Microsoft’s Offering a ‘Free’ Cyber Security Checkup to SMBs

Microsoft 365

In about a month from now, Windows 7 will reach its end of support timeline which means unless you are willing to pay up, you are going to be sitting on the sidelines when it comes to securing your environment. While large companies are likely able to swallow the fees associated with extended support, the most vulnerable group will be the small and medium business (SMB).

An SMB is typically a company that is 300 or fewer employees and according to Microsoft, these companies are targeted more than half the time when it comes to cyber-attacks. Why? It’s primarily because they have fewer resources to help secure their environments and as we all know, IT shops typically have budgets that are stretched to the limits as they do not grow at the same rate as the rest of the organization.

Back at Ignite 2019, I was able to sit down with Brad Anderson, Corp. Vice President, Microsoft 365, and while we talked about many aspects of Microsoft 365, one point that he drilled down on was that, candidly, the company needed to do more to help address the smaller business of the world and not just the enterprise operations.

Today, Microsoft is announcing a new collaboration with AXA XL and Slice Labs to offer free cybersecurity health checks and support AXA XL’s provision of cyber insurance for qualified customers that use Microsoft 365 Business, Office 365 Business, and Office 365 Business Premium.

The idea here is simple, for customers willing to move to or are already using one of the above services, you can receive a ‘free’ audit of your operations and also have access to cybersecurity insurance as well. And at first, I was skeptical of this but I think there is actual merit to this offer.

Primarily because this comes as a benefit to already using those services, not as a carrot to get you to jump into new hoops. And for the SMBs of the world where budgets are tight, taking advantage of an external audit of your environment is a serious proposition. Of course, this is also useful to customers who may be on the fence about subscribing to these services too, as it may get them to finally sign up.

For many organizations, security is something you deal with to check a few boxes of compliance and is often only thought about after a breach has occurred. But the truth is that in a world where your operational availability is closely linked to your reputation, security needs to be significantly more proactive, than reactive.

What Microsoft is trying to offer here is to move your needle slightly more towards the proactive side of the equation but keep in mind, nothing is truly free.