Skip to main content
Trust is the strongest weapon of all

Microsoft is leaving no stone unturned in its Trustworthy Computing initiative as it searches for ways to fight viruses and hackers. But its biggest battle is to win over cash-strapped organisations this side of the pond.

The RSA Security Conference in Amsterdam this year saw Microsoft making a powerful effort to display its European credentials around privacy, PKI and information security strategy in general.



Microsoft has been working very hard to ensure that its software meets the approval of the regulators in Brussels, and PKI in Windows 2003 is just one example of how it is attempting to provide the standards framework, in this case, digital signatures, that support the EU’s plans for a more joined-up and e-capable Europe.

Detlef Eckert, Microsoft’s director of Trustworthy Computing for EMEA, conceded that much greater trust, in the computing sense, was needed to bring ICT to the next level.

Tomorrow’s joined-up government," says Eckert, “Can only be built on a secure platform of trusted relationships. It is this management of trust, which represents one of the greatest challenges in the 21st century. Without widely available, reliable and secure trust-based systems and technologies, truly joined-up government is unachievable and e-government can only be an aspiration.”

The head of Microsoft’s security business unit, Mike Nash, offered what is by now, a well-polished message, that the company is leaving no stone unturned – which includes placing a $5m bounty on the heads of virus authors - as it searches for measures to further reduce the risks faced by businesses fighting a constant battle against internet-borne threats.

What worried me a little was that Nash did not appear to fully grasp that Europe wasn’t quite the same place as the US when it came to migration. I pointed out that on this side of the pond, migrating from Windows NT 4.0 was a big deal for many organisations and that quite regardless of the security argument; they weren’t going to suddenly roll out a Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP combination just because Microsoft said so, because of the expense involved in doing so.

This makes Microsoft’s job harder and leaves business more vulnerable to the next big threat, when it arrives and arrive it will.

One question I tried to ask was, “Is Microsoft in the business of security or in the security business?” but Mike Nash could only offer the reply, “both of these."

Personally, I do not believe that Microsoft can continue sit on the fence. In my mind; the company is, increasingly, becoming a security products supplier, by default if not by intention, and NSCGB (formerly known as Palladium), the Next Generation Computing Base and many more initiatives underline this inexorable drift in strategy under Trustworthy Computing.

An interesting sound bite from Mike Nash at the RSA keynote, was the company’s comforting vision of “a place beyond patching”, a revelatory experience, which for many of us will occur, not in this world but ‘In a better place’ regardless of your religion, Orthodox Windows or perhaps even Anglican Linux.

Finally, Tony Neate from the National Hi-tech Crime Unit revealed that my web journal is now popular enough to deserve having its URL hijacked by a UK sex site. I should be flattered but while my name is being borrowed, I’m receiving none of the benefits in return

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…