Gates Outlines Microsoft Security Plans

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates says a new version of Internet Explorer, along with a new anti-spyware technology, will continue his company's fight against phishers, spammers and virus writers.
Posted February 15, 2005

Sharon Gaudin

SAN FRANCISCO -- Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates says security is the top priority for his company, and a new version of Internet Explorer, along with a new anti-spyware technology, will continue their fight against phishers, spammers and virus writers.

''Security is the most important thing we're doing,'' Gates, who also serves as Microsoft's chief software architect, told a crowd of security professionals at the 14th Annual RSA Conference this morning. ''In everything we're doing, this has to be foremost... It's a challenging area. New threats are emerging all the time... but we're working to mitigate those problems.''

In his keynote address that kicked off this large computer security conference, Gates says Microsoft is working to bring greater levels of security defenses to the next version of Internet Explorer for Windows XP Service Pack 2 customers. IE 7.0, slated to go into beta testing early this summer, is geared to add on new levels of security, including new anti-spyware, anti-phishing and anti-virus capabilities.

Gates also talked about the upcoming release of Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware, which he says currently is being tested by 5 million beta users. It went into beta testing Jan. 6. When the product is shipped, Gates says it will be free to Windows licensees.

The AntiSpyware product, much as the name implies, offers spyware protection -- thwarting known spyware at the gate -- and also is designed to rid computers of spyware infections.

Part of Microsoft's plan to battle this insidious code is to create SpyNet, a virtual network of users -- consumer, academic and corporate -- who report in on what code they have downloaded and what it did to their systems. Gates says that half (or 2.5 million) of AntiSpyware's beta testers are participating in SpyNet.

''We get half a million reports a day on SpyNet,'' he says. ''This lets us know if spyware code has been changed to mask itself to our defenses.

''We've got to nip this now before it gets worse than it is today,'' Gates adds.

Gates also touched on:

  • Microsoft plans on updating Windows Server System next year;
  • Service Pack 1 of Microsoft's Rights Management Server is geared to include new 'lock box' scenarios, and it will support smart cards, which Gates says he expects to pick up speed as security tool in the next few years. Not putting a release date on it, he only said that the update is 'coming', and
  • Streamlining software updates is a major focus for the software giant. Gates notes that there was a 400 percent increase in the number of PCs that were being automatically updated by customers using Software Update Services and Windows Update in 2004. In an attempt to simplify the update process, Gates announced that a beta version of Microsoft Update, a unified update service for consumers and small businesses is scheduled for release in mid-March. Gates also says the final version of a complimentary service designed for mid-size and larger enterprises, Windows Update Services, will be available in the first half of 2005.

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