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2/28/2019
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Microsoft Debuts Azure Sentinel SIEM, Threat Experts Service

New services, which are both available in preview, arrive at a time when two major trends are converging on security.

Microsoft today debuted two new security services: Azure Sentinel, a cloud-native security information and event management (SIEM) system, and Microsoft Threat Experts, a service through which security operations teams can leverage expertise from Microsoft's experts.

The two services arrive at a time when two major trends are converging on security: SOC teams are struggling with an overwhelming amount of daily alerts and a lack of staff to handle them, and more organizations are moving their data and processes over to the cloud.

"As the cloud has revolutionized modern IT architecture, more and more enterprise workloads have moved to the cloud," says Steve Dispensa, program management lead for Microsoft's cloud and AI security division. The transition especially makes sense for security workloads, he adds, as they're both data- and compute-intensive.

Enter Azure Sentinel, which Microsoft reports is the first native SIEM within a major cloud platform. Many organizations still rely on traditional SIEM tools, which typically can't keep up with the cloud's scale and complexity. The AI built into Sentinel scours large volumes of data from users, applications, servers, and devices running on-prem or in the cloud. Microsoft reports early adopters of Sentinel have seen an overall reduction of up to 90% in alert fatigue.

"One of the key goals of Azure Sentinel was to really help SOC operators use their limited bandwidth in the most effective way possible," Dispensa notes.

Azure Sentinel pulls data from Office 365, combs for threats, and combines findings with other security data for analysis. Its integration extends beyond Microsoft: Users can leverage Azure Sentinel to pull data from clouds and software built by companies including Cisco, Check Point, Palo Alto Networks, and Symantec, said Ann Johnson, Microsoft's corporate vice president of security solutions, in a briefing ahead of next week's RSA Conference.

"An early goal of Azure Sentinel was to be able to integrate well with the infrastructure and services actually in use at these large enterprises," Dispensa says. This isn't just Microsoft cloud, he points out, and not just on-prem infrastructure, but apps and services in third-party clouds.

Data import for Office 365 is free, though you need to be a licensed Office 365 customer. Azure Sentinel is limited to Azure subscribers and is available in public preview starting today, Feb. 28. The preview period is also free; pricing will be announced in the future, Microsoft says.

Microsoft Threat Experts: Now Your Threat Experts
Alongside its Azure Sentinel announcement, Microsoft unveiled a service dubbed Microsoft Threat Experts, which connects the company's security experts with its in-house security staff. The idea is to give businesses an opportunity to augment security as part of Microsoft 365.

Microsoft Threat Experts is a managed threat-hunting service built into Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection. It's intended to provide two capabilities. The first is targeted attack notifications, which are alerts tailored to organizations' critical threats. They're intended to inform the victim with timeline, scope of breach, and method of intrusions, for example.

The second is "experts on demand." When a breach exceeds the target's ability to investigate, Microsoft's security experts will provide technical consultation. If full incident response is necessary, the client can transition to working with Microsoft incident response services.

Dustin Duran, lead for Microsoft Threat Experts, says all participants in the program are full-time Microsoft employees who can provide either of the service's capabilities. "The same set of people have intimate knowledge of the operating system and features of security products, so they're able to do both," he explains.

Windows Defender ATP customers can now apply to join the preview of this service via the Windows Defender Security Center.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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