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Microsoft sees 25 percent rise in US law enforcement requests

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Statistics regarding user data requests Microsoft received from US law enforcement in H2 2017 and H1 2018


Image: Microsoft [edited by ZDNet]

Microsoft today published its biannual digital trust reports containing information on the number of law enforcement requests, national security orders, and content removal requests the company received in the first half of the year.

While globally, law enforcement requests for user data remained the same, Microsoft reported a 25 percent rise in legal requests received from US law enforcement for data on its users and enterprise customers.

Between January and June 2018, Microsoft says it received 4,948 legal requests from US law enforcement, a significant increase from the 3,984 legal requests it received in the previous six months, in the second half of 2017.

US law enforcement sought data on 14,015 accounts, compared to the 10,138 accounts it wanted to unmask in H2 2017.

Globally, the numbers remained the same, with 23,222 requests received in H1 2018, compared to 22,939 legal requests received in H2 2017, suggesting an escalation in data demand from US authorities.

Microsoft said the bulk of the 23,222 law enforcement demands it received in the first six months of the year came from only a handful of countries, such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The vast majority of requests inquired about “non-content” user data, which Microsoft says normally includes details such as an email address, name, state, country, ZIP code, IP address at the time of registration, IP connection history, Xbox gamertag, and credit card or other billing information.

Worldwide, 61.41 percent of law enforcement requests sought non-content user data, while only 4.60 percent of legal demands asked for user content, which includes far more sensitive information such as the content of an email, photographs or documents stored in OneDrive or other cloud services.

The reason why Microsoft received more requests for non-content data is that this type of data is easier to obtain, only requiring a subpoena or court order, while user content data requires a warrant or other legal equivalent.

Below are summaries from the different Microsoft biannual digital trust reports.

Requests for consumer data (full report here):

  • During the first half of 2018, Microsoft received a total number of 23,222 legal requests related to our consumer services from law enforcement agencies around the world, which is a slight increase from the previous six-month period of 22,939 legal requests.
  • A majority of the law enforcement demands Microsoft received during this period continued to come from a handful of countries, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • Specific to United States law enforcement, Microsoft received 4,948 legal demands for data related to our consumer services. A small fraction of those demands, 133 court-issued warrants, sought content data stored in data centers outside of the United States. In only one case did Microsoft disclose enterprise content data stored outside the United States.

Requests for enterprise customer data (full report here):

  • In the first half of 2018, Microsoft received 50 requests from law enforcement (U.S. and international) for data associated with enterprise cloud customers (defined as customers who purchased more than 50 seats).
  • Of these requests, 34 were from U.S. law enforcement and 16 were from other countries.
  • In 32 cases, these requests were rejected, withdrawn or law enforcement was successfully redirected to the customer to obtain the information they are seeking.
  • In 18 cases, Microsoft was compelled to provide some information in response to the order: 10 cases required the disclosure of some customer content and in eight of the cases we were compelled to disclose non-content information only.
  • As noted above, in only one case was Microsoft compelled to disclose to U.S. law enforcement enterprise content data stored outside the United States.

National security orders (full report here):

  • The US National Security Orders Report contains data for H2 2017, not H1 2018.
  • Microsoft says it received 0 – 499 FISA orders seeking content disclosures affecting 12,500 – 12,999 accounts, which is unchanged from the previous period (H1 2017). FISA orders are used for electronic surveillance and collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers” suspected of espionage or terrorism.
  • Microsoft also received 0 – 499 National Security Letters in the latest reporting period, which is also unchanged from the previous period. A national security letter is similar to a FISA order, but used for US internal “national security” issues.

Content removal requests report (full report here):

  • Microsoft received 732 government-issued requests for content removal in the first half of 2018. “Government requests for content removal” are requests from governments to remove content based on various criteria, such as claims of violations of local laws, from Microsoft-owned online sites, such as Bing, OneDrive, Bing Ads, and MSN.
  • Microsoft honored 586 of the 732 government-issued requests, also closing 20 accounts in the process.
  • Microsoft also says it received 38,000,000 copyright removal requests for 171,738,000 URLs from Bing search results.
  • The OS maker says it removed roughly 171,000,000 URLs.
  • The report’s data includes more than 95 percent of the copyright removal requests for Bing for the six-month reporting period.
  • Removal requests for Bing represent about 99% of all copyright removal requests Microsoft received.
  • Microsoft also received 2,780 “Right to be forgotten” requests for 9,132 URLs. Microsoft removed 5,043 URLs based on these requests.
  • Most “Right to be forgotten” requests came from France (896), the UK (541), and Germany (411).
  • Microsoft also says it received 362 requests for removal of nonconsensual pornography (“revenge porn”). The company acted and removed content on 242 of these requests.
  • Requests to remove “revenge port” were received for Bing, OneDrive, and Xbox Live.

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GigaOm Radar for Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)

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Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) emerged as a product category in the mid-2010s. At that point, SOAR solutions were very much an automation and orchestration engine based on playbooks and integrations. Since then, the platforms have developed beyond the initial core SOAR capabilities to offer more holistic experiences to security analysts, with the aim of developing SOAR as the main workspace for practitioners.

Newer features offered by this holistic experience include case management, collaboration, simulations, threat enrichment, and visual correlations. Additionally, SOAR vendors have gradually implemented artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to enable their platforms to learn from past events and fine-tune existing processes. This is where evolving threat categorization and autonomous improvement become differentiators in the space. While these two metrics are not critical for a SOAR platform, they may offer advantages in terms of reduced mean time to resolution (MTTR), resilience against employee turnover, and overall flexibility.

We’ve observed a lot of acquisition activity in the SOAR space. This was to be expected considering that, after 2015, a sizable number of pure-play SOAR vendors entered the market. Larger players with a wider security portfolio are acquiring these SOAR-specific vendors in order to enter the automation and orchestration market. We expect to see more SOAR acquisitions as the security tools converge, very likely into next-generation Security Information & Event Management products and services (SIEMs).

SIEM is a great candidate for a central management platform for security activities. It was designed to be a single source of truth, an aggregator of multiple security logs, but has been limited historically in its ability to carry out actions. In the past few years, however, SIEMs have either started developing their own automation and orchestration engines or integrated with third-party SOAR vendors. Through a number of acquisitions and developments, multiple players with wider security portfolios have begun to offer SOAR capabilities natively as part of other security solutions.

Going forward, we expect SOAR solutions to be further integrated into other products. This will include not only SIEM, but also solutions such as Extended Detection and Response (XDR) and IT automation. The number of pure-play SOAR vendors is unlikely to increase, although a handful may remain as fully agnostic solutions that enterprises can leverage in instances when their existing next-generation SIEM platforms do not meet all their use cases. However, for pure-play SOAR vendors to remain competitive, they will need to either expand into other security areas or consistently outperform their integrated counterparts.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

The post GigaOm Radar for Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) appeared first on Gigaom.

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GigaOm Radar for Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

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Very few organizations see disaster recovery (DR) for their IT systems as a business differentiator, so they often prefer to outsource the process and consume it as a service (DRaaS) that’s billed monthly. There are many DRaaS providers with varying backgrounds, whose services are often shaped by that background. Products that started as customer-managed DR applications tend to have the most mature orchestration and automation, but vendors may face challenges transforming their application into a consumable service. Backup as a Service (BaaS) providers typically have great consumption models and off-site data protection, but they might be lacking in rich orchestration for failover. Other DRaaS providers come from IaaS backgrounds, with well-developed, on-demand resource deployment for recovery and often a broader platform with automation capabilities.

Before you invest in a DRaaS solution, you should attempt to be clear on what you see as its value. If your motivation is simply not to operate a recovery site, you probably want a service that uses technology similar to what you’re using at the protected site. If the objective is to spend less effort on DR protection, you will be less concerned about similarity and more with simplicity. And if you want to enable regular and granular testing of application recovery with on-demand resources, advanced failover automation and sandboxing will be vital features.

Be clear as well on the scale of disaster you are protecting against. On-premises recovery will protect against shared component failure in your data center. A DRaaS location in the same city will allow a lower RPO and provide lower latency after failover, but might be affected by the same disaster as your on-premises data center. A more distant DR location would be immune to your local disaster, but what about the rest of your business? It doesn’t help to have operational IT in another city if your only factory is under six feet of water.

DR services are designed to protect enterprise application architectures that are centered on VMs with persistent data and configuration. A lift-and-shift cloud adoption strategy leads to enterprise applications in the cloud, requiring cloud-to-cloud DR that is very similar to DRaaS from on-premises. Keep in mind, however, that cloud-native applications have different DR requirements.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

The post GigaOm Radar for Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) appeared first on Gigaom.

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GigaOm Radar for DDoS Protection

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With ransomware getting all the news coverage when it comes to internet threats, it is easy to lose sight of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks even as these attacks become more frequent and aggressive. In fact, the two threats have recently been combined in a DDoS ransom attack, in which a company is hit with a DDoS and then a ransom demanded in exchange for not launching a larger DDoS. Clearly, a solid mechanism for thwarting such attacks is needed, and that is exactly what a good DDoS protection product will include. This will allow users, both staff and customers, to access their applications with no indication that a DDoS attack is underway. To achieve this, the DDoS protection product needs to know about your applications and, most importantly, have the capability to absorb the massive bandwidth generated by botnet attacks.

All the DDoS protection vendors we evaluated have a cloud-service element in their products. The scale-out nature of cloud platforms is the right response to the scale-out nature of DDoS attacks using botnets, thousands of compromised computers, and/or embedded devices. A DDoS protection network that is larger, faster, and more distributed will defend better against larger DDoS attacks.

Two public cloud platforms we review have their own DDoS protection, both providing it for applications running on their public cloud and offering only cloud-based protection. We also look at two content delivery networks (CDNs) that offer only cloud-based protection but also have a large network of locations for distributed protection. Many of the other vendors offer both on-premises and cloud-based services that are integrated to provide unified protection against the various attack vectors that target the network and application layers.

Some of the vendors have been protecting applications since the early days of the commercial internet. These vendors tend to have products with strong on-premises protection and integration with a web application firewall or application delivery capabilities. These companies may not have developed their cloud-based protections as fully as the born-in-the-cloud DDoS vendors.

In the end, you need a DDoS protection platform equal to the DDoS threat that faces your business, keeping in mind that such threats are on the rise.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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