Protecting Your Network

Microsoft’s Latest Recommendations


Networks today are subject to many threats including ransomware, cryptocurrency-miner threats, or state-sponsored hackers. 

In line with other security industry pros, Microsoft has confirmed in its 24th annual security intelligence report that ransomware has taken a backseat to pesky cryptocurrency miners. 

But the company also warns that supply-chain attacks are on the rise. These are where an attacker uses a supplier or business partner to spread an infection. 

Past examples include the NotPetya not-ransomware outbreakthat caused over a billion dollars in losses for global firms and the Dofoil BitTorrent attacks.     

"Supply-chain attacks are insidious because they take advantage of the trust that users and IT departments place in the software they use," Microsoft warns in the report

"The compromised software is often signed and certified by the vendor, and may give no indication that anything is wrong, which makes it significantly more difficult to detect the infection. They can damage the relationship between supply chains and their customers, whether the latter are corporate or home users.

"By poisoning software and undermining delivery or update infrastructures, supply-chain attacks can affect the integrity and security of goods and services that organizations provide."

While attacks are changing and Windows 10 built-in security is improving, the company's advice to customers remains the same. However, there are conflicting data about the best approach to staying secure.  

Microsoft recommends only using software from trusted sources, though this 'security hygiene' measure could be undermined in a supply-chain attack. 

The company also recommends "rapidly applying the latest updates to your operating systems and applications, and immediately deploying critical security updates for OS, browsers, and email."

Deploying patches quickly is generally a good idea. However, Microsoft recently revealed that vulnerabilities in its software are most likely to be exploited as a zero-daybefore the company has even had a chance to release a patch. 

However, its other tips don't present obvious security conflicts.  

"Deploy a secure email gateway that has advanced threat protection capabilities for defending against modern phishing variants," Microsoft warns, adding that businesses should "Enable host anti-malware and network defenses to get near real-time blocking responses from the cloud (if available in your solution)." 

The other important measures organizations should take include implementing access controls, and teaching employees to be suspect of messages that ask them to divulge sensitive information. 

Microsoft also recommends keeping "destruction-resistant backups of your critical systems and data" and using cloud storage services for online backups. 

"For data that is on premises, regularly back up important data using the 3-2-1 rule. Keep three backups of your data, on two different storage types, and at least one backup offsite," says Microsoft.

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