Microsoft’s new security chief says it is time to take shelter in the cloud

Microsoft has built a $15 billion business—and one of the world’s biggest private cyber armies—to counter cyberattacks, but the storm of threats is expanding. U.S. banks flagged nearly $600 million in ransomware payments during the first six months of 2021, and cybersecurity experts put the cost of that much higher. Corporate and public networks are also under siege from scammers looking to steal their money and government-backed hackers looking to steal their secrets.

“It’s sort of like the mother of all problems,” said Mr. Bell in his first interview since joining Microsoft from Inc. last year. “If you don’t solve it, all the other technology stuff just doesn’t happen.”

Microsoft finds itself uniquely positioned in the center of all of this activity, Mr. Bell said. Its email and office-productivity products are dominant on corporate and government networks, and it is the country’s No. 2 provider of cloud-computing services.

Mr. Bell, who at Amazon helped build the world’s largest cloud business, said Microsoft is taking center stage in combating cybercrime. Some of its customers have said the company has more to do.

Microsoft has been hit by a series of high-profile cyber intrusions in recent years. In December 2020, the company said it had been compromised by the hackers behind the cyberattack on SolarWinds Corp.—a group that U.S. officials have linked to the Russian government….


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