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Government must take security responsibility, says Microsoft

Bill Goodwin
Governments, rather than the private sector, need to take responsibility for securing critical national computer and communications systems, Microsoft's chief of security said this week.

In a speech to law enforcement agencies and security specialists, Scott Charney, chief security strategist at Microsoft, warned that market forces alone would not produce the secure systems needed to protect critical infrastructure from attack.

He called for government to co-operate with the private sector to set standards and fund research into improved computer security that, while it may not produce a commercial payback, would benefit society.

"Industry is designing and developing this infrastructure, yet governments are relying on this infrastructure to protect national security and national prosperity. The only way this is going to work is through partnership," he said.

Charney's comments follow signs of concern in the US and UK Governments - which predominantly use the Windows operating systems - over the number of serious vulnerabilities in Microsoft products that could be exploited by hackers.

"Clearly industry has to do more to secure products and services. Historically they have not focused on that. We have a huge mission ahead," said Charney.

Initiatives such as Trusted Computing, which aims to build security into the PC architecture, will be a leap forward, but it could be 10 years before the full benefits are realised, he added.

Charney suggested that governments should fund research in areas of computer security that are not likely to produce a commercial return, leaving other areas of research to the private sector.

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