Microsoft and NATO have agreed to renew a longstanding partnership that will see the tech giant provide the intergovernmental treaty group's Communications and Information Agency with details of Microsoft products and services, as well as new information about cybersecurity threats.
It's part of the company's Government Security Program, which was created in 2002 to provide governments around the world with controlled access to Microsoft's source code. Since its inception, the GSP has grown to encompass a bunch of other types of information, especially over the past few years. With the new agreement, NATO will get controlled online access to source code for key Microsoft products including Windows and Office; information about Microsoft's cloud services, and intelligence about cybersecurity threats.
That last piece is of particular importance, especially in light of high-profile attacks on government databases such as the hacking of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which the U.S. government blamed on Chinese crackers.
The Communications and Information Agency believes NATO's members are facing new and increasingly dangerous cybersecurity threats around the world that could affect their citizens and their economies. It sees the rapid and early sharing of information about those threats as key to avoiding them.
It's worth noting that Microsoft's agreement is with NATO itself, and not its member states. That said, Microsoft has other agreements with more than 40 agencies from international organizations and countries including Australia, Austria, Canada, Poland and Russia. NATO will be able to share some security information with its constituent states in order to protect them from threats.
The deal is part of the broader NATO-Industry Cyber Partnership, a program the treaty organization announced last year. NATO was one of the first governmental organizations to sign on with Microsoft's program, and the two have been working together under the auspices of the GSP for the past 12 years.