Microsoft CIO Details Internal Security Measures

Ever wonder what the alpha user of Microsoft software, Microsoft's internal IT Group, is doing about security? Microsoft corporate vice president and chief information officer Rick Devenuti offered a glimpse last week during MEC 2002 in Anaheim, Calif.

Devenuti kicked off the second day of MEC with a morning keynote that focused on how Microsoft uses its own software across its IT department, which supports 50,000 employees, 70,000 Exchange mailboxes, 150,000 PCs and 7,000 servers. Most of Devenuti's speech keyed on advantages the IT group is getting or expects from its early deployments of Windows .NET Server 2003 and Exchange Titanium.

But he also touched on some security efforts underway in Microsoft's IT department. For one thing, the company is rolling out smart cards for two-factor authentication. Currently, 27,000 employees are using cards for remote access to the network. By year end, all employees will use them, Devenuti says.

Another major way network security is being increased in Redmond is through the institution of what Devenuti calls a secure remote user/remote quarantine service. When users attempt to access the Microsoft network remotely, their systems are checked to ensure that a firewall is installed and that their anti-virus software has been updated recently, among other things. If the system does not pass, it is placed in a quarantine area where the user can download the necessary bits to get the system into compliance.

Devenuti also listed a few other initiatives inside Microsoft for making the network interior more secure. The company is enforcing stronger passwords and reducing shared administrator accounts on servers. Additionally, Microsoft is making a slight cultural change as a nod to the company's heightened awareness of the importance of security. Microsoft's desktop configuration policies have necessarily been loose, as it is important for their particular business that employees have a free hand to experiment with the software they develop or sell. But Microsoft is beginning to enforce application of security patches in the network interior, Devenuti says.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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