Nadella: Microsoft to Be Stealth Operator for Cloud Security

CEO Satya Nadella on Monday made a bid to reintroduce Microsoft to professionals working in a brave new cyberworld of virtual, interconnected computing. Speaking at the Microsoft Government Cloud Forum in Washington, Nadella presented a broad new vision of a cloud- and mobile-first enterprise that promises to make personal and client security a central theme of its business.

Microsoft has launched a new Cyber Defense Operations Center at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, Nadella told attendees, as part of the US$1 billion a year it plans to spend on security.

Nadella boasted — raising a few eyebrows — that Windows 10 was the most secure operating system in the world, and that the company aimed to be able to detect and respond to security threats in real time anywhere in the world on any type of device for any type of customer within its ecosystem.

Building Trust With Customers

Digital technology is playing a positive role in retail, healthcare, and all facets of modern life, Nadella said, “but customers are not going to use this technology if they can’t trust it, and that’s why trust is central to our mission of empowering every person and organization.”

Microsoft has introduced various innovations, he pointed out, including the use of biometrics in Windows 10 to eliminate the need for passwords; Microsoft Azure Active Directory for password management across multiple services; and mobile application management for any Windows, Android or iOS device as part of the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite.

In keeping with the new cloud security focus, the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Security Group — a dedicated team of security experts — will provide ongoing monitoring and respond to threats around the clock, noted Microsoft CISO Brett Arsenault in a Monday blog post.

The company has introduced new security applications for Office 365, including a customer lockbox that will give customers full control over their data, which will become available Dec. 1 as an add-on service.

Assembling New talent

The speech follows Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Secure Islands, which specializes in data protection technology.

“Microsoft is rebranding the security operations center into something with ‘cyber’ because it’s, you know, more sexy than just ‘security,'” said Ian Trump, security lead at LogicNow.

“Microsoft is realizing they are not a software vendor, and are attempting to reintroduce the company as a provider — much like Sony is for PlayStation and Amazon is for cloud computing, and Google is for analytics and search,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

The announcements come at a sensitive time for Microsoft and other legacy technology companies that are transitioning to a cloud-based competitive landscape. Customers are more anxious than ever about the security of proprietary information stored in large data centers and subject not only to domestic government requests for records, but also to the threat of other countries launching malicious attacks in an attempt to uncover corporate secrets or disrupt large metropolitan business centers.

“Mobility and cloud offer tremendous advantages to businesses and consumers but also introduce risk,” said Fred Kost, senior vice president at HyTrust.

“Efforts to share information and tie systems together are very beneficial to detect and respond to new threats and reduce those risks,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “The IT world consists of many different platforms, so more has to be done to improve platform-agnostic security that spans different endpoints, data centers and cloud providers.”

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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