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Getting started with Outpost24 and Microsoft PowerBI

05.Dec.2018
John Stock, Network Security Product Manager
Network Security
Power BI is a business analytics service that delivers insights to enable fast, informed decisions. Discover how can Microsoft PowerBI add clarity to your vulnerability data

One of the common themes when talking to both existing customers and prospective customers is data visualisation and analytics. There is one thing that is always guaranteed with any form of vulnerability scanning, and that’s data. Lots and lots of data. Sometimes it’s easy to digest and understand, especially if you have been working with similar data over a long period of time. But more often it’s a case of ‘Oh, look at all of that, now where do I start?’.

Of course, there are ways in the product to do this now. Basic dashboards, data filters, solution reports, scan delta’s, all of which help target remediation, but it may be necessary to add context to the ‘bigger picture’.

As a Product Manager, my aim is to always give customers just the right functionality they need to solve their problems, but what happens when every customer seems to want something different to try and solve the same problem? This is the exact case with data visualisation and analytics.

There did seem to be one common thread during my user interviews, and that was the use of Microsoft PowerBI. For those who don’t know, Microsoft describes PowerBI as:

“..a business analytics solution that lets you visualize your data and share insights across your organization..” (https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/what-is-power-bi/)

How can Microsoft PowerBI add clarity to my vulnerability data?

That’s the really important question, and PowerBI can only show you the data that you provide, but there are some nice simple ways to enrich that data with your own information to give a much better visual experience and ensure that it’s possible to get the greatest possible benefit of the data.

Microsoft PowerBI dashboard
Figure 1 - Sample Microsoft PowerBI Dashboard

Figure 1 above illustrates a simple, yet effective dashboard created in PowerBI with only the most basic of data enhancements used, and will be the basis of what we create in PowerBI.

What next?

Over the next few weeks, through a series of vlogs and blog posts, I will be covering the basics of working with vulnerability scan data within PowerBI. It will start simply, by importing data to create a single view for a point in time, visualising that data, and then look at how to use the Outpost24 API to grab live data and visualise this. We will also look at integrating data from other elements of the Outpost24 platform, helping us build up a single view of risk, and how it can be viewed to prioritize mitigation.

Some of the topics I’ll be covering include:

  • Enhancing the data before it leaves the Outpost24 platform
  • Exporting and sanitising the data to make sure it’s prepared for analysis
  • Creating basic visuals and how to make sure they are relevant to your needs
  • Grabbing the data using the Outpost24 API
  • Importing data from each of the Outpost24 platform elements

So, to get us started, below is a brief run through of the Dashboard I included above, and how information changes dynamically to enable us to focus on what’s important in the context we are interested in.

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