In today’s digital era, cybersecurity threats are an ever-present and evolving danger. Organisations, regardless of size, are at constant risk of cyberattacks, including ransomware and data breaches. The increasing sophistication of these threats demands an advanced level of vigilance and response, which brings Managed Detection and Response (MDR) into the spotlight.  

What is Managed Detection and Response (MDR)?

MDR is a comprehensive cybersecurity service that offers round-the-clock monitoring and response to cyber threats. It’s not just another line of defence; it’s a strategic approach that combines technology, processes, and importantly, human expertise to identify and mitigate cyber risks effectively. Although an oversimplification, it may be helpful to consider MDR as being a combination of SIEM (security monitoring & alerting) + security software (such as endpoint protection agents) + SOC (A team of security experts on standby to respond).  

To better understand this, it can help to consider where MDR fits in relation to other alternative approaches to cybersecurity. To illustrate this we will compare MDR to three other common offerings: Unmanaged cybersecurity, Cybersecurity managed by an MSP/TSP and finally a specialist Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) engagement.  

Unmanaged Cybersecurity 

Unmanaged cybersecurity generally involves having one or more basic cybersecurity products deployed, such as endpoint protection agents, but without any oversight or management of those products, or any broader cybersecurity strategy. Cybersecurity products are likely configured with default settings and may or may not be functioning effectively. In the event of a cybersecurity incident, the organisation will likely remain oblivious until it’s far too late and significant damage is done.  

By comparison MDR will be more expensive but will also be far more effective in protecting the organisation. MDR will not provide a holistic cybersecurity strategy or oversight for the entire organisation, so security gaps are likely to remain, but for the areas where MDR is deployed, security will be tight, and responses to any potential incidents will be rapid.  

MSP Managed Cybersecurity 

Of the scenarios presented here, the most common is where the organisation engages a Managed Services Provider (MSP) to provide not only cybersecurity services, but other IT services such as end-user helpdesk and cloud services. Commonly the MSP will help with cybersecurity strategy and the deployment of various cybersecurity products and controls, as well as the ongoing management of these solutions. 

The existence of a broader cybersecurity strategy and oversight means that gaps in protection are less likely, compared to unmanaged cybersecurity, but still not entirely ruled out. The MSP will respond to any cybersecurity incidents detected, however is unlikely to respond as rapidly as an MDR solution would, nor with the same deep level of technical expertise that and MDR brings. The ideal scenario is to engage both an MSP and an MDR solution.  

MSSP Managed Cybersecurity 

A Managed Security Services Providers (MSSPs) operates on a similar model to an MSP but with a narrow focus on cybersecurity. They will bring a deep level of technical expertise, with a team of dedicated security analysts and engineers. The MSSP’s response to any detected incident will likely be faster and more technically capable than that of an MSP due to the specialised nature of its services. 

Engaging with a specialist MSSP can provide a level of security and response that surpasses both MSP and MDR solutions, but this comes at a higher cost. Additionally, MSSPs may not have the same level of understanding or familiarity with an organisation’s unique IT environment compared to an MSP who has been managing their IT services for some time. For organisations requiring this level of cybersecurity response, engaging both an MSP and an MSSP to work closely together will provide the best outcome.  

The Advantages of Managed Detection Response (MDR)

Managed Detection & Response offers several unique advantages that set it apart from other common cybersecurity solutions.  

  1. Continuous Monitoring and Rapid Response: Cyber threats don’t adhere to a 9-to-5 schedule. MDR provides 24/7 monitoring, ensuring that threats are identified and addressed promptly, often within minutes. Many other cybersecurity offerings may monitor 24×7, however responding to incidents may take signification longer. 
  2. Expertise and Specialisation: MDR services are not simply automated technology but are manned by cybersecurity experts who specialise in threat detection and response, bringing a level of expertise that other purely automated solutions can’t match.   
  3. Advanced Technologies and AI Integration: MDR services leverage advanced technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), to enhance threat detection capabilities.  
  4. Customisation and Scalability: MDR solutions can be tailored to fit the specific needs of an organisation, scaling as the organisation grows or as threats evolve. Many other comparable cybersecurity solutions are either too large and expensive for many organisations or alternatively may fail to scale effectively beyond a certain size.  
  5. Cost-Effectiveness: Building and maintaining a comparable in-house security operation can be prohibitively expensive, whether this in-house team is your own, or run by your main technology partner or MSP. MDR services offer a cost-effective alternative, providing top-tier security expertise without the overhead of in-house or boutique engagements.   

The Role of Managed Detection Response (MDR) in Modern Business 

MDR services play an extremely important role in modern business, addressing business and security requirements that many other cybersecurity solutions cannot.

Protecting Against Ransomware and Data Breaches  

Ransomware attacks and data breaches can have devastating effects on businesses. MDR plays a critical role in not only preventing these attacks but also in minimising the impact if they occur, with 24×7 human lead incident response.  

Addressing the Cybersecurity Talent Shortage

The cybersecurity industry faces a significant talent shortage. MDR services help bridge this gap by providing access to an extensive team of experts, thus alleviating the pressure on in-house resources, or avoiding the rapidly increasing costs of boutique cybersecurity providers.

Compliance and Regulatory Requirements  

Many industries face stringent regulatory requirements regarding data protection and cybersecurity, not to mention increasing challenges in qualifying for cyber insurance coverage. MDR services help ensure compliance with regulations, avoiding potential legal and financial penalties, while helping to satisfy insurers’ stringent requirements.  

Managed Detection Response (MDR): The Human Touch 

While technology is a critical component of MDR, the human element is what sets MDR services apart from other purely product-based cybersecurity solutions. Skilled cybersecurity professionals bring a level of intuition and experience that cannot be replicated by machines alone.  

MDR teams comprise individuals with diverse backgrounds in cybersecurity, offering a blend of skills that range from threat hunting to incident response. This human oversight ensures that the subtleties of cyber threats are not overlooked.  

Effective MDR services foster collaboration between the service provider and the client. Regular communication and reporting ensure that clients are aware of their security posture and any actions taken on their behalf.  

The Future of Managed Detection Response (MDR)

Looking ahead, the role of MDR in cybersecurity is only set to grow. As cyber threats become more sophisticated, the need for comprehensive, responsive, and expert-driven cybersecurity solutions will become more pronounced.   

As new technologies emerge, MDR services will evolve to incorporate these advancements, further enhancing their threat detection and response capabilities.   

Conclusion

Managed Detection and Response represents a significant advancement in the field of cybersecurity. It offers a dynamic, expert-driven solution to the complex and ever-changing landscape of cyber threats. For businesses looking to bolster their cybersecurity posture, MDR presents a comprehensive, effective, and adaptable solution, ensuring peace of mind in an increasingly digital world.  

Updated 19 January 2024 with new licensing details. 

2023 has well and truly been the year of Generative Artificial Intelligence, triggered by the release of ChatGPT in November 2022. Not only have we seen an entire wave of AI based start-ups spring into existence, but big players like Meta and Google have also launched their own offerings.  

Without doubt though, the latest technology to make waves in the business world is Microsoft CoPilot – an AI-powered tool set to be embedded into almost every Microsoft app from Windows to PowerPoint to Dynamics CRM.  

With a surge of interest and early adopters already on board, it’s essential to understand how to prepare your business for Microsoft CoPilot to not only maximise the return on your investment, but also to avoid potentially unforeseen complications that may arise.  

What is Microsoft CoPilot?

Microsoft CoPilot is an AI-powered tool that uses machine learning to assist users in completing tasks within various Microsoft apps. It has been designed to help with a range of tasks – from writing emails and creating slides, to managing your calendar and organizing data. If you’re at all familiar with other interactive, chat-based AI tools such as ChatGPT then you will be comfortable with CoPilot. 

Why is Microsoft CoPilot Important for Businesses?

It’s fair to say that AI offers huge potential benefits for businesses of all sizes. But what specifically is the importance of Microsoft CoPilot?  

Microsoft CoPilot offers a wide range of benefits for businesses, including increased efficiency and productivity, higher quality outputs, and improved accuracy. By automating repetitive tasks and providing helpful suggestions, it can save employees time and reduce human errors.  

More importantly though, CoPilot offers a number of features that no other AI tool can match.  

Deep integration

CoPilot has been specifically designed to work seamlessly with commonly used Microsoft apps, such as Outlook and PowerPoint, meaning there is no need for users to switch between multiple platforms. Imagine opening up PowerPoint and instructing CoPilot to “Create a 10-slide deck on next year’s investment strategy.”

Access to corporate data

With CoPilot deeply embedded within the Microsoft cloud, it can have secure access to all of your existing corporate data stored not only in Microsoft 365, but other third-party cloud apps. This means that CoPilot can provide personalized responses based on your company’s own data, not just the generally available public information that other AI tools are limited to.

Privacy and security

Microsoft has always been at the forefront of privacy and security, and CoPilot is no exception. All data used by CoPilot is stored securely within the Microsoft cloud and is subject to strict privacy policies and existing security rules. CoPilot will not make your data available to anyone who does not already have access to it. 

The risks of adopting Microsoft CoPilot

While the benefits are clear, it’s important for businesses to understand and mitigate any potential risks associated with implementing Microsoft CoPilot.  Many of these risks are best-practice considerations already but are worth revisiting before considering a CoPilot deployment. 

Poor user adoption

It’s important to remember that CoPilot is an AI tool and therefore requires some level of training in order to use it effectively. Additionally, there may be a learning curve for employees as they get used to using CoPilot and may need support during this transition period. A well-planned training and change management program can help mitigate these risks.  

Data privacy

CoPilot operates within the context of the user, meaning that CoPilot will respect any security restrictions that exist around what corporate information the user can and cannot access. CoPilot will not surface information that the user would not otherwise have had access to. This does however put the onus back on the business to ensure that all data is properly restricted to only those who should have access. 

Governance & compliance

With the use of AI in businesses becoming increasingly common, it’s important for organizations to have a good understanding of how CoPilot is using their data. A governance and compliance plan should be put in place to ensure that all data used by CoPilot is compliant with existing regulations and policies.  

Preparing for Microsoft CoPilot

So, what should businesses do to prepare for the adoption of Microsoft CoPilot? There are three key issues that need to be addressed. 

Microsoft 365 Licensing

The first step is to ensure that your organization has the appropriate Microsoft 365 licenses in place to support CoPilot. This means that you must be using one of the following Microsoft 365 license types. Our recommendation for most organisations is Microsoft 365 Business Premium. 

  • Business Standard
  • Business Premium
  • E3
  • E5

CoPilot itself will require an additional per-user license costing approximately AU$540 per user for an annual license. At this stage there is no month-to-month purchase option available, only annual. Please also note that there is no non-profit pricing available at this stage. 

Application Deployment & Adoption

CoPilot requires the latest Microsoft 365 desktop apps such as Outlook and Word, so if you don’t already have these apps deployed & in use across your organisation, you will need to address this before deploying CoPilot. Don’t forget to also consider user adoption. You can’t unlock productivity gains if no-one is using your new productivity tools.  

Equally as important is where your corporate data is stored. CoPilot is a cloud service, and your data must be in the cloud for it to be accessible. If you haven’t yet migrated your data into SharePoint, OneDrive, or some other cloud service accessible via CoPilot Plugins, you will not be able to receive the full benefit of CoPilot.  

Data Security

The power of CoPilot is in its ability to ingest your corporate data and provide intelligent, insightful responses. However, this also means that you must ensure your data is properly secured and only accessible to those who need it, lest you find information inappropriately surfaced to those who shouldn’t, but do, have access.  

Microsoft 365 is extremely good at automatically surfacing relevant and related content. This can be handy when, for example, Outlook presents you with a list of documents related to your upcoming meeting. Of course, it will only show you documents that you already have permission to access, but there-in lies the potential for problems, when documents may not have been properly secured to only those people that truly need access. 

Conclusion

Microsoft CoPilot offers a wealth of benefits for businesses, from increased productivity and efficiency to improved accuracy and access to personalized data. As with any new technology, there are potential risks to consider and prepare for, such as user adoption and data privacy.  

If you would like to talk about preparing your business for CoPilot, contact us today. 

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