A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Cyber Security



Intro to Cyber Security

Cyber Security is a term that should echo through the halls of every business. Online security threats can affect every organization, from service-based businesses like restaurants and retail stores to non-profits. But Cyber Security is a particular concern for large enterprise organizations.

A recent IBM Data Breach Report indicates that 83% of organizations experienced more than one data breach in 2022. The Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2023 (which looks at data from 2022) found that social engineering attacks are one of the most effective and lucrative options for cybercriminals, which is one reason why business email compromise represents more than 50% of social engineering-related cyber threat incidents. In fact, 74% of all breaches include the human element, meaning that people were involved in the breach somehow; this could be from stolen credentials, social engineering, and privileges misuse.

The financial impacts of a Cyber Security breach can be extremely devastating, and that’s not including other impacts like business downtime and reputational damage. The average cost of a data breach worldwide is $4.35 million, with that number more than doubling when it comes to the United States, at $9.44 million.

But even with the seriousness of looming Cyber Security threats and risks, enterprise businesses often have little planning in place when it comes to business continuity solutions, and this is because of a lack of consensus on which business functions within the organization are considered critical. Individual departments, as well as the IT team, often have their own ideas regarding critical business functions, but these are often not vetted and may not accurately represent critical functions at the enterprise level. In other words, every department thinks their work is the most important within the business.

Effectively responding to potential Cyber Security attacks at the enterprise level is critical. The other part of effective Cyber Security is to have effective protection in place to help prevent these attacks from becoming issues that the company needs to act on a continuity plan in response to.

To effectively respond to Cyber Security threats at both the protection and business continuity levels, organizations need to fully understand the impacts of Cyber Security threats. This starts with uncovering what Cyber Security is and understanding the software, management, and best practices that go into protecting organizational data.

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What is Cyber Security

Protecting a business’s confidential information from online threats that attempt to steal or leak the data is called Cyber Security. The most prevalent Cyber Security Basics in terms of threats that affect organizations of all sizes include:

  • Social engineering-based attacks, such as email phishing and ransomware
  • Malware
  • Trojans
  • Insider threats
  • Denial of service attacks
  • Internet of things

Why is Cyber Security Important For Businesses

Organizations these days use a wide variety of distributed systems, including legacy and multi-cloud. The increasingly distributed nature of business ecosystems leads to not only greater difficulty in determining direct decision-making control but also increased risk in terms of data protection due to differences in security approaches and management across different systems.

While Cyber Security was often viewed as an IT or technology problem in the past, this thinking has shifted to most businesses viewing Cyber Security as posing a real business risk. This shift in thinking is important because it encourages a holistic view of organizational data security rather than one that only considers the robustness of the business's technology.

Information Security vs Cyber Security

Although these two terms seem to refer to the same thing, the difference between information and Cyber Security is important to clarify. Information security refers to the general protection of data, whether it's in movement or at rest. It focuses on three principles: confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Information security can include internet-based threats, but it also looks beyond that to additional security considerations, like biometrics, online forensics, and data governance. Information security aims to protect digital and analog data.

Cyber Security is more focused on preventing cyber attacks and threats in cyberspace (over the internet). This includes cloud-based storage and data in movement and devices. Any device or piece of hardware that a business uses connected to the internet should be protected from a wide variety of cyber threats (e.g., malware, ransomware, trojans, etc.).

The table below summarizes the differences between information security vs Cyber Security:

Information Security Cyber Security
  • Defends against all threats to data, including digital and real-world (analogue)
  • Specialists work with Cyber Security experts to prevent digital breaches, but also deals with unauthorized data access, disclosure modification, and disruption at the analogue level
  • Specialists are trained to lay the foundation of data security, and prioritize resources before dealing with threats and attacks
  • Also uses principles from social engineering, but to understand how threat actors operate online and offline
  • Defends against cyber-based threats to data, information, and networks
  • Specialists work to prevent breaches from internet-based threats
  • Specialists are trained to deal with advanced persistent threats (ATP)
  • Uses principles from social engineering to understand how threat actors operate in an online environment

In short, information security considers every aspect of organizational security, whether it’s internet-based or not. Cyber Security only considers internet-based threats. Given the prevalence of the internet today and how it’s used in everything we do, it’s easy to see why the two terms would get confused.

For an organization’s overall security to be effective, it must consider how information security and Cyber Security work together to create a comprehensive security plan. Embracing both security perspectives ensures that the organization is prepared to handle any potential security threat, no matter its origin.


Types of Cyber Security

The field of Cyber Security covers a wide variety of different areas, given the number of systems and devices that connect to the internet and produce data. These different types of Cyber Security focuses can be divided into the following categories:

1. Network

A computer network is a set of interconnected devices that share common resources that are provided by network nodes. A network can consist of computers, mobile phones, servers, Internet of Things (IoT) devices like sensors and smart devices, and more. Because a network includes such a wide web of devices and data movement, sophisticated technologies must be employed to prevent and monitor Cyber Security threats.

Advanced and multi-layered network technologies that are often employed to protect networks are outlined in the table below:

Network Protection Technology Description
Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
  • A network security tool that continually monitors a network for malicious activity, as well as taking action to prevent it and respond to it.
  • The IPS may block, report, or drop malicious activity. An IPS uses signatures from previous activities to stop well-known attacks. It can also detect anomalies, including abnormal behaviors, in how the network is used and respond accordingly.
  • An administrator can also define security policies so that the IPS can stop very specific threats. Sometimes, IPS’ is used as part of a Next-Gen Antivirus system.
Next-Gen Antivirus (NGAV)
  • Uses a combination of artificial intelligence, behavioral detection, machine learning algorithms, and exploit mitigation techniques to stop known threats and anticipate new ones.
  • Usually, NGAVs are cloud-based, meaning that functionality updates are pushed immediately and the organization doesn’t have to worry about ongoing maintenance.
  • Refers to isolating a piece of software so that it can only access set resources, programs, applications, and files within a computer system. This reduces the risk of errors or malware affecting the rest of the network.
Content Disarm and Reconstruction (CDR)
  • A computer technology that removes potentially malicious code from files.
  • CDR does not detect the functionality of the malicious code, rather it simply removes it in accordance with organizational security policies.

2. Cloud

Effective Cloud Cyber Security is essential for businesses today. Most modern organizations use a variety of cloud-based applications, systems, and software, creating multi-cloud ecosystems with differing approaches to data security and governance. A good cloud security policy should include AI Cyber Security, and centralize managing security throughout these distributed systems as much as possible to provide consistency with applied security measures and to make overall management easier.

Most organizations opt for some form of Cloud Security Managed Services to provide 24/7 monitoring, detection, and response for potential cyber threats. Amaxra Beacon is an example of turnkey Cyber Security solutions that can be easily added to Microsoft 365 cloud security deployments.

3. Endpoint

A typical organization consists of various devices that employees use daily to complete their work, including mobile phones, tablets, desktops, and laptop computers. Like unifying cloud-based system security, effective endpoint security allows organizations to secure multiple different types of devices from a centralized system. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is an example of this type of security method.

4. Mobile

These days, mobile devices are often key for corporate communications. Tables and smartphones that have access to corporate data need to be effectively secured from malicious applications, phishing attempts, ransomware, and more, just like a computer. There’s also the possibility of software rooting or jailbreaking the smartphone to gain access to the phone’s base system to change or modify the operating system or firmware. A Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution is recommended to ensure that all devices on an organization’s network can be controlled and secured from unauthorized modification.

internet of things

5. Internet of Things

Aside from mobile and various endpoint devices, there are also IoT devices to consider. These devices, including sensors and smart devices, are targets for threat actors because they are innocuously connected to the internet and, therefore, often overlooked in organizational Cyber Security measures. A solution like Azure IoT Hub allows centralized management of all IoT devices, including over-the-air deployment of updates, secure communication channels (for sending and receiving IoT data), and more.

6. Application

Like endpoint, mobile, and IoT devices, applications are also targets for potential threat actors. Critical web application security flaws, like cross-site scripting, insecure direct object reference, SQL injection, broken access control, identification and authentication failures, and more, are just a few examples of common vulnerabilities that threat actors can exploit with web applications. Microsoft cloud app security (now known as Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps) secures web applications and their data through a centralized system.

7. Microsoft Zero Trust

The basic idea behind Microsoft Zero Trust security is that no specific assumptions should be made about an organization’s network, devices, or users. In other words, every login in, device, and process could potentially result in a breach and needs to be treated as such. The Zero Trust model provides a proactive approach to cyber and information security rather than relying on a perimeter-based approach. In other words, instead of reacting to an attack after it’s already happened, treating every action as a potential attack and responding to it accordingly.

The principles of Microsoft’s Zero Trust security policy include:

  1. Authentication—with any login to any systems, devices, or applications, it is necessary to know who the person is, and if they are an authorized user. Any anomalies with identification and authorization are reported and investigated, or action is taken immediately with automatic measures.
  2. Privileged access—users should only be able to access the information they need when they need it. Ensuring that just-in-time and just-enough access policies are enforced helps reinforce data protection.
  3. Always assuming a breach—the “assume breach” approach is the basis of the Zero Trust security policy, assuming every action is a breach. Because of this, each request needs to be verified, authorized, and accounted for before access is granted.

Amaxra Beacon is an example of cyber and information security management using the principles of Microsoft’s Zero Trust approach. As a 365 security solution, Amaxra Beacon provides a five-point plan for securing one organization’s data, including the management of identities, devices, applications, and data. Secure password management is another essential piece of the puzzle, so using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Single Sign-On, or Microsoft Dynamics 365 passwordless security is recommended.


Cyber Security Management

When it comes to protecting businesses from Cyber Security threats, an effective and measured approach to Cyber Security management is needed. The basic premise behind Cyber Security management involves a holistic look at how information (data) moves throughout an organization, including devices, applications, and software and how they are used, and what precautions need to be taken to ensure a proactive approach to protecting this data.

The Importance of Risk Assessment in Cyber Security

Performing a Cyber Security risk assessment allows organizations to view an up-to-date picture of their current security environment, including whether the current system is working effectively or not.

Because of the holistic view a Cyber Security assessment provides of an organization’s overall security posture, it’s an effective tool for security officers and IT professionals to use to improve security frameworks and develop strategic plans for tackling the latest Cyber Security risks and threats.

Through performing regular Cyber Security risk assessments, organizations can:

  • Identify and prioritize the most important security vulnerabilities—once systematic weak points are captured, stakeholders can determine which ones pose the greatest risk and work on rectifying them first.
  • Determine current security controls' effectiveness, consistency, and efficiency—different applications, programs, and file types will have different built-in security features. A Cyber Security risk assessment helps determine if global Cyber Security measures, like Single Sign-On or Multi-Factor Authentication, are being consistently and effectively enforced across multi-cloud and legacy systems.
  • Ensure industry regulations and compliance requirements are met—industries like legal, healthcare, banking, and financial services are required to meet certain regulatory standards regarding data protection and storage, which directly relates to the effectiveness of organizational Cyber Security measures. Compliance automation can even be incorporated into Cyber Security frameworks to ensure continued adherence to regulatory requirements, even with continuous data governance updates and changes.

The Importance of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning

Being able to quickly recover from a Cyber Security incident is extremely important to prevent even more financial and reputational loss. Aside from getting the business back on track, having an effective business continuity and disaster recovery plan showcases an organization’s ability to adapt and respond to data breaches.

Business Continuity Disaster Recovery
Deals with the people, processes, and resources required before, during, and after a Cyber Security incident. In other words, business continuity is about preparation before a security breach occurs. Focuses on getting systems, programs, and devices functional again after a disaster occurs. In other words, disaster recovery is the rebuilding process after the storm.

Cyber Security Assessment Framework

Developing an effective Cyber Security assessment framework helps organizations assess, monitor, and mitigate various Cyber Security threats.

To ensure that the framework is up to par, organizations should adhere to the requirements outlined in ISO/IEC 27001 and 27002. These are two essential international Cyber Security standards that organizations should follow to ensure that their protective measures are adequately prepared for the latest Cyber Security threats.

  1. ISO/IEC 27001 is a set of guidelines that promote a complete approach to organizational information security by providing information on how to vet people, policies, and technologies. In other words, it’s a tool for cyber risk management and resilience.
  2. ISO 27002 provides various controls organizations can implement using ISO 27001 as guidance. Each control is designed to address specific issues that may arise during a Cyber Security risk assessment.

With Cyber Security threats constantly changing and new threats emerging daily, it’s very difficult for organizations to keep up with the latest trends. ISO/IEC 27001 focuses on the fundamentals of Cyber Security risk assessment and updates it as needed so organizations always have access to the latest information.

Microsoft Cyber Security Reference Architectures

The reference architectures that Microsoft provides are important tools for understanding the relationship between Microsoft’s Cyber Security capabilities from a holistic perspective. The diagrams are technically detailed and include information on:

  • Cyber Security capabilities
  • Zero trust user access
  • Security operations
  • Operational technology
  • Multi-cloud and cross-platform capabilities
  • Attack chain coverage
  • Azure native security controls
  • Security organizational functions

By using these reference diagrams, businesses can better understand the security capabilities of their Microsoft products and how to build a Cyber Security framework that takes full advantage of these capabilities. Many Microsoft applications and programs come with built-in security measures that organizations may not be aware of, and thus cannot take full advantage of the functionality until they see each functionality and understand how it can relate to a holistic Cyber Security framework.

A great example of how holistic Cyber Security can be applied is Amaxra Beacon. This service offers monitoring, detection, and response configured for an organization’s IT environment using the right software. Using Microsoft’s Zero Trust principles as a guide, Amaxra Beacon can secure an organization’s data at the required level.

Cyber Security Assessment Example

The NIST framework is one example of a good Cyber Security assessment framework that covers the following areas:

  1. Identification of software, devices, and equipment that the organization uses, as well as authorization roles for employees, vendors, and anyone else that may have access to sensitive company information.
  2. Protection in terms of understanding endpoints, including devices, logins, and security measures.
  3. Response plans, policies, and initiatives for acting on potential threats
  4. Recovery determines what happens after a cyber attack occurs, including the process of restoring systems, devices, and data, and also informing the relevant stakeholders about what is happening.

The Center for Internet Security Risk Assessment Method (CIS RAM) is another example of a Cyber Security framework. To mitigate Cyber Security risk in an organization, the CIS RAM utilizes a tiered approach, like the NIST framework, that considers the organization’s security objectives and data maturity.

  • CIS RAM helps organizations evaluate risk by calculating the likelihood of impact on customers, business objectives, and external stakeholders like vendors, suppliers, and regulators.
  • CIS RAM provides organizations with the framework to determine where “acceptable risk” lies so that they can ensure they perform due care with data protection by ensuring that the possibility of data breach stays above that level of acceptable risk.

Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS)

In a beach and attack simulation, different types of breaches are simulated to assess an organization’s ability to deal with various cyber threats.

Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS)

Aside from evaluating the effectiveness of overall security measures in dealing with particular incidents, the BAS also helps organizations proactively identify potential vulnerabilities in their systems, networks, applications, and devices by mimicking the methods that real hackers use.

Common types of BAS that organizations commonly use include:

  1. IT management simulation—tests the effectiveness of assets, patches, and configuration management for various devices and applications.
  2. Network attack simulation—evaluates how well corporate firewalls, and network security measures (IPS, NGAV, CDR, sandboxing, etc.) defend against different attack vectors.
  3. Phishing simulations—help organizations gauge how well employees can identify and react to malicious emails, as well as the effectiveness of current anti-phishing measures in terms of spotting and stopping any phishing attempts.
  4. Malware and ransomware simulationsrogue software in the form of malware or ransomware is common for threat actors to use to gain access to sensitive data. In a simulation scenario, “fake” malware is distributed through an organization’s network, with the effectiveness of security software and various measures being evaluated as the malware spreads. Ransomware is often deployed as part of a social engineering exercise, testing the likelihood of eliciting the response that the software wants from an employee.
  5. Social engineering simulations—given the fact that social engineering is such an effective method used by cyber attackers, social engineering simulations evaluate people’s responses and reactions rather than just software. Impersonation, tailgating, pretexting, and baiting are common techniques used to trick people into giving up company information or providing unauthorized access to threat actors.
  6. Insider threat simulations—Cyber Security threats are not always external; they can come from within an organization just as easily. The ability of an organization to detect and react to insider threats from employees or contractors is important. Insider threat simulations locate weak points in behavioral monitoring, data protection, and access controls.
  7. Web application attacks—by taking advantage of common vulnerabilities in web applications, such as cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and more, these simulations can effectively (and safely) find flaws that IT teams can use to strengthen the security of these applications.
  8. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) simulations—by accessing a server’s capability to identify and respond to repeated, unnatural service requests, organizations can strengthen their ability to respond to DDoS attacks and ensure regular and consistent uptime for their users.
  9. Red team exercises—by thinking like a real cyber attacker, red team exercises don’t focus on a single application or system, rather, they attack multiple systems, applications, and processes at one time to evaluate the effectiveness of a holistic response. In turn, the “blue team”, which consists of IT team members and security personnel, works to evaluate and stop the attacks from the red team.

End-User Education

Users are often the first line of defense against cyber attacks. While tech-savvy individuals may feel that they are extremely unlikely to be fooled by a phishing or social engineering attempt to gain unauthorized access, the truth is that up to 85% of data breaks are caused by human error. This isn’t to say that employees are overall incompetent or don’t know anything about Cyber Security, just that these attacks can be so sophisticated that even savvy employees can easily make a mistake and respond to them.

Another factor in successful Cyber Security breaches is the fear of admitting mistakes. When an organization has a culture where people are afraid to admit mistakes because they have fear of negative repercussions, then breaches can be hidden or ignored, leading to more significant damage. Fostering a culture where employees feel they can admit mistakes safely is important for effective Cyber Security, so that action can be taken against breaches as soon as possible.

End-user education is a very important side to effective Cyber Security. Providing regular training sessions and effectiveness testing to ensure that Cyber Security is always top of mind for employees and stakeholders is essential.

One of the ways that end-user responsibility can be highlighted is through an effective data governance plan. By directly involving users in data security initiatives by giving them a data security role in the organization’s Cyber Security and data governance plan, organizations are underlining the importance of their ability to be proactive in dealing with cyber threats.

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Cyber Security Best Practices

Effective organizational Cyber Security relies heavily on “cyber hygiene”, which means using strong passwords, advanced authorization measures like MFA and Single Sign-on, updating software on a regular basis, and following basic online security practices like not clicking on suspicious links and not visiting unsecured websites. By adhering to cyber hygiene principles, individuals within an organization can drastically reduce Cyber Security incidents.

Aside from end user education and cyber hygiene, the best practices that organizations should follow for their Cyber Security strategy:

1. Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Having an effective framework of business processes, policies, and technologies is an essential part of organizational Cyber Security. How individuals access and are identified in a system (this is known at a computing level as the user’s digital identity. Identify management looks at a user’s digital identity holistically to determine specific details about what they are and are not allowed to do on the network.

Identify management considers the following regarding a user’s digital identity:

  • Network and application access control
  • Authentication
  • Password management
  • Identity governance
  • Identity analytics

Systems used for IAM include:

  • Single Sign-On—an authentication measure that allows a user to log in with a single ID to independent systems within an organizational network. The Single Sign-On allows the user to log in once and access various applications and systems without re-entering their credentials.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication—In addition to providing correct login credentials, a user must also provide authentication using an application, or website link (often provided by email) or entering a unique pin code generated at the time of login. MFA ensures that if a threat actor were to gain access to login information, they still wouldn’t be able to access the organizational network unless they had complete access to all of the user’s authentication methods.
  • Privileged Access Management (PAM)—PAM is often used for highly sensitive systems and information. A PAM is a physical, pluggable authentication module (such as a USB stick) for authentication. However, with increasingly distributed teams and systems, this authentication technology is considered outdated and often forgone in favor of other solutions, like MFA and Single Sign-On.

2. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

SIEM is an approach to security management that combines event, threat, and risk data into a single system. This data can then be used to improve detection, response, and remediation of security issues. The SIEM must be configured to consider the organization’s system, data protection and governance measures, and operational environment to be effective. Every department and stakeholder within the organization should be included in building an effective SIEM framework.

SIEM systems provide a comprehensive overview of network activity and thus have become an essential component of a robust organizational security framework. The capabilities of SIEM systems should include:

  • Scalability—as organizations adopt more software, applications, and systems, SIEMs have had to adapt to be able to effectively track and manage a wide range of datasets. This means that event data will be plentiful for an organization, so implementing the SIEM appropriately and managing it effectively is paramount.
  • Forensics—SIEM systems provide automated data analysis, notifications, and data enrichment so that organizations reduce the workload on operations staff and also benefit from reference data. A good SIEM platform should provide robust pre-built analysis policies and linkage of events that can be used for drill-down capabilities.
  • Speed—having access to real-time data is essential. A good SIEM system should be able to provide alerts and actionable information as close to real-time as possible.
  • Ease of Use—ensuring that the SIEM is easy to deploy and use is important to ensure business continuity. Even though tools within a SIEM will require ongoing resources, robust automation capabilities, and easy-to-navigate UI is essential, as well as dashboards to view current threat and policy management.

3. Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM)

CIEM refers to the process of managing identities and privileges in cloud-based environments. Traditional identity management tools usually fall short of managing the complexities of the cloud, especially with multi-cloud environments. Since every business today works in the cloud in some capacity, it’s essential to have a robust CIEM system in place with AI cloud security.

Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM)

With CIEM, administrators can understand the entitlements that exist across cloud and multi-cloud environments and better mitigate any risks from entitlements with a higher level of access to systems, applications, and programs than is necessary. The principles of just enough and just-in-time access apply to CIEMs regarding user management. With increasingly distributed cloud-based systems, programs, and applications that enterprise organizations use daily, it can be extremely difficult to effectively manage digital identity and access across all of them.


Different applications and systems from different providers have different approaches to managing users, and with just-in-time and just-enough access principles added on top of that, the complexity of managing users increases.

CIEM is able to centralize the management of digital identities by allowing continuous monitoring across multiple cloud-based environments using automation, AI, and ML. For example, automatic notifications can be sent to administrators when certain events occur, like an employee quitting or changing job positions, and the administrator can act, or the system can initiate an automatic protocol using the organization’s security policies.

4. Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

To ensure that sensitive and confidential data isn’t lost, misused, or accessed by unauthorized persons, organizations should implement DLP tools. Many organizations have to ensure that personal and confidential information is correctly stored and managed while at the same time being able to access and use that data as needed. For that reason, DLP is an essential consideration in data governance.

DLP solutions include tools and resources encompassing an organization’s people, processes, and technology. Antivirus software, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and more can be utilized to detect suspicious activity by comparing actions and content to an organization’s DLP policy. This policy should define how an organization labels, shares, and protects data.

A DLP allows organizations to:

  • Classify and monitor sensitive data, including providing visibility into an organization's data and how it is used. Knowing this essential information makes identifying unauthorized access attempts and general misuse easier. Classification refers to applying rules for identifying and storing sensitive data with tags, automated rules, and more. Effective data classification is essential for regulatory compliance in most industries.
  • Automating data classification is essential because of the volume of data that flows through a typical organization. Like a library organizes its books by genre, author, and description, automated data classification rules record where data is stored, how it is shared when it was created, and more.
  • Maintaining regulatory compliance is essential for many industries, including healthcare, financial services, banking, etc. A DLP gives organizations the reporting capabilities they need to complete compliance audits.
  • Detect and block suspicious activity through customizable rules that prevent certain data from being able to successfully leave the network.
  • Control access and usage by monitoring and directly controlling who has access to what and what they are doing with that access. Insider breaches and fraud can be prevented by effective management of digital identities.
  • Improve the scope of visibility and control by identifying and prioritizing current and potential issues so that action can be taken strategically and timely. Customizations to DLP should be made to strengthen future Cyber Security measures and DLP efforts.

5. A Comprehensive Data Security Platform

While all of these best practices are great to follow on their own, a comprehensive data security platform that allows organizations to deploy all of these approaches is the best way to ensure that organizational Cyber Security is consistent and managed centrally.

More information about specific holistic Microsoft security platforms will be discussed later in this article, but aside from having the correct software, an organization also needs the correct approach to comprehensive Cyber Security.

Amaxra Beacon provides a framework that allows organizations to implement Zero Trust security throughout applications, systems, and programs. Amaxra’s Beacon service focuses on providing a complete security solution through monitoring, detection, and response. This service can be customized and configured to the IT environment and the Microsoft security software used to ensure a complete solution.

Cyber Security Checklist for Organizations

Checklist Item Description
Network and endpoint protection
  • Protect the organizations perimeter with anti-malware, MDM, endpoint management, firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems
  • Segment networks and restrict access using the principles of just-in-time and just-enough to limit access to only what people need
  • Continuously monitor internet and network traffic, device gateways, wireless access points, and regularly audit logs to identify anomalies (or use automation to get instant notifications)
  • Monitor DNS to ensure website remains trusted and reliable
  • Implement protective DNS measures to prevent users from visiting malicious sites
  • Implement a SIEM system to enable real-time continuous monitoring
System protection
  • Implement over-the-air, automatic updates and patches to keep systems, applications, and firmware up-to-date
  • Enforce the use of strong passwords and provide the ability to keep them secure and confidential with password management systems
  • Enforce MFA, Single Sign-On, or other secure login procedures for accounts and systems, especially those with administrative access
  • Regularly review user privileges and rights to data access, and edit or remove users as necessary
  • Backup critical data on a regular basis and ensure backups are isolated from the network
  • Test backups periodically to ensure data and systems can be quickly and safely recovered
  • Assess third party applications for functions and components that may no longer be needed; unused software can easily become forgotten and become a target for hackers
  • Maintain an inventory of devices and endpoints throughout the organization
  • Categorize assets and determine which ones are the most critical
User education and additional protective measures
  • Provide Cyber Security awareness training and education on a regular basis, especially with new and emerging threats
  • Involve employees directly in Cyber Security measures and ensure they understand their importance in security initiatives
  • Develop a list of internal and external
  • Determine how to respond to a data breach from a PR perspective
  • stakeholders to alert in the event of a data breach

Cyber Security Software

Microsoft provides a variety of Cyber Security software solutions to help organizations protect their data, and provide a more centralized approach to information and Cyber Security management. These software offerings are described in more detail below.

Microsoft Purview

Many organizations struggle with managing and understanding the large amounts of data they produce. Effective data management, which also includes data governance, is essential to prevent Cyber Security breaches, and also to ensure that regulatory compliance and requirements are met. Further, there are competitive advantages to managing large amounts of data effectively, especially if the organization is mature.

Microsoft Purview is the effective data management and governance solution organizations seek. At its core, Microsoft Purview is a suite of cloud-based tools that provide solutions for data governance, risk management, and compliance.

The key features of Microsoft Purview include:

  • Gaining greater visibility into data assets, including how data is stored in multi-cloud and on-premises systems.
  • The ability to integrate with various data, security, and risk solutions like Azure, Amazon S3, SQL, and more.
  • Tools to safeguard data like classification, encryption (at rest and in transit), and access controls.
  • Management of end-to-end data risks through risk assessments (essential for risk identification) and implementing controls to reduce overall security risk.
  • Ensure regulatory compliance with tools to address requirements in General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and more.

Microsoft Intune

As a cloud-based endpoint management solution, Microsoft Intune simplifies the process of managing applications and devices, and virtual endpoints in the cloud. Intune allows the management of corporate and personal devices containing company information (think putting Microsoft Teams on personal phones for video calls and instant messaging). Intune also fully supports the Microsoft Zero Trust security model, so if a Cyber Security framework for an organization is built with this essential approach in mind, Microsoft Intune is an essential addition to the organization's tech stack.

The two primary services that Microsoft Intune offers includes:

  1. Mobile Device Management (MDM), which is a cloud-based solution that enables IT professionals and managers to secure mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. MDM, through Microsoft Intune, offers device inventory tracking and management, configuration tools, application management, device compliance monitoring, and security policy enforcement features.
  2. Mobile Application Management (MAM), which allows enforcement of application security policies, the ability to push over-the-air updates, and the ability to regulate access to corporate data without needing full control over the device itself. This enables employees to use their personal devices for some business applications without worrying that their company can access other parts of their devices. Intune's MAM can enforce application inventory tracking, configuration management, and data protection policies.

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)

Azure AD is an enterprise-level digital identity management service that provides Single Sign-On, MFA, and conditional access controls to protect against most Cyber Security attacks that affect organizations. As a robust IAM solution, Azure AD allows IT professionals and administrators to control multiple user logins, segment access, determine permissions, and more. In other words, Azure AD provides the flexibility needed to choose which information stays in the cloud, who can manage and use that information, which services or applications can access certain information, and of course, the access level of end users.

Security for Azure AD includes the aforementioned MFA and SSO but also includes context-based adaptive policies, identity governance features, and an application proxy to secure remote access and protective machine learning.

Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

Azure advanced threat protection, now known as Microsoft Defender for Identity, leverages signals from Azure AD environment to identify, detect, and investigate advanced threats to an organization’s data. In addition to protecting against external threats, Azure ATP provides protection against malicious insider actions by monitoring users, protecting credentials, spotting suspicious activities, and providing transparent incident reports.

Azure AD Premium P1 and P2

Azure AD has two main plans available: Azure Active Directory Premium P1 and P2.

  • Azure AD Premium P1 provides identity management (through Microsoft Identity Manager), access management, and administration of dynamic groups.
  • Azure AD Premium P2 includes all the features available for P1, but with some more functionality, such as Identity Protection and Privileged Identity Management (PIM).

It’s important to note that Azure AD is now part of a new Microsoft product called Microsoft Entra. This new identity and access control product combines the capabilities of Azure AD with two new product categories: Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) and decentralized identity. This new umbrella of Microsoft products allows businesses to secure access and manage digital identities across different platforms and systems.

Windows Defender Security Center For Business (Now Called Microsoft Defender)

Modern Cyber Security threats need modern solutions. Windows Defender Security Center, now called Microsoft Defender, provides enterprise-level Cyber Security protection so that organizations can easily identify, protect against, detect, and respond to cyber threats. Microsoft Defender provides a holistic solution for organizational Cyber Security, covering the following important areas:

  • Identify: by finding the weaknesses in an organization’s digital environments, one can take appropriate action to rectify them. By determining the areas of greatest vulnerability, one can prioritize and remedy bad software configurations and build a more secure foundation.
  • Protect: Use the principles of attack surface reduction to reduce bad software behaviors, and leave threat actors with fewer ways to attack. The Threat & Vulnerability Management dashboard makes isolating and taking action on software and devices that present the greatest weaknesses easier.
  • Detect and respond: Isolate and respond to Cyber Security threats with endpoint protection, and remove them from the environment.
  • Recover: Automated investigation remediation functionality allows selling security operations and recover quickly from cyber attacks.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

Formerly called Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint detects, investigates, and responds to security threats on an organization’s network. The combination of technologies that Defender for Endpoint results in a robust solution:

  • Endpoint behavioral sensors collect and process various behavioral signals from the operating system and send this important information to specific Microsoft Defender for Endpoint instance.
  • Cloud security analytics leverage big data, device learning, and unique optics from Microsoft products and services to translate behavioral signals into insights, detections, and recommended responses.
  • Threat intelligence combines insight and expertise from Microsoft hunters, security teams, and threat intelligence provided by partners to help Defender for Endpoint identify hacker tools, techniques, and procedures and generate alerts when they are detected in sensor data.

Enterprise Mobility Security

Following the approach to putting all security solutions under one umbrella solution, Microsoft Mobility Security provides a comprehensive package of Cyber Security products to help keep businesses safe from attacks.

  • Enterprise Mobility Security E3 includes a variety of Microsoft security products, including Azure AD P1 (which provides unified logins using Single Sign-On, MFA, identity management, and file encryption), Microsoft Intune (allows isolating organizational data from personal that exists on professional and personal devices, push application updates, and more), Azure Information Protection Premium P1 (allows organizations to discover, classify, and organize data), and Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (proactively assesses an organization’s security risks and provides the information needed to strengthen security posture)
  • Enterprise Mobility Security E5 includes all of the features of E3, save for Microsoft Intune. This is because it instead offers Microsoft Cloud App Security, which is a more robust mobile device and app management solution for enterprises. The other difference with E5 is that it upgrades Azure Information Protection to the P2 offering, which once again offers more robust security for enterprise organizations. P2 includes DLP, more data governance features, and the ability to integrate with custom applications and third-party data protection solutions through APIs.

Cyber Security Threats

Knowing and understanding the wide variety of Cyber Security threats out there will help develop effective strategies to address them. While these threats are continuously evolving and increasing in sophistication, robust Cyber Security systems that have AI, ML, and behavioral analysis capabilities are able to also continually adapt and formulate the appropriate responses to these threats.

Common Cyber Security threats are outlined below:

1. Business Email Compromise

One of the most successful Cyber Security threats for organizations is business email compromise. In a BEC scam, threat actors use various social engineering techniques, such as urgent language, to trick unsuspecting users into clicking on a malicious link, filling out an online form, or otherwise responding to emails with personal or confidential data.

According to data from Abnormal’s H1 2023 Email Threat Report, 28% of employees open scam emails, and 15% reply to them. Given the fact that a single email phishing incident could potentially cost organizations millions of dollars in financial loss and even permanently damage their reputation, it’s important that organizations not only implement effective Cyber Security measures but also take the time to educate employees and stakeholders on the dangers of business email compromise.

2. Phishing Emails

Anti-phishing strategies and tools are especially important to help prevent email-related cybercrime. This involves firewalls, anti-spam filters, malware applications, and of course, employee education and awareness training so that employees can recognize the signs of email phishing attempts. MFA, email authentication tools (which help verify that emails are sent from legitimate sources), and web filtering (blocking malicious websites so that users can’t access them) are other important anti-phishing measures organizations can implement.

3. Spear Phishing

Instead of casting a wide net and hoping that anyone will respond in an organization, in spear phishing, threat actors target specific individuals or groups that they know will have the information they are looking for. Threat actors often use the information they can find about the individuals or groups in question from social media and other sources to craft a more personalized scam. Because these attacks often have research behind them, the scam email itself is often more difficult to spot, and they can often bypass basic email Cyber Security measures.

With spear phishing, the importance of employee education is often tested. Employees should keep in mind that these scams have similarities to regular phishing emails in that they use urgent language and suggest that the user give up important data over email. If an employee receives an email they think could be a spear phishing attempt, the most important thing is to take a step back, think about what the email is asking, and double-check with others (supervisors, IT, etc.) to verify the email’s legitimacy.

4. Rogue Software

Rogue Software

Malicious software like ransomware and malware are common for businesses of all sizes to have to deal with. Essentially, rogue software infects individual devices and tricks users into thinking that they have to pay a fee to remove the software via a pop-up. This could be as simple as removing the deceptive curtain and requesting funds directly or continuing to trick the user by posing as legitimate antivirus software and requesting that they “install” a clean-up tool that they have to pay for, which in turn steals financial information and further infects the system.

Rogue software may also disguise itself as a legitimate web browser or even something more innocuous like a browser extension to exploit vulnerabilities in certain web browsers.

5. Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks exploit standard social conventions like politeness to gain access to confidential and personal information. These attacks are often very successful because they are not only unexpected but often take place in person (although they don’t have to). The table below outlines the different types of social engineering crimes:

Type of Social Engineering Attack Description
Baiting A threat actor convinces a victim to give up personal or confidential information or infect a system with malware by making a false promise (e.g., free money, discount, gift card, etc.)
Pretexting Using a fabricated story (such as impersonating a trusted authority) to lure a victim into giving up sensitive information that they wouldn’t otherwise provide. This “pretext” can be used to carry out any number of scams, like email phishing, whaling, and more.
Whaling Targets a high-profile person or group, such as C-suite executives, public spokespersons, or company owners. Whaling will often include a variety of cybercrime tactics, such as pretexting and baiting, to gain access to the targeted individual or group.
Tailgating attack
  • What is a tailgating in Cyber Security? In-person tailgating can be a person taking advantage of arriving at an entrance at the same time as someone else and exploiting a person’s natural polite instinct to hold the door for them.
  • Digital tailgating examples include gaining access to a device that an employee has already logged into and using their credentials to access sensitive information on the organization’s network or using other means like a phishing email to gain credentials and use them to log into a system.


6. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks

DDoS attacks have been around since the internet was invented, but they’ve remained a successful tactic for disrupting business. In a DDos attack, the threat actor floods a server with internet traffic to overwhelm the system and cause a website to crash. This often applies to SaaS websites where browser-based software services are offered or to eCommerce websites. By disrupting service, the attacker doesn’t gain information, but instead causes financial and reputational harm for the company and inconveniences the organization’s users.

7. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

An APt uses continuous and sophisticated hacking techniques to gain access to a system and remain undetected for a long period of time with the end goal of stealing information. An APT takes quite a bit of effort to carry out since it needs to be able to avoid detection from Cyber Security systems over time to continue to steal information. Because of the effort required to carry out such an attack, high-value targets such as banks, governments, and large corporations are often the targets of APTs.

8. Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks

A MitM attack involves secretly altering communications between two parties that believe they are communicating confidentiality with each other. The attacker is essentially eavesdropping on private conversations and using the information that they gain from these conversations for malicious purposes. MitM attacks can include email rerouting, intercepting files, phone tapping, etc.

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Cyber Security Challenges

Even though cybercrime isn’t exactly a new thing that organizations have to deal with, the fact remains that being able to detect and respond to the wide variety of cyber threats is often difficult and costly. The specifics of what makes dealing with Cyber Security challenging for organizations of all sizes are explored in more detail in this section.

Continually Evolving Threats

Unfortunately, the efforts of threat actors are continuously evolving to include the latest technologies, and to take advantage of the latest software exploits (e.g., zero-day software vulnerabilities). In other words, threat actors don’t take a break; they are always looking for the newest ways to access sensitive information that they can use for malicious purposes.

In regards to organizational Cyber Security, systems, and security measures have to be able to continually adapt to address new attack methods. This is why technologies like AI and ML are increasingly being incorporated into Cyber Security solutions, as they have the ability to learn and develop appropriate responses to threats much faster and more efficiently than a human would be able to.

Data Security

Securing organizational data is a continuous process that requires persistent and consistent effort. A Capital One survey involving 157 data management administrators found that there are worrying challenges with data governance that have significant effects on data security: 76% said that they found it difficult to understand their organizational data, and 82% indicated that confusing data governance policies made managing data effectively challenging.

The problem with ineffective data governance is that it trickles down to affect data security. When organizations are not sure what data they have, it means that sensitive data may be in an easily exploitable place without their knowledge, and worse, they may have no idea if it were to be stolen. The issue only compounds with time as the organization gathers more data from various sources.

The solution to the data security problem, of course, is to establish an effective data governance policy. This often involves robust software but also requires a two-pronged approach:

  1. Establishing centralized data security management overseen by data security professionals, data scientists, and IT teams.
  2. Utilizing the principles of data mesh, meaning that each department or business unit in an organization takes responsibility for its data, including controlling who has access to it and how it’s used.

By distributing responsibility and having a centralized accountability model, data security for an organization can be assured.

Cyber Security Awareness Training

Employees are often the first and last line of defense when it comes to typical cyber attacks. If employees are not kept informed about the latest threats to security, they risk being complicit (whether unintentionally or not) in cyber attacks. Training should also not be viewed as a one-and-done task, it should be continuous and integrated into regular workdays to remain effective.

Supply Chain and Third-Party Attacks

Cyber Security attacks can sometimes come from trusted suppliers, vendors, and other integrated external stakeholders. Attacks on a supply chain can quickly move through the entire workflow by accessing and compromising sensitive information by taking advantage of existing trusted relationships.

Since many supply chain and third-party attacks utilize typical Cyber Security threats like phishing, it’s essential that organizations have a robust Cyber Security solution in place that doesn’t allow trusted relationships and software to get a free pass. Utilizing the principles of Zero Trust is a good way to ensure an organization's Cyber Security solution is up to snuff.

Utilizing the principles of Zero Trust is a good way to ensure an organization's Cyber Security solution is up to snuff.

Cyber Security Consulting

Sometimes, organizations do not have the time or resources to build and regularly maintain an effective Cyber Security posture. This could be because of financial constraints or a lack of expertise. In other cases, an organization may already have some semblance of a Cyber Security policy that is simply ineffective and they need expert counsel to make it better. Because effective Cyber Security is so important, organizations often turn to Cyber Security consulting companies to fill in the gaps.

What Does a Cyber Security Specialist Do?

A Cyber Security consultant will often start by auditing an organization’s security posture, identifying areas of weakness and improvement. From there, they will work with stakeholders to implement technology, resources, and training to boost the organization’s network and data integrity.

Small Business Cyber Security Consulting vs Enterprise Cyber Security Consulting

Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) often want a straightforward Cyber Security solution that can be managed by their existing IT person or team. They may not have the mature and complex data, typical of an enterprise organization and also may not be a target for more sophisticated Cyber Security attacks. For SMBs, a Cyber Security consulting company may take responsibility for the entire breadth of their Cyber Security needs.

For enterprise-level organizations with more complex needs, a Cyber Security consulting company's role is more likely to augment the enterprise’s existing security team. The augmentation would typically start with an audit of the company’s current Cyber Security posture, including software and data governance, and suggest additional software, resources, or training needed to boost security in certain areas.

Amaxra Beacon is an example of a Cyber Security service that configures to an organization’s unique security needs and ensures that people, data, and devices are fully protected against cyber attacks.

cyber security conclusion


Cyber Security threats are ever-evolving as technology advances. Businesses of all sizes should take Cyber Security seriously, including implementing cultural and operational changes to support an effective Cyber Security posture.

Understanding the different Cyber Security threat types, software, challenges, and the importance of having a robust solution in place for an organization that includes software, resources, and training is essential.

Amaxra is a Microsoft gold partner that provides an effective Cyber Security framework called Amaxra Beacon tailored to each business's needs. Using the principles of Microsoft Zero Trust security principles, Beacon provides the flexibility to augment security posture with software and expert insights.

Contact Amaxra today to learn more about our security service and how it can benefit your organization.

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