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Microsoft Adds Cloud Security to Keep Out Hackers -- and Government Snoops

Customers can place data in virtual black box to keep out intruders
Illuminated server room panel
Illuminated server room panelPhotographer: Hoxton/Tom Merton/Hoxton

Microsoft Corp., working with chipmaker Intel Corp., is offering a cloud-computing service with more powerful encryption to secure data from hackers – and protect it from secret government data-gathering.

Called Azure confidential computing, the technology encrypts data while it is in use – which is when most security breaches occur, according to Azure Chief Technology Officer Mark Russinovich. The new product works by placing customer information in a virtual enclave, essentially a black box that keeps anyone outside the customer -- including Microsoft itself -- from accessing the data. That can keep cyberthieves, malicious insiders and governments from getting in without customer authorization.