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Microsoft calls for talks on Internet trust, safety

Launches 'End to End Trust' effort, touts 'trusted stack' and calls for input

April 8, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. today called for broad discussions about the safety of the Internet in an initiative it dubbed "End to End Trust" in a white paper released during the RSA Conference that opened today in San Francisco.

In a keynote address at the security conference , Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft, talked up the company's plans. Core to the concept of End to End Trust, said Mundie, is something he called "a trusted stack," where security is housed or rooted in the hardware, but each piece -- the hardware, software, the data and even the people involved -- can be authenticated if necessary.

"We believe that End to End Trust will transform how the industry thinks about and approaches online trust and security," said Mundie. "End to End Trust will enable new opportunities for collaboration on solutions to social, political, economic and technical issues that will have a long-term impact on Internet security and privacy."

In the white paper (download PDF), which was authored by the chief of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing group, Scott Charney, Microsoft laid out its ideas. "Microsoft and the technology industry alone cannot create a trusted online experience," Charney said in remarks released before Mundie's speech. "For that to happen, industry must not only band together, but must work with customers, partners, governments and other important constituencies on a road map for taking Trustworthy Computing to the Internet.

"Trustworthy Computing" is the tag that Microsoft applied to its efforts, now six years old and counting, to improve the security of its own software, primarily Windows. Mundie, who wrote the white paper outlining that initiative, pointed to four so-called "pillars" that the company would create: security, privacy, reliability and business integrity.

End to End Trust is an extension of that work, George Stathakopoulos, the general manager of Trustworthy Computing, said in an interview today. "The goal today [of End to End Trust] is to make it a platform for a dialogue. We want to discuss the broad concepts with everyone else, and work to create a trusted stack."

Any and all will be welcome in such discussions, which Microsoft has yet to clarify or even define. "We'll have forums and dialogue," said Stathakopoulos, "and we'll be updating everyone at regular intervals and reporting on progress."

Even the Charney white paper, which Microsoft posted to its Web site following Mundie's address, was light on details and heavy on generalities. Stathakopoulos said that is by design. "This isn't a strategic or prescriptive paper. We already have the solutions for many of these problems. This is more a call for the industry coming together.

"Let's have an open discussion."



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