Cloud Computing Growth Prompts Microsoft to Put $1B a Year in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity threats loom large, Microsoft commits to spending $1 billion a year on cybersecurity

In a recent interview with Reuters, Microsoft VP of Security Bharat Shah told the news agency that Microsoft will continue to invest in excess of $1 billion towards cybersecurity initiatives.

The root cause of this decision appears to be the growth of cloud computing usage around the world. Microsoft’s own data shows that there are nearly 600,000 to 700,000 cyberattacks per week, up from 20,000 a week just two to three years ago.

Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure product, Azure, is growing at triple-digit and high double-digit rates for the past year and a half now, and the problem will intensify as cloud computing grows even bigger.

Israel seems to be the emerging cybersecurity hotspot these days. Microsoft has already invested in three cybersecurity acquisitions there, including Aorato, Adallom and Secure Islands. Ass three companies deal with enterprise and cloud security, and Secure Islands’ technology for file and data protection has already been integrated into Azure Information Protection.

Microsoft’s venture arm has independently made three more cybersecurity acquisitions including Illusive Networks and the company’s creator team, Team8. The technology has already been implemented with banks and retailers, and uses deceptive methods to detect cybersecurity breaches.

Microsoft is already looking seriously at biometrics and other ways of user authentication that do not require passwords, which are usually the weakest point in any online system. Windows Hello on Windows 10 brings in some of these features, such as facial recognition, iris recognition and fingerprint ID.

Microsoft’s ongoing investments in the cybersecurity space help to validate the growth of cloud computing itself. The cloud computing industry, which includes all public cloud services, is already estimated at $204 billion for 2016, according to Gartner. Cisco predicts that cloud data center traffic will increase by 30% every year until 2020.

Rapid cloud growth and the emergence of the Internet of Things offer even more opportunities for the cybercrime community to mount their attacks. That means security spending will naturally have to keep increasing just to mitigate these elevated levels of cyberattacks.

Cybercrime is already showing a sharp increase. Security firm, the Herjevac Group, says that the cost of cybercrime to businesses and individuals already crossed the $3 trillion mark as of 2015, and is expected to double to $6 trillion over the next several years. That means security spending is also likely to double during that time.

It’s not a pretty picture. Cybercrime is on the rise, the number of vulnerabilities is increasing because of the Internet of Things and cloud growth, and there just aren’t enough white hat security professionals to fill in the job vacancies that are building up in the segment.

Security jobs are already experiencing a shortage across the globe, as explained by IBM Security GM Marc van Zadelhoff:

“Even if the industry was able to fill the estimated 1.5 million open cyber security jobs by 2020, we’d still have a skills crisis in security. The volume and velocity of data in security is one of our greatest challenges in dealing with cybercrime.”

This unfortunate scenario is inevitable, and it will only get worse as the growth of cloud computing and the proliferation of connected devices spur cybercriminals to find new attack methods and new vulnerabilities that are already bringing cyberattacks right into our homes, our cars, our smartphones and anything else connected to the internet.

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