Gates vows software security

Microsoft chief Bill Gates promised that his company would further improve security in its products as part of a drive to convince people about Windows operating system.
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Updated on Jan 24, 2003 12:53 PM IST
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PTI | ByAssociated Press, Washington

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates promised that his software company would continue improving security in its products, part of a campaign to convince large customers that the Windows operating system is safe for even sensitive businesses.

"New security risks have emerged on a scale that few in our industry fully anticipated," Gates wrote in a 1,500-word e-mail distributed late on Thursday to about one million people.

He cited figures showing corporate losses to hackers and other types of electronic attacks exceeded $455 million in 2001.

Gates said Microsoft will improve support for "smart cards," devices that can replace or augment computer passwords.

A single computer user may need dozens of passwords for e-mail, websites and connecting to office systems. Most passwords are easy to guess or difficult to remember.

In his e-mail, Gates called passwords "the weak link."

Smart cards carried by employees can help authenticate a person's identity when plugged into a computer slot or swiped through an attached reader device. Some cards flash random numbers that an employee must type accurately to access a system.

Gates said Microsoft now requires that all its employees use smart cards to access the company's computers from home or while travelling.

That policy went into effect after a break-in into Microsoft's internal systems in October 2000. Investigators believe it happened after hackers hijacked an employee's unprotected home computer.

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