Gates: 'Think like attackers'

Microsoft Corp. chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates said yesterday in his fourth security e-letter that 8,500 Windows engineers and testers learned 'to think like attackers' during last year's 10-week coding stand-down. Their in-house hacking found 'fully half of all bugs identified during the Windows security push,' Gates wrote.

Now Microsoft is designing an entirely new PC hardware and software architecture, code-named Palladium, which will have so-called sealed storage and curtained memory'pages of memory that are walled off by default from even the operating system, Gates said. That will eliminate current security weak links such as graphics card memory, which 'today anyone can look into' for sensitive or financial information, he said. The sealed storage would be accessible only to trusted software components.

The company also is cooperating with its top customers to introduce smart cards as a way of minimizing network password risks. 'Microsoft itself requires smart cards for remote access by employees,' he said, 'and over time we expect that most businesses will go to smart-card ID systems.'

Gates said products that have gone through threat modeling and security review include Visual Studio .Net, the forthcoming Windows Server 2003, the next versions of SQL Server and Exchange Server, and Office 11. Windows Server 2003 will be shipped with its Content Indexing Service, Messenger and NetDynamic Data Exchange components turned off by default. Current products already are being shipped with macros, Visual Basic Script and frame display disabled, he said.


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