One of the biggest challenges in cybersecurity is keeping up with the new attacks that criminals are creating.
2020 exacerbated this challenge, as cybercriminals continued to launch new, opportunistic cyber threats that cruelly exploit fears and uncertainty around COVID-19. The acceleration of email-based attacks is a real concern, many of which employ techniques such as impersonating healthcare institutions like the WHO and CDC, or replicate government announcements (sometimes within hours) to trick users. Microsoft reports that over 13B malicious and suspicious emails were blocked in the past year, out of which more than 1B were URLs set up for the explicit purpose of launching a phishing credential attack.
To help, Microsoft security teams & experts have been actively monitoring and sharing insights related to the threat landscape and releasing timely updates & resources throughout the year. Our latest whitepaper, ‘Staying cyber safe in 2021 & beyond: Key insights from Microsoft leaders’, includes a list of key takeaways summarizing some of those insights. I encourage you to download it, and to share it with your teams, so your business is well placed to mitigate incoming cyber risks in 2021, and beyond.
The whitepaper comes at a time when the need for a collaborative approach to cybersecurity has never been more keenly felt. While launching Microsoft’s Digital Defense Report earlier this year, Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security & Trust succinctly summarized the importance of “shared information and partnerships” in helping businesses remain protected amid a period of heightened cyber risk:
“Even with all of the resources we dedicate to cybersecurity, our contribution will only be a small piece of what’s needed to address the challenge. It requires policymakers, the business community, government agencies and, ultimately, individuals to make a real difference, and we can only have a significant impact through shared information and partnerships.
I’ve always believed that successful cybersecurity outcomes require collaboration, but the uncertainty triggered by 2020 has given us a greater impetus to do so. A Gold Microsoft Partner, along with Microsoft, my company, MailGuard, shares a very real and growing challenge, to stop criminal intent threats from reaching inboxes. Our latest solution, MailGuard 365 (a Microsoft Preferred Solution) is a product of our collaboration with them. Co-built to enhance the email security of more than 200 million Microsoft 365 users worldwide, it works on the inside of Microsoft 365 in stealth, stopping malicious email threats like phishing, ransomware & Business Email Compromise (BEC).
But consistent with the sentiments of Tom, innovative email security and technological advancements are only part of the puzzle. No technology in the world can prevent 100% of the phishing emails that are targeting inboxes and disrupting organizations. It takes a multi-layered approach to give businesses the depth of protection they need. Along with technology, policy and people are also important when facing cybersecurity challenges and aligning all three will help to mitigate incoming cyber risks.
By sharing knowledge and our experiences, we can build out our resilience and develop the capabilities required to combat the explosive growth of cybercrime. That was the rationale behind producing this whitepaper. It’s also one reason why I regularly post about, and engage in, conversations related to all things cyber, and why my team at MailGuard frequently publishes details of the latest email scams we intercept on our blog.
We’ve all been thrust into a new and uncertain environment in 2020, and challenged to respond quickly, making it all the more important for us to work together, to leverage expert advice and learn from the mistakes of others to pave the way forward. True power lies in information and a critical mass of people. It’s as simple as that. Let’s not forget the value of partnership, shared information and collaboration at a time when they are needed the most. I’ll leave you with a quote from Robert S. Mueller, III, former Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which I shared in my book, “Surviving the rise of cybercrime”:
“We must continue to build our collective capabilities to fight the cyber threat…we must share information…we must work together to safeguard our property, our privacy, our ideas, and our innovation. We must use our connectivity to stop those who seek to do us harm.”
Stay safe. I would love to hear what you’re doing to stay in touch with your peers, and to share threat intelligence and security best practices.