National Security Officer, Microsoft Canada
In a recent article, IT security journalist Casey Crane compared cybersecurity threats to snipers. The most dangerous ones, she wrote, “are the ones you never see coming. Cyberattacks aren’t a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ they’ll occur.”
Cyberattacks pose such a serious problem, the World Economic Forum recently named them as the biggest threat in the world along with extreme weather and natural disasters.
This doesn’t surprise John Hewie, National Security Officer at Microsoft Canada. In recent years, he says, a digital transformation and an explosion in data volumes has resulted in users in various locations sharing data across more applications, devices, platforms, and environments, both internally and externally. As a consequence of that trend, organizations are now grappling with complicated management structures and a proliferation of technologies resulting in increased vulnerability to cyberattacks.
“In the face of this massive challenge, organizations are evaluating and refreshing their legacy security procedures, tools, and skill sets,” Hewie says. The right technology and following all the security best practices all the time must be in place to fend off sophisticated attackers.
Business owners must take a holistic approach to cybersecurity
Hewie advises organizations to take a holistic approach to security, one that includes building a culture in which security is a priority in every decision and becomes a core part of the risk management process. Taking steps to safeguard organizational data needs to become second nature for every employee.
At Microsoft, for example, security tools are integrated into daily tasks such as corresponding through email. Every employee is able to apply sensitivity labels to content, with a click of the mouse, which then applies the appropriate protections including encryption that travels with the file or email.
There are many steps organizations can take to encourage all employees, not just IT and security personnel, to take ownership of security practices. “Everyone from executives to frontline workers has an important role to play,” says Hewie. “An organization is most secure when everyone is on board.”
Today, businesses must have sound security to attract and retain customers. Data-driven innovation will create new opportunities, but only if people trust their data is secure.
An organization is most secure when everyone is on board.John Hewie, National Security Officer at Microsoft Canada
The complexity of modern cyber threats poses a big challenge
As part of a holistic approach to security, organizations should also use proper hardware and software that’s fully integrated.
That was Microsoft’s guiding principle when it designed Microsoft 365, a collection of apps and services such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc., and Microsoft Surface, a series of touchscreen-based personal computers and interactive whiteboards. Intelligence and security capabilities are built into every layer of both products.
These capabilities provide business owners with streamlined deployment that saves time and money; modern device management and built-in cloud-powered security.
A growing number of businesses are relying on these products because “the sheer complexity of the cyber threats we face
today, makes it impossible for humans to manage everything,” says Hewie.
He adds that because of its history of delivering technology to businesses worldwide, Microsoft is in a unique position to help companies protect their people, data, and devices while enhancing employee productivity.
“We focus on creating innovation that helps our customers protect, detect, and respond to the constantly-evolving and ever-changing cyber threat landscape,” says Hewie.