Microsoft: A powerhouse in security innovation and EDR

A commitment to delivering even more advanced security tools

In 2021, Microsoft has committed to investing $20 billion over 5 years to accelerating efforts to integrate cyber security by design and deliver advanced security solutions. What does this mean? It’s no surprise that this investment and commitment places Microsoft as a leader in this space. However, beyond the dollar signs, Microsoft has a vision to protect all endpoints through a combination of prevention, detection, and auto remediation.

Forrester evaluated 15 most significant vendors in the Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) space and tested their solution against 20 criteria, researching, analysing, and scoring them. Forrester has basically done the heavy lifting for security professionals in helping them find the right fit for their needs.

The real benefit in a security EDR offering comes from a variety of helpful features used for investigation: such as autogenerated human-readable detection names and a replay of the attack story to see exactly what happened in the attack and in what order, ideal for root cause analysis. It provides a native sandbox feature, response recommendations, remote shell capabilities, and custom scripting. Security engineers can search telemetry by type or search raw telemetry and schedule queries. Microsoft is best suited for those with a large Windows deployment or those moving to an E5 license.

What should a Company look out for?

With many security vendors promising the best features available in their solution, the below are 3 fundamental pointers to look out for when considering an EDR solution.

  1. Analysis. The most time-consuming process security engineers face is the analysis of incident response. The solution needs to provide relevant, streamlined context for investigation and threat hunting with the ability to correlate events together, presenting all the threat intelligence needed on the fly with dynamic risk scoring.
  2. Customisation and automation. With remote and hybrid work becoming the norm, this has made quick, complete, and remote response across multiple endpoints a requirement for a top EDR offering. Clients should select an EDR provider that not only allows for orchestration and automation for response, but also builds it seamlessly into the analyst workflow and provides effective tools to customize these capabilities.
  3. A vendor with vision. Reference customers in the Forrester evaluation highlighted Microsoft’s investment as a key factor in choosing to work with their security EDR technology. Having a clear product vision is vital, especially given the hype in the market as vendors look to progress towards an eXtended Detection and Response (XDR). When choosing an EDR provider, clients should shortlist vendors that have a defined, scoped vision that showcases a distinctive, data-driven point of view on the market.

The right partner for your business

Microsoft has now also improved its pricing structure to add flexibility, offering standalone pricing per endpoint or license-based pricing. Its roadmap includes continued progress on Linux and Mac feature capabilities, IT and security collaboration, and XDR capabilities. Furthermore, Microsoft has on par coverage of Windows versions, Mac, and Linux distributions compared to other vendors.

Reach out to Veracloud today to learn more about Microsoft’s leading EDR solution with different flavours of Microsoft Defender to fit all security requirements, whatever you’re protecting and wherever this infrastructure is.

Why your SQL Server data belongs on Azure

Real-world results that show why Azure is the best choice

There is no denying that the last couple of years disrupted every single industry, requiring companies to rethink the way they operate. This led companies to accelerate their digital transformation and cloud strategy to take advantage of increased flexibility, scale, and cost savings that the cloud provides. With this increased dependency on the cloud, more companies are choosing Azure SQL for their database workloads.

Why?

Firstly, Microsoft has announced end of support for SQL Server 2012. This is a critical consideration if your databases are on this version. End of Support means the end of security updates, leaving your business and data exposed to security risks and compliance concerns. Azure is the only Cloud to offer three additional years of Extended Security Updates at no cost for SQL Server 2012. If you do not have the time to worry about your outdated, on-premises SQL Server, shift this workload to Azure to give you the time to plan for a proper SQL upgrade.

Secondly, Azure SQL provides deployment options to meet any requirements, from edge to cloud, taking your on-premises skills to deliver a consistent and unified experience. Azure SQL is also very cost-effective, further increased when you use Azure Hybrid Benefit to make use and maximise any existing on-premises licensing investments. Whether a simple VM migration to offload infrastructure costs or opting for a fully managed database service that does more on your behalf, every choice on Azure is a great one.

Leading the way with SQL Managed Instances

A managed SQL instance combines leading security features with complete SQL Server compatibility and a favourable business model for existing SQL Server customers. Apart from the ability to lift and shift on-premises applications to the cloud with minimal application and database changes, an SQL Managed Instance preserves all PaaS capabilities that considerably reduces management overheads and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Don’t just take our word for it. A study carried out by Enterprise Strategy Group, shows that customers who migrated their SQL Server data to Azure VMs reduced their costs by up to 47%. Customers that took it even further with a managed database service realised an additional 17% cost savings. When it comes to modernising SQL server data at scale, Azure has got your back and is undoubtedly the best choice.

An SQL Managed Instance also leads the way from a price-performance perspective. An independent research firm, Principled Technologies, published a study in May 2022 where they benchmarked SQL Managed Instance and SQL Server on AWS RDS across three different workloads. With up to five times faster performance and cost savings of up to 93%, SQL Managed Instance emerged as the leader.

How can we help?

At Veracloud, we help bridging the gap between the development team that wants to ship things as fast as possible and the operations team that doesn’t want anything to blow up in production. We can assist when it comes to consolidate, converge, automate, and orchestrate the workloads required, being them on-premises, in the cloud or as a hybrid setup. Don’t wait any longer before realising the benefits of digital transformation and leverage the power Azure has to offer for your business. Reach out today to learn how you may future-proof your infrastructure today.

A Malta Enterprise scheme to accelerate your Digital Journey!

Benefit from an investment scheme to take your business to the next level

With the EU committing to becoming the first climate-neutral bloc in the world by 2050, Malta Enterprise has launched a Smart & Sustainable Investment Grant that provides business funding to support any investments that lead to more sustainable and digitalised processes towards enhancing the competitiveness of the enterprise through the optimisation of the use of resources within their operations and business activities.

This presents the perfect opportunity for local companies of any size to invest in a digitalisation strategy. Whether you have one or not, let technology be the driver that takes your business to the next level. Leveraging industry-leading technology will enhance a business, secure its systems and data, and streamline its processes to become more efficient and autonomous.

An eligible investment towards Sustainable Digitalisation would require (taken directly from the Malta Enterprise Scheme)

Projects could include:

  • Increase process efficiency through IoT (smart HVAC, system monitoring, etc…)
  • Solution to establish enhance (optimise) logistics, including partnering with other firms, resulting in reduction of carbon emissions
  • The installation of building management systems to optimise heat, light and power usage
  • Industry 4.0 solutions leading to higher automation and rapid customer focused customisations

Technology giants such as Microsoft and Cisco Meraki, with an extensive ecosystem of cloud-centric offerings, are the ideal partners for digitalising your business. Microsoft and Cisco Meraki partners Veracloud will make this technology available for your business, tailored to exactly what your business and its employees require to prosper and thrive.

Reach out today to learn how Veracloud can help. Your employees and business will thank you tomorrow!

Cloudflare Suppresses Largest DDoS Attack Ever Reported

With an ever-increasing reliance on and demand for online services, every business must be online in today’s digital age to survive. Whether for internal corporate use or for providing customers with a service, the risks of an attack are great, great enough to bring your entire business to its knees, causing irreparable damage to your reputation and customer base. Cloudflare to the rescue.

Cloudflare has recently pulled off nothing short of a security wonder – automatically detecting and mitigating possibly the largest ever Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. What is a DDoS attack? Simply put, it is a malicious attempt by hackers to disrupt the typical traffic received by a server, service, or network. An overwhelming amount of traffic is sent to this target to flood it with internet traffic.

Through their autonomous edge DDoS protection, Cloudflare managed to suppress an unprecedented DDoS attack, with 330 million total requests, peaking at 17.2 million requests-per-second (rps).

Source Cloudflare

In terms of internet traffic, with a typical 800-1000 requests per second…that’s huge! However, thanks to the reliability of their global scale network, Cloudflare not only managed to mitigate this attack, but did so without requiring any manual intervention by their security engineers and without degrading performance.

That’s big! But does size really matter?

Although DDoS attacks are increasing in power, a business does not need to experience a large-scale attack as the one above. According to Cisco’s Internet Report the average DDoS attack size is a 1 Gbps attack that is more than enough to take most organisations completely offline. If you believe that your business is too small to suffer an attack, think again! Small businesses are typically the preferred targets due to the lack of defences in place. Numbers show that cyber criminals target up to 43% of their attacks on small business, with only 14% of businesses prepared to take precautions. With an average cost of an attack on a business of over €150,000, 60% of businesses that have been a victim, close shop within 6 months.

Following Veracloud’s partnership with Cloudflare, we assist companies in creating a trustworthy digital environment to bring the level of security required by all businesses, small or large. Protect your online assets today before it’s too late. Reach out now and learn how Veracloud can assist your company with securing your online business presence!

Windows 365

Windows 365: Cloud PC for your Hybrid Workplace

Microsoft has recently announced that it will be releasing Windows 365, an incredibly simple way to securely stream Windows from the Microsoft Cloud, the most comprehensive and trusted cloud on the market. As also referred to as Cloud PC, a new user experience is on the horizon, with the traditional PC operating system moving completely to the cloud without impacting on users’ expectations. Whether it is a personal computer or a corporate device, the full experience of providing the apps, data availability and settings will be maintained in this Cloud PC. 

What is Windows 365 

Windows 365 is a virtual desktop service that is a part of Microsoft 365.  It offers organizations a fixed-price monthly subscription, to a cloud PC that is dedicated to a user and can be managed using the exact same tools as a traditional Windows PC. Making a cloud PC available to a user (once the initial environment is set up) is a matter of assigning a Microsoft 365 license.  Three key properties of Windows 365 are worth repeating and emphasizing.   

A cloud PC is dedicated to a user, fixed price, and part of the Microsoft 365 cloud rather than Azure. 

This SaaS (Software as a Service) offering that is built on the Azure Virtual Desktop platform, will allow anyone to freely access their desktop wherever they may be in the world and from whichever device. This is a persistent Cloud PC, meaning it is always on and easily accessible 24 x 7. You will also find the exact same desktop, wallpaper, and document you were working on a few minutes, hours (or days) ago readily available to continue where you left off. 

How Veracloud Supports Windows 365 

Microsoft has expanded the available options for virtual desktops.  Organisations now have the flexible Azure-based AVD with single-user, multi-session, and RemoteApp options and the simplified M365-based Windows 365 with Enterprise and Business cloud PC alternatives. 

For the past year, Veracloud has gained momentum in implementing Azure Virtual Desktops for almost every solution need and gained hands-on experience building successful setups on the Microsoft cloud. We do this by helping our customers choose the right Microsoft service for the right use-case, automate the deployment, simplify ongoing management, and optimize to reduce ongoing costs. 

If you are considering either an AVD or a Windows 365 deployment, or maybe a bit of both, our technical engineers will provide the support and guidance required to identify the solution that works best for you and your business’s needs. Contact us now and explore the world of a hybrid workplace and get your business to the next level. 

Microsoft rebrands and enhances its VDI offering

While rebranding WVD to AVD, Microsoft also provides a broader service offering

The launch of Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) in 2018 was something that proved to be essential for companies. With the pandemic breaking out just over a year later, organisations had to quickly adapt and provide its workforce with remote capabilities, without sacrificing security, management, and employee productivity. WVD came to the rescue, providing the best virtualised Windows and Office experience for a multi-user environment, delivered on Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft has recently rebranded WVD to Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). But it’s not just a name change that Microsoft is announcing. Kam VedBrat, GM of AVD, states that Microsoft is preparing to broaden the AVD product with exciting new capabilities and integrations. These enhancements specifically focus on the security and management aspects around AVD.

Integration with Azure Active Directory (AAD) will provide the ability to join AVD virtual machines directly to AAD and connect to the virtual machines from any device with basic credentials. Microsoft Endpoint Manager provides central management with the ability to automatically enrol virtual machines, manage policies and distribute applications across devices, drastically simplifying administration though the admin centre. Automated deployment will get you going in minutes with the new QuickStart experience. This automation will validate requirements, kick-off an automated deployment, and will also implement according to best practices.

How can Veracloud help?

Ever since being included in the Azure Marketplace, we have gained momentum on the AVD front and can now assist every company with most use cases for this VDI offering. We have already provided our expertise in setting up large-scale AVD deployments both locally and internationally, tailored to the requirements set forth by the company, while adhering to strict security and regulatory compliance procedures.

If you are considering implementing AVD or are not sure whether this is the right solution for you, we will provide the support and guidance required. Contact us today and explore the cost reduction and benefits associates with Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

The Wonderful World of Meraki

IT Agility has never been easier to achieve!

In the never-ending evolutionary process of IT, agility is a term that has been loosely used, misused, and misunderstood. Starting as an approach in Software Development, agility has now evolved towards being adopted in a wider business context. Key players and leaders in the business agility field teamed up to produce the Business Agility Report. Respondents included in the study believe that the ability for an organisation to focus on business agility initiatives creates a ripple effect of positive outcomes – enhancing customer and employee satisfaction and retention, speed to market, market success, collaboration and communication, accountability, and improved ways of working – to mention a few! The report also reveals that, COVID or no COVID, every organisation needs to adapt to a constantly changing environment.

Embrace change with Cisco Meraki

Do you have an IT strategy built around agility? Do you need help identifying a strategy? Or want to improve on it? Look no further. Cisco Meraki is the answer. It’s not just hardware … it’s an experience! Meraki serves as a fantastic, robust backbone, regardless of business requirements or the industry you operate in. Consolidate all your infrastructure and services. Control everything. Deploy anywhere. Scale reliably. Manage everywhere! The beauty of Meraki is in its simplicity. With a “cloud-first everything” mentality, Meraki is the solution to the agility a business must embrace.

At Veracloud we leverage cloud technologies to seamlessly manage your infrastructure. From the assessment of your needs and design of your network, to the implementation and ongoing maintenance, we take care of everything. Focus on what’s important to you … your business! Speak to us today and let us help you develop and achieve a strategy centred on business agility.

Exchange Server Hack

What to Learn from the recent On-Prem Exchange Server Hack

It has been a pretty challenging week for those that still manage and maintain on premises Exchange servers due to HAFNIUM targeting Exchange Servers with 0-day exploits.

Who Is HAFNIUM?

HAFNIUM is a state-sponsored advanced persistent threat group from China that is described as a “highly skilled and sophisticated actor.” 

While Hafnium originates in China, the group uses a web of virtual private servers located in the US to try and conceal its true location. Entities previously targeted by the group include think tanks, non-profits, defence contractors, and researchers. 

Our Take on the Situation

From what has been read online regarding the HAFNIUM Exchange Server hack, what was noted is that many organisations did not have a business continuation/response plan in place for this.  Although guidance and resolution were given by Microsoft to administrators to run scripts and patch systems, we read that most seemed totally unprepared for this kind of situation, especially at scale.

Many may think by shift everything to the cloud that all worries are over, however, challenges in the cloud may easily be of the same scale and impact. The cloud is a shared responsibility model which means that both Microsoft and end-user are both responsible for cloud security. In this case, specifically, the recent Exchange issues have largely fallen to Microsoft when it comes to the cloud.

Most cloud systems offer availability of over 99.99% which allows for a large amount of complacency to creep into internal systems and procedures, especially those responsible for maintaining these systems, both internal staff and external 3rd parties. Thoughts of disaster recovery and outage impact get put on the back burner and are never really addressed because there are always higher priorities.

Next Steps

In the end, it comes down to risk analysis. No matter where your systems are hosted, you always need to have an action plan of what do in case of disaster. But where do you start? That is where Veracloud has you covered. Contact us today to find out how to create a business continuity plan as well as discuss the different ways of migrating to a cloud or hybrid cloud setup.

Cloud Managed IoT Sensors

Protecting your Data Centre with Cloud Managed IoT Sensors

With cloud managed IoT sensors, real-time visibility into IT environments has now become a reality to help ensure proper business continuity plans are put into place. Protect your critical IT infrastructure through a powerful platform and simple-to-deploy environment sensors.

Maximize network uptime and equipment lifespan – Real-time visibility and alerts give you control over your environment. Ensure optimal conditions and minimize risk with remote monitoring and flexible alerting.

Gain value in less time – Quickly provision and manage thousands of sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, leaks, and intrusion. Simply insert the batteries and add to the dashboard. Say good-bye to on-premises servers, dedicated gateways, and management software.

Drive smarter decisions through data – Understand trends about your physical environment. Improve safety, security, and operational decision-making through a data-driven approach. Build on top of our platform using APIs or the vast ecosystem partner community and further enhance operations

Secure IoT devices seamlessly – Each sensor features a unique per-device identifier, which securely authenticates the device and encrypts all communication with the sensor gateways. Combined with automated firmware updates, our sensors pack a powerful security punch in a smart package.

Features include:

  • Centralized cloud management – The dashboard provides secure monitoring and management of all sensors, from anywhere in the world.
  • Flexible alerts – Set customized thresholds for devices and receive alerts via SMS, push notifications, email, or use webhooks to connect to your platform of choice.
  • Seamless setup and installation at scale – Wire-free installation, flexible mounting options, and automatic pairing makes it easy to provision.
  • Onboard storage – Five days of onboard storage keeps data safe in the event of an outage.
  • Long battery life – Field-replaceable AA batteries, with up to five years of battery life, provide one less thing to worry about.
  • Open API – Automate analysis outside of the dashboard, link to third-party services, and aggregate sensor data with information from other business systems.
  • Secure and always up to date – a secure way to exchange data between the gateway and sensor. Automatic firmware updates keep things running smoothly.

Act now and contact us today for a FREE proof of concept.

Microsoft announces plans for first datacenter region in Greece

Microsoft announced its intent to build new data centres that will establish a Microsoft Cloud region in the country, adding Greece to the world’s largest cloud infrastructure footprint and delivering access to low-latency, enterprise-grade cloud services.

The Greece datacenter region will join Microsoft’s global footprint of cloud regions, now totalling 63 regions announced, with Microsoft Azure available in over 140 countries, and will provide companies local access to Microsoft’s full set of cloud services, all built on a foundation of trust:

  • Microsoft Azure: An ever-expanding set of cloud services that offers computing, networking, databases, analytics, AI and IoT services.
  • Microsoft 365: The world’s productivity cloud that delivers best-of-breed productivity apps integrated through cloud services and delivered as part of an open platform for business processes.
  • Dynamics 365 and Power Platform: The next generation of intelligent business applications that enable organizations to grow, evolve and transform to meet the needs of customers and capture new opportunities.
  • Compliance, security and privacy: Microsoft offers more than 90 certifications and spends $1 billion every year on cybersecurity to address security at every layer of the cloud. Microsoft’s Greece datacenter region will help companies comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and will also help customers store data at rest in our region.
  • Sustainably operated: As part of Microsoft’s global commitment to be carbon negative by 2030, the company will shift to 100 per cent supply of renewable energy for its data centres by 2025.

Microsoft 2021 Partner of the Year for Malta!

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