Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has used an industry conference to lay down a vision of security as a business enabler rather than a fortress to protect internal systems.
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Speaking at the RSA Conference in San Francisco - his last before he leaves Microsoft to run the Gates Foundation next year - Gates said Microsoft’s development strategy would enable businesses to communicate more securely online.
“People want more flexibility. Partners in business want to share information,” he said.
Up until now, security has focused on a creating a fortress around an organisation, but now a much more powerful paradigm was needed, Gates said.
He added that developments in internet technology are beginning to make this new paradigm possible.
They include the new internet standard, IPV6, which will allow businesses to define how external systems connect to their networks and develop policies on who can access what information.
Microsoft has been working over the past two and a half years to secure its networks in a way that enables business partners and customers to link into its systems.
It has extended these lessons into Windows Vista and the Longhorn server operating system, due to be released later this year, Gates said.
“One of those policies is a health check. You can say, ‘Is this system up to date in terms of patches?’ That can be very important if you have people coming in on laptops. You can give them limited access while they do the update. Once they have the update, you can allow that full access to the network,” said Gates.
Microsoft plans to offer businesses more digital rights management technologies in the future, said Gates. This will allow them to protect sensitive information by controlling access to documents and restricting who they can be e-mailed to.
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