Dispatches from Redmond

At a conference for public-sector CIOs in Redmond, Wash., last month, Kristin Johnsen, Microsoft's senior director for security outreach, briefed editors on a slew of promising technologies for protecting systems and networks. Here's a sampling, in no particular order.

Next quarter Microsoft will ship Antigen for Exchange, an enterprise antivirus product the company acquired when it purchased Sybari Software. The solution will include Microsoft's own AV engine, plus engines from Sophos, F-Secure and Computer Associates for added protection. Expect Antigen for SMTP Gateways in the summer.

Windows Vista will also include new security measures, including a Services Hardening feature that won't allow Windows services to perform actions they aren't supposed to, a two-way firewall that will scan outbound data traffic, and a full-disk encryption utility. According to a Vista product manager, the BitLock Drive Encryption uses the 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm (see WinMagic, which uses a 256-bit AES algorithm that has been validated by NIST).

Officials also demonstrated new anti-phishing technology that will be a part of Internet Explorer 7. Like similar products out today, the IE feature looks for signs a URL and Web page are bogus (like whether graphics are pulled from a separate server). Bad addresses are highlighted in the address bar and users are blocked from going to the sites (although they're given the option to proceed if they really want to).

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