Microsoft Singapore centre lets APAC governments review its source code

Software vendor opens fourth such facility to allow governments in the region to check its products and access data on cybersecurity risks.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has opened two facilities in Singapore to allow governments in Asia-Pacific to check its source code as well as provide access to its cybersecurity resources.

The launch of its integrated Transparency Centre and Cybersecurity Centre would offer the public and private sectors access to the vendor's security professionals and technologies, including machine learning threat intelligence analytics.

Microsoft operates three other regional Transparency Centre in the US, Belgium, and more recently, Beijing, China, all of which allow participating government bodies in their respective region to review the source code of all Microsoft products. Offered under the vendor's government security programme, these agencies also have access to data on cybersecurity risks and its security specialists.

According to Microsoft, some 40 countries and global organisations currently are part of the programme, including 10 from the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking at the launch Tuesday, Singapore's Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam noted the increase in cybercrime activities in the country, despite a dip in crime in other areas. He underscored the need to "level up" in battling such threats, by educating the public on how to protect their cyber welfare and beefing up the government's ability to fight cybercrime.

Shanmugam added that the country's legal and judicial infrastructure must be bolstered to keep up with the market landscape. He further iterated the call for global and industry collaboration.

"Cybercrime is growing in complexity, in sophistication across borders," he said. "While the government has the expertise, it does not have all the expertise. Partnerships with private sector has become essential."

He added that facilities such as the Microsoft centres would spur "innovation, collaboration, and information sharing".

Also speaking at the launch, Microsoft's corporate vice president for worldwide public sector Toni Townes-Whitley said the adoption of cloud technologies and focus on big data analytics had resulted in a fundamental shift in how IT was managed. Servers were no longer managed by the organisation itself but a third-party that also was responsible for running and securing the company's data.

"Given this shift, transparency becomes a critical value in the new digital economy," said Townes-Whitley. "It is on transparency that trust can be built, corporate responsibility can be assessed, and broad inclusive efforts can be benchmarked and replicated."

Microsoft's Singapore managing director Jessica Tan also noted that the vendor updated its Windows platform 1 billion times a month as well as monitor "hundreds of millions" of email messages as part of its Office 365 malware service. These provided insights into cybersecurity threats and attacks, which it shared with National Computer Emergency Response Teams worldwide, she said.

Tan said: "The more that we can share, the more we can help advance trust in technology. Through providing access to important Microsoft product and security resources, including source codes for key Microsoft products, access to Transparency Centers...and vulnerability and threat intelligent from Microsoft, we hope to create a world in which governments and citizens can trust the technology they use."

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