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Microsoft CEO Nadella unleashes security-first initiative

Microsoft is taking strides toward protecting customer data and shoring up its cybersecurity posture by opening a hub for cyber defense, launching an initiative to bring together a group of “worldwide security experts” to advise CIOs and CISOs on security, and by investing in Windows 10, according to CEO Satya Nadella, speaking at the MS GCF in D.C.

“The attackers themselves are a lot more sophisticated, a lot more organized,” Nadella said, during his keynote presentation Tuesday. “So it's a perimeter-less world, it's a world that is constantly evolving, it's dynamic, and you're under constant attack.  That's the environment that we have to deal with. "

He announced the opening of a Cyber Defense Operations Center, a security facility at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash. Security professionals across Microsoft's various products are moving to the 24x7 operations center to “protect, detect and respond to threats in real-time,” according to a blog post by chief information security officer Bret Arsenault. The cyber center has “direct access to thousands” of security professionals, data analysts, engineers, developers, program managers, and operations specialists, Arsenault wrote.

Microsoft is intent on completing a transition that seemed impossible years ago, from a software giant that was plagued by innumerable security vulnerabilities in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The company's bolstered focus on security will also include biometrics to prevent attackers from using stolen passwords, enterprise support for mobile devices, and machine-learning and text analytics to manage large quantities of data securely, and hardware and software features to avoid the installation of malicious code.

Dyadic Security co-founder and chief scientist Yehuda Lindell told that Microsoft's security capabilities have “without a doubt" improved significantly in recent years.

Nadella said the company now spends more than $1 billion per year to improve Windows 10 and its cloud-based offerings Azure and Office 365.

Microsoft has acquired a series of cybersecurity startups. Last month, Microsoft said it would acquire Secure Islands. In September, Microsoft completed its acquisition of Adallom. In November 2014, the company acquired Aorato, an application firewall.

Last week, Microsoft announced plans to deliver cloud services from data centers in Germany through a data trustee partnership with Deutsche Telekom.

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