Microsoft sharpens encryption management tools

The 2014 version of the IT administration tool suite includes an improved BitLocker management component

Microsoft is giving the IT admin crowd an updated toolset for managing encryption with the latest release of its Desktop Optimization Pack, better known as MDOP.

MDOP 2014 has what Microsoft calls "substantial" improvements in managing the Windows BitLocker feature used to encrypt PC and server drives.

The focus on the BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) tool is timely, given recent high-profile cases of theft of massive amounts of sensitive user data. Encryption has also become a hot topic given the global privacy concerns over government snooping into the records of telecommunications and Internet activities of individuals and businesses.

The changes, which Microsoft detailed in a blog post on Friday, include support for Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS), a set of computer security requirements for U.S. federal government agencies and contractors.

Version 2.5 of MBAM now lets IT administrators manage key FIPS configuration options for BitLocker for protecting and recovering drive data and for recovering passwords.

MBAM 2.5 also gives IT administrators greater control to remotely schedule and trigger the encryption process on their users' devices, and to require that employees use strong BitLocker personal identification numbers (PINs).

The tool also has improved capabilities when installed on Windows Server clusters, including load balancing of its web components and the ability to deploy its databases in SQL Server failover clusters, according to Microsoft.

Another component that was upgraded in MDOP 2014 is the Application Virtualization (App-V) tool, designed to let IT departments store applications in a central server and stream them on demand to multiple user devices. The new version, App-V 5.0 SP2, improves the process of publishing and refreshing applications and allows IT administrators to test upgraded applications while retaining the original ones in the same device.

MDOP also includes the User Experience Virtualization (UE-V), Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM) and Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DART) tools.

MDOP 2014 is available for download for customers who subscribe to the Software Assurance licensing program.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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