5 Things To Know About Microsoft's Latest Cloud And Edge Security Moves

Securing The Cloud And Edge

Microsoft is aiming to bring a greater degree of intelligence to its capabilities for securing its cloud, edge and productivity offerings. In connection with the RSA security conference in San Francisco, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft said that new functionality and features will help to enable a more-secure connected landscape. "Microsoft is announcing new offerings to take security more squarely to where it needs to go and where it has not effectively gone before – the edge," the company said in a blog post. "Today we’re unveiling a series of new services and features that will better harden not only our intelligent cloud but also the billions of connected devices that live on its edge. And we’re supporting these advances with new offerings that will making security easier for our customers to manage."

What follows are five things to know about Microsoft's latest security moves.

Azure Sphere

Microsoft said that Azure Sphere is a "first of its kind solution" to protect connected devices at the edge -- those that depend on thumbnail-sized chips called microcontroller unit (MCU) devices. The new Azure Sphere offering will serve as a platform for developing highly secured MCU-powered devices. Azure Sphere will include a new class of more-powerful MCUs -- Microsoft plans to license the IP for the MCUs royalty-free to silicon manufacturers -- and a customized operating system that has been built with IoT security in mind. The offering will also provide a new cloud security service for protecting Azure Sphere devices, with features including security updates and upgrades for 10 years. "Azure Sphere will work alongside any cloud -- private or proprietary -- so that customers can continue to use their existing data infrastructure while adopting Azure Sphere’s groundbreaking security for their devices," Microsoft said in its blog post.

Automated Threat Detection And Remediation

Microsoft said it's aiming to reduce the burden on security operations teams by introducing new tools for automated threat detection and remediation. The tools utilize artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities to bring a simplified process of investigating and remediating security threats, and the systems "can automatically go from alert to investigation to remediation in a fraction of the time it used to take," Microsoft said in its blog post. The new capabilities are part of Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and will be available in the upcoming update to Windows 10, the company said.

Conditional Access

Microsoft said it is introducing a new feature, dubbed Conditional Access, that will connect to Windows Defender ATP to enhance the assessment of security risks on devices. The feature will help organizations to control access to sensitive data without hurting productivity, by preventing compromised devices from accessing the data. "It means that customers can now limit access to mission-critical information if risks such as malware are detected at the individual device level, while automatic remediation tools address the problem," Microsoft said in its blog post.

Secure Score And Attack Simulator

Organizations will be able to use the new Microsoft Secure Score to measure themselves on their security posture, including by comparing their organization against their industry peers. The offering also will provide recommendations meant to help users to boost their score. Additionally, the Attack Simulator will allow organizations to run simulations on cyber attacks such as phishing and ransomware, as a way to test the responses of their employees and improve their security configurations.

New Microsoft Graph Security API

Microsoft said it's launching a preview of a new API that can enable connections to Microsoft products that use the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph. The API "provides an integration point that allows technology partners and customers to greatly enhance the intelligence of their products to speed up threat investigation and remediation," Microsoft said in its blog post. Companies that are exploring the use of the API so far include Palo Alto Networks and PwC, Microsoft said.