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Microsoft Secure Score: How to use it and improve your security?

Cybersecurity risks are constantly changing, with new and more severe threats emerging each year. It’s important to regularly assess your security measures to protect against both known and unknown vulnerabilities.

One effective tool for this is Microsoft Secure Score, which is the focus of this article. We will explain what Secure Score is, how it operates within your IT setup, ways to evaluate your security status, methods to enhance your security, and how to monitor your security score. Additionally, we will provide some easy-to-implement strategies to boost your Secure Score. 

What is Microsoft Secure Score?

Microsoft Secure Score, offered by Microsoft 365, is a security analytics solution. Its purpose is to assist organizations in enhancing their security stance by offering practical insights and suggestions. Secure Score assesses an organization’s Microsoft 365 setup and provides a numerical rating along with recommendations for enhancing security, all rooted in industry standards and best practices.

The tool offers suggestions to enhance your Secure Score by proposing modifications to your current policies or implementing new ones. These recommendations, endorsed by Microsoft and industry specialists, adhere to best practices. By following these suggestions, you can enhance your overall security position and lower the risk of potential attacks.

Key features of Secure score include:

  • Security Recommendations

Secure Score provides actionable security recommendations tailored to an organization’s specific environment. These recommendations cover areas like identity and access management, data protection, threat detection, and more.

  • Point-Based Scoring

Each recommended security improvement comes with a point value. By implementing the recommendations, your organization can earn points and increase your Score.

  • Comparison and Benchmarking

Secure Score allows you to compare your security posture with industry benchmarks and similar organizations. This feature provides valuable insights into how well you are performing relative to your peers.

  • Threat Intelligence Integration

The tool integrates with Microsoft Threat Protection, offering real-time threat intelligence and helping you stay ahead of emerging threats.

  • Historical Tracking

The system maintains a historical record of progress, enabling you to visualize your security journey and measure improvements over time.

How it works?

The score is calculated based on various factors such as the configuration of security features, user behaviour, and the organization’s adherence to security best practices. By following the recommendations provided by Secure Score, organizations can enhance their security, reduce risks, and better protect their data.

First, we start by assessing your security posture. But what is a “Good” Security posture?

Microsoft Secure Score can help you gauge your security posture in Microsoft 365. A numerical value that indicates how well-protected your data is will enable you to monitor and improve your security posture over time.

Microsoft Security Score

Achieving a 100% Secure Score is the ideal objective for both businesses and individuals. However, this can be a daunting task, especially for those lacking expertise in cybersecurity. Setting up robust security systems at a business level demands extensive knowledge. It is worth noting that according to Microsoft Standards, having a Security Score of 80% or higher is also considered sufficiently secure.

If your Security Score is 60% or lower, you are susceptible to security risks and should adopt standard security practices to prevent hackers from accessing your infrastructure. It’s advisable to improve your Security Score promptly to fend off existing and potential threats. Achieving this requires additional technical expertise within your team to strengthen your infrastructure effectively.

Moreover, it is crucial to establish a comprehensive security policy encompassing data, devices, and identity.

We will see in the end of articles how implementing quick wins can swiftly enhance your Security Score. 

After you make an assessment of your security posture, Microsoft provides you with a few recommendations to improve your security score. But, how do you take action after the assessment?

Numerous organizations find challenging to enhance their Microsoft Secure Score because they lack a clear understanding of its functioning. To elevate your Security Score, it is crucial to begin by prioritizing security efforts based on the tool’s highest impact areas. For example, if you have users with weak passwords or disabled multi-factor authentication, these areas should be tackled first. By concentrating on high-impact tasks that are relatively easier to complete, you can swiftly increase your Security Score and build momentum for tackling more intricate challenges. Additionally, implementing policies to maintain consistent security across all users and devices in your organization can be beneficial.

Now, you have a sufficiently security posture, how to report and track Secure score?

When initiating a change process, it is vital to track and exhibit progress over time. Fortunately, the Secure Score portal offers a historical perspective of your organization’s score for the past 90 days, displaying a trend line that highlights sudden alterations. It also presents a list of suggested actions, indicating changes in each action, whether points were gained or lost. This feature enables you to comprehend abrupt score fluctuations, which might occur due to factors such as deploying new devices or applications that are not yet secure.

Comparison trend

Now, we can talk about a few quick wins to improve Secure Score based on my personal experience.

  • The first way to improve your Microsoft 365 Secure Score is by leveraging additional security features offered within the platform. Ensure you enable security features like multi-factor authentication, data encryption, data backup, access controls, anti-spam, and more.
  • The second way means making sure that mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are configured in a way that demands users to input a password before they can access the device. By requiring a password, the device is better protected from unauthorized access. It adds a layer of security, ensuring that only individuals who know the correct password can use the mobile device. This practice is essential for safeguarding sensitive information and preventing unauthorized users from accessing personal or confidential data stored on the device. It’s a fundamental security measure to protect the privacy and security of the device and the data it contains.
  • Another quick win is Enabling “mailbox intelligence” on Exchange online protection; this feature that allows the system to analyse and understand the content, context, and patterns within emails and messages in a mailbox. It typically employs advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence techniques to recognize important information, detect potential threats (such as phishing emails or malware), categorize emails, and provide insights into communication patterns. By ensuring that mailbox intelligence is enabled, organizations can benefit in several ways.
  • Mailbox intelligence can identify suspicious emails or attachments, helping to prevent phishing attacks or malware from reaching users’ inboxes. The system can automatically categorize emails into different folders or labels based on their content, making it easier for users to manage their inbox efficiently. By understanding communication patterns, mailbox intelligence can provide insights or suggestions to improve communication efficiency within an organization. Intelligent analysis can identify and alert users about potential security risks, ensuring sensitive information is not inadvertently shared. Mailbox intelligence can automate certain tasks, such as sorting emails, flagging priority messages, or generating automatic responses based on the content of the emails. Overall, enabling mailbox intelligence enhances email security, improves productivity, and streamlines communication processes within an organization by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to understand and manage email data effectively.

In conclusion, quick wins in Secure Score refer to immediate, impactful actions that organizations can take to enhance their security posture rapidly. These quick wins typically involve addressing high-priority security tasks that yield significant improvements in the Secure Score without requiring extensive resources or time. By identifying and implementing these quick wins, organizations can bolster their cybersecurity defences, mitigate potential risks, and safeguard sensitive data.

However, it is important to note that quick wins are just the beginning. While they provide an initial boost to the Secure Score, comprehensive security requires continuous effort, ongoing monitoring, and adaptation to evolving threats. Quick wins serve as a foundation upon which organizations can build a robust, long-term security strategy, ensuring a resilient defence against cyber threats in the ever-changing digital landscape.