Over the years Microsoft has been subject to cyber attack after cyber attack. Whether it be a bunch of script kiddies running a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack or more experienced hackers trying to get at the juicy personal details of Microsoft’s users it seems to never end, and at least on the Xbox Live front it’s a battle that Microsoft almost seems to be losing.
Enter Microsoft’s Cyber Defense Operation Center, a new top of the range cyber defense monolith where Microsoft’s engineers now fight the daily battle against cyber crime. Blocked out from the world by an opaque window, that can be turned clear if clients wish to get a look at the action within, engineers fight back against the hacking hordes from behind dual-screen work stations. Pillars label the newest threats and the far wall screams the prerogative of the workers in large letters, “Protect,” “Detect,” and “Respond”
The new facility opened in November of 2015 and has brought together approximately 50 of Microsoft’s security experts from the Office and windows group, the Xbox and Azure divisions and several other business units. The point of it all is to unify the company’s security teams.
Microsoft has not revealed the center’s true cost, but has said it spent $1 billion on security last year.
The idea for a Cyber Defense Operations Center began in 2013 by Microsoft’s Cybercrimes Center. The company combined various groups to combat issues such as child exploitation online. During this Microsoft found that combining their Web-based investigators with their units from Windows and Office got them more results than having the groups work independently.
Microsoft remains under constant attack, but it thinks the new center will help it respond much faster.
“Minutes matter, and seconds matter,” said Bryan Casper, a security-incident-response manager at the center. “So, looking across the room at someone is better than waiting for an email.”
The software company believes the key to rapid response is an emerging technology called ‘machine learning’. The company has hired a group of its own hackers called the Red Tea to attack its own networks and software. Machine Learning programs study those incidents, as well as real attacks, to improve its own defenses. The system scans through billions of pieces of data looking for patterns that could indicate an attack.
“We can be much more predictive about security than we’ve been in the past,” claimed Pete Boden, Microsoft’s general manager of Cloud and Enterprise Security.