Microsoft announced that the NSA has cleared Windows 10 and the Surface tablet for classified use. The company also teased security improvements that will be discussed at the annual RSA Conference next week, where security experts from all over the world will gather.
Being cleared for classified use could help Microsoft do business with government agencies, independent contractors, and other groups that handle sensitive data. A place on the NSA's list of approved devices also gives Microsoft bragging rights--and the company put 'em to good use in its blog post:
Our customers are the most security-conscious in the world and demonstrating our commitment to meeting their needs is incredibly important to us. Today, I’m excited to share that both Windows 10 and Surface devices including Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book have been added to the NSA’s Commercial Solutions for Classified Programs (CSfC) list. The CSfC program listing demonstrates Windows 10, as well as Surface devices (the only Windows 10 devices currently on the list), when used in a layered solution, can meet the highest security requirements for use in classified environments.
But that doesn't mean Microsoft is done battening down the hatches of its software and hardware. The company also teased a number of security improvements that have either recently debuted or are expected to be released this year. These include more control over devices via Surface Enterprise Management Mode (SEMM), expanded device management, and updates to Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (WDATP), among others.
Many of those updates share a common goal: letting businesses use Windows 10 to control end points and defend against common threats. Microsoft said updates to SEMM will let companies disable a tablet's camera or microphone, for example, whereas updated Windows Analytics will let them know if software updates are being installed like they should be. To abuse the obvious pun--Windows is getting some bars, locks, and other reinforcements.
Microsoft also touted some of the operating system's existing features, such as Windows Hello, which allows people to sign in to their PC via facial recognition or fingerprint scan instead of a password. Combine that with a feature that automatically locks a PC when a paired smartphone leaves its vicinity--which is already available to Windows Insider program members--and Microsoft can help prevent careless mistakes on Windows 10 devices.
More information about these updates is available from Microsoft's blog post, and still more will be revealed in the days leading up to the RSA Conference that will run February 13-17. The bottom line is this: Windows 10 and Surface got a vote of confidence from the NSA, and over the next couple months, Microsoft will make it easier for businesses to manage their own security instead of relying on their employees' competence.