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If you read the business press, you know that big business has embraced the idea of “digital transformation” to enhance collaboration, improve connections with customers, and increase data security to stay competitive. What you might not realize is that the benefits of digital transformation are available to small businesses, too. In fact, upgrading digital resources in any organization can deliver a force multiplier effect that helps people achieve more every day.
Enabling new ways of working
For many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a cultural shift that continues to pay enhanced employee engagement dividends. In fact, in the 2022 Work Trend Index survey, 52% of employee respondents say they’re likely to consider transitioning to hybrid within a year. They also said they’re more likely than before to prioritize well-being over work. In short, they want a better employee experience. With hybrid and remote work now commonplace, many businesses are realizing workplace flexibility can help attract and keep top talent. Supporting this new reality with effective collaboration technology is smart business.
Modern collaboration applications make it possible for workers at any business to meet, share information, and track projects more efficiently. What’s more, they enable small businesses to connect with distant customers and suppliers while avoiding the time and cost of travel. Such enhanced collaboration helped many businesses survive and thrive during office shutdowns and showed business owners and workers that a daily trip to the office wasn’t necessary for a business to stay productive.
Strengthening customer connections
Today’s customers are more sophisticated and demanding than ever. Their ability to research and compare companies they might want to do business with gives them a lot of power.
Increasingly, the first contact businesses have with customers is digital, so being able to capture data about who’s visiting your website, responding to your digital ads, or engaging with your social media is key. By harnessing that data and drawing actionable insights with easy-to-use digital marketing tools or a powerful marketing platform, business owners can shape individualized customer journeys that attract and engage target audiences more effectively and foster deeper business relationships with them.
Reining in cyberthreats
Data security is now among the biggest concerns for small-business owners, and for good reason. Research shows that small businesses make up one-half to three-quarters of ransomware victims, and overall ransomware attacks have risen 300% in recent years.1 Traditional antivirus software is no longer your best defense against the phishing, social engineering, web applications, and mobile malware that today’s cybercriminals use in network attacks. Such cyberattacks aren’t just inconvenient, they’re also dangerous and costly.
Unfortunately, security threats are likely to keep increasing. A recent article from Microsoft found there are now 921 password attacks per second—or 79.5M attacks per day—a data point that has nearly doubled in the past year.2
Small Business Solutions
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Digitally transforming a business’s approach to security is the best way to protect its data, people, and profitability. Upgrading from traditional antivirus software to an enterprise-grade security solution protects a small business’s apps, data, identity, and devices. That gives owners peace of mind and more time to focus on growing their business.
Simplifying digital transformation
Although digital transformation might sound like a big undertaking for a small business, it’s anything but that. It’s really just the process of empowering people to achieve more using technology. Taking your small business digital will save you time, protect your data, and allow you to focus on what’s most important: your customers.
To get an idea of all the ways Microsoft technologies can support digital transformation in your business, schedule a consultation with a product expert to learn more about the right solutions for your business.
About the author
The Escape Business Solutions 365 team is focused on sharing resources to help you start, run, and grow your business.
In times of great change, challenges and opportunities can be found in many directions. This is certainly true in IT and cybersecurity.
Today, while navigating a pandemic, frequent supply chain shocks, and global talent shortages, organizations around the world are forced to confront sophisticated ransomware and nation-state attacks. They’re continually staying ahead of stricter compliance requirements, and they’re doing all of this while focusing on the strategic edge they obtain using technology as a transformational advantage.
Cloud, mobile, and edge platforms have driven unprecedented business innovation, adaptation, and resilience during this time, but this broad mix of technologies also introduces incredible complexity for security and compliance teams. The security operations center (SOC) must keep pace with safeguarding identities, devices, data, apps, infrastructure, and more. Further, they must take stock of evolving cyber risks in this multicloud, multi-platform world, and identify where blind spots may exist across a broad new set of users, devices, and destinations.
When you combine these business needs and rising concerns, it’s clear that security is the defining opportunity and challenge of our time. At Microsoft, our mission of empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more means anticipating these needs, slashing security complexity, and protecting organizations across their entire digital estate. We do this by making multicloud support central to our security strategy.
Today, we’re announcing new advances to help customers strengthen visibility and control across multiple cloud providers, workloads, devices, and digital identities—all from a centralized management view. These new features and offerings are designed to secure the foundations of hybrid work and digital transformation.
Delivering the future of multicloud security
According to the Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report, 92 percent of respondents are using a multicloud model, meaning they rely on apps and infrastructure from multiple cloud providers. Another recent survey sponsored by Microsoft shows that 73 percent of respondents say it’s challenging to manage multicloud environments.2 For organizations to fully embrace these multicloud strategies, it’s critical that their security solutions reduce complexity and deliver comprehensive protection.
Today, we’re taking another step in Microsoft’s journey to protect our customers across diverse cloud systems by extending the native capabilities of Microsoft Defender for Cloud to the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
With GCP support, Microsoft is now the only cloud provider with native multicloud protection for the industry’s top three platforms: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) (announced at Ignite last November), and now Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Microsoft Defender for Cloud provides Cloud Security Posture Management and Cloud Workload Protection. It identifies configuration weak spots across these top providers to help strengthen the overall security posture in the cloud and provides threat protection across workloads—all from a single place.
Support for GCP comes with out-of-box recommendations that allow you to configure GCP environments in line with key security standards like the Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmark—protection for critical workloads running on GCP, including servers, containers, and more. Find out more in today’s announcement blog.
Strengthening Zero Trust with identity security from CloudKnox
Despite all this innovation and change, security and compliance fundamentals begin with conclusively managing identity. Identities are the foundational piece that makes it possible to deliver apps, data, and services where they’re needed.
In a multicloud world, the number of platforms, devices, users, services, and locations multiplies exponentially, so securing those dynamically changing identities and permissions, wherever they are, is another core pillar of multicloud protection.
A key pain point for many organizations here is the lack of visibility and control over their ever-evolving identities and permissions. To help address this, last year we acquired CloudKnox Security, a leader in Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM), to accelerate our ability to help customers manage permissions in their multicloud environments and strengthen their Zero Trust security posture.
Today, we’re announcing the public preview of CloudKnox Permissions Management. CloudKnox provides complete visibility into user and workload identities across clouds, with automated features that consistently enforce least privilege access and use machine learning-powered continuous monitoring to detect and remediate suspicious activities.
Reinventing the economics of security data with Microsoft Sentinel
To defend against today’s threats as well as tomorrow’s, security teams must have ready access to all security data. But as the volume of security data continues to grow exponentially, a one-size-fits-all model is no longer sufficient.
We’re working to reinvent the economics of working with security information and event management (SIEM) data and delivering new ways to access and analyze security data by embracing all data types, wherever they live, to provide the most comprehensive threat hunting solution. Today, we’re announcing new capabilities as the first step on this journey. We’re introducing basic logs, a new type of log that allows Microsoft Sentinel to sift through high volumes of data and find high-severity, low-visibility threats, and a new data archiving capability to extend data retention to seven years—beyond our current policy of two years—to enable our customers’ global data compliance needs. We’re also adding a new search experience to empower security analysts to hunt for threats more effectively. They can now search massive volumes of security data quickly and easily from all logs, analytics, and archives. Learn more about Microsoft Sentinel’s vision and new capabilities.
Delivering comprehensive protection
In today’s threat landscape, attacks are coming from anywhere and everywhere, including both inside and outside organizations. That’s why it’s critical to deliver comprehensive solutions that organize security, compliance, identity, endpoint management, and privacy as an interdependent whole while extending protection across platforms and clouds.
To that end, we’re announcing some updates across our portfolio that will help you better protect what’s most important to your business:
Secure workload identities with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD): We’re extending Azure AD beyond its core capabilities of protecting user identities to now also safeguarding workload identities for apps and services, as customers move more workloads into the cloud, and develop more cloud-native applications. We announced Conditional Access for workload identities last November, and now, Identity Protection can also be applied to workload identities. Learn more from our blog post.
Secure payment processing in the cloud with Azure Payment HSM: We recently launched a new service, Azure Payment HSM, in public preview, for payment card issuers and network and payment processors to securely process payments in the cloud. It provides the highest levels of protection for cryptographic keys and customer PINs for secure payment transactions.
Join us at the What’s Next in Security from Microsoft digital event
Cyber risks are inevitable and ever-evolving, but the more we build comprehensive, integrated, and cloud-powered defenses using automation to prevent, detect, and mitigate risk, the more we can empower organizations of all sizes to be fearless in their digital transformation and continue to innovate.
We’re committed to delivering comprehensive solutions that work seamlessly across platforms and extend to clouds and apps well outside our offerings so that our customers can secure their entire digital estate, end-to-end.
In a new year full of perseverance and opportunity, I want to thank our customers and partners for placing their trust in Microsoft Security. I’d also like to invite you to join us at our What’s Next in Security from Microsoft digital event tomorrow February 24, 2022, where we will be joined by industry leaders to dive deeper into these evolving market trends, our multicloud protection innovations, and more. Learn more and register for the event here.