Microsoft report: Navigating the Cybersecurity Landscape

2 November 2023
Lucie MacNeill, Product Marketing Lead

Microsoft have released their latest Digital Defence Report for 2023, and this year focusses on navigating the cybersecurity landscape. Security topics regularly refer to digital threat and the crux of this report is no different.

“Microsoft’s Digital Defence Report for October 2023 is an invaluable resource that provides a deep understanding of the current cybersecurity landscape. A must-read for organisations seeking to improve their security posture and understand emerging threats and solutions in our digital world.” Chris Tate, CEO, Condatis

Serving as a beacon of insight, the report offers a holistic view of the cyber landscape, the challenges faced, and innovative solutions that can help individuals and organisations fortify their digital defences. The greatest take away from this report, however, is Microsoft’s unwavering push towards greater collaboration.

 “partnerships act as a force multiplier for everyone involved in cybersecurity. Collaborative efforts among stakeholders—including government agencies, private sector entities, academia, non‑profits, and other organizations—are crucial in building resilient defenses against cyber threats”

 As digital identity superfans and Microsoft Partners, the Condatis team were eager to delve into the report and bring you our key takeaways.

The report kicks off with a resounding call to arms: fundamental security practices are the bedrock of cyber resilience. These practices form a formidable line of defence against cyberattacks, preventing over 99% of them. The report validates the growing theme that security starts with identity, reflected across the top two among five essential security standards which Microsoft calls out, Multifactor authentication (MFA) and the application of Zero Trust principles.

Recognising a changing battlefield

Microsoft’s assessment of the current state of cybercrime highlights the need to stay vigilant and adapt to evolving tactics. With Entra data showing password-based attacks increasing more than ten times in 2023, Microsoft Defender Experts share the top four threats identified this year based on their notifications:

  • Successful Identity attacks: from brute force to password spray attempts, the number of attempted attacks increased from around 3 billion per month to over 30 billion when compared to the same period in 2022. The advice, utilise MFA and authenticator apps, leverage password generators, limit code sharing, and educate users to recognise and identify common social engineering tactics.graph-password-based-attacks-2023
  • Ransomware encounters: unique large-scale campaigns focusing on both endpoints and cloud infrastructure. It notes that ransomware and extortion attacks are up more than 200% since September 2022 covering key targets such as unmanaged devices, organisation size and industry. Among focusing on user identity, access control and a Zero Trust approach, the report unnervingly, recommends organisations define a ransomware defence strategy to alleviate the impact of what will be an inevitable attack, few are safe.


  • Targeted phishing attempts: device or user compromise through malware phishing and adversary-in-the-middle (AiTM) attacks. Posing as trusted third parties and legitimate URLs, the report highlights a growing need to change phishing training from being a matter of compliance to part of a Zero Trust organisational resilience strategy.

Only 11.3% users who receive phishing emails report them, despite 89% refraining from clicking on links

  • Business email compromise: conversation hijacking and mass spamming to commit fraud. The form of attack has skyrocketed with scammers exploiting the architecture of the cloud as well as trusted business relationships. A whopping $2.7 billion has been recorded as adjusted losses according to the FBI Internet Crime Compliant Centre.

When addressing critical cybersecurity challenges, a keynote is the intersection of information technology and operational technology (IT-OT). A need for more comprehensive blanket defence strategies arises as attackers increasingly focus on the entire business ecosystem, specifically operating systems, and unmanaged devices within critical infrastructure.

The report’s fifth chapter delves into the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in enhancing cybersecurity. With Microsoft’s extensive suite of products, the company is at the forefront of leveraging AI and large language models (LLMs) to automate and augment key aspects of cybersecurity, including threat intelligence, incident response, monitoring, and more. In the wake of cybercrime costs projected to hit $10.5 trillion by 2025, modern AI advancements, capable of analysing trillions of security signals daily, promise a more resilient online ecosystem.

Microsoft, however, are wise to note the importance of shaping responsible AI. Attackers are likely eager to experiment with the endless possibilities of malicious AI content and identity therefore the report commits to ensuring that all services and products developed are aligned with their AI principles, collaborating with industry partners.

Uniting against cyber threats

The final chapter underscores the importance of collaborative efforts to combat cyber threats. Building strong partnerships that transcend borders, industries, and the public-private divide is crucial. By sharing threat intelligence, enhancing resilience, and contributing to mitigation guidance, a united front against cybercrime can be formed.

“As much as any individual company’s shareholders would like it to be so, no one technology company can solve or overcome every cybersecurity challenge. Partnerships across the technology community are an absolute necessity to ensure organizations of all types and sizes, in every industry and region, can protect themselves.” 

Download the report 


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