Mike Nash responds to Slashdot Security questions


Mike Nash responds to some of the most popular questions from the SlashDot crew on the state of Microsoft product security, and how we go about creating secure software.


Say what you want about Slashdot, but I for one am glad to see that we are responding to the large technical community that hangs out on their forums.


Questions about the state of Microsoft Security today include:



  • Besides the same old PR scripted answers that corporations like to give in order to obscure or downplay what is really going on. What assurance can you give us that Microsoft is more focused on security and that Vista is going to be any different from the previous incarnations of Windows? What proof can you give us? Information like "We have a new team doing X" or "our process for reviewing changes has gone to X" are helpful pieces of information to answer this question. What else have you seen in the way MS is developing Vista that is different from how you've developed previous products?

  • Is there a general policy within Microsoft to help product teams make consistent security decisions? There are frequently issues where the decision has to be made between being more secure or more user friendly. For example, file and printer sharing defaulting to off prevents people from unknowingly sharing their resources, but requires non-technical users who do wish to set up a small network to know more about the process than in previous versions.

  • Given that security is a major topic on IT manager's minds these days with security flaws and patches practically making front page news of some publications, What do you feel is going to be the main focus for security in 2006 for yourself and the industry as a whole?

  • Has open-source software such as Linux influenced the way you think about security in Windows, and if so, how?

  • Does Microsoft lean more towards rigidly enforced coding standards as a way to prevent exploitable bugs, or does the company focus more on brute-force bug detection during testing? I know the easy answer is to say "both, of course" but a 50/50 split is unlikely. So, does testing take the backseat, or does the code?

  • Is there a general policy within Microsoft to help product teams make consistent security decisions? There are frequently issues where the decision has to be made between being more secure or more user friendly. For example, file and printer sharing defaulting to off prevents people from unknowingly sharing their resources, but requires non-technical users who do wish to set up a small network to know more about the process than in previous versions.

Etc


 


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