Microsoft Opens Cyber Defense Operations Center

The new facility will gather expertise from various Microsoft business units for proactive, intelligence-driven security services and software enhancements.

Microsoft Satya Nadella

More than many other technology companies, Microsoft has had to endure a relentless onslaught of threats to its software ecosystem. In fact, during a speech at the Government Cloud Forum in Washington, D.C., Nov. 17, CEO Satya Nadella told attendees that Microsoft spends more than $1 billion in security research and development.

Signaling a change in Microsoft's approach toward security in a cloud-enabled IT landscape and the burgeoning Internet of things market, Nadella announced that the company is opening a new front in the war against cyber-theft and other hazards that enterprises face while conducting business in today's connected world.

In opening remarks yesterday, Nadella addressed "perhaps one of the most pressing issues of our times, of our industry, cyber-security." The past year alone has taken a major toll on businesses.

This year "has been a tough year around cyber-security," Nadella said. "Just the top eight or so data breaches have led to 160 million data records being compromised." It doesn't help matters that those breaches may go undiscovered for months.

"In fact, one of the biggest challenges that we all face is the time to detect an intrusion; it's something like 229 days between when you have been intruded versus when you know and you can start to respond," Nadella said. To combat this, and other potential threats, Nadella announced the formation of a new, cross-discipline Cyber Defense Operations Center.

"Now we're even bringing together the operational security people across our company, people running everything from Xbox Live to Office 365, to Azure, to Windows Update, to Windows Defender, and bringing them together in one operations center," Nadella announced. "We actually have people who are able to, in real time, connect the dots between what's happening across all of these services."

Bret Arsenault, chief information security officer at Microsoft, went into further detail in a Nov. 17 blog post on the topic.

"This state-of-the-art facility brings together security response experts from across the company to help protect, detect and respond to threats in real time," wrote Arsenault. "Staffed with dedicated teams 24×7, the center has direct access to thousands of security professionals, data analysts, engineers, developers, program managers, and operations specialists throughout Microsoft to ensure rapid response and resolution to security threats."

The center will maintain "critical connections with industry security partners, governments and enterprise customers," Arsenault added, and will coordinate with Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit in cases of law-enforcement involvement.

In addition to the Cyber Defense Operations Center, Microsoft also took the wraps off the new Enterprise Cybersecurity Group (ECG).

"This dedicated group of worldwide security experts delivers security solutions, expertise and services that empower organizations to modernize their IT platforms, securely move to the cloud and keep data safe," explained Arsenault. "ECG offers security assessments, provides ongoing monitoring and threat detection, and incident response capabilities. ECG helps customers take advantage of Microsoft's best-in-class security and privacy technologies to optimize their investments and confidently advance their security postures."

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 network of...