proactive measures to protect their organization. While reports can’t prevent cyberattacks, they can at least expose security risks, so IT administrators can address these gaps and vulnerabilities.
Partnering with a Cloud Expert
However, some institutions may lack the internal expertise to effectively leverage the data and insights relating to their Microsoft cloud services. Partnering with a company that has Microsoft 365-certified engineers can help. Safe Systems’ CloudInsight ™ family of products was created especially for community financial institutions by Microsoft 365-certified engineers. Banks and credit unions can use these services to access reports and alerts that can enhance their security awareness and posture. M365 Security Basics, for instance, offers vital visibility into security settings for Azure AD and M365 tenants. The insights give IT admins a crucial view of security-oriented metrics and configuration settings. This can make it easier to proactively discover common security risks, including compromised user accounts, unknown users and forwarders, unapproved email access, and targeted phishing or SPAM attacks. M365 Security Basics is the ideal solution for community banks and credit unions that want to increase their visibility of security risks and indicators of compromise.