The kind of endpoint management that was previously only available to massive corporates with large budgets is now within reach of all businesses. BUI’s Richard Ryan explains how it applies to you…

The security landscape is getting more treacherous by the day. Threats are growing exponentially. Last year a company fell victim to a cyberattack every 39 seconds; and cybercrime is expected to cost the global economy $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.

These attacks are not limited to larger firms. In fact, a recent report showed that “small businesses are three times more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals than larger companies.” The survey found that one in five organisations had at least one user account compromised in 2021. “This highlights how many organisations can be vulnerable without the right set of protection tools. Once an intruder is inside, it can be especially difficult to detect until it’s too late and they have already acted,” it added.

Here I should add that smaller firms don’t necessarily face smaller risks. A company in the finance sector with only 100 users could be at serious risk. In fact, one data breach could sink them.

A massive game-changer

In the past, world-class cybersecurity was exclusively available to large companies with budgets to match. The only way to secure your network was to spend large sums of money on firewalls and IPS software housed in fireproof server rooms. This was all very well when employees only worked on company PCs at company premises, but it started to change with the rise of cloud computing. And it was absolutely shattered when the COVID-19 pandemic forced so many of us to work from home. Suddenly all the firewalls in the world were worth very little – the new buzzword was “endpoint management”.

In the early days, top-of-the-range endpoint management was expensive and difficult to implement. But the launch of Microsoft MDE (Microsoft Defender for Endpoint) has changed all of that. Since launching two years ago, MDE has become infinitely more powerful. And Microsoft’s introduction of tiered price schemes based on user numbers has made it an affordable option for companies of all sizes.

In layman’s terms, MDE is a cloud-based, comprehensive endpoint security system that covers a whole lot more than just virus protection. Provided it’s set up correctly, MDE will significantly improve your employees’ cyber-safety at home, at work, and even on those dreadfully porous coffee shop networks.

MDE in practice

The launch and continuous improvement of Microsoft MDE has enabled BUI to establish security offerings for businesses of all sizes. BUI has launched its MDR offerings (Managed Detection and Response) based on this technology. My largest MDR client has more than 100,000 users, and my smallest has 20! The pricing model means that BUI can offer SMEs a high level of security advice and assistance that isn’t ridiculously expensive. And when it comes to cybersecurity, the smaller firms are the ones that need all the help they can get.

As mentioned before, my smallest MDR client has 20 desktops. In the past this simply wouldn’t have been possible: both in terms of price and of logistics. Microsoft has made the whole thing incredibly efficient and reasonably easy to use. After setting up the system, we actively monitor the firm’s environment, and provide input, guidance, and support. We also give guidance and advice to the incumbent IT admin to review the metrics and implement recommendations coming from the system. And if something comes up that they can’t handle, we are a phone call away.

Where’s the catch?

For once, there really isn’t a catch. Although there are a few things to watch out for…

  1. For MDE to work, all users must be working on a supported version of Windows. If you’ve pieced your network together from home-user laptops you bought on special at the local mall, you’ll have to spend some extra money upgrading their operating systems, as the Windows home version isn’t supported. (It is worth noting, however, that MDE is not only restricted to Windows technologies: it covers various versions of Linux and Apple technologies.)
  2. In order to make MDE affordable for smaller users, Microsoft offers a version that doesn’t keep history logs for as long as it does on the enterprise version, so your ability to go back and do forensics is inhibited. But the essence of the tech is the same, and your high level of protection against future attacks is unchanged.
  3. While MDE is a fantastic endpoint security foundation for SMEs, depending on your line of work you may need to purchase a few extras. A combo of MDE, Intune, and Exchange Online Protection (for email security) will give most SMEs a pretty comprehensive level of security. But if you’re a smaller firm that handles really sensitive data – an insurance company, for example – you might also need some other bells and whistles.

The bottom line

Regardless the size of your business, implementing Microsoft MDE can take your security posture from poor to powerful in one fell swoop. One of the biggest advantages of Microsoft MDE is that it enables you to measure your threat-exposure and security posture against a baseline. As the saying goes, “if you can measure it, you can manage it.”

But don’t take my word for it, take international management consulting firm Gartner’s. It predicts that 50 percent of organisations will be using managed detection and response (MDR) services to contain threats by 2025. Regardless of the size of your company, it truly is the way of the future.

If you would like to know more, get in touch with us here!