Microsoft chases lead in web security with SSL for devs

If there's been a theme online over the past couple of years, it's the rise of web service hacks and privacy blunders, and Microsoft is hoping to help developers keep their users safer with a push for SSL. Currently, getting an SSL certificate – which allows the browser to authenticate what it's showing with the legitimate company behind it – costs money, but as of today Microsoft is offering free SSL security for Azure developers.

In fact, Microsoft is offering developers a single IP-based SSL certificate, and five SNI (Server Name Identification) based certificates, the company announced at Build 2014 today.

The security news came alongside a wealth of new developer tools designed to make identifying and fixing site and service bugs more straightforward. That includes live editing of a site within a browser like Internet Explorer, Chrome, or something else, that instantly updates the code in Visual Studio, using a new feature called BrowserLink.

Microsoft also showed off a new feature where developers could build cross-platform apps – such as for Windows Phone and iOS – in a single session with Azure and Visual Studio, including full testing.

The new security push follows a greater shift to measures like two-factor authentication, which service providers have encouraged to help avoid account hacks. An increased reliance on cloud-based services for email, messaging, social networking, online banking, and others, has also seen an increase in hacking and phishing attempts.

Of course, developers will need to actually use security certification in order to make any real difference, and SSL isn't the be-all and end-all to online protection. Nonetheless, as more attention is paid to the risks of online data, Microsoft's move is one we'd not be surprised to see Apple and others offer SSL to their developers too.