In an attempt to quash the growing concerns around privacy, Microsoft has launched a series of initiatives aimed at improving both security and corporate transparency.
According to the Microsoft blog, technet.com, the Redmond firm is focusing on three key areas: expanding encryption, reinforcing legal protections for customers’ data and enhancing the transparency of software code.
While it is still early days, it seems Microsoft intends to remain true to its word. Email is an inherently insecure method of digital communication, having remained a largely unchanged technology for over 20 years. However, Microsoft has taken a series of steps to encrypt messages.
Both incoming and outgoing messages in Outlook are protected by Transport Layer Security (TLS). While this encrypts emails in transit, there is still the possibility that messages stored on Microsoft servers could be infiltrated.
PFS for Outlook and OneDrive
The technology giant has also introduced Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) which allows the sending and receiving of encrypted messages from different service providers.
PFS uses a fresh key for each connection, which limits the quantity of information that could be stolen if a key we to be cracked, and makes it harder for those seeking to crack keys. This protection also extends to OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage solution. Transmitted data is now encrypted with forward secrecy for the OneDrive web interface, mobile applications, and sync clients.
On top of this, it has enabled Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) on Office 365, with industry watchers such as techrepublic.com expecting the same to happen for Outlook Web Access (OWA) in due course.
Microsoft Transparency Centre
Finally, the firm has introduced what it calls the Microsoft Transparency Centre. With many fearing that the big technology firms are in cahoots with intelligence services, this initiative aims to silence any such rumours. By opening up its source code to governments, Microsoft hopes to alleviate any concerns about hidden back doors.
While many have said that Microsoft needs to go further, it is reassuring to see the software behemoth taking decisive action.