Securing your organization’s data and infrastructure is paramount in the digital age. As an IT professional, you’re on the front lines of this effort, and one of the most effective tools at your disposal is the Microsoft Secure Score. This metric, provided within the Microsoft Defender Portal, assesses your organization’s security posture and offers recommendations for improvement. Here, we’ll explore how to effectively use the Microsoft Secure Score to enhance your organization’s cybersecurity posture.

Understanding Microsoft Secure Score

Microsoft Secure Score measures an organization’s security posture, with a higher number indicating more improvement actions taken. It provides a comprehensive overview of your security settings and practices across Microsoft identities, apps, and devices. Think of it as a credit score for your security setup.

Getting Started with Secure Score

  1. Accessing Secure Score: Navigate to the Microsoft 365 Defender Portal to get started. Here, you’ll find the Secure Score dashboard, which gives you a snapshot of your current score and potential score improvements.
  2. Initial Assessment: Take stock of your initial score. This baseline is crucial for tracking your progress over time as you implement recommended security controls.
  3. Understanding the Scoring: Microsoft’s scoring model is based on various controls and is weighted according to the threat level they mitigate. Familiarize yourself with these weights to prioritize your actions effectively.

Improving Your Secure Score

  1. Review Recommendations: Secure Score lists recommended actions with steps to improve your score. These are prioritized by impact and complexity.
  2. Plan Your Actions: Not all recommendations will apply to your organization. Plan which actions to implement based on your security needs, regulatory requirements, and business objectives.
  3. Balance Security and Productivity: When deciding which recommendations to implement, balance security improvements with user productivity. Overly restrictive measures hinder workflow.
  4. Automate Where Possible: Automate the implementation of security controls to save time and ensure consistency across your environment.

Tracking and Reporting

  1. Regular Monitoring: Frequently check your Secure Score to monitor improvements and regressions in your security posture. This helps ensure that changes in your environment don’t inadvertently lower your score.
  2. Reporting to Stakeholders: Use the Secure Score reporting features to inform stakeholders about the organization’s general security posture. Regular reports help justify security investments and show progress over time.
  3. Setting Goals: Set realistic targets for improvement in your Secure Score. This will help you maintain focus on security and provide tangible goals for your team.

Implementing Recommendations

  1. Identity Management: Implement multi-factor authentication across the board. Quickly manage inactive accounts as they become dormant. These controls have the greatest impact on your Secure Score and security posture.
  2. Data Protection: Implement data loss prevention policies and encrypt sensitive emails and files. This will improve your Secure Score and protect your organization’s intellectual property and customer data.
  3. Device Management: Secure your devices by ensuring they are properly configured, have antivirus solutions in place, and are regularly updated with the latest security patches.
  4. Threat Protection: Utilize threat protection solutions such as those in the Microsoft Defender product suite to guard against malware, phishing, and other cyber threats.

Best Practices for Secure Score Improvement

  1. Integrate Recommendations: Integrate Secure Score recommendations into your overall security strategy and risk management framework.
  2. User Education: Educate users on the importance of security practices, such as secure password policies and identifying phishing attempts.
  3. Use as a Benchmark: Use Secure Score as a benchmark against industry averages and other organizations. This will provide context on how your security posture compares to others.
  4. Regular Reviews: Conduct regular reviews of your Secure Score improvement actions to ensure they function as intended and are not disrupting business processes.
  5. Stay Informed: Stay informed about updates to Microsoft Secure Score, as Microsoft continuously evolves the service to address new security challenges.

Leveraging Additional Tools

  1. Security Workbooks: Utilize Microsoft’s security workbooks to gain deeper insights into specific areas of your security posture.
  2. Integration with Third-Party Tools: Where possible, integrate Secure Score with third-party security tools for a more holistic view of your security posture.

The Microsoft Secure Score is a powerful tool for IT professionals looking to improve their organization’s security posture. It provides valuable insights and actionable recommendations to fortify your cybersecurity defenses. Regularly engaging with Secure Score can guide your security strategy, helping protect your organization against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. Remember, the journey to robust cybersecurity is ongoing, and Secure Score is a compass guiding you toward a more secure future.


John O’Neill Sr