Microsoft has announced a series of measures to give customers more control over their cloud-based data, a move it claims will improve transparency around how data is treated as well as the security of that data.
The company announced enhanced activity logs of user, admin and policy-related actions, which customers and partners can tap into through a new Office 365 Management Activity API to use for compliance and security reporting.
Microsoft said by the end of this year it plans to introduce a Customer Lockbox for Office 365, which will give Office users the ability to approve or reject a Microsoft engineer’s request to log into the Office 365 service.
“Over the past few years, we have seen the security environment change and evolve. Cyber threats are reaching new levels, involving the destruction of property, and governments now act both as protectors and exploiters of technology. In this changing environment, two themes have emerged when I talk with our customers – 1) they want more transparency from their providers and more control of their data, and 2) they are looking for companies to protect their data through leading edge security features,” explained Scott Charney, corporate vice president, trustworthy computing at Microsoft.
“In addition to greater control of their data, companies also need their technology to adhere to the compliance standards for the industries and geographic markets in which they operate.”
The company is also upping its game on security and encryption. Office 365 already encrypts data in transit, but in the coming months Charney said the company plans to introduce content-level encryption, and by 2016 plans to enable the ability for customers to require Microsoft to use customer-generated and customer-controlled encryption keys to encrypt their content at rest.
It also plans to bolster network security through Azure-focused partnerships with the likes of Barracuda, Check Point, Fortinet, Websense, Palo Alto Networks, F5 and Alert Logic, and broaden the security capabilities of its enterprise mobility management suite.
Microsoft has over the past couple of years evolved into a strong proponent of and active participant in discussions around data security and data protection, including legislative change impacting these areas in the US. It’s also among a number of US cloud providers that are convinced many still lack trust in the cloud from a security standpoint, consequently hampering its ability to make inroads into the cloud market, which gives it an added incentive to double down on securing its own offerings.