Microsoft and Google today announced a new features for their rival productivity platforms aimed at improving security and reducing its cost of management.
Microsoft announced a trio of Office 365 security features, including a new API to feed data into SIEM systems and finer grain encryption for email, while Google has announced new a way for Drive admins to manage two-factor authentication keys for Google Apps at work.
The new Office 365 Management Activity RESTful API will offer customers new ways to use Microsoft’s platform with security and compliance tools, such as third-party on-premise Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) systems. Broadly, it’s meant to improve capabilities access controls in cloud and BYOD environments.
Microsoft plans to release the API in private preview this June or July but already has dozen partners that have used an early version of the API to develop incident monitoring and alert systems include Palerra and Rapid7.
The API will offer access to 150 transaction types from Office 365 (with more planned in the future), as well as activity logs from SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Azure Active Directory.
Over the next few months Microsoft is also rolling out finer grain “content level” encryption for email in Office 365. This will bring across a similar level of control that per-file encryption introduced for documents in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.
“Implementing this feature will increase the separation of server administration from the data stored in Office 365, resulting in an added layer of security,” said Rajesh Jha, principal program manager for the Office 365 Security team.
One milestone it hasn’t achieved yet is giving customers the ability to generate and control their own keys for encrypting content in Office 365. However, Microsoft says this will come in 2016.
It’s also , an approval process for Office 365 admins to handle “rare cases” when Microsoft’s engineers need to access customer content; for example when they’re addressing a support request. Customers can assess requests and approve or deny them.
Customer Lockbox is available now for Office 365 commercial customers and will be available for Exchange Online by the end of 2015 and for SharePoint Online by the Q1 2016.
Google has also been beefing up new security features to Google Apps for Work and Schools and today announced an easier way for Google Apps admins to issue and revoke two-factor authentication keys for access to Google Apps.
Google last year announced Security Key — a physical TFA token based on FIDO Alliance protocol — for secure access to Chrome and Google Account.
It now has large enterprise customers using the Secure Keys, such as Australia’s Woolworths, and the new system will make it easier for it revoke access to lost or stolen keys and provide backup codes where necessary. It’s doing this with new controls in the Admin console of Google Drive for Work within its usage and tracking reports for auditing.
As for Microsoft, the Office 365 security feature update follows Microsoft’s renewed push into mobile device management in March with its InTune-based MDM for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices that is free for Office 365 business customers.
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