'Trustworthy' Computing Now Gates' Focus

R.A. Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Tue Feb 15 09:14:57 PST 2005



'Trustworthy' Computing Now Gates' Focus

 1 hour, 21 minutes ago

By MATTHEW FORDAHL, AP Technology Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -  Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates (news - web
sites) is expected to give his perspective Tuesday on computer security and
provide an update on the software giant's efforts to make computing more

 He will speak to an estimated 11,000 security experts gathered for the
weeklong RSA Conference, sponsored by RSA Security Inc., based in Bedford,

 In the three years since Microsoft launched its initiative to improve the
security of its products, the company has changed how its software is
written, improved the mechanism for fixing bugs and released some tools for
removing virtual pests.

 So far, results have been mixed. While there have been no major attacks in
recent months, the number of worms and viruses continues to grow and other
headaches - such as spam, spyware and adware - are multiplying and quickly
becoming security threats themselves.

 Most still target Microsoft Windows, the world's dominant operating system.

 Since Gates (now the company's chairman and chief software architect)
spoke at the RSA Conference in 2004, Microsoft has issued a major security
upgrade to Windows XP (news - web sites) aimed at blocking malicious code
and protecting users from downloading programs that might carry a virus,
worm or other unwanted program.

 The company also has recently started releasing programs that remove a
limited number of worms and other pests. It's also giving away an early
version of Microsoft AntiSpyware, a program that removes unwanted programs
and helps protect new ones from being installed.

 But so far it's remained mum on when it will jump into the antivirus
software business and directly compete against companies that sell programs
designed to shore up Windows.

 Microsoft declined to comment in advance of the speech.

 "It may be something of a natural evolution for them, although ironic
given that it's a majority of their software is what they're having to
protect," said Vincent Gullotto, vice president of McAfee's Antivirus and
Vulnerability Emergency Response Team.

 "While they're building software to protect their software, they're also
building their software to be secure," he added. "It should prove to be
some interesting times."

 Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to be a target. Last week, a "Trojan horse"
program was detected that attempts to shut down its antispyware program as
well as steal online banking passwords.

 "This particular attempt appears to be the first by any piece of malware
to disable Microsoft AntiSpyware, but it may be the first of many such
future attacks," said Gregg Mastoras, senior security analyst at Sophos
PLC, a security firm.

 Meanwhile, other security software vendors aren't standing still.

 Symantec, for instance, has unveiled a new version of its corporate
computer security software that promises not only to remove traditional
viruses and worms but also adware and spyware. The updated programs are
expected to be available next month.

 "Customers are looking for spyware and adware protection from their
antivirus vendor, a partner they trust," said Brian Foster, Symantec's
senior director of product management for client and host security.

 McAfee Inc., another antivirus company, also is putting a greater focus on
spyware and adware with its McAfee Anti-Spyware Enterprise for
corporations. It will be available March 2.

 McAfee also is announcing that it will send out updates of its virus
definitions on a daily, rather than weekly basis. The new program starts
Feb. 24 for its corporate clients. The more frequent updates will be
available for its retail software in about three months, Gullotto said.

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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