E-envoy gets a peep at Windows source code

E-envoy Andrew Pinder is to head an "information assurance" unit that will check the security of software used by government.

E-envoy Andrew Pinder is to head an "information assurance" unit that will check the security of software used by government.

In his first move as Central Sponsor for Information Assurance, Pinder signed the Microsoft Government Security Programme (GSP) that will allow central government IT experts controlled access to the Windows operating system source code.

The government would benefit from a clearer view of the security design of Microsoft products and the opportunity to influence future products, said Pinder. "I will now be starting a dialogue with other vendors in the software industry to ascertain whether we can reach similar agreements."

The information assurance group will have a team of 12 and a budget of £5m, and will co-ordinate existing information security work across the government.

However, Peter Sommer, security expert at the London School of Economics, questioned the unit's ability to monitor software security fully. "Unless the e-envoy is very well resourced, with extremely robust analysts, this latest initiative is likely to fail," he warned.

The UK government follows Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in signing up to the GSP programme announced by Microsoft last month.

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