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Microsoft buys Secure Islands to bolster mobile data protection

Microsoft acquired Secure Islands in a deal to bolster Microsoft's Azure Rights Management Service with file-level security technologies.

Microsoft acquired Secure Islands Technologies Ltd.  and plans to incorporate the Israeli company's file-level security technology into its Azure Rights Management Service.

The move allows mobile end-users to store corporate data anywhere, including on-premises systems, third-party cloud services, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Windows, iOS and Android devices, without compromising security.

Secure Islands works to counteract shadow IT challenges because it is designed with mobile data protection to prevent data loss and track information everywhere it goes.

The company provides data classification, protection and loss prevention technologies for most files and unstructured data, including Microsoft Office documents, emails, photos and more. All of which allow customers to apply data protection to more applications, Microsoft said in a blog post.

Companies have to keep data in locations outside IT's visibility and control to keep up with maximum productivity. Businesses share confidential data with companies they partner with, for example. The trouble with that is IT departments don't have control or visibility into the other corporation, and have no way of knowing if the business partner has a data protection infrastructure that meets their standards.

"Enterprise-level file-sharing between organizations has always been a gap," said Douglas Grosfield, president and CEO of Xylotek Solutions, an Ontario-based IT consultant and Microsoft partner. "There have been third-party offerings that provide that ability ... but it's often clunky. This would go a long way to mitigate those risks."

File-level security has gained importance in enterprise IT as the need for file authentication and visibility becomes more apparent. As cloud storage and services continue to grow, new users naturally have concerns regarding cloud security.

When you talk about one product that protects against all ... types of threats, that product just doesn't exist.
Stephen Monterosvice president of business development and strategic initiatives, SIGMAnet

"That's one of the biggest issues from our perspective [when speaking to customers]" Grosfield said. "[Security] is always one of the limiting factors in any conversation of new technology." 

Incorporating a data protection offering will help ease the minds of those who are still tepid about adopting cloud for business use, Grosfield said.

"A lot of the security people don't realize it's a need," said Stephen Monteros, vice president of business development and strategic initiatives at SIGMAnet Inc., an Ontario, Calif.-based IT consultant. "As data gets pushed into the cloud, it raises questions. That's why security companies rise quickly and have become more prevalent."

Acquiring a company that specializes in mobile data protection is the fastest way for Microsoft to add these security features to its portfolio, Monteros said.

"If you look at security as a whole, you'll see a multitude of different types of products," he said. "You might see 50-60 in any corporation, and that might be too conservative. When you talk about one product that protects against all ... types of threats, that product just doesn't exist."

Another prevalent issue in shadow IT is the continuous rise of BYOD. Users who have corporate documents and data on their mobile devices may store or send confidential information anywhere, which limits IT's visibility and control. Mobile data protection at the file-level mitigates those risks said Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, an IT consultant and Microsoft partner based in Westborough, Mass.

"With the continued growth of BYOD, these types of [products] are more necessary and will provide businesses with better security," Falcon said.

Microsoft has been aggressively expanding its mobile data and cloud security portfolio over the last few months, as it also recently acquired cloud security company Adallom Inc.

Terms of the Secure Island acquisition were not disclosed and the deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Ramin Edmond is a news writer with TechTarget's End User Computing media group. Contact him at Redmond@techtarget.com.

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