Microsoft Enhances Security on Windows, Office and Azure Cloud

Microsoft introduced several new capabilities, product offerings and analytics tools that help customers thwart today's cyber-security threats.

cloud security

The IT industry's attention is laser focused on security this week as the RSA Conference 2017 conference gets underway this week in San Francisco. Just before the event kicked off, Microsoft announced on Feb. 10 several new offerings and product updates aimed at helping its customers fend off hackers and keep their data safe.

Examples include the forthcoming addition of Windows Hello, the biometric login technology in Windows 10, to environments that take on on-premises Active Directory (AD) only approach to user identity and access management. Microsoft also offers Azure AD for cloud-based and hybrid-cloud implementations. The forthcoming Creators Update for Windows 10 will also feature a Dynamic Lock function that automatically locks a user's PC when they step away from it.

Customers seeking to secure their Azure hybrid cloud environments will soon have new Azure Security Center and Operations Management Suite options.

"New capabilities in Azure Security Center available for preview include Just In Time network access to VMs [virtual machines], predictive application whitelisting and expanded Security Baselines with more than 100 recommended configurations defined by Microsoft and industry partners," wrote Bret Arsenault, chief information security officer at Microsoft, in a blog post.

The Redmond, Wash. technology giant's billion-dollar-a-year investment in cyber-security is yielding new, analytics-based technologies that can sniff out advanced attacks.

"Our research team continues to monitor the threat landscape and innovate on detection algorithms," continued Arsenault. "Some new threat detections available to customers include Brute Force detections, outbound DDoS and Botnet detections, as well as new behavioral analytics for Windows and Linux VMs."

On the cloud database front, the company announced that its Azure SQL Database Threat Detection product will be generally available in April. Using machine learning to watch for suspicious database activity, the offering helps customers detect and respond to potential attempts by cyber-attackers to pilfer information from their Azure SQL databases.

Generally available now is Microsoft's managed security service, Enterprise Threat Detection. Using analytics gleaned from "proprietary telemetry sources" along with analysis conducted by the company's security researchers, the service provides consulting and cyber-attack detection informed by the threats IT security teams encounter—or may not know they are encountering—in today's multifaceted security landscape.

Office 365, which is evolving into a productivity operating system of sorts on its own, is also being fortified with new safeguards for enterprise customers.

A new tool, called the Office 365 Secure Score, enables administrators to assess whether their Office 365 configurations are up to the task of keeping their organization's data safe. Office 365 Secure Score's modeling capabilities allows administrators to see the effects of potential configuration tweaks.

Office 365 Threat Intelligence, generally available later this quarter, provides real-time insights into the cyber-security landscape so that enterprise security teams aren't caught off-guard by cutting-edge and emerging attacks, according to the company.

Finally, Microsoft launched a public preview of Office 365 Advanced Data Governance. The solution, backed by the company's machine-learning technology, helps users find and eliminate nonessential data that can pose a risk.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...