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Google: Microsoft Tech Is Bad for Government Security

Google is pointing to government organizations' reliance on Microsoft technology as a serious security threat.

In a blog post Thursday, Google's Jeanette Manfra, senior director of global risk and compliance, argues that the widespread use of Microsoft's productivity suites has led to some of the bigger security incidents in recent years.

"The SolarWinds breach in 2020, for example, may have cost governments and businesses more than $100 billion and the loss of vital national security information," said Manfra. "Yet many government agencies continue to rely on the same legacy productivity software."

The company is pointing to a recent survey commissioned by Google Cloud that found that the majority of employees also carry the same sentiment.

When 2,600 surveyed working Americans were asked if "the federal government's reliance on products and services from Microsoft makes it more vulnerable or less vulnerable to hacking or a cyberattack," 51 percent of respondents said "more." That number jumped up to 60 percent when filtered by only government employees (which accounted for 600 survey participants).

Manfra points to the issue of IT having a "monoculture" with its reliance on Microsoft that creates these security concerns. "When asked why their employers used Microsoft services, around half said that the reason their employer continues to choose legacy, incumbent vendors was more about not wanting to change than wanting the most effective tool for the job."

Further, when asked if there were tools that would help employees do their job better than Microsoft's offerings, 52 percent of government employees agreed. Manfra said this is troubling, as it could lead to shadow IT, where individuals use not officially supported software in their enterprise environments.

Of course, Google, which has a bigger stake in the security landscape game after its recent acquisition of Mandiant, recommends an expansion of software and service options for government employees troubled by the reliance on Microsoft. "At Google Cloud, we believe it's time for more diversity and choice in the tools available for our civil servants across the nation -- 70 percent of whom use Gmail outside of work, according to our survey," said Manfra. "Government workers have the right to benefit from the same flexible, secure-by-design tools at the office that they use in their personal lives."

The timing of the released survey also coincides with the Pentagon this week announcing plans to invest $9 billion in cloud infrastructure by the end of the year. The Pentagon has already approached Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle as possible candidates for the upcoming contracts.

Microsoft did respond to Google's survey, finding it "disappointing but not surprising," according to a statement by Frank Shaw, Microsoft's corporate vice president of communications.

"It is also unhelpful to create divisions in the security community at a time when we should all be working together on heightened alert," said Shaw. "We will continue to collaborate across the industry to jointly defend our customers and government agencies, and we will continue to support the U.S. government with our best software and security services."

About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.

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