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Security Login Screens on Various Devices

Microsoft Releases Multiple Security Focused Features for IT Pros

This week Microsoft has continued bolstering security for their various IT-centric products and services. Also this week: there is now a G Suite Certification available for people who want to show how cloud-ready they are, plus a new Alexa Skill aimed at customer relations management.

One area that Microsoft should get a lot of attention when it comes to their products and services is security. Back in January 2002, Bill Gates famously sent out an email to everyone at Microsoft to discuss security. Eventually, that effort became known as Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing program and it is the basis for security in all of the companies products and services.

This week, more than 17 years after Gates discussed that new focus, the current iteration of the Redmond company continues to make security a priority as they release a handful of enhancements to their products and services. The big change between now and then - the ability to use the cloud to deliver improved security.

Security baselines is a tool that Microsoft provides to help enterprise and business customers establish a starting point for their own security approaches when using Microsoft services. The Microsoft Intune Mobile Device Management (MDM) Security Baseline is an industry standard configuration based on Microsoft's experience in establishing their own and partner security profiles. Microsoft used to release these baselines as Group Policy Objects as part of the Security and Compliance Toolkit, often referred to as the SCT. This release cycle of security baselines will now be provided through the companies Intune portal so that they can be updated dynamically with those updates pushing out to customers on a near real-time basis. The customer will then have the opportunity to review the updated recommendations and make the necessary changes to their own security Baseline policies. As the company continues their push to a modern desktop, this will allow a much more efficient review and implementation process. The security baseline will provide in-depth reporting, allow full customization and deployment using MDM, and utilizing versioning to keep track of the changes that are implemented.

Microsoft also sent Azure Active Directory (AAD) enhancements into preview to assist with identity protection for Outlook accounts. The Outlook mobile apps for iOS and Android now have certifications to be used by government agencies and employees so these new configuration policies are available to those customers and other enterprise and business users. This new Intune device management policy implements a basic authentication and requires all of the account details such as email server, username, and email address. For those on Office 365, modern authentication can be selected and the admin only needs to worry about providing username and email for those users. The modern authentication option takes advantage of hybrid on-premises configurations 

Finally, there is news around the Microsoft Graph in the security arena. If you use Azure Logic Apps, Microsoft Flow or PowerApps you can now connect to the Microsoft Security Graph without typing one line of code with new automation around common security tasks. Using this new Microsoft Graph Security connector, you will quickly save time and resources as you address any security-related concerns that get surfaced through that Microsoft Graph data. 


Microsoft Forms is now generally available to Office 365 U.S. Government customers in GCC and GCC High environments, bringing these users up to parity with Microsoft's education, commercial, and consumer customers. In related government news, the U.S. Air Force moved more than half a million users to Office 365. Finally, Microsoft is also debuting new compliance tools for e-discovery and privacy; these new tools will allow legal departments to conduct efficient bulk processing of documents.

Cloud-based business app company Acumatica has an Alexa for Business skill that lets customers check inventory, look up and approve expenses and handle customer relationship management tasks.

Google's introduces a G Suite Certification for workers who want to demonstrate their proficiency with cloud-based tools. The two-hour course purports to validate user proficiency in G Suite productivity tools such as Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Hangouts Meet. 

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