imageCreate a Zero Trust adoption plan that accommodates your organization’s unique risks and capabilities. With this flexible playbook, get foundational action items that help you strengthen security across six key risk areas.

Download The Comprehensive Playbook for a Zero Trust Security Strategy to:

  • Identify small changes that can make big improvements to your security.
  • Understand how deeper integration of key security pillars can simplify policy enforcement.
  • Learn how Zero Trust can increase efficiency and productivity in security posture management.

Get the playbook here:

imagePlease be aware of the upcoming retirement of Microsoft Software Assurance Benefits (SAB) “24/7 Problem Resolution Incidents”. We will fully retire the “24×7 Problem Resolution Support” benefit from Software Assurance for all Microsoft customers effective February 1, 2023.

  • New SAB 24×7 PRS incidents won’t be allocated starting February 1st, 2023. Customers will continue to earn SAB 24×7 PRS incidents until January 31st, 2023, to transfer towards their Support contract.
  • Customers’ available SAB 24×7 PRS incidents must be transferred to their Support contract using the current transfer process before February 1st, 2023. Any unused incidents will expire.

For more information, please see:

Please contact your Microsoft Customer Success Account Manager for more information.

If you’re responsible for Azure Active Directory & use Azure AD Multi-factor Authentication… important notice:

HOWTO: Mitigating MFA authentication spamming with Azure AD MFA Number Matching
You may have heard recently about a technique used by bad actors called “authentication spamming” or “MFA phishing”.  It’s a method by which bad actors rapidly send MFA authentication messages to an end user in the hopes that they will “get annoyed” and eventually simply “approve” the authentication request to make it go away… allowing the bad actor access to your network.  (The technique is described in this article by our Director of Identity Solutions, Alex Weinart, here: Defend your users from MFA fatigue attacks)

clip_image001Solution: Azure AD MFA Authenticator Number Matching
If you are using Azure AD Multi-factor Authentication, we at Microsoft have implemented a technology in Azure AD MFA called “number-matching” which has dramatically helped to mitigate “authentication spamming” (MFA phishing) attacks while making it available for everyone in the world to use free of charge. We highly recommend enabling number matching ASAP for improved sign-in security.

Mandatory Enforcement – COMING FEBRUARY 27TH, 2023
We will be removing the admin controls and enforce the number match experience tenant-wide for all users starting February 27, 2023. i.e. Your staff will be required to use "number matching" when using Microsoft Authenticator as of March 1, 2023, so please investigate the implementation of number matching to eliminate authentication phishing in your organization immediately.

HOWTO: Deploy Azure AD MFA Number Matching
The following is a step-by-step guide on how to implement MFA number-matching on Microsoft Azure Active Directory & Microsoft Authenticator.

Assistance with Configuration
If you need assistance with getting this configured, contact your Microsoft Unified Support Customer Success Acct Mgr or your FastTrack Manager.

Posted by: kurtsh | January 26, 2023

NEWS: Microsoft & OpenAI “ChatGPT”

imageThere’s been a lot of news about the next-generation capabilities of ChatGPT.  If you’re trying to figure out what ChatGPT is, the good news is that it’s super easy to understand and get started.

  • WHAT IS IT? 
    ChatGPT is a services from “OpenAI” that leverages it’s GPT-3 family of large language models.
    It’s used with chatbots to deliver incredibly natural, powerful conversations.  It is a generational leap for artificial intelligence based chats.
  • WHAT IS "’GPT’? 
    Generative Pre-trained Transformer – a advanced language model that leverages relies on deep learning for human-like responses using publicly available datasets.  They call the solution “ChatGPT” because it uses the GPT language model.

What is Microsoft’s relationship with ChatGPT?
If you are leveraging Microsoft technology today, Microsoft has a multi-billion dollar partnership with OpenAI, the basis of ChatGPT, and is it’s largest founding partner.  As such:

  • Microsoft Azure will be the exclusive cloud provider for OpenAI & exclusive licensee for the GPT-3 language model used in ChatGPT.
  • Microsoft has released Azure OpenAI Service, an enterprise-class delivery of OpenAI capabilities.
  • Microsoft intends on leveraging OpenAI services, including ChatGPT, throughout it’s entire cloud portfolio including Microsoft 365, Azure & Dynamics 365.

Getting started with ChatGPT:

In order to get going with ChatGPT & all OpenAI services, sign up at the site below:

Posted by: kurtsh | January 26, 2023

NEWS: Microsoft & OpenAI extend partnership

imageMicrosoft & OpenAI recently announced has a multi-billion dollar partnership with OpenAI as it’s largest founding partner. 

As such:

  • Microsoft Azure will be the exclusive cloud provider for OpenAI & exclusive licensee for the GPT-3 language model used in ChatGPT.
  • Microsoft has released Azure OpenAI Service, an enterprise-class delivery of OpenAI capabilities.
  • Microsoft intends on leveraging OpenAI services, including ChatGPT, throughout it’s entire cloud portfolio including Microsoft 365, Azure & Dynamics 365.

Read more about the new partnership extension here:

imageHoping your organization stays under the radar & waiting for bad actors to test your defense & take advantage of your vulnerabilities is a scary approach to security. Proactive threat hunting gives your organization the upper hand and doesn’t necessarily require additional headcount or roles.

The Microsoft Security Experts, “Threat Hunting Survival Guide” is a 31 page eBook (PDF) that reviews why organizations should invest in proactive thread hunting, and how to use threat hunting beyond the endpoint.

The book goes over:

  1. The difference between commodity malware & human-operated attacks
  2. How to identify signs of human-operated attacks in your environment
  3. How to prepare for basic thread scenarios
  4. How to develop your own thread hunting program
  5. How Microsoft can assist with “Microsoft Defender Experts for Hunting” – a discrete service available today that Microsoft has available to extend your team of experts & reduce risk with more accurate detection.

Download the eBook here:

clip_image002If you’re interested in a cool example of how ChatGPT will affect many aspects of IT, take a look at this recently published article about integrating the service with “Microsoft Sentinel”.

For example, Microsoft Sentinel, given a set of conditions, can leverage ChatGPT to identify the right steps to resolve an incident to notify the people responsible in conversational English & expedite resolution.

clip_image002Next month, Microsoft will be permanently disabling the “IE11 desktop app” on Windows 10.

  • This will be done through an "Edge Update" (not a Windows Update) on February 14, 2023.
  • Microsoft Edge ‘IE Mode’ will continue to provide managed IE11 compatibility for organizations that require it after this date.

For more information, please refer to the information below:

Posted by: kurtsh | December 9, 2022

INFO: Why Windows 11 for Enterprise-sized Organizations

I used to get asked the question, “Why should we be deploying at Windows 11? over Windows 10”

  • Speed/Performance & Visual UI
    End users love Windows 11.  Applications that users depend on every day simply run faster on Windows 11

    Tools like Outlook, Teams, Edge, Chrome, even OneNote are all noticeably faster because ‘multithreaded operations’ are executed & handled much better at a CPU level. 

    Apps have been publicly benchmarked by folks as much as 20% faster simply by upgrading to Windows 11.

    Visually, the OS’s user interface is quicker & smoother – this is deliberate for reducing eye fatigue.  A large part of this is because the internal screen animation & movement frame rate is natively higher.  The result is that the Start button, window movement, taskbar… all appear more fluid.

    The UI also benefits from Windows 11’s improved multi-threaded performance making application response snappier.  It’s a noticeable improvement for users, helping to make long periods of work easier.

  • Management
    Your desktop IT team is going to love Windows 11.  OS updates are 40% smaller than on Windows 10 – meaning:

    1. 40% faster deployments
    2. 40% less bandwidth required to distribute updates
    3. 40% less storage required on every desktop
    4. 40% less annoying to end users

    Also, Windows 11 only does major releases once a year.  Major OS updates only happen once – not twice – making Windows 11 channel updates far less stressful for IT teams.

  • imageSecurity
    This is the real reason why your organization needs Windows 11.  Malware writers & hackers aren’t focused on OS “buffer overruns” or even traditional application vulnerabilities like macro payloads:  Criminals are attacking desktop hardware vulnerabilities.  Physical attacks through Direct Memory Access on USB & Thunderbolt ports.  Remote attacks that modify UEFI & BIOS boot. And they’re happening now. 

    The only way to protect against these attack vectors is through close integration between the OS & hardware.  This protection has to originate at an Operating System level and that’s what Windows 11 is quietly designed to do. 

    Windows 11 protects against the next generation wave of hardware vulnerabilities and this is the reason Microsoft requires 8th gen Intel architecture & a TPM 2.0 chip at a minimum for installing Windows 11.  These hardware technologies give Windows 11 the ability to protect organizations from the next generation of attacks on your infrastructure.

    We’ve published a Windows 11 Security Guide that is 65 pages long that goes over all the work that’s been done in Windows 11 alone to protect organizations.   The threat is real and institutions need to start piloting – not testing – Windows 11 now. 

  • DOWNLOAD: Free eBook, “Windows 11 Security Book: Powerful security from chip-to-cloud”
Posted by: kurtsh | November 16, 2022

EVENT: Windows Server Summit 2022

WindowsServer2022So Windows Server 2022 Azure Edition is awesome & is also ‘generally available‘.

Windows Server 2022 Azure Edition has the following features – only available when running in Azure!(

  1. Hotpatching, part of Azure Automanage, is a new way to install updates on new Windows Server Azure Edition virtual machines (VMs) that doesn’t require a reboot after installation.
  2. SMB over QUIC uses the QUIC protocol (UDP-based) instead of TCP in Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition, Windows 11 and later to access data on file servers running in Azure without a VPN, directly from the desktop.
  3. Azure Extended Network enables you to stretch an on-premises subnet into Azure to let on-premises virtual machines keep their original on-premises private IP addresses when migrating to Azure.

Additionally, one of my favorite features available in all editions of Windows Server is SMB compression.  It does real-time compression of file transfers that can reduce transfer time by upwards of ~80% for uncompressed data like documents, VHDs, etc. (See Ned Pyle previews SMB Compression – YouTube for a demonstration)

Tell a friend! Then register for the…

Windows Server Summit 2022:
Tuesday, December 6, 2022 9:00 AM–10:30 AM Pacific Time

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