Central Highlands Regional Council (CHRC) was created on 15 March 2008 following the amalgamation of the former Shires of Bauhinia, Duaringa, Emerald, and Peak Downs.
The region extends over approximately 60,000 square kilometres, stretching from Arcadia Valley in the south to the Peak Ranges in the north, east from Boolburra to Bogantungan in the west. It is an area similar in size to Tasmania!
Council has an annual budget of $225m and employs approximately 550 full-time employees. The Council manages $1.1bn in assets, including roads, bridges, libraries, aquatic centres, and even an airport!
Central Highlands have an obligation to protect both staff, infrastructure, and assets that they administer on behalf of the region – so looked too long time Microsoft consulting partner and managed services provider, Insync Technology – A Rapid Circle company to assist with an uplift in security controls, process and managed services to assist with monitoring, triaging and responding to an increase in cyber attacks that most organisations in Australia are receiving every single day.
There have been numerous stories in recent years about various Councils across Queensland and beyond being breached by poor security controls, human error, and or lack of process regarding financial transactions. Typically most of these are spray and pray attacks, using fairly common techniques for breaching organisations and in most cases are delivered straight through the front door via email that supported the successful transition to work from home.
Any security partner or solution can be effective but let down by any of the other 2 parts of the equation. We first needed to understand the user component, ensuring staff and users could cope with additional security controls and processes to ensure the fidelity of Council’s systems and to prevent attacks. This was an essential step in the delivery of incorporated controls and procedures for both People and Process.
CHRC was in a reasonable position already, having migrated a large amount of core identity and productivity workloads to Microsoft 365. They needed a service that would build on top of their existing investments, not overburden end-users with laborious controls (reducing productivity and increasing frustration) but provide end-to-end security across cloud, on-premises, and mobile computing infrastructure.
We deployed a M365 Secure solution, an end-to-end managed solution focusing on security in Microsoft 365. M365 Secure brings together key components of the Microsoft 365 security platform, combined with effective human oversight and monitoring to triage and respond to critical incidents.
Security posture is nothing without informing and enforcing processes with regard to business activities. Sensitive information or finances generally have strict procedures regarding the distribution of information or funds, and it’s important to augment these processes such as:
- Double-checking payment details and confirming these via methods like phone calls, a second source of trust (e.g. Bank or other).
- Establishing a process for changing personal or bank details that doesn’t rely purely on electronic.
- Confirming with people of influence that there will be additional steps taken to verify instructions out of the ordinary – not to be the “Business Prevention Unit” but to validate and confirm activities.
“The professionalism and dedication to our account has been exceptional. The Managed Security services has allowed us to proactively manage our Microsoft services and provide assurance to our organisation regarding the integrity of our Microsoft environment.”— Michael Basher Acting IS Manager, CHRC