Microsoft is closing its Trustworthy Computing Group as part of the loss of 2,100 jobs in a restructuring plan unveiled on Thursday.
The Trustworthy Computing Group is to be disbanded, with responsibilities for security and privacy programs folded into its Cloud & Enterprise Division, and its Legal & Corporate Affairs group.
Remaining staffers from the former security and privacy programs will respectively report to Microsoft cloud and enterprise chief Scott Guthrie and Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith.
Redmond is also shuttering its Silicon Valley research lab, GeekWire adds. Veteran Redmond-watcher Mary Jo Foley concurs that the research lab is for the chop.
Microsoft is looking to slash headcount by 18,000 staffers over the course of the year.
Trustworthy Computing Group was created in 2006, shortly after the completion of development work on Windows Vista. But even before the formation of the unit, Microsoft had for a number of years actively promoted trustworthy computing as a concept. The initiative was a response to concerns about the security and reliability of Windows in particular and, more generally, to worries about its privacy and business practices.
Redmond is spinning the closure of the unit as a way of pushing the Trustworthy Computing staffers closer to Microsoft’s engineering teams. One prominent former Microsoft staffer, Caspar Bowden, said Trustworthy Computing was in any case "one-third engineers, two-thirds PRs".
Early reaction to disbanding the group among independent security watchers has generally been negative.
"Who needs security anyway? Disbanding TwC, what a short-sighted move by Microsoft," said security veteran Chris Eng.
"Microsoft shuts down Trustworthy Computing Group just as Apple & Google begin visibly competing on privacy & security," noted Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, in an update to his personal Twitter account.
However, security watcher Debasish Dey took comfort from the possibility that former Trustworthy Computing will be integrated more closely with Microsoft’s engineering teams. "Security can be ground up rather patching later practice," he said. ®