MY TAKE: Is Satya Nadella’s ‘Safe Future Initiative’ a deja vu of ‘Reliable Computing?’

By Byron V. Acohido

SAN FRANCISCO — On the eve of what guarantees to be a news-packed RSA Convention 2024, opening right here on Monday, Microsoft is placing its cash the place its mouth is.

Associated: Shedding gentle on LLM vulnerabilities

Extra exactly the software program titan is placing cash inside attain of its senior executives’ mouths.


In an enormous improvement, Microsoft introduced right this moment that it’s revising its safety practices, organizational construction, and, most significantly, its govt compensation in an try to shore up main safety points with its flagship product, to not point out quell rising strain from regulators and prospects.

A shout out to my buddy Todd Bishop, co-founder of GeekWire, for staying on high of this improvement. His breaking information protection is as thorough as you’d anticipate as a Microsoft beat author with institutional information going again a few many years.

Org overhaul

As Todd studies, not solely is Microsoft basing a portion of senior govt compensation on progress towards safety objectives, it additionally will set up deputy chief data safety officers (CISOs) in every product group,and produce collectively groups from its main platforms and product groups in “engineering waves” to overtake safety.

This immediately delivered to thoughts one thing eerily comparable that occurred 22 years in the past – one thing each Todd and I wrote about on the time. On January 15, 2002, Invoice Gates issued his well-known “Reliable Computing” (TC) company-wide memo, slamming the brakes on Home windows Server 2003 improvement and quickly redirecting his high engineers to emphasise safety as a high precedence.


This “safety stand down” allowed Microsoft to conduct a complete assessment and overhaul of their software program design  practices, as a part of a broad effort to combine safety deeply into the software program improvement course of at Microsoft. Given its stature as an 800 lb gorilla, Microsoft definitely influenced cybersecurity as an entire, arguably setting a course for utility safety rules and practices that had been to evolve within the wake of TC.

Stress redux

However now, as soon as once more, Microsoft is feeling sufficient strain from its enterprise prospects to recalibrate its method to safety. Simply as Gates’ memo turned a constitution to infuse safety, privateness, and reliability throughout all Home windows merchandise, Satya Nadella’s Safe Future Initiative (SFI) is geared toward deepening this ethos in an surroundings now dominated by subtle cyber threats, cloud-based knowledge and pervasive AI applied sciences.

The frequent denominator is belief—important then and now. Initially, TC was about setting a safety baseline inside the material of software program improvement through the web’s adolescence. SFI expands this imaginative and prescient, emphasizing intrinsic safety within the design, deployment, and operation of Microsoft’s huge array of services and products, focusing notably on the challenges posed by AI and cloud vulnerabilities.

Below Gates, TC catalyzed a metamorphosis inside Microsoft that rippled out throughout the tech business, prompting a heightened deal with growing software program that was safe by design.

TC’s legacy

An argument definitely might be made that TC foreshadowed “shift left” software program safety improvement practices and, in the end, DevSecOps. The core precept is that each section of software program improvement must be infused with some facet of safety.


I’d argue that TC laid the groundwork for steady safety integration, a core part of DevSecOps. This method ensures that safety concerns usually are not an afterthought however are embedded all through the event lifecycle. Extending from this basis, SFI appears well-positioned to push these boundaries additional, integrating AI to proactively handle safety threats and embedding sturdy safety measures as default settings in new merchandise.

Whereas TC reshaped conventional software program safety, SFI has an opportunity to assist not simply Microsoft prospects, however the tech sector as an entire. The large job at hand is to reconcile privateness and safety issues in terms of securing advanced AI algorithms and sprawling cloud networks.

Humorous how even because the tempo of change accelerates, the core privateness and safety issues stay the identical. I’ll maintain watch and maintain reporting.


Pulitzer Prize-winning enterprise journalist Byron V. Acohido is devoted to fostering public consciousness about how you can make the Web as personal and safe because it must be.



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