Benefits of Microsoft 365 and Azure Active Directory for Identity Management

Identity management is critical for businesses today. In a world where more and more employees are working remotely and accessing corporate data from a variety of devices, it’s important to have a robust system in place to manage and protect employee identities. That’s where Microsoft 365 and Azure Active Directory come in.

When used together, Microsoft 365 and Azure Active Directory provide a complete solution for identity management in organizations. Microsoft 365 provides the productivity and collaboration tools that users need, while Azure Active Directory handles the single sign-on and security features. This offers several benefits, including a consistent experience for users across all applications, enhanced security through centralized control.

Azure Active Directory

Azure Active Directory is a cloud-based identity management service that provides single sign-on (SSO) capabilities and robust security features. It offers several capabilities, including an enterprise identity service that provides single sign-on, multifactor authentication, and conditional access.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based productivity and collaboration suite that is the most popular SaaS platform in use today. It includes the Microsoft Office applications, Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams. It offers several capabilities, including email, calendaring, contacts, tasks, and document management.

Using Microsoft 365 and Azure Active Directory for identity management provides several benefits:

1. Centralized Management of Workforce Identities

Organizations that use Microsoft 365 and Azure Active Directory can manage their workforce identities in a centralized way. This means that they can provide their employees with a single set of credentials to access all the applications and services that they need, both on-premises and in the cloud. This makes it much easier for administrators to manage user accounts and reduces the chances of users forgetting their passwords or having their accounts hacked.

2. Consistent User Experience across Applications

When users sign into Microsoft 365 with their Azure Active Directory credentials, they will have the same experience across all the applications that they use. This includes the Office applications, Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams. They will also be able to access their files and documents from any device, including their mobile phones.

This makes it easier for users to access the information and resources they need, regardless of which application they are using. Additionally, it reduces the need for training on multiple applications.

3. Enhanced Security through Centralized Access Control

Azure Active Directory provides organizations with the ability to control access to their applications and resources in a centralized way. This includes the ability to set up multifactor authentication and conditional access rules, making it easier to monitor and control access to resources.

This enhanced security helps to protect corporate data and makes it more difficult for hackers to gain access to sensitive information. Additionally, it reduces the chances of users accidentally disclosing corporate data.

4. Reduced IT Costs and Increased Efficiency

M365 and Azure AD offer reduced IT costs and increased efficiency by enabling organizations to manage all identities in one place. This is because administrators can manage users in a centralized way, eliminating the need to maintain multiple user accounts across different applications. This makes it easier to provision and deprovision users, as well as to monitor and control access to resources.

Additionally, Azure Active Directory integrates with the Microsoft 365 suite of products, making it easier to deploy and manage. This integration can help to reduce the amount of time and effort required to manage user accounts.

Microsoft 365 and Azure Active Directory are a valuable combination to give organizations of any size the ability to manage identities. While the capabilities provided are great, the ability to cost-effectively leverage these capabilities can be beyond the scope of even the largest IT organizations.

At Montra, we understand the importance of workforce identity management and security, which is why we have spent time developing our own software that leverages the core capabilities of M365 and Azure AD to ease the use of it for all IT organizations. If you have any questions about our identity management services and software, please contact us at sales@montra.io.

Laptop Security Best Practices

Laptops are a valuable asset for the workforce of companies of any size. They allow employees to stay connected while on the go and can are critical tools to accomplish work quickly and effectively. When work laptops contain important data and client information, it’s essential to take measures to keep them secure. Below are some of the essential steps you can take to protect your laptop from theft and keep your data safe.

Physical Security 

Laptop security begins with physical security. Always keep your laptop in a safe place when you’re not using it. If you’re carrying it with you, make sure it’s in a secure bag that thieves can’t easily access. When traveling, never leave your laptop unattended in a public space, and make sure to always keep it with you. 

System Password

It’s also important to protect your laptop with a strong system password. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to create a password that would be difficult for someone to guess. Avoid using easily guessed words like “password” or your name. You should also change your password periodically to further reduce the risk of it being guessed with a brute force approach. 

Security Software 

In addition to physical protection and local access protection, it’s essential to take steps to protect yourself when you connect your laptop to the Internet. Be sure to install cybersecurity software on your laptop and keep it up to date. The most sophisticated software is called endpoint detect & respond (EDR). The best EDR software will not only protect you from known viruses and ransomware attacks but will also detect odd behavior and respond to it immediately. 

Personal Awareness

Not all security can be handled purely by software smarts, people need to practice good cyber behaviors online to keep their system and their data safe. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown sources, which can surreptitiously load malware or ransomware onto your laptop. When using public WiFi networks, be sure to use Virtual Private Network (VPN) software to encrypt all your activity. This prevents other lurking on the network from seeing your passwords and other private information on the network. 

Laptops are a valuable asset and a potentially weak link in your company’s security chain/ They should be protected with the best security practices. At Montra, we understand the importance of data security and have put measures in place to protect the information of our customers and their users. We offer have software and services to help you secure your laptops and other devices, secure your workforce’s identities, and secure your company’s data. If you have any questions about our security measures or how to protect your company’s laptops, please don’t hesitate to email us at sales@montra.io

Cyber Readiness Strategies #9 and #10

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the cyber security threats out there. From ransomware and phishing to malicious insiders and business email compromises, there are many dangers lurking in the digital world that can affect your organization. To stay safe, it’s important to have a robust cyber readiness strategy in place. This starts with making sure your employees are aware of the threats and know how to protect themselves, but it also includes implementing technology solutions and procedures that can help you mitigate or prevent attacks. In our prior installment of this series, we touched on Continuous Network Intelligence and Security Awareness Training. Keep reading for strategies #9 and #10; Combating the Password Crisis and Don’t Skip Insurance.  

Combating the Password Crisis 

In today’s fully connected world, passwords are the first line of defense against cyber-attacks. However, they are also often the softest target for attacks. This is because many people use weak or easily guessed passwords, and they often reuse them across multiple accounts. This makes it easy for hackers to gain access to your systems if they can just crack one password. To combat this, it’s important to have strong password policies in place. This includes using a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters, as well as changing passwords regularly. This can be managed by policy on many systems so that users are forced to use strong passwords and unique passwords across systems. For some systems, these controls cannot be set, but alerts can be triggered so that IT staff will get notified when users set their passwords poorly. 

When users are forced to use difficult and unique passwords, it’s also critical to use a password manager to help users keep track of all their different login credentials. This will make it easier for your users to comply with the password policies. Some desktop browsers have a basic password manager built-in and third-party software can also be used that provides additional features like secure password sharing within groups. 

Don’t Skip Insurance 

No matter how well you prepare, there’s always a chance that your organization could be the victim of a cyber-attack. This is why it’s so important to have insurance in place. Cyber insurance can help cover the costs of an attack, including business interruption, data recovery, and legal fees. It can also help with reputational damage control if your organization’s name is dragged through the mud. 

Cyber-insurance is a relatively new area of business insurance, so there are a wide variety of cyber insurance carriers with different underwriting policies. It is important to do your research and find one that fits your organization’s needs and that is cost-effective. It is also helpful to work with cyber experts, who can help you make some small changes to your IT operation that can have a big impact on your cyber insurance costs. Implementing multi-factor authentication across all your applications and using DNS Security can have a positive impact on your risk scoring with an insurance carrier. 

These are just two more of the many things you can do to improve your cyber readiness strategy. Stay tuned for our next, and final installment, where we’ll be covering strategies #11 and #12; Reduce Supply Chain Vulnerabilities and Deploying a Multi-Layer Security Strategy. If you would like more information or have questions about how strong your cyber-readiness is, please contact Montra at sales@montra.io.  

7 Step Checklist for Secure and Reliable Laptop Imaging

Your company’s laptops are a valuable business tool that enables the success of your workforce. It contains important information and files that are necessary for your work. That’s why it’s important to have a setup and a backup plan for your laptop imaging. In this blog post, we will discuss the best practices for laptop imaging so that you can keep your company data private and secure. When onboarding an employee, it is essential to set up their device and make sure to securely delete everything if a previous employee had that device. Laptop imaging can vary from business to business, so it is important to include specific instructions when onboarding a new user. 

1. Start with a Fresh Image

It can be tempting for companies to try to skip the imaging process when deploying new or re-used laptops. By starting with a newly imaged device, companies can document updates and changes more effectively, and avoid accidentally duplicating bad software or private data. In addition, starting fresh provides an opportunity to review and improve upon existing processes. It may take some extra time up front, but the long-term benefits of starting from scratch are typically worth the investment.

2. Identify User Profiles

When it comes to information management, one size does not fit all. That’s why it’s important for companies to tailor their systems to the specific needs of each team or department. Accounting departments, for example, have very different needs than design centers. As such, it is often useful to create different master PC images for each department. This helps to optimize workflow and ensure that employees have the programs, permissions, and privileges they need to do their jobs effectively. While it takes a bit of effort to set up separate images for each department, the benefits can be well worth the investment.

3. Verify Device Compatibility

Not every PC Image will work for every workstation. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider things like computer type, hard drive capacity, RAM, graphics processing power, operating system, and compatible software before beginning. This is because something as simple as a system update can render some programs obsolete. By taking all of these factors into account, you can ensure that your Master Image will be compatible with all of the systems it needs to be used on. In doing so, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headache in the long run.

4. Create a Master Image

With deployment criteria validated, IT technicians can initiate a Master Image. There are many programs available to facilitate the creation of a computer image, and IT professionals should determine which one is best suited for a company’s needs. Before deploying a PC image, technicians should patch the Operating System (OS) to ensure images are as up to date as possible. Next, technicians should install and update applications relevant to the target user’s system and configure appropriate permissions and privileges.

5. Maintain Drivers

Device drivers are programs that control devices connected to a computer. In most cases, devices are connected directly to the computer via cables, but they can also be connected wirelessly. Drivers allow the computer to communicate with the device and to use its features. For example, a printer driver allows the computer to send data to the printer so that it can print it. Drivers are generally specific to a particular make and model of device, and they need to be kept up to date to work correctly. When technicians update a computer’s operating system, they typically also update the device drivers. This ensures that all the devices will continue to work correctly with the new operating system. Technicians should double-check that all drivers are up-to-date and functioning correctly before updating any computer image. 

6. Audit Master Image Regularly

Companies should develop a process for keeping the master image optimized. A best practice is to schedule a monthly audit of master images to ensure programs, permissions, and privileges are functional and current. This practice helps minimize the number of system updates and configuration changes needed each time imaging is applied.

7. Document Changes

Companies should remain diligent about documenting changes or updates to any Master Image. Proper documentation can save IT departments hours of headaches by simply noting the date of image, base configuration, and changes since the last version. 

While this laptop imaging checklist only features the high-level steps for internal IT departments to consider, it should give you a general framework for simplifying the deployment of multiple devices. Organizations should reference this imaging checklist throughout their planning and strategy phases to develop realistic timelines and budgets. 

Laptop imaging is a vital part of keeping your company’s data private and secure. By following the best practices for laptop imaging, you can ensure that your data is protected in the event of an employee departure, hardware return, or other change of control incident. If you need help with setting up laptop imaging for your business, contact our experts today at sales@montra.io 

12 Cyber Readiness Strategies #7 and #8

In our last blog post, we discussed cyber readiness strategies: #5 Back-Up Everything and #6 Don’t Neglect Compliance. Continuing our series this week are discussing strategies #7 and #8, Continuous Network Intelligence and Security Awareness Training. In 2021 businesses suffered 50% More Cyberattack Attempts per Week in 2021 and as a business owner, it is not only important to continuously monitor your networks for any suspicious activity, but also to prepare employees for any type of cyber attack 

7. Continuous Network Intelligence

Technology is always changing and advancing, which can mean new vulnerabilities for your organization. Staying on top of these changes is critical to reducing the risk of a cyberattack. This is where continuous network intelligence comes in. By monitoring your network and systems continuously, you can quickly identify and patch any vulnerabilities. In fact, continuous monitoring is one of the best ways to detect a cyber-attack early. One of the strategies attackers will use is ransomware attacks. What is a ransomware attack? A ransomware attack is when an attacker encrypts your data and demands a ransom to decrypt it. These attacks can be devastating to businesses, as they can lose critical data and be forced to pay a ransom. To prevent these attacks, it is important to set up your network to detect access from outside sources. As soon as anyone outside your network enters, you will be able to kick them out before they can cause harm. If you don’t have monitoring tools in place already there are a few ways to start implementing continuous network monitoring: 

  • Use a network security solution that provides real-time visibility into your network traffic and activity. 
  • Keep systems up-to-date by continually watching for OS and application security updates and patching the systems as soon as reasonable. 
  • Conduct regular penetration testing to identify any weaknesses in your system. 

By continuously monitoring your network, you can quickly identify and patch any vulnerabilities. This will help reduce the risk of a cyber-attack and keep your business running smoothly. 

8. Security Awareness Training 

In addition to continuously monitoring your networks, it is also important to prepare employees for any type of cyber attack. This is where security awareness training comes in. Around 91% of breaches started with a phishing attack and 81% of cyber-attacks are related to stolen or weak passwords. By educating employees on the latest cybersecurity threats and how to prevent them, you can reduce the risk of a successful attack. There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a security awareness training program. 

  • Make it mandatory for all employees. 
  • Keep it up-to-date with the latest threats. 
  • Test employees regularly to ensure they are understanding the material. Examples of this include: 
  • Computer-based awareness training 
  • Phishing simulation exercises 
  • Awareness campaigns 
  • In-person security awareness training 
  • Monthly notifications or newsletters 

By following these tips, you can create a security awareness training program that will help keep your business safe. And by educating employees on the latest cybersecurity threats and how to prevent them, you can reduce the risk of a successful attack.  

These are just a few of the many precautions that should be taken to protect your business from a cyberattack. If you would like more information or have any questions, contact Montra at sales@montra.io