How Copilot can help New Zealand businesses

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer sci-fi; it’s fast becoming a regular part of our day-to-day lives. For Microsoft 365 users, there’s Copilot, an AI-powered assistant. Here’s how it works.

Microsoft developed Copilot to help you navigate and operate Microsoft 365. Machine learning, trained by your usage patterns and preferences, it offers up personalized recommendations, reducing your time and effort invested.

Copilot’s proactive suggestions and tips can add efficiency. They also aim to help you take full advantage of all the software’s capabilities.

Using MS 365 Copilot

Built into the Office Suite, Copilot simplifies what you do in Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams. You’ll start your prompts out by saying, “Hey Copilot ….”

In Word, you can ask Copilot for help with formatting, spelling and grammar, and even research. You might say:

  • “How can I centre this text?”
  • “Can you suggest a better way to phrase this?”
  • “Help me find a relevant image.”
  • “Show me how to use the track changes feature.”

In Outlook, Copilot can help create emails, manage your calendar and reminders, and more. Prompts could include:

  • “Show me how to attach a file to this email.”
  • “Find a time for this meeting that works for everyone.”
  • “Show me how to set up an out-of-office reply.”
  • “Remind me to follow up on this email in a week.”

For Excel, ask Copilot to assist with formulas, help analyze data, format spreadsheets, and navigate. You might ask:

  • “Show me how to use the SUM function.”
  • “Create a chart to visualize this data.”
  • “Show me how to format this cell as currency.”
  • “How can I freeze the header row in this spreadsheet?”

PowerPoint also has Copilot functionality. You might use the assistant to design and deliver presentations, or to format slides. For example, you can say:

  • “Suggest a better layout for this slide.”
  • “Change the font size of my headers on every slide.”
  • “Show me how to add a hyperlink to a slide.”
  • “Help me set up a slide show with automatic timings.”

You can also use Copilot in Teams. Take advantage of its capabilities by asking:

  • “Schedule a meeting with Julius and Jane for next Tuesday at 10 a.m.”
  • “Create a status update on X from our chat conversations this week.”
  • “Tell me what customers were discussed on the Teams call.”

You’ll need to first enable Copilot in your MS 365 settings. Then, click on the question mark icon in the top-right corner to access the assistant, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + / (Windows) or Command + / (Mac).

Of course, as is true with most AI at this point, Copilot is not always perfect. Microsoft warns users to verify any AI-generated content. Still, Copilot aims to save you time figuring out how to use Microsoft 365 and frees you up to do your best work.

Want to know more about setting up Copilot and how it can help your business? Contact our team here.

ChatGPT for New Zealand businesses

Imagine a world where you could get blogs automatically written for you, social media content generated effortlessly, as well as automate customer service chatbots. 

More than that, imagine a world where you can communicate with your computer and the whole Internet by simply asking detailed or complicated real-world questions. And where it will come back with seriously good answers.

That world is arriving and in its vanguard is ChatGPT. 

In a nutshell, it’s a website that you can go to, sign up, and ask serious questions – and get really good answers. 

The amazing and unique thing about it is that it is programmed to understand how we speak. And then to do unbelievably quick research and processing to give us answers that sound like they have been written by a human. 

For example, you can type in a question like:

What are the benefits to a small business of having a backup of their Microsoft 365 data outside of Microsoft?

And it will almost instantly give you a very good answer, with multiple bullet points, that you can’t really tell was not written by a human!

Or, how about – What are the benefits to a small business in New Zealand of using a professional accountant?

Or – What are the processes that a small business in New Zelaanbd needs to follow to terminate an employee for serious misconduct?

Starting to get a feel for what it can do? 

And the answers are really good and around 400-500 words long (you can tell it how long you want them to be).

Notice New Zealand was spelt wrong? It doesn’t seem to mind that sort of thing and in the answer it uses the correct spelling.

Google can only take shorter less specific questions and you’ll generally need to look at several websites to get a decent answer. ChatGPT brings it together for you.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. The GPT-3 language model developed by OpenAI is one of the most advanced natural language processing models in existence. Watch the introductory video about ChatGPT here 

On July 22, 2020, Microsoft announced its partial acquisition of OpenAI.  OpenAI is best known for its work in developing advanced AI models, including the GPT-3 language model, which has been used in a wide range of natural language processing applications. This powerful combination of resources means that ChatGPT will be advancing significantly.

ChatGPT is currently free, and explains that it is available so that it can be used in the real world and learn. It will undoubtedly be monetized in the future, perhaps a bit like how Google is now.

Where next for ChatGPT and this technology?

The most exciting things are definitely still to come. Companies are starting to pour millions, billions and soon many billions of dollars into this type of technology.

It won’t be too long before you are just talking to your computing device, and perhaps asking it in plain English to put together your sales results by intelligently identifying and dragging in raw data to present to you. 

Will you even need a keyboard and mouse anymore? Microsoft’s CEO has said probably not.

Microsoft Teams – We are already seeing this type of technology being built into Teams. We’ll keep you informed.

Copilot – Copilot is a Microsoft product that is more than just a chatbot. Microsoft is gradually building an AI assistant that it has dreamed about for years. You can watch the video here on what Copilot can do for your business.  

How can your business benefit from ChatGPT?

We asked ChatGPT that, and here is most of its reply:

  • The model can generate human-like text in a variety of styles and formats, including news articles, stories, and poetry. 
  • It is also able to answer questions, translate languages, and summarize text, making it a versatile tool for a wide range of natural language processing tasks.
  • This makes it a valuable addition to businesses seeking to improve communication with their customers.
  • With its potential to enhance workflows and deliver a superior customer experience, ChatGPT creates enormous opportunities for companies to strategically leverage technology. 
  • ChatGPT can help businesses improve customer engagement by providing quick, informative, and more natural responses to their inquiries.
  • ChatGPT can automate repetitive tasks such as answering frequently asked questions increasing efficiency and productivity. 
  • Generation of high-quality content: ChatGPT’s ability to generate human-like text can produce high-quality content for marketing, customer engagement and other business purposes.
  • Personalization and customization: ChatGPT can personalize customer interactions and tailor responses based on the customer’s preferences, needs, and history. It can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to increased sales and revenue for the business.

So how do you use ChatGPT?

  1. Sign Up on OpenAI
  2. Visit
  3. Create an account on ChatGPT

Once you have signed up, type in your question until  you get the results that you want . 

The downside of ChatGPT:

Like any technology it is important to make sure that you still give it the human once over and check for anything that doesn’t sound quite right. 

ChatGPT at present does not store the latest information. Like what band is playing at your local venue this Saturday night – use Google or Facebook for that.

ChatGPT also does not seem to like providing answers about individuals. Maybe it’s an anti-stalking thing that has been programmed in. 

In Conclusion:

ChatGPT is in its early days, yet already could be very useful and provide some excellent advantages for businesses. Technology is always moving and evolving quickly, and here at the IT Alliance we will do our best to keep you up to date with what is going on, and help you to understand what is best for your unique business requirements. 

Reach out to our team here if you would like any advice.

Teams Premium vs Teams

Microsoft has recently announced a new Teams add-on license called Microsoft Teams Premium.

Teams Premium adds on number of features to enhance the Teams experience in areas such as:

  • More personalised and intelligent meetings and webinars
  • Enhanced protection for meetings
  • Advanced management and reporting capabilities for IT
  • Advanced Virtual Appointments

The add-on is available to purchase for users with an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 subscription with Teams.

Teams Premium is now generally available, with intelligent recap features rolling out in the first half of 2023. The recommended retail price is NZD $15.10 per user per month.

One of the most exciting pieces of news around the new Microsoft’s Teams Premium service is the inclusion of GPT 3.5, which will soon feature more widely across the Microsoft tech stack.

With Teams Premium, the AI language model has the ability to automate certain tasks as part of its “intelligent recap” feature.

These tasks could include creating automatically generated meeting notes, recommended tasks or even creating chapter markings for recordings. This functionality could completely change the post-meeting actions experience typically performed by meeting attendees, freeing them up to do other tasks.

The following tables compare the full feature sets contained within Teams and Teams Premium:

There’s a number of features which are currently included in the standard Teams license which will move to Teams Premium, as well as a wide range of new features that will be available that will offer more granular controls on how customer can manage their meeting experience.

There are also a range of customisation features that are available under Teams Premium, so if you want to align your meeting room experience to your company’s brand you could utilise features such as:

  • Customise the lobby & waiting room with themes and logos
  • Custom meeting templates
  • Custom meeting backgrounds
  • Custom together modes

By leveraging these customisations, you can really make your organisation stand out amongst the crowd and provide some differentiation to the standard Teams meeting experience.

If your users utilise these features then you will need to purchase Teams Premium licenses:

  • Live translated captions
  • Timeline markers in Teams meeting recordings for when a user left or joined meetings
  • Virtual Appointments: SMS notifications
  • Virtual Appointments: Organizational analytics in the Teams admin center
  • Virtual Appointments: Scheduled queue view

There is also a Teams Premium trial available for up to 25 users, so if you would like to test out the new functionality, you can do so for 30 days at no cost. If you are utilising the trial please don’t forget to turn off auto renew as trials under CSP roll into full licenses on expiry.

Contact us here to see if Teams Premium is right for you.

Basic Security Recommendations

This article is a reminder about the basic security recommendations. Regular updates and discussions with your team are important to keep everyone involved, as part of the security solution.

Unfortunately, it is a dangerous world out there, and it is full of people constantly on the lookout for opportunities to attack your technology, and make money out of you.

Here we share our basic and standard recommendations for IT security and support.

If you do not have the basics of security in place, then you quite simply make yourself a more attractive target. 

Why attempt to break into the well-secured house when the one next door is wide open and much easier?

Cyber criminals are not dissimilar to this. Like any ‘business’ person, they are looking for a return on their investment of their time, and hacking easier targets often gives that.

In fact, one of the reasons why more smaller businesses are being targeted, is that the bigger businesses and organizations are generally well-protected these days.

So, by our clients having a decent level of protection, you are less likely to be hacked successfully.

Important – virtually no amount of security can make you invulnerable. It is not about that. It is about spending the right amount of money for your situation, to reduce the risk. Even a modest spend means massively less risk than no or inadequate protection.

Standard Recommendations  


You need some sort of system to be able to prevent and/or detect many of the attack techniques used today. Traditionally known as “anti-virus”, today’s software is often far more powerful than just detecting viruses. 

For most of our clients, because of their general risk level, we recommend an “end point security” product. This is suitable for today’s complex threat environment at the small to medium business level. 

We find the right level of security for your business needs, balancing protection without paying for more costly products. 


A key way the attackers can exploit businesses is if the computer operating software is not up to date. 

Microsoft is always updating its Windows and Server operating system, as new vulnerabilities are uncovered. These are then pushed out as updates, but these can fail or cause issues sometimes.  

Many computers are not set up to take these patches. Ultra IT can help you with ensuring you are up to date with this.

2FA – Two Factor Authentication

We’ve written a few blogs about this over the years, and it has been the topic of many discussions! The bottom line is that for most businesses, having Two Factor Authentication in place is an absolute no-brainer. 

Even if “they” do manage to get into your email account, having 2FA turned on will mean they can’t do anything unless they also have your smartphone.

Having a password management system, as well as 2FA is a basic requirement and such an easy thing to do to protect your business.

Strong Passwords

Similarly, the days of having your dog’s name with a number after it as your password, and using it everywhere, are long gone. 

Like all security, it is a bit of a hassle, but it needs to be done. Whilst we can help you with this to some extent, what you and your team do is not an IT issue, it is a business issue. We highly recommend that you use strong passwords.

Team Awareness

It is still very true that most hacks are successful because someone clicked on something they shouldn’t have. How do you support your team to be aware of these risks, and to be constantly vigilant?

There is much you can do, including subscribing to services that send phishing emails to your team to see if they click or not, But at the very least (and this doesn’t cost anything) we suggest that owners and managers periodically raise this topic and simply discuss with their teams Just being reminded and aware is better than nothing.  Sharing this blog with your team is a good start.

The five items above are our most basic and standard recommendations. There are obviously other things that you should be doing too. But if you have the items above ticked off, you at least have a prudent minimum level of protection in place.

In Summary 

You are far less likely to be successfully hacked if you have the basic precautions in place. Let us know if we can help you with any of this here.

Have you got a Business Continuity Plan?

Reviewing your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is really a part of good business practice.

As we’ve seen in New Zealand lately, the unexpected ‘can’ happen, and after the fact is often too late.

So what is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a living breathing document that consists of the critical information an organization needs, to continue operating during and after an unplanned event:

  • BCP helps in events such as natural disasters or cyber-attacks.
  • BCP are designed to protect personnel and assets and make sure they can function quickly when disaster strikes.
  • In order for a BCP to remain relevant, they need to be reviewed at least annually and/or when the business changes.

Your BCP will cover much more than just your IT, and what it looks like for your business will depend upon what type of business you have and what is important to you.

Why do you need a BCP?

If you have a good BCP, you should be able to come through an emergency much better than if you don’t. Failure to plan for scenarios can be devastating to your business.

Ultra IT can advise on how to ensure critical systems remain operational in the event of a disaster or major problem such as a server or network outage by:

  • allowing timely recovery of critical operations.
  • minimising loss.
  • meeting legal and regulatory requirements.

So, what does your plan need to cover? 

It doesn’t need to be complicated, and it doesn’t need to be long. The most important thing is that it is kept up to date and that it covers the key things for your business to protect it and keep operating.

Even the most basic of plans is a lot better than having no plan at all.

At its most basic, the BCP identifies the most critical aspects of the business that need to be kept running, the systems and processes that run them, and covers how they will be done during and immediately after an emergency.

From an IT perspective, consider the following things:

  1. How does your business run? What are your most important systems and pieces of equipment, etc.
  2. What are the potential disaster scenarios you face? Earthquake, flood, fire, etc for sure. But what about – loss of power, key people can’t get to work because the bridge near you is washed away etc?
  3. How likely are those disaster scenarios, and how will they affect your operations?
  4. What are the most important things you need to be able to continue doing to survive?
  5. How can you do those things, or reduce the risk to your business? You are likely looking for simple, practical steps.

An IT Systems audit is often a good place to start. What IT systems do you have, and which ones are the most critical? Can you operate without your computers if the power goes off? How? Going back to paper and pen for a while could be what you need to do!

Ultra IT can review your systems to make sure they’re meeting your business objectives, ensure you have a secure operation by creating reference documents, as well as recommending improvements. 

If you already have an established BCP make sure:

  • It is up to date, and has been tested. 
  • Look at both the best and worst case scenarios. 
  • Understand your risks and apportion the appropriate resources to minimize those risks.
  • Make the plan proactive.
  • Know your suppliers, providers and have updated contact information. 

Ask these questions:

  • Is your BCP still relevant to our business? 
  • Has our business changed and/or grown so much that we need to update the business plan?

To Summarise: 

Most importantly have a plan, revise it, communicate it to your team, know what to do, and who to call. 

If you don’t know where to start, or would like advice, feel free to reach out to us here at Ultra IT. We can’t advise on all the aspects of your business, but we can help with your IT systems and the functions they enable you to perform.

Managed Service vs Block Hours support?

There are many types of IT support available for a business, and the two most common are “managed services” and “block hours support.” In this article, we’ll look at what these are, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and which one might be right for you.

What Is Block Hours Support?

With block hours support, you pre-pay a single provider for a certain amount and type of service. It’s usually a “block” or fixed number of hours, but it can also be a fixed dollar amount or an amount for a specific project.

What Are the Advantages of Block Hours Support?

Block hours support is usually cheaper than hiring your own staff. The provider has skilled staff with up-to-date training, so they can quickly and efficiently handle your needs. Your provider can also give you a bulk discount when you purchase more hours at a time.

And with a block hours agreement, you pay only for what you need. For example, you can save money by maintaining only the infrastructure and staff you need when you need it. That allows you to avoid a closet full of expensive hardware that you thought you were going to need or staff that don’t have enough to do.

What Are the Disadvantages of Block Hours Support?

Block hours support is what’s called a “break/fix” type of service. In other words, your provider isn’t usually involved until you have a problem. You wait until something goes wrong, and then call your provider to fix it.

That doesn’t give you the advantage of constant monitoring and management that can prevent problems before they start. That’s especially important for things such as cybersecurity, where it’s best to detect an attack and prevent damage instead of trying to fix it.

In addition, everyone’s IT operations are unique, so it helps to have someone who’s familiar with your setup when you need help. But a block hours support provider usually can’t guarantee that you’ll always get the same technician or even the best technician for your job. That means your service might be slower or less effective than a more comprehensive approach.

Reacting to a problem after it occurs also means you could experience more downtime. It could be hours before your provider can respond to your call and fix the problem. If you can’t afford to wait, you probably need a more proactive solution.

What Are the Advantages of a Managed Services Agreement?

With a managed services agreement, you typically have the option of more comprehensive services. For instance, instead of just reactive troubleshooting, your provider can continuously monitor and manage your processes such as cybersecurity.

They can also provide more “premium” services, such as more comprehensive management and even strategic planning.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Managed Services Agreement?

Compared to “block hours support,” the main disadvantage of a managed services agreement may seem like it is cost, however in the long term this often works out to be more cost effective. Typically, larger organizations use more services, so this isn’t an issue for them, but for smaller businesses, it could be that contracting for managed services is overkill that could cost you money.

Which Solution is Right for You?

Block hours support works well if you don’t have a very large or complex operation, and you can afford the downtime you might experience when a problem arises.

Larger organizations can take advantage of premium services to help them save more on their operations.

Want help with all of this? Talk to the team at Ultra IT

How to prepare for Internet Outages

Having a plan for an internet outage is crucial.

If your internet goes down, Ultra IT will go through a thorough checklist first to figure out where the problem lies:

  • Is it a hardware issue?
  • Is your computer playing up and not connected to the network?
  • Is it a firewall or modem that is causing the issue?
  • Is it the line or the internet coming in to the building ?

In most cases, it could be at least three different vendors that you will have to deal with, if you are sorting the problem yourself.

Ultra IT will deal with all of your vendors, so that you don’t have to coordinate them, and figure out where the problem lies.

Recently we have partnered with Vodafone, and recommend them to our customers, in order to streamline processes if something does go wrong.

Think about the country of Canada. Earlier this year, business ground to a halt in an instant. A botched maintenance update by a large internet service provider (ISP) created chaos for more than 10 million customers.

Here are some suggestions that can help you ensure you are protected against an Internet outage:

Building a backup plan for lost internet

About one-quarter of Canada’s internet capacity was offline. The downtime lasted only 12 hours for some, days for others. The list of outage impacts is long. The problem halted some point-of-sale payments, some nonprofits lost the ability to serve vulnerable populations, and cellular-dependent traffic signals in Toronto were out of whack.

What can we learn from this? Businesses should prepare a backup.

Backing up your internet

Setting up a secondary internet connection can help your business remain online. You’ll be ready if there are system issues, intrusions, or power a failure. For this to work, you’ll need to partner with a different provider than you do for your primary internet. This cuts the odds that both your main and backup internet will go down at once.

If your primary internet connection is wired, consider a cellular backup. For example, a router with 4G backup would switch you to that network if the main connection failed.

The very nature of redundancy is that it repeats what you already have. That can make some businesses balk: Why pay twice? Yet internet redundancy can help you avoid lost business, productivity, and brand reputation, not to mention the stress of having to try to do business in this digital age without being able to get online.

Maybe you can’t reinforce your IT infrastructure with a second provider. At least reach out to your current ISP to learn their backup plans. Ensure they have failovers established to back up their systems.

The Canadian outage saw many businesses floundering. With the ubiquity of technology today, it’s not unlikely that more ISP outages will happen. Be ready for the worst with plans for redundancy and contingency plans.

In Summary

Ultra IT can take care of all of these issues for you. If you would like to talk to the local Vodafone representative, please contact Deena Pawson, Northland Customer Business Manager at Vodafone.

Hopefully, we never experience an issue like Canada did, however it is is best to be prepared. Contact the team at Ultra IT if you would like further information.

How IT is going green

The impact of technology on the environment is well known, and yet we are seeing some small but significant changes, which signal a shift in the right direction.

Why does Technology have such a big impact on the environment?

The effect on the environment is not only because hardware is replaced every few years, but also because everything is backed up online, and sits in a data centre. These data centres use a huge amount of electricity and resources in the process. Plus there is the packaging…and there is a lot of packaging.

However, it is not all doom and gloom, here are a few great innovations that are making incremental changes to the environmental impact.

Cardboard packaging:

Just a few years ago, we would end up with piles of polystyrene packaging, that the computers, monitors, phones and every other IT devices were packaged in.

This packaging was NOT recyclable and we could only pay for it to be dumped.

Now, very little packaging comes with IT equipment. Nearly everything now uses pre-pressed cardboard. This contains far less material as it is shaped and not solid, and can go directly into recycling. What a great difference this simple change has made.

Better electronics:

The latest devices tend to use far less power than the ones a few years ago. The processors are more powerful, and less power hungry.

Because they consume less power, they need less cooling and less cooling means they can be designed to use less materials. Manufacturers are thinking hard about how to reduce power consumption.

Smaller devices:

Devices are generally getting smaller and therefore use less materials in manufacture.

The classic example of this is the move several years ago now from the huge CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors to the much thinner and lighter digital screens.

The other clear example is moving from the older desktop computers to predominantly NUCS or mini-PCs, which have a fraction of the raw materials. Again, our recycling racks would be full of old desktop computers, whereas now there is just a small pile of dead NUCs.

Better recycling:

The recycling services have also improved. Whilst e-waste continues to be a huge global issue, New Zealand technology companies are seeing small gains happening.

Use of recycled materials:

Some laptop brands have started using recycled materials in the construction of equipment such as laptop cases, and laptop bags, even letting you know how many plastic bottles it took to make them!

Carbon offset schemes:

Some manufacturers are also offering carbon offset schemes, where you can offset the emissions used in producing and manufacturing the equipment. Ask us for more details if you are interested.

Manufacturers are aware that consumers are increasingly aware of the impact on the environment, and want to make a point of difference.

It’s definitely not all roses as we still despair at the number of plastic bags that are used, and how every little thing comes in its own bag.

In summary, we wanted to let you know that there are many notable changes going on in the IT industry to make it ‘greener’ and less damaging to our planet.

Inflation and Technology

There is a lot of talk at the moment about Inflation here in New Zealand. This article discusses the effect it may have on your business and particularly on your technology.

As you know, inflation is when things are more expensive to buy. Diminished purchasing power means your business may sell less and see lower profits, all while paying higher costs for things your business needs. Of course, if your business is the low-cost option, inflation may not be so bad, but many do suffer when the cost of living and just about everything else increases.

So, how does that impact your business technology? Well, it’s one of the many costs you may see go up.

Inflation and business technology

Inflation often starts when it’s hard to get goods and services. Heard the phrase “supply-chain challenges” in the last few years? We’re guessing, yes. So, you know firsthand the difficulties of getting some items. We’ve definitely seen this here in New Zealand with getting IT hardware.

You may have already noticed price jumps in several business tech areas. IDC research found that server and storage prices are up by 10–15 percent, and that costs for laptops and personal computers have risen even more, by between 18 and 20 percent. Even what you’re paying for software or cloud services may have increased. IDC found price jumps of 5–7 percent.

What to do about it

The best thing you can do is to look for business efficiencies and ways to reduce costs. As a managed service provider (MSP) we can help on this front. Among the many services we offer, we are always focusing on:

  • learning about your business technology and look for cost savings;
  • identify any duplication of services or software licenses (you could be one of the third of businesses, on average, with wasted software spend);
  • installing cybersecurity to help you avoid costly downtime and damage to your business reputation;
  • securing better rates by consolidating your resources with fewer vendors for volume discounts.

Having an MSP can also help you hold on to your existing employees. You can make more efficient use of any IT staff you have on-site. Plus, the MSP can find out how your people do their work and suggest streamlined processes. Retention is easier when people feel productive and supported by your tech offerings. For smaller businesses here in New Zealand the cost of having an IT department may not be realistic, hence why using a Managed Service Provider like Ultra IT makes it very cost efficient.

Most MSPs will recommend you migrate to cloud computing if you haven’t already done so. Yes, some cloud service prices have increased, but not at the level of the hardware you need for your own IT infrastructure. Plus, with cloud infrastructure you can benefit from:

  • enhanced flexibility;
  • scalability and speed;
  • pay-as-you-go pricing.

Partner with us

As your MSP, we’ll look for efficiencies and ways to reduce your costs. It’s what we do, regardless of which way the economy is going. Outsourcing your IT management is also a very cost-effective solution. Contact us here to discuss your specific requirements.

Measure your Security against Secure Score

Microsoft has a Secure Score measurement in its 365 Defender dashboard. But what is Secure Score, and how does it help your business? This article explains the basics.

Secure Score is a measurement of how well you are doing against the security standards.  This is a good guide, but don’t worry if you are not achieving all of these, as basically nobody is. Most Northland businesses sit at a score of between 300-600 against 1000 which gives you a point of reference.

In saying that, Secure Score, is a excellent measurment of your security posture. It reviews your activity and security settings against Microsoft’s best practices. The idea is to identify areas to enhance protection and provide suggestions.

In the dashboard, administrators can view the current state of their security score. It considers all Microsoft identities, apps, and devices. There is also a target score. The higher your target score, the more recommended actions you’ll get, although Microsoft cautions that you should balance increased security against user experience.

Secure Score Recommendations

Secure Score shows you possible improvements considering security best practices. Secure Store currently offers recommendations for:

  • Microsoft 365 (including Exchange Online);
  • Azure Active Directory;
  • Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Identity, and Cloud Apps;
  • Microsoft Teams.

The score does not measure the likelihood of a system or data breach. Instead, it looks at system configurations, user behavior, and other security-related measurements. Then, it scores what you’ve done to offset security risk in real-time.

Microsoft not only lists security recommendations but also tracks your action plan. The implementation section shares prerequisites and provides step-by-step advice to complete improvement actions. You can report on status (e.g. planned, risk accepted, resolved through third party, and complete). Rankings also help you gauge implementation difficulty, user impact, and complexity.

Scoring Security with Microsoft

The more improvement action you take, the higher your score. For example, you’re given points for:

  • configuring recommended security features;
  • doing security-related tasks;
  • addressing suggested improvements with a third-party application or software, or alternate mitigation.

Microsoft Secure Score also compares your metrics with scores for similar organizations. The data is anonymous, but in the Metrics & Trends tab, you can view how your score compares to others over time.

Raising Your Secure Score

How can you have an immediate impact on your Secure Score? These three steps can boost your organization’s security:

  1. Enable multi-factor authentication on administrator accounts in case account credentials are compromised.
  2. Enforce password expiration policies to prevent the usage of leaked credentials.
  3. Set up Azure Active Directory to track, log, alert, and remediate and better protect sensitive data and information.

Our team at Ultra IT are here to help you understand Secure Score. We can help enact action plans to apply the recommendations. Contact us h