Microsoft Aims for Protection—From Users

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2003-05-05 Print this article Print

The word "security" is used a lot by Microsoft officials when they discuss the company's plan for Next-Generation Secure Computing Base, formerly code-named Palladium.

The word "security" is used a lot by Microsoft officials when they discuss the companys plan for Next-Generation Secure Computing Base, formerly code-named Palladium. However, if you think NGSCB has anything to do with keeping your future Windows systems more secure from viruses, worms and other security problems, think again.

What Microsoft people really mean when they talk about security is security for Microsoft from you. NGSCBs main purpose is to make sure users such as yourself arent pirating Microsofts or partners software or any other copyrighted content—even if that means taking over your system remotely and removing or disabling the offending untrusted software.

NGSCB will make sure that only "trusted" applications will run, which, according to Microsoft officials, will boost system security. But if the NGSCB version of Outlook is exploited by viruses or worms, your system will still be affected because Outlook will be considered a trusted application.

Microsoft says that if you have these concerns, you can turn the trusted operating system off. However, can this really be considered a choice if you need to be using a trusted application to read documents from partners or have them be able to use your content? That choice could become as spurious as the supposed choice in office document formats is now. Also, one can envision a scenario where this becomes a path to forced upgrades, where older versions become untrusted when newer versions are released.

It boils down to this: In a traditional security scenario, you as a user have control over your system to protect it from outside attackers who are enemies of your system. With Microsofts vision of the trusted operating system, some system control is handed over to vendors and copyright holders who see you, the systems owner, as the enemy.

East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr Rapoza's current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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