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2/4/2005
03:50 PM
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Microsoft Pledges To Help Governments

Security program focuses on collaboration and goes beyond advanced notification

Microsoft has pledged to work more closely with governments around the world to help ensure that their business-technology systems are protected against cyberattacks.

Gates describes the program at a forum for European leaders.

Gates describes the program at a forum for European leaders.

Photo by EPA
Chairman Bill Gates revealed the Security Cooperation Program last week at the European Government Leaders Forum in Prague. The program focuses on collaboration and aims to create an open dialogue regarding security-incident response, reduce the severity of Internet attacks, and foster educational outreach to citizens.

Delaware is among the first to sign up for the free program, which is open to national and state governments worldwide. The state expects the program to help it better plan for personnel to quickly deploy patches and will provide it with easier access to high-level Microsoft engineers to discuss security issues, Delaware CIO Thomas Jarrett says. "Security is a game of minutes and hours, and even an advanced warning of a few days about security issues can make a big difference," Jarrett says. "I don't see any downside to this."

The government program goes a step further than Microsoft's advanced notification service, which posts reports for customers on the Web about security issues on the Thursday before the company's software-patch rollout on the second Tuesday of each month.

Yet some wonder whether Microsoft has ulterior motives. In recent years governments in Brazil, China, and Germany have embraced or considered switching from Windows to Linux, says John Pescatore, an analyst at research firm Gartner. Says Pescatore, "Without the open-source threat, I doubt Microsoft would be doing this."

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