Microsoft seeks security cooperation

Microsoft officials have launched a program to create a community of governments at all levels worldwide to share information and conduct joint projects on network and information technology security. The program's goal is to more effectively handle viruses, worms and other incidents.

Initial members of the Security Cooperation Program (SCP), announced by Bill Gates at Microsoft's Government Leaders' Forum in Prague, the Czech Republic, are the governments of Canada, Chile, Norway and the United States, along with various state and local entities.

The first challenge will be to obtain the trust relationships necessary for sharing information across national and governmental boundaries, said Stuart McKee, Microsoft's national technology officer, in an interview with Federal Computer Week.

"The ability to share critical information is pretty low right now," he said. "Trusted relations [with another entity] is critical to both running and improving the security infrastructure."

SCP members will have immediate access to Microsoft's incident response center, McKee said. During an incident, they will have real-time contact with Microsoft engineers and incident response engineers.

Following an event, a feedback loop will be established to evaluate what happened, how effective the response was and what can be done to make it better the next time, McKee said.

SCP participants will use all means of communication, including phones, e-mail, fax, text-messaging and collaboration tools such as Microsoft's SharePoint so they can do such things as post documents securely, he said.

Delaware is one of the early state participants. The program could be a major boost to the state officials' attempts to handle their security problems, said Tom Jarrett, Delaware's chief information officer.

Delaware is a heavy user of Microsoft products, he said. The state has its own security experts, but they don't have the specific expertise that Microsoft officials can offer.

"We want to move out of a reactive environment" to security incidents, Jarrett said. ""So anything that helps us to affect things on a more proactive basis is very good for us."

Based on discussions he's had with Microsoft officials about SCP, Jarrett said Delaware should quickly reap some benefits, particularly concerning core security issues, through access to Microsoft's security experts.

"Traditionally we haven't had that level of access," he said.

At least at the beginning, SCP outreach will be a major activity, McKee said.

"The most important thing we can do is increase awareness about the need to focus on security as a critical business and government issue," he said. "Also to stress the fact that people also need to focus on it when they are not in the middle of an incident."

If SCP membership balloons, there could be management problems, McKee said. But he said Microsoft officials would be ecstatic if such a large community evolved.

"It will be a great problem to have," he said.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group