The global rise of cyberattacks and the advent of hybrid work is creating a new world of security risks that affects customers of all sizes, including Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). Many SMBs don’t have the specialized security knowledge or resources to protect against attacks and face outsize risk to their finances, operations, and customer data. Over the past two years, businesses of all industries and sizes have had to adapt to new ways of working, a challenging operating environment, and ever-changing customer expectations. They often rely on partners to manage and secure their IT environments. Today, I’m pleased to share the general availability of two products to help partners secure your SMB customers better. These tailored tools enable the communication and flexibility that keeps businesses successful in the new hybrid environment. They are specially designed to help protect small and medium-sized businesses, and to empower IT partners with streamlined capabilities:

  • Microsoft 365 Lighthouse is now generally available for Managed Service Provider partners to help manage security for their customers from a single unified portal, quickly and easily, and at no additional cost.
  • Microsoft Defender for Business is now generally available within Microsoft 365 Business Premium, bringing cross-platform endpoint security and ransomware protection to the existing comprehensive productivity and security capabilities within Business Premium.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium gets enterprise-grade ransomware protection

Announced at Microsoft Ignite 2021, Microsoft Defender for Business is specifically designed as a user-friendly, cost-effective endpoint security solution for businesses with up to 300 employees. Defender for Business goes beyond traditional antivirus protection to deliver enterprise-grade ransomware protection – with powerful capabilities like threat and vulnerability management, attack surface reduction, next-generation protection, endpoint detection and response, and automated investigation and remediation capabilities in a single solution. Today, we’re making Defender for Business capabilities generally available within Microsoft 365 Business Premium. The standalone SKU will be available later this year.

The addition of Microsoft Defender for Business makes Microsoft 365 Business Premium an even more compelling offer for small and medium businesses. It strengthens Business Premium’s existing offering by adding cross-platform endpoint protection and sophisticated ransomware defenses with technologies like Endpoint Detection and Response. Bringing together collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Office and offering protection for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, this enhanced Microsoft 365 Business Premium package provides SMBs an easy to use, comprehensive and cost-effective solution.

Microsoft 365 Lighthouse helps partners scale security for your customers

Beyond just setting up their environment, many SMB customers are looking for IT partners to secure and manage their IT environment—meaning a single partner will frequently manage these services for many customers. We’re making it easier for partners to secure customers at scale with Microsoft 365 Lighthouse, a unified administration portal for managed service providers (MSP). General availability for Microsoft 365 Lighthouse begins today, March 1.

This service provides an aggregated view of customer environments across users, devices, and data without the need to manually log into each one. It also recommends minimum security baselines to help IT partners standardize their operations across tenants to achieve scale and profitability. Since launching preview, we’ve continued adding new capabilities to help improve security outcomes and drive operational efficiency for partners. The latest updates for Microsoft 365 Lighthouse can be found in the “What’s new in Microsoft 365 Lighthouse” card on the homepage, and include:

  • Improved tenant management experiences
  • In-product customer email workflows to communicate with customers directly from Lighthouse
  • Device compliance actions for multiple tenants
  • Windows 365 monitoring and management
  • View Microsoft 365 Usage Data in Microsoft 365 Lighthouse
  • Review Microsoft 365 Lighthouse actions via Audit Logs
  • Use Granular Delegated Access Permissions (GDAP) roles in Microsoft 365 Lighthouse
  • Detecting Pre-Application Deployment Step Variance

Microsoft 365 Lighthouse now includes the capability for MSPs to use Granular Delegated Access Permissions (GDAP) roles. With the latest update, MSPs will leverage GDAP roles for their technicians that enable the principle of least privilege access in Microsoft 365 Lighthouse. This capability reduces the risks inherent in the broad permissions of the Delegated Access Permissions (DAP) role of Admin Agent by enabling granular controls on the customers' data and settings each of your technicians will be able to work with. To learn more, see the documentation.

Additionally, Lighthouse integrates with Microsoft Defender for Business to bring security alerts and incidents from across customers, adding greater security value on top of the Threat Management views available from Microsoft Defender Antivirus. The Security Incidents view may not be immediately available to all partners as these capabilities are being rolled out gradually. No action will be required, and you will see these features and more become enabled as they are released. Additional security management capabilities are on the roadmap.

Microsoft 365 Lighthouse is an IT Partner service only, and it allows partners who are enrolled in the Cloud Solution Provider program and are managing customers that have up to 1000 licensed users with Microsoft 365 Business Premium, Microsoft 365 E3, and Microsoft Defender for Business (in preview) subscriptions to onboard them into the Lighthouse portal. If you are a Microsoft CSP enrolled IT Partner, Microsoft 365 Lighthouse is available at no cost to your organization, and is designed to help your business scale and grow. You can get started by signing up to Microsoft 365 Lighthouse today. To learn more about Microsoft 365 Lighthouse, Defender for Business, and Business Premium, join us for our Partner webinar series.

These updates are a meaningful advancement in how we support SMBs. We will continue to assess how we can meet the unique business needs of these customers and offer comprehensive services in response to feedback. Defender for Business in Business Premium and Microsoft 365 Lighthouse offer new value for partners and customers and will empower us to build a more secure future together. Check out this partner story where WeSafe achieved scalability and efficiency by building their managed service offerings on Microsoft 365 Business Premium and managed their customer tenants on Microsoft 365 Lighthouse.

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