by CIO Staff

Microsoft Trumpets Vista Security at Launch Party

Jan 30, 20073 mins
Small and Medium BusinessWindows

Windows Vista will be the most secure operating system that Microsoft has released, a company executive said Tuesday at a Vista launch event in Washington, D.C.

Microsoft has listened to feedback from users, who disagreed with the decision to have some security features turned off by default in Windows XP, said Bill Veghte, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for North America.

“I won’t mince words,” Veghte said to an audience of nearly 3,000 people. “Every single time we had a trade-off between application compatibility or security, we went with security.”

But Vista also includes a feature that shows users which applications have problems after switching from an earlier version of Windows and the fixes that are available for those issues, Veghte said.

Microsoft will also submit its Office SharePoint Server 2007 for U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) certification for electronic records management, Veghte said. Microsoft, working with partner Applied Information Sciences, expects to have SharePoint Service compliant with DoD 5015.2 standard in May.

The DoD standard focuses on secure records handling, requiring encryption on Web-based applications, the ability to schedule records to expire, and the ability to restrict user access to documents.

Applied has developed a Records Management Center add-on pack to SharePoint Server, part of the Microsoft Office 2007 suite released Tuesday along with Vista. That add-on will allow users to comply with the DoD standard and have “military-grade” records management, said Russ Stalters, Applied’s chief technology officer.

The add-on package will allow customers to collaborate using SharePoint without buying third-party records-management software, as SharePoint users have had to do in the past, Stalters said. By complying with the DoD standard, the software package “sets the bar” for records management for customers in highly regulated industries, he said.

In addition to the DoD compliance, Microsoft’s new offerings contain several new security features, Veghte said in his speech.

Microsoft has the responsibility of setting the standards for secure defaults and architecture in Vista, he said. Hackers are not standing still, and “we have to keep pace,” he said.

Among the new security features in Vista:

• System administrators can stop PCs from allowing USB drives or other peripherals to be connected.

• Vista and Internet Explorer will warn users when a website attempts to install dangerous code.

• An antiphishing site, updated hourly, will warn users of e-mail messages that attempt to trick them into giving up their personal information.

• If a user manages to download malware, the Windows Defender security software is designed to block it from doing damage.

• The Enterprise and Ultimate versions of Vista will allow users to encrypt hard drives.

Vista’s BitLocker Drive Encryption feature is an attempt to address continuing problems with data breaches, often caused by lost laptops, Veghte said.

About 660,000 laptops were lost or stolen in the United States in 2006, he said, leading to a lot of stories about such incidents that “ended up on the front page” of major newspapers.

-Grant Gross, IDG News Service (Washington Bureau)

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