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Microsoft Unveils Operations Center To Fight Cyber Threats

CEO Satya Nadella (pictured) today revealed Microsoft‘s plans to enhance enterprise security and help its customers have stronger protection for what he referred to as the “mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

Addressing the Microsoft Government Cloud Forum in Washington, D.C., Nadella said that Microsoft already invests $1 billion in security research and development each year, but despite that the company is creating a new Cyber Defense Operations Center. Nadella said that center will be a state-of-the-art facility that contains a staff of security response experts charged with detecting and responding to cyber threats in real time.

It’s all part of what Nadella called Microsoft’s new approach to security: being hyper-vigilant while addressing the cybersecurity problems it and other companies routinely face, including malware, phishing attacks and accidental data loss.

Eyes on the Cloud

The new center will work around the clock, and Microsoft said it will have direct access to thousands of security specialists across the company and elsewhere to monitor security threats. Nadella didn’t say when the center, which will run out of Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., wiil open.

Meanwhile, Bret Arsenault, Microsoft’s chief information security officer, took to the company’s blog to point out that while there will always be new threats, new attacks and new technologies, companies can take action now to address security concerns and improve their security.

“It is critical for companies to strengthen their core security hygiene (across things like monitoring, antivirus, patch and operating systems), adopt modern platforms and comprehensive identity, security and management solutions, and leverage features offered within cloud services,” Arsenault said.

Security Investment

Microsoft has hinted recently that it intends to invest heavily in cybersecurity. Last week, the company acquired Israel-based Secure Islands for $150 million, its third Israeli cybersecurity acquisition in 2015. Earlier this year, Nadella said that creating an intelligent cloud platform would be one of Microsoft’s key investment areas in the future. A significant part of that investment will presumably include more scrutiny given to security issues.

“We live in a world where the attacks can come from anywhere, the attackers themselves are much more sophisticated,” Nadella told the audience at the Microsoft Government Cloud Forum. He also said that Microsoft is developing a new approach to how it detects and responds to security threats, keeping an eye on areas including data centers, sensors and software-as-a-service applications.

During his keynote, Nadella talked about how innovations in Windows 10, Office 365, Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite work together with partner products to deliver an agile security platform.

For instance, to protect against password-related attacks, Windows 10’s Microsoft Passport and Windows Hello use strong biometrics and new virtualization technology to eliminate the need for passwords, while the operating system’s Credential Guard protects attacks in which hackers use one account to gain access to the credentials of another user. And Azure Active Directory simplifies password and identity management by federating identities across business and consumer services to make signing into multiple services more secure.

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