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Microsoft Promotes its Office 365 Product Line by Adding Cyber ‘Secure Score’

February 12, 2017

Microsoft will begin grading its commercial customers’ Office 365 security settings in an effort to fortify its software and services that are frequent targets of hackers. And at least one insurance company - Hartford Financial Services Group - plans to take the security score into account when setting cyber-insurance rates for customers.


Hartford plans to take Secure Score into account when pricing its cyber-insurance coverage. The company already looks at a variety of factors, from the industry in which clients operate to the physical security of their buildings, said Tom Kang, head of cyber-insurance for the company.


Amid a continuing flood of cyberattacks, tech companies frequently cajole customers into beefing up their use of security features. Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., for example, all encourage users to enable multifactor authentication, a common security step that requires people to provide more than just a username and password to log in.


Microsoft in recent years has pushed to burnish its reputation for security. The Windows 10 operating system is more secure than its predecessors, in large part because it includes free upgrades that are installed automatically in the background, ensuring it has the latest protections.


Secure Score only considers a business customer’s use of security features in Office 365. That means it might register lower scores for customers who choose to use rival security products instead of enabling security features included in their Office 365 subscription, the company said. Businesses can compare their scores to the other 85 million commercial customers using Office 365, the online version of Microsoft’s email, word-processing and spreadsheet applications.


“It’s essentially like a health checkup,” said Bret Arsenault, Microsoft’s chief information security officer.


In testing, Microsoft found that customers who checked their security settings boosted their scores on average by 18% over those who didn’t visit the security dashboard.