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Microsoft Targets Foreign Cyberattacks with Miburo Acquisition

Microsoft is acquiring a government-connected research firm to bolster its existing cybersecurity capabilities with tools to fight foreign cyberattacks.

Miburo, which Microsoft announced it was acquiring on Tuesday, will get folded into Microsoft's customer security and trust organization led by Tom Burt. In a statement, Burt described Miburo as a leader in identifying "foreign information operations," with teams that can detect such actions "across 16 languages."

The terms of the deal weren't described, but Burt said it will help Microsoft "shed light on the ways in which foreign actors use information operations in conjunction with other cyber-attacks to achieve their objectives."

There's not much information about Miburo at its Web site, although it emphasizes its role in protecting democracies and protecting the Internet from disinformation in its mission statement. Miburo's clients are described as companies, as well as government agencies.

"Miburo has developed and delivered in-person and online instruction to tens of thousands of law enforcement, military, intelligence and cyber security professionals providing strategic understanding and tactical tools for mitigating cyber, social media, and terrorist threats," its Web site stated.

Clint Watts, Miburo's president and CEO, has a military and FBI background and is notable for having testified about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections before the Senate Intelligence Committee, per his Wikipedia bio. He's also a distinguished research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, which has a list of his many articles on national security issues.

Watts recently categorized the "U.S. domestic extremist landscape" one year after the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection in this article, which is appearing at a time when Congress is yet again reviewing those violent incidents.

Microsoft views itself as having a role to protect its customers from "cyber threats from nation-states" as part of its overall security commitments, according to Burt. That view also is regularly reflected in the Microsoft security blog, which has chronicled attacks from "Polonium" (Lebanon-Iran), "Actinium" and "Nobelium" (Russia), and "Nickel" (China), for instance. Microsoft typically uses chemical element names to describe nation-state attackers.

Microsoft's buy of Miburo comes shortly after Google's $5.4 billion purchase of Mandiant, announced back in March. Mandiant is another U.S. government-connected security research firm that's specialized in detecting and analyzing nation-state types of attacks.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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