There's no doubt about it – Microsoft is a leader in the technology world. Between Microsoft 365 and Azure, the brand dominates as a top player in cloud infrastructure. You can trust that they know how to configure and enable security on their platforms – and as a Microsoft Partner, we know this as much as anyone! 

This trust is what makes their Microsoft Secure Score one of the most-used metrics for evaluating cybersecurity. With over amillion organizations worldwide using Microsoft software, having a good Microsoft Secure Score is quickly becoming a key metric for cybersecurity insurance providers to accurately assess risk levels. 

There is often a direct link between an organization's Microsoft Secure Score and itscybersecurity insurance premium rates. We aim to ensure our clients who use Microsoft maintain a good score for this very reason and because it’s a good practice.

But what is a good Microsoft Secure Score, and what cybersecurity best practices can organizations follow to keep it high? Below, we answer these questions and get to the heart of what it takes to keep your data secure and your premiums low.

What is a Microsoft Secure Score?

First things first, what exactly is a Microsoft Secure Score? It's a metric that represents an organization's level of security in a digital world. This number is calculated by assigning values to specific features of how a company has configured its tech stack – specifically as it relates to Microsoft 365 or Azure environments.

The Microsoft Secure Score is on a numerical scale between 0 and 100%, with a higher score indicating a better level of security. By regularly reviewing and improving the security score, organizations can improve their number (and their security), which often results in additional cost savings along the way.

Your Microsoft Secure Score Matters for Your Cyber Insurance

This score is calculated by averaging numerical values assigned to various levels of security control configurations and tasks, and the overall calculation changes over time. Each recommended action is worth 10 percentage points or less, and most are scored in a binary fashion. 

Typical factors include:

  • Use of multifactor authentication
  • Device management practices
  • Data loss prevention activities

You can find the Microsoft Secure Score in the Microsoft 365 Security Center or the Azure Security Center. This effective tool helps organizations assess and improve their overall security, which in turn protects business assets and brand safety.

The Microsoft Secure Score provides a simple and effective measurement tool to identify and communicate cybersecurity risk levels across an organization. By using this score, companies can:

  • Identify gaps in security coverage
  • Prioritize technology investments
  • Benchmark against peers
  • Demonstrate compliance
  • Lower risk & insurance premiums 

Even if an organization works hard to update its security, it can quickly fall behind if they fail to maintain and advance aproactive computer security posture.

In addition to risks like financial loss and detriment to your brand reputation, many organizations have steep regulatory compliance needs like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework or the ISO 27001 standard that they must continuously achieve. Maintaining a good Microsoft Cybersecurity Score is a vital step in achieving security maturity.

What is a Good Microsoft Secure Score?

A good score for Microsoft Secure Score can vary depending on the specific organization, its size, its industry, and the level of the security risk it faces. Typically, your organization should aim for ascore of 100% over time, and keep above 50% at the minimum. 

This threshold – 50% or above – indicates an average implementation of significantcybersecurity risk mitigation measures. Organizations that meet or exceed this number have taken intentional steps to reduce their risk of security breaches and data loss.

Want to learn more about upcoming managed IT service trends in 2023 and beyond?Dive into this article and find out!

However, it's important to note that the Microsoft Secure Score is just one metric that organizations can use to evaluate their security level. It should be used in conjunction with othercybersecurity assessments, such as penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and security audits, to get a comprehensive picture of security performance.

Benefits of Maintaining a Good Secure Score

Did you know that75% of SMBs could not continue operating if they were hit with a disruptive cyberattack? At the same time, malicious cyber activity and the size of the digital footprint for most organizations continues to grow exponentially. Organizations need to start pivoting reactive processes into proactive solutions.

In addition to avoiding a costly ransomware attack, maintaining a good Microsoft Secure Score also has additional benefits.

1. Proactive IT Approach

A good score indicates that an organization has implemented effective security measures and is taking a proactive approach to maintaining a safe environment. For example, with the help of anIT MSP cybersecurity partner, an organization can protect its operational data and the data of its customers, vendors, and other stakeholders well before a cyber attack occurs.

2. Reduces the Risk of a Security Breach

The correlation between a good Microsoft Secure Score and a lower risk when it comes to cyberattacks is strong. It's simple cause and effect. When an organization invests money, time, and strategy into improving security features, they also lower risk by completing those same activities.

3. Improves the Overall Security Culture & Protects the Organization

By measuring and improving security scores, organizations can draw focus to a variety of safe behaviors and bring awareness to important security challenges. This raises the collective understanding of security needs and promotes a culture of safety that ultimately protects the organization's assets.

According to Norton, a popular antivirus provider,88% of organization’s employees face targeted spear phishing attempts in a single year (usually outside of the IT department). It's important to keep in perspective that minimizingcybersecurity risk isn't just an IT job – it's an “everybody” job.

How Does a Good Microsoft Secure Score Impact Cybersecurity Insurance Premiums?

The cost of cybersecurity insurance continues to rise. In a recent survey ofcyber insurance brokers, more than half of respondents' clients saw prices go up 10–30% in late 2020. That's a steep increase that reflects how much the global cyber ecosystem is changing. 

Some cybersecurity premiums are surging in prices as high as 50% and up to 100%, and some, even higher than that!

Figure 1: Change in Cyber Insurance Premiums, 2017-2020:

Change in Cyber Insurance Premiums, 2017-2020

Source: Government of Accountability Office: Rising Cyberthreats Increase Cyber Insurance Premiums While Reducing Availability

Cybersecurity insurance, also known as cyber liability insurance, is a specific policy designed to protect businesses and individuals from losses due to cyber threats. This might include damages resulting from a data breach like lost operational time or risk-based lawsuits.

Almost every business needs cybersecurity insurance in the digital age. Could your organization weather significant losses from things like:

  • Loss of competitive positioning from the theft of intellectual property
  • Significant loss of revenue from business interruption
  • Catastrophic damage to network hardware
  • High dollar ransoms from cyber extortion 

The chances are that any of these effects might be hard to recover from – and you're not alone. This is essentially why cyber insurance exists and why businesses need to maintain their policies – even as costs continue to rise.

Why do they rise? Cyber insurance premiums are priced based on risk levels. The insurance provider has an application process that provides detailed information about technology infrastructure andcybersecurity measures so that potential vulnerabilities can be identified and a risk level is assessed.

Then, like any type of insurance, the underwriters match the risk level with the coverage limits and assign a premium based on the likelihood that the policy will have to be paid out. Since cybersecurity insurance premiums are risk-based, a good Microsoft Secure score can potentially lower premiums for businesses.

Let's take a look at a few best practices to help you manage your Microsoft Secure Score and lower those expensive premiums.

Cybersecurity Best Practices to Improve Your Score

Microsoft has asecurity center in Microsoft 365 and Azure that they suggest going through and making their suggested changes. It’s a good practice to review and update the Microsoft Security Center.

You're probably already doing some of the things that you need to be doing to have a good score. But, just in case you might be missing something, here's a quick overview from our IT MSP experts.

1. Use Multi-Factor/2FA Authentication

Have you ever been prompted to receive a code by text and enter it in order to access a sign-in? That's an example of multi-factor authentication – a security practice that is becoming an essential step in protecting your digital information.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication or 2FA, is a security protocol that requires more than one form of identity verification, like:

  • Something the user knows (passwords, PIN numbers, or security questions)
  • Something the user has (physical token, security key, device)
  • Something the user is (fingerprint, facial recognition, or voice recognition)

MFA can help prevent unauthorized access to Microsoft user accounts, even when a password is compromised.

2. Build Technology Processes Based on a Zero-Trust Policy

A zero-trust policy is a security framework that assumes all devices, users, and applications are potentially compromised. In other words, the default setting is not to trust a device. These policies require strict verification processes even in familiar environments. If your organization hasmanaged cybersecurity solutions in place, you most likely have this policy already.

These policies are helpful in limiting access to sensitive data. Using a zero trust policy, access to all resources is granted on a case-by-case basis that requires verifying the identity of the user, the device, and the context of the request.

Steps like multi-factor authentication and least privileged access are important components in building an effective zero-trust policy. These measures are becoming increasingly important in today's high-risk digital landscape. Traditional security measures are no longer sufficient to protect the valuable data stored on Microsoft servers and clouds.

3. Limit User Access

Your employees are your biggest cybersecurity risk. According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, there has been a13% increase in ransomware breaches, more than in the last 5 years combined, and 82% of breaches involved human error.

While shocking, these statistics highlight the importance of managing user access and implementing strong authentication measures in your Microsoft account to protect against unauthorized access.

4. Utilize Admin Account Protection Measures

Admin accounts or “privileged” accounts have more access to sensitive data and the ability to manipulate how that data is utilized. Securing these Microsoft accounts using a least privileged access approach that minimizes who can access certain types of data is essential.

In addition to restricting access to fewer admins and requiring context-based access verifications, organizations can take additional steps to utilize admin account protection measures.

This includes:

  • Requiring strong and complex passwords with frequent password changes. All passwords need to be unique and should not be reused in subsequent password changes.
  • Limiting access to trusted and authorized individuals who require access to perform job duties. Admin access should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure users have the appropriate level of access as needs change.
  • Implementing 2FA to add an additional layer of security for admin access. This might include the use of one-time codes, security tokens, or biometric verification.
  • Monitoring and audit activity on all admin accounts to detect unusual behavior routinely.

5. Keep Hardware and Software Up-to-Date

Another key action item that is easily overlooked is hardware and Microsoft software updates. As vulnerabilities and weaknesses are identified, security patches are released, which help fortify the components and protect against threats.

Failure to update hardware and software makes it easier for hackers to gain unauthorized access and move around in systems undetected. Plus, many companies find that updated hardware and software provide access to additional features beyond security that also benefit the company.

6. Make Cybersecurity Training a Priority for Everyone

Finally, don't overlook the easiest step that you can take to make a significant difference – and that's extending cybersecurity training to everyone in the company. 

That's right, hackers aren't just looking to trick your admins with high-level IT access. They're looking for easy access through eager new employees who are more likely to share where they work, inadvertently disclose necessary details to gain access, and most often download files or open links that contain malicious code fromMicrosoft-phishing emails.

Get a Good Microsoft Secure Score by Ramping Up Your Cybersecurity Approach

As cybersecurity threats continue to grow, organizations need comprehensive, effective, scalable solutions that are accessible. That's where Ceeva Shield can help save your organization. This comprehensive suite of security tools and services comes in two levels, which offer organizations of all sizes the support they need most.

Ceeva Shield can provide access to a team of security pros with remote management capabilities so that there's always an eye on your security posture – and always activities working towards improving your position. Companies can use Ceeva Shield to bulk up their protection with aproactive approach and measurably increase their Microsoft Secure Score.

Contact our IT MSP experts to schedule a free Microsoft Secure Score consulting session!

Book a Complimentary Microsoft Secure Score Assessment