N365 provides a real opportunity for the NHS trusts to better protect themselves against previously stacked odds.
In the UK, 34% of NHS trusts were directly affected leading to almost 7,000 appointments being cancelled in this single attack that for most ran from May to September.
With phishing, malware and ransomware on the rise there are sensible steps we can take to help our staff and organisations try to prevent and reduce the likelihood of being affected. Following ‘WannaCry’ the UK Government is investing over £200m to help address key cyber security weaknesses in the NHS.
The good news includes the deal that the Government and NHS have agreed with Microsoft to better protect and build resilience across the NHS and protect patients. This deal presents an opportunity to see all NHS devices upgraded to Windows 10, meaning the NHS will be able to take advantage of Microsoft’s most secure operating system with outstanding security features. N365, available to 1.4m users in the UK across the 450 plus NHS trusts access to Microsoft 365, presents the NHS the opportunity to reduce threats and to respond quickly in the event of an attack. As with many security upgrades it brings better coordination and efficiency including procurement and IT support spend reductions.
Attacks on organisations that start with phishing emails are on the rise, with the United Nations reporting a rise in reported phishing of 350% as the world was hit with the global pandemic.
Its doubtless risen significantly since then. It’s no surprise that cyber-attacks using malware and ransomware are rising too, with 2/3 of organisations according to various private and public sector reports, likely to fall victim to an attack this calendar year.
The most notable of these in recent years affecting, in particular the health sector was the Lazarus’ groups ‘WannaCry’, affecting over 250,000 devices in 150 countries in 2017. At the time, the largest single ransomware attack, globally. Victims included the UK NHS, Telefonica and FedEx.
‘WannaCry’ named after the file extension in use -’.wcry’ rather than the stress the IT and Security teams dealing with this were under, was deployed by Lazarus. Lazarus, formerly called APT38 or Guardians of the Peace, are widely associated with the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the North Korean Foreign Intelligence Agency. These nation state supported attacks exploit our poor preparedness, our technology and failure to implement the right ones and keep them up to date and our lack of security awareness.
Let’s look at some of the security benefits that as a Microsoft Gold Partner, Centrality, are seeing for clients with N365 implementations today.
Microsoft Defender and End Point Threat Protection offer device level security, monitor behaviours and use machine learning and analytics to detect threats and attacks before they take hold. Alerts are automatically assessed and investigated, security incident response options selected quickly and 24/7 allowing us to respond in real time in the event of a threat so as to reduce the spread and impact that we saw with ‘WannaCry’.
Threat and vulnerability management options allow the discovery, prioritisation and remediation of vulnerabilities and misconfigurations to head of potential compromises before they come our way.
Full disk encryption with Microsoft BitLocker which effectively ensures devices that are lost or stolen cannot be accessed by thieves or hackers to steal our confidential data.
Service and protection updates are free over the Internet ensuring NHS trust and employees N365 receive comprehensive security updates. N365 updates will help keep systems and data safe and available, detecting viruses, phishing and malware, and isolate infected machines to stop further infection.
Protecting confidential data as its stored (at rest) and when in use is vital to the NHS and N365 delivers this with data leak prevention software across email, cloud and removable storage. This all makes accidental data leakage much less likely and flags potential leaks or breaches quickly for investigation.
Identity and access management is crucial to keep staff, front line services and data safe, ensuring only those who should have access do. N365 will help trusts on their journey to be more secure by removing out-dated reliance on passwords from the loop. Passwords take time and effort for the legitimate user, not the hacker. If you know that unique and complex password (and the other 142 you maintain and safeguard at the same time) so does the hacker. Especially when the hacker is working on behalf of a nation state.
Let’s also not forget the 85% of IT support time misspent helping people reset their passwords and the small fact that nearly 90% of breaches involve passwords. The deployment of N365 can involve an implementation of better access management with Windows Hello, making use of multi factor authentications, just more intelligently.