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Microsoft Industry Blogs - Canada

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The way we worked evolved rapidly in 2020. Organizations around the world have adapted and embraced remote work.  With employees working from home, being able to connect to any resource, on any device, inclusive of using personal devices, has become a productivity requirement to be able complete their work. In turn, IT still has the responsibility to find the right balance between enabling productivity, while maintaining control to protect critical data.

The average organizations has +1500 apps accessed by employees, which equates to over 80GB of data uploaded monthly to various apps. With research showing that less than 15% of these apps are managed by IT, it is no wonder why organizations are looking to a Zero Trust model for applications.

Zero Trust provides a modern alternative to the traditional way of thinking about cybersecurity that includes applications. Zero Trust principals; Verify Explicitly, Use Least Privileged Access and Assume Breach.

Zero Trust is a journey, and for Apps;

  1. It starts with understanding your app ecosystem, apps your employees are using and discovering Shadow IT
  2. Monitoring user activities and data
  3. Automating data protection and governance
  4. Protecting against cyber threats and rogue apps
  5. Deploying adaptive access and session controls for all apps
  6. Assessing the security posture of your cloud environment

Microsoft Cloud App Security provides you the ability to apply these Zero Trust principals across your app ecosystem.

Discover and control the use of Shadow IT; When it comes to apps, employees have easy access to both the consumer and business-to-business marketplace of software-as-a-service apps. With employees being able to access your resources and apps outside of your corporate network, it is no longer enough to just have firewall policies.

Discover and assess cloud apps in your organization by leveraging Cloud Discovery in Microsoft Cloud App Security. With Cloud Discovery set up, you will be able to analyze your traffic logs against the +1600 cloud apps in the catalog, which provides app raking against +90 risk factors to help assess the risk of Shadow IT within your organization.

You can follow this step by step Tutorial to discover which apps are being used, explore the risks of these apps, and configure policies to identify new risky apps & unsanctioned apps.

Monitor user activities and data; once sanctioned apps are determined, gaining a deeper visibility into these applications becomes important as this is where the most sensitive data resides. By connecting your business critical cloud applications, you can gain visibility into actions, files and accounts that users touch each day, and enable the admin to perform governance actions.

Automate data protection and governance; the power of automation cannot be underestimated especially as organizations expand and grow. By leveraging versatile policies within Microsoft Cloud App Security, you can detect risky behavior, violations, or suspicious data points and activities in your cloud environment. Additionally, they will help you monitor trends, see security threats, and generate customized reports and alerts.

Protect against cyber threats and rogue apps; by connecting your applications it enables you to detect and remediate against cyberthreats and rouge applications.  Attackers closely monitor where sensitive information is most likely to end up and develop dedicated and unique attack tools, technical and procedures, such as illicit OAuth consent grants and cloud ransomware. Organizations can respond to such threats with tools available in Cloud App Security, such as user and entity behavioral analytics (UEBA) and machine learning capabilities that are enabled out-of-the-box so that you can immediately detect threats, and run advanced threat detection across your cloud environment.

Deploy adaptive access and session controls for all apps; will enable you to stop breaches and leaks in real time, before employees intentionally put data at risk. Enable real-time monitoring and control over access to any web app, based on user, location, device, and app.

Assess the security posture of your cloud environment; organizations are not limited to SaaS applications, but increasing in IaaS and PaaS services. Assess your security configuration and compliance status across each cloud platform, and in turn limiting the risk by keeping the cloud platforms compliant with your organizations configuration policy and regulatory compliance. View the security configuration assessments and recommendations in Cloud App Security to investigate and remediate against any gaps.

Get started with your Zero Trust Journey for Apps:

  1. Watch our Zero Trust – Apps webinar for details on getting started
  2. Evaluate your current Zero Trust maturity stage to determine where your organization is and how to move to the next stage
  3. Access the Zero Trust Deployment Guide for Applications for detailed deployment guidance.