Organizations now more than ever need to be paying very close attention to a number of factors as they bring their business and data on or off-premise. Sometimes stakeholders are so concerned with the logistics of what is needed to obtain the direct business objective at hand, securing the amount of data and their business while they are altering operations is fading in the background. At a time where cybercrime is on the rise worldwide, you need to understand how your tech stack is going to keep your proprietary information and data secure not only for the organization, but for all of the clients that you work with as well. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, Global cybercrime costs are expected to grow by 15 percent per year over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.

It’s critical to understand how the software and applications you’re working with is not only collecting your data, but how it’s secure. Now, the frightening part is that if someone really wanted to hack into your business, nothing is 100 percent hack-proof…but it’s a matter of making it extraordinarily difficult to do so to help prevent those who are looking for easy opportunities and to minimize the impact as much as possible. Even more concerning, as more organizations are implementing more IoT devices for various industrial or commercial applications on hundreds of machines to gather data, many are connected to the same network as business critical applications and systems- and those devices are transferring data that is unencrypted. That means it would only take hacking one of those devices to compromise the entire network. Building and maintaining a tech stack that offers proper security measures shouldn’t be viewed as an add-on, but a basic necessity.

Security in a cloud-based, hybrid era

There is a lot of power behind the cloud and an increased number of organizations are transitioning to the cloud or a hybrid model in order to manage their data just for a number of reasons-storage space being one of them. Identifying the tools that will fit business goals and at the same time, provide the organization with the best security is paramount. Some BI platforms just haven’t moved fast enough into the rapidly-changing tech environment that has shifted into one that needs to be secure online with end-to-end protection and that has a multi-tiered defense system. Microsoft’s Power BI was built to provide industry-leading data protection for the most sensitive information.

Power BI service follows the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) security practices that support security compliance requirements. Microsoft’s SDL also helps developers build more secure software by reducing vulnerabilities. There are several best practices involved in this including:

  • Training for everyone within the organization, not just the developers
  • Define security requirements
  • Define metrics and compliance reporting
  • Threat modeling at the component, application and system level
  • Follow design requirements with security features such as logging, authentication and cryptography.
  • Develop encryption standards
  • Understand the risk behind integrating third-party components
  • Use approved tools that have been reviewed by the organization
  • Perform Static Analysis Security Testing (SAST) to ensure security coding policies are being followed. The frequency should be at the developer’s discretion to ensure productivity and optimal security levels.
  • Perform Dynamic Analysis Security Testing (DAST) to identify any application behaviors that may cause security issues.
  • Penetration testing
  • Implement an incident response process in the event of a hack.

Microsoft’s applications follow these extensive security practices to help prevent a data breach or cyberattack that could result in catastrophic events that could be hard to recover both from an operational standpoint or financially.

Microsoft 365 Defender

Microsoft 365 Defender offers a pre- and post-breach defense suite to investigate and respond to incidents if they occur. Many organizations don’t necessarily think about the response strategy as part of their cybersecurity plan, and it’s critical.  As more apps are moving to the cloud, Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, part of Microsoft 365 Defender, helps secure the use of them and allows businesses to monitor and control Power BI sessions in real-time. Security administrators can define policies to control user actions such as:

  • Investigate Power BI user activity through the activity and audit logs
  • Create alerts for “suspicious” activity within Power BI.
  • Create admin roles to provide access to security alerts, activity logs, users at risk and other Power BI-related information.

Defender for Cloud Apps also has built-in anomaly detection and machine learning so when a user is accessing Power BI, advanced threat detection can run across the entire cloud environment whether those users are remote or on-site. Defender for Cloud Apps also offers app governance that provides additional security and policy management capabilities to monitor behaviors and quickly identify and alert against those that would be deemed “risky.” App governance uses machine learning models and data access policies to provide actionable insights through reports, dashboards and real-time alerts. Forrester conducted a total economic impact report that evaluated a business’s true benefit using Defender for Cloud Apps. The benefits outlined included a decreased effort to assess and provide visibility into security and risk, lowered the amount of time to remediate incidents, improved compliance and audit reporting, and optimized resources and experienced ROI within the first year of implementing Defender for Cloud Apps. According to the report, with Cloud App Security (now Defender for Cloud Apps), the organization initially reduced the time to discover and remediate incidents by 60 percent.

Transferring data to Power BI

All data that is requested and transmitted by Power BI is encrypted in transit using HTTPS- this is critical since Power BI has the ability to connect to many different data sources and combine and shape that data. A secure connection must be established first before the transfer takes place. In Power BI premium, users can also use their own encryption keys for data at-rest that is imported into a dataset. By using your own keys, you have more control and can revoke access so the data is unreadable to the service. Leaving your data unencrypted is like leaving a gold mine behind for hackers. Encryption has become an essential component to doing business online. IBM’s cost of a data breach report stated that the average cost for 50 million to 65 million records involved in a data breach is a jaw-dropping $401 million.

Currently, the most common threat types are cryptomining, phishing, ransomware and trojans, according to a Cisco cybersecurity report. Cybersecurity Ventures also reports that ransomware damages worldwide will cost $265 billion annually by 2031. Working with tools that offer advanced security services will only help support the growth of your business instead of its decline when sensitive data is leaked and you not only need to repair business operations, but the organization’s reputation.

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