Working together to combat cybercrime


By Kunle Awosika

In the past year we have witnessed not just the growth of cybercrime, but a proliferation in cyberattacks that is both new and disconcerting.

We need to continue to do more to protect and defend our customers around the world. At Microsoft we’re focused on doing precisely that. In addition, we need to call on the world’s governments to implement international rules to protect the civilian use of the internet. Simultaneously, governments need the active assistance of technology companies.

A growing problem in need of new solutions

74 percent of the world’s businesses expect to be hacked each year. The economic loss of cybercrime is estimated to reach US $3 trillion by 2020. Yet as these costs continue to climb, the financial damage is overshadowed by new and broadening risks.

Perhaps most disconcerting, recent years have witnessed the expansion of nation-state attacks. Conflicts between nations are no longer confined to the ground, sea and air, as cyberspace has become a potential new and global battleground.

Governments play a critical role here, but the reality is that the targets in this new battle – including datacentres, servers, laptops and smartphones –are the private property owned by civilians.

This is not the world that the internet’s inventors envisioned 25 years ago, but it’s the world we inhabit today. As private citizens are thrust into this challenge, the question for all of us in the tech sector is what we will do to address it.

Ramping up security solutions in the tech sector

Microsoft is aggressively taking new steps to better protect and defend customers. This includes new security features at every level of the technology stack, reflecting the US $1 billion we’re spending annually in the security field.

Our unique insights into the threat landscape create an intelligent security graph that protects all endpoints, better detects attacks, and accelerates response. Added to this, our security technologies work together, and with our partners in the security ecosystem, to deliver a holistic security platform. Customers can also improve their security by moving to the cloud, adopting modern platforms, and embracing comprehensive identity, security and management solutions.

Some of the solutions we have in place to help our customers detect threats and respond before they do damage include:

  • Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection, which blocks malware and phishing;
  • Advanced Threat Analytics, which alerts on suspicious user behaviour;
  • Azure Security Centre, which lets users know when virtual machine exceptions and events are caused by malware; and
  • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, which alerts on trends across endpoints that indicate an active attack in your organisation.

In many ways, however, security-related product features are just the start.  Data analytics and machine learning have become game-changing defence mechanisms for detecting cyberattacks. Microsoft’s datacentres are connected to over a billion computing end points and receive over a trillion data points every day. Advanced Threat Protection alone processes six billion emails each day. This provides the foundation for world-class early warning systems to detect cybersecurity attacks.

Across the tech sector, companies are racing to provide stronger cybersecurity protection for customers.  Each of our advances is making an important contribution, but we’re nowhere close to being able to declare victory.

Stronger together

With all the security solutions Microsoft and other companies are working on, it’s equally important that we work together with the world’s governments to affirm international cybersecurity norms and get to work implementing them. Over the last two years, there has been important progress in this area.

In addition, those of us in the tech sector need to act collectively to better protect the internet and customers everywhere. We play a unique role as the internet’s first responders, and we therefore should commit ourselves to collective action that will make the internet a safer place, assisting customers everywhere and retaining the world’s trust.