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Microsoft opens joint S’pore facility to help APAC battle security threats

SINGAPORE – As part of its approach to building a trusted and secure computing environment, Microsoft has opened in Singapore a combined Transparency Center and Cybersecurity Center to serve governments and enterprises, respectively, across the Asia-Pacific region. 

FROM LEFT: Jacqueline Poh, Chief Executive Officer, Government Technology Agency (GovTech); Toni Townes-Whitley, Corporate Vice-President, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft; Minister K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law; and Jessica Tan, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore jointly launching the Microsoft Transparency Center and Cybersecurity Center in Singapore.

FROM LEFT: Jacqueline Poh, Chief Executive Officer, Government Technology Agency (GovTech); Toni Townes-Whitley, Corporate Vice-President, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft; Minister K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law; and Jessica Tan, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore jointly launching the Microsoft Transparency Center and Cybersecurity Center in Singapore.

The Singapore Transparency center joins two other existing facilities in Redmond, Washington, for North America, and Brussels, Belgium, for Europe. Later this year, the company will open its fourth Transparency Center in Beijing, China.

The Microsoft Transparency Center is a cornerstone of Microsoft’s long-standing Government Security Program (GSP), which offers participating government agencies the opportunity to review the source code of Microsoft products, access information on cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities, and benefit from the expertise and insight of Microsoft security professionals.

Nearly 40 countries and international organizations currently participate in the Microsoft GSP program with 10 participants from Asia-Pacific. Participants from APAC are Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

Cybersecurity Center for Enterprises 

The Microsoft Cybersecurity Center in Singapore, co-located with the Transparency Center, will enable enterprises and organizations to tap into a pool of resources such as security specialists and technologies at Microsoft.

With the rise in cybercriminal activities and the rapidly changing cybersecurity landscape, the Cybersecurity Center will bring forth innovations and advancements by way of security platform, threat intelligence analytics, advanced threat protection, machine learning capabilities, security services and cloud security in a comprehensive way.

“At Microsoft, we’ve articulated principles that we’ll stand up for and apply in our business focused on security, privacy, compliance, and transparency,” said Toni Townes-Whitley, corporate vice-president, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft Corporation.

Whitley explains that for security, Microsoft continuously updates its security capabilities, offering a level of sophisticated protection most organizations – large or small – could not achieve alone. For transparency, Whitley says Microsoft believes it customers should know what is happening with their data, and thus provides clear contractual commitments to back up it claims. In the area of privacy and control, Whitely says that customers own their data and that it should be used and shared only as they permit.

“This new facility is designed around those principles. It will deliver a holistic approach to serving the security needs of both the public and private sector and building a trusted and secure computing environment,” adds Whitely.

The Transparency Center and Cybersecurity Center will expand Microsoft’s public-private- partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, while enabling and empowering enterprises to manage modern security threats effectively. This will build on the momentum in the last few years, where the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) has fostered various partnerships with public sector and enforcement agencies in the region. This includes strategic collaboration with Interpol in global malware botnet disruption operations and a PhotoDNA licensing collaboration to support Interpol’s efforts in preventing child sexual exploitation online, as well as cyber threat intelligence sharing partnerships with several Internet Service Providers in the region and government Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).

“For government customers, our work in transparency is critical to provide you the highest level of assurance that our products are engineered to withstand the security threats facing you every day, seen and unseen,” said Whitely. “[For organizations, the Singapore Cybersecurity Center] enables customers to tap on a pool of resources such as security specialists and technologies at Microsoft to help ensure the security of their own networks and services.”

Heavily attacked region

“Asia Pacific is the worst region in terms of cyber crime,“ says Keshav Dhakad, regional director, Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), Microsoft Asia. “APAC organizations are frequently unprepared to identify and respond to breaches. It takes an average of 200 days for organizations to find out they have been victims of cyberattacks.”

According to the Malware Infection Index Asia Pacific 2016, the major cyber attacks in the region are malware, DDoS, and identity theft. The top 10 APAC markets under malware threats are Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

“Growing cyber threats demand a coordinated response. As governments and enterprises embrace digital transformation and strive for resilience, a holistic and agile security platform is ever more critical. This is where Microsoft’s unique threat intelligence innovations and trusted cloud ecosystem offer them powerful protection against security threats. Through strong public-private partnerships, we also empower them to investigate, disrupt and prosecute global cybercriminal networks,” says Dhaka.

Collaborative approach

To support a comprehensive, cross-company and cross-industry approach to cybersecurity, Microsoft invests more than a billion dollars a year in security research, innovation and development. This includes a recently announced global Cyber Defense Operations Center (C-DOC), a state-of-the-art 24/7 facility that brings together security response experts from across the company to help protect, detect and respond to threats in real-time, securing Microsoft’s internal resources, cloud infrastructure, customer online services, devices and products.

Microsoft has also recently established an Enterprise Cybersecurity Group (ECG) – a dedicated team of worldwide security experts who will deliver security solutions, expertise and services that empower organizations to modernize their IT platforms, securely move to the cloud and keep data safe.

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