Microsoft Security Announcements

With RSA kicking off this week, security experts from around the world are getting ready for a flurry of announcements from security vendors. Last Friday, it was Microsoft’s turn, and the company’s CISO Bret Arsenault has publicly announced some interesting news. The motto of the announcement is “Enterprise security for our mobile-first, cloud-first world” and it was all about unifying several key components, such as real-time predictive intelligence, correlating security data with threat intelligence data and, last but not least, collaboration with the industry and partners to provide a unified and agile security platform that can protect, detect and respond to the numerous security risks out there. After the initial announcement last November, the company is ready to deliver the first concrete products and services developed around this concept.

Perhaps the most important and yet the least surprising announced product is Microsoft Cloud App Security. Since the company has acquired a well-known cloud application security vendor Adallom, analysts have been waiting for Microsoft to integrate this technology into their products. With this product, Microsoft’s customers are promised to achieve the same level of visibility and control over their cloud applications as they are used to with their on-premise infrastructures. By combining a proven underlying technology from Adallom with a large number of integrations with popular cloud services like Box, ServiceNow, Salesforce and naturally Office 365, and by leveraging the threat intelligence collected from the world’s largest identity management service, Microsoft has all the chances to become an important player in the rapidly growing CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker) market, compensating for their relatively late coming to the market.

Cloud App Security will become generally available as a standalone product (or as a part of the Enterprise Mobility Suite) in April 2016. Much more interesting however is the announcement that this technology will also power new security management capabilities of Office 365 and will eventually be available to all existing Office 365 customers. With the release planned for Q3 2016, we should expect functions like advanced security alerts, cloud app discovery and permissions management for 3rd party cloud services integrated directly into the platform.

Another major announcement is the public preview of Azure Active Directory Identity Protection service. With this service, Microsoft is tapping into the vast amount of threat intelligence collected from their Azure Active Directory infrastructure and using machine learning algorithms to identify brute force attacks, leaked credentials and various types of anomalies in any applications working with Azure AD. Besides real-time detection, customers will be able to get remediation recommendations or even define their own risk-based policies for automated identity protection. In other words, what we have here is a classic example of a specialized Real Time Security Intelligence solution!

Other announced additions to Microsoft’s secure platform include, for example, Customer Lockbox feature for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, which provides cloud service customers complete and explicit control over privileged access to their data by Microsoft’s support engineers. Combining technical and organizational measures, this feature is aimed at improving trust between Microsoft as a cloud service provider and its customers, which we at KuppingerCole see as one of the critical aspects of Cloud Provider Assurance.

Additionally, numerous improvements in security management and reporting have been announced in Azure Security Center. These include integrations with multiple third party security products (nextgen firewalls and web application firewalls) from vendors like Cisco, Check Point, CloudFlare, Imperva, etc.

To summarize it all, Microsoft is again showing that it’s able to consistently follow their long term strategy, working in parallel in several directions and keeping their new products and services synchronized and integrated into a holistic security platform. Of course, it would have been interesting to learn more about 3rd party integrations and partnerships, especially with various industry alliances. However, we can be sure that this wasn’t the last announcement from Microsoft, so we’re staying tuned for more.


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