We hear endlessly about how the advent of digital business, and its increasing security-ability, has fundamentally reshaped the way we look at and conduct business. This proves itself true time and again. In fact, during day two of a keynote presentation on the latest and greatest developments from Microsoft, we heard about the plethora of updates to Microsoft’s security commitment initiatives, detailing steps being taken by the company to reaffirm their commitment to the security and privacy of their cloud users.  With cloud computing proving a stable, reliable, and effect means of conducting business computing needs, a paradigm shift in the world business IT is unavoidable.

As Patrick Goldsack from HP’s Cloud and Security Laboratory states, “The internet is already a hostile place. By 2020, it is going to be far more so," but, "Devices will have to be fully virtualized, with support from trusted hardware to enforce and validate the separation of personal and corporate data. […] This will enable an enterprise to manage their partitions and the applications within them without affecting, or being affected by, the partitions used for personal use such as internet browsing or playing games."

There are many areas in which cloud security has been improving, including more advanced platform security, more accurate identification of vulnerabilities, better leveraging of big data analytics for improved security, and more effective onsite security policies. Indeed, many cloud experts agree that the infrastructure service of cloud computing must be, and has been equipped with the best of the best in data security and privacy assurance. This has been accomplished without sacrificing the quality of the service offered, while additional including flexibility, scalability, fault line resistance, and the ability to satisfy even enterprise-level demands as their client’s businesses increase in scale and, admittedly, targetability.

While cyber attacks can occur daily, and in the worst cases result in stolen information, lost funds, critically damaged public perception, malware, email compromises, ransomware, identify fraud, espionage, or even outages to your systems, one would be remiss in underestimating the power of the cloud’s security capabilities. This proves especially true when comparing the security competencies of a cloud platform with even the most sophisticated of onsite solutions.

Key Cloud Technologies: Securing your Data

Securing your data goes beyond protecting your business against hackers; it also serves to protect your data physically, providing users with access to critical data despite power outages. Unfortunately, many companies do not have generators on standby in the event of an outage. This, compared to cloud providers who not only have generators on site to power their data centers in the event of an outage, they even boast geographical redundancies. This ensures that your key data will be protected and available, even in the event of a natural disaster, and data loss locally.

By moving your data backups off your primary worksite and into a geographically redundant system, you can secure the future of your business by maintaining copies of your data in multiple data centres around the globe. This helps to better protect your data against issues stemming from natural disasters. Looking at the past few years we’ve seen hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes running rampant across North America. Everyone hopes that such a tragedy would never befall their town or business - but as tragic as it is - ensuring your data is secured against natural disasters in your area will allow you to focus on the one thing that truly matters in such situations: your family.

Data encryption is another key area of cloud security control that is otherwise underperforming when it comes to onsite solutions. This, due to underinvestment, and out of date encryption techniques. The battle with hackers is seemingly unyielding, and if you aren’t updating your tactics to repel these cybercriminals, you can bet they aren’t waiting around. These digital saboteurs are continually innovating, thus driving dated data encryption methods and systems into obsolescence quicker than you might think.

It's critical to remember that security is a spectrum, and no two companies or environments are secured equally. This can range from the simple, and frankly insecure, all the way to the esoterically complex, expensive, and inaccessible. By doing your business in the cloud you’re ensuring access to the later with an affordable price and the benefits of hands-off security. As for onsite security measures, the onus falls on you to battle back these determined digital deviants.

Microsoft’s Contributions to Security Advancement

Microsoft has been far from inactive in its quest for improved data security, combining the efforts of their numerous teams to boost security across the board, focusing on protecting their software systems and cloud solutions from threats. Microsoft knows that their commitment to data security is critical to their success as a cloud and software provider, so rest assured that they are thoroughly invested in the maintenance of their systems and the protection of your data.

The first key area where improvements to their security protocols have been made over the last years was in the implementation of systems of principles they’ve titled their Trustworthy Computing principles. These principles guard their products and solutions with heavy-handed security systems. Beyond these declared principles, they are proudly the first major cloud provider to offer commitments and assurances of “a principled approach with strong commitments to privacy, security, compliance and transparency”in the form of a contractual commitment to the General Data Protection Regulation.  

Indeed, a better time for security support has scarcely been seen, with more and more business owners and operators gaining a greater understanding of the threats that linger in the digital age. By partnering with the numerous digital security companies emerging in this age of digital threats, Microsoft has worked tirelessly to secure the borders of its digital enviroment. For instance, by partnering with the global leader of Risk Assessment and Technology Optimisation Planning, Crayon, Microsoft demonstrates their commitment to their customer’s security and success by providing them with expert support in become compliant with previously mentioned General Data Protection Regulation themselves.

A further improvement to cloud security coming from Microsoft is their new Secure Productive Enterprise offer, which provides the latest security and technology across Windows, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility. With this level of commitment to security coming from every corner of the cloud landscape, it is perhaps unsurprising that, according to a survey done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, some 64% of Canadian respondents were using cloud-based security services.

Indeed, this same survey detailed that 54% of respondents said they had a team leveraging big data analytics to monitor threats, respond to incidents, and review how to better secure their system in the future. There can be no doubt that the number of businesses capable of achieving this level of commitment to security would be considerably lower if it weren’t for the plethora of cloud users who are able to pad survey results because their provider handles these headaches for them.

The Microsoft Secure Productive enterprise offer exists to help business, regardless of scale, from midmarket and enterprise customers, all the way down to mom and pops shops. This support ranges from information on how to support and train Data Protection Officers (DPO), to assessing customers’ technology environments and serving them with the best security and latest technologies across Windows, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. In an industry in which a slip in data security could put an end to any trustworthiness or authority regarding security, it makes sense how much emphasis is given to ensuring that their client's data is secure from the most advanced and threatening attacks available to hackers today.

The Cloud Security Investment Landscape

Some worry that it may be easy for cloud providers to become disinterested in their smaller cloud clients, focusing instead on the big players hosted in their cloud. Even the most experienced players can become jaded to the importance of the small businesses in their cloud enviroment, right? This, fortunately, proves untrue, as to slip on any customer’s security (even the smallest ones) reflects poorly, not only on Microsoft, but the viability of the mass cloud platform itself.

This requirement for the best in available security has prompted Microsoft to prioritize helping their customers prevent and detect breaches in security, providing a security solution which is not only cutting edge but also comprehensive. As part of this commitment to security, Microsoft put out a playbook informing their customers of the best practices, products and services which aid in defence of their cloud platform users’ data. Its available to Microsoft cloud users and the public here.

2015 represnted a wake up call year for many IT and security experts as a new level of sophisticated attack was reached, breaking more than 100 banks, resulting in estimated losses of upwards of $1 billion. This of course lit a fire under security experts around the globe, leading to improvements to security for end systems and data centers alike. Indeed, its becoming evident to business, cloud providers and users that improvements to security are essential to not only the future success of the cloud platform, but also the advent digital business in general. Thankfully opportunities present themselves to Microsoft for partnerships with security experts, as they work tirelessly to alleviate the security concerns of ever-evolving digital business.

Boosting Security with Microsoft and the Azure Cloud Platform

The developments to the cloud security system are constantly being updated and reimplemented to better secure the data held withing. This has been especially true with increasingly plentiful mainstream stories growing wise to the lurking threat that hackers represent. These improvements and new security measures help provide partners and cloud users with the piece of mind to store their key data without worry about the constant risks to data security.  A complete list of security systems, features and best practices are available at Mircosoft’s Secure Productive Enterprise website.

These features allow patterns to generate greater value, save money on data security measures, and ensure the security of customers concerned with the risks of cloud hosting and computing. With these continued and constant improvements to the way we secure and work in the cloud, its clear that business owners looking to build a modern environment, hosted in the cloud, can rest assured that the security provided by the Microsoft Azure cloud platform will tirelessly work to maintain the security and confidenciality of their key data.