Windows 7 Offers Smarter Security For Road Warriors - InformationWeek

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Software // Operating Systems

Windows 7 Offers Smarter Security For Road Warriors

Microsoft's new operating system boasts flexible firewalls and other new safety features for those on the go.

In a boon for mobile workers and the IT personnel who support them, Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system includes technology designed to erect different lines of defenses depending on the type of network connection in place.

Windows 7 screen shot
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For instance, Windows 7 will automatically implement "public" firewall settings for a sales rep who connects to the Internet through a hotel broadband service. However, if the rep then establishes a link to his company's virtual private network, Windows 7 will implement the appropriate corporate "domain" settings, as predetermined by his company's IT department.

With older operating systems, "If I want to connect to the … corporate network via my VPN, the IT-configured firewall settings for accessing the domain corporate networks cannot be applied because the first network type (and thus the firewall settings) had already been set," noted Paul Cooke, Microsoft's Windows security director, in a blog post Monday.

"Windows 7 gets rid of this IT pain through support for multiple active firewall policies," wrote Cooke. "This enables my PC to obtain and apply domain firewall profile information regardless of other networks that may be active on the PC."

Cooke noted that Windows 7 also offers other new security features for mobile workers. A tool called DirectAccess works in conjunction with Windows Server 2008 R2 to automatically maintain a secure connection to corporate intranets. "As a result, I have seamless, secure access to the corporate network anytime I am connected to the Internet, without having to manually initiate a traditional VPN connection," wrote Cooke.

Another new tool, called BranchCache, helps branch office workers connect to the head office more easily and securely. A feature called Bit Locker To Go is designed to encrypt data on removable storage devices, such as a memory sticks.

"These enhancements give Windows 7 the expanded security offerings to provide the necessary security controls to help mobile workers access the information they need to be productive, wherever and whenever they need it," wrote Cooke.

Microsoft hasn't confirmed a release date for Windows 7, successor to the unpopular Vista OS, but some industry pundits are predicting a late fall or early winter arrival.

InformationWeek has published an indepth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).

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