For large enterprises, cybersecurity risks continue to mount with every passing day, as hackers develop more sophisticated techniques and organization attack surfaces grow, with the expanded remote work and cloud usage.
In a bid to improve security Microsoft partners are turning to Azure as a platform upon which to provide services to strengthen and monitor system architecture, identity, regulatory compliance, application and data security, and more.
Audit and consulting firm PwC is one of the firms that has rolled out offerings built on Azure, and MSDW spoke with PwC partner, Paul Gaynor, about the role the cloud platform has come to play in the company’s cybersecurity strategy. Summing up the company’s approach with Azure-based security offerings, Gaynor told MSDW:
Big picture, we are developing managed services solutions on Azure, leveraging Sentinel as the backbone of ongoing relationships with our customer base. [Work with] Active Directory, DevOps and designing apps with Microsoft’s security posture embedded as part of DevSecOps are all things we’re doing with our clients today.
We are a company that helps our clients consume Microsoft assets. We’re a build shop. We want to drive clients to achieve outcomes. To do that, sometimes there are enterprise apps that are perfectly made, other times we need to fill in the gaps…Broadly, we do design and we help customers manage security posture.
According to Gaynor, PwC views cybersecurity as an important part of its business. The firm relies in-part on Microsoft’s built-in security posture with Azure Sentinel and advises customers on the best ways to leverage Active Directory.
With large distributed workforces out in the field, there may be remote workers in a hotel room, a convention center, or even a ship someplace. We worked with Microsoft, designing on top of the Azure stack to create a geolocation program, that can ID where an individual is at any point in time. With a panic button, if any distributed individual felt exposed and didn’t feel comfortable, they have the ability to push that button and PwC as a provider of service could send a response team.He added:
PwC provides a variety of services and solutions that provide early warning and monitoring to help organizations proactively identify, predict, manage and mitigate a defined set of compliance risks. [One example is the] Risk Command product suite which is powered by Azure AI & Machine Learning, Power BI, Power Automate and Teams.
[Additionally] we’ve had [success] with our Check-In product. Check-In, built using Azure, which is a product specifically designed to keep employees and customers safe during COVID-19. The product features automatic contact tracing, which is a privacy-led solution designed to help businesses perform instant and accurate contact tracing of their employees once a case of COVID is detected, all in an effort to stop the spread. In the few months since the product’s launch PwC has on boarded dozens of clients in a variety of different industries including banking & finance, higher education and manufacturing.
The journey with Microsoft and future directions
According to Gaynor, PwC sees cloud and digital transformation trends continuing to drive revenue growth going forward, but that PwC surveys both before and during the pandemic suggest that many companies have a disjointed internal approach to cloud services.
PwC has long-standing relationships with Microsoft, so Azure became a natural option upon which to develop proprietary cybersecurity offerings, said Gaynor. The approach aligned with their broader policy of working for adoption of Azure and Microsoft 365.
Azure drives efficiency in compute and allows practitioners to succeed fast, fail fast, and be in an environment [in which] they can test out new ideas, try new solutions, and learn from it. It’s the same message we take out to the market place. The benefit of the cloud isn’t just a cost benefit, but also an agility benefit. Team members are able to leverage compute in a way that doesn’t require multiple weeks or months to get servers turned up.