Microsoft's Gates Expounds Virtues Of IPSec, IPv6

Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie shared the stage for the opening keynote of the RSA Conference in San Francisco, addressing about 4,000 of the show's expected 15,000 attendees.

Customers need to provide users with anytime, anywhere access to applications and resources while making sure that access is granted only to the information that is appropriate for that user.

The duo held out two Internet standards -- IPSec and the next generation of the Internet Protocol, IPv6 -- as key technologies that will enable the granular, policy-based security environments needed to support customers' evolving security needs.

"The ability to pick who connects to whom, to insist on a certificate for some proof of who the endpoints are, those are foundational pieces," Gates said of the capabilities that IPSec, along with IPv6, provide.

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As more and more devices get connected, IPv6 will also address problems cropping up with a shortage of IP addresses on IPv4, the most commonly used version today, Mundie said.

Microsoft's recently released Windows Vista platform and upcoming Longhorn server platform support hybrid IPv4/IPv6 environments as well as pure IPv6 environments, he said.

Microsoft is also building in administration features to ease the deployment of IPSec-based security environments.

"With our products and what is coming from our partners, we will be able to move people gracefully in this direction," Mundie said.

One new step that will help customers ease online issues with reputation and trust is Microsoft's move to integrate its Windows CardSpace identity management technology with the OpenID 2.0 digital identity specification.

"This is a big step forward. It eliminates the potential for man-in-the-middle attacks," Mundie said, noting that the combined solution provides seamless identity management that scales from simple, browser-based environments to complex enterprise environments.

Also at the conference, Microsoft announced Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007, scheduled for availability in May, which adds support for managing credentials such as certificates and smart cards to Microsoft's current metadirectory and user provisioning capabilities.

The Redmond, Wash., company also launched the public beta of the Forefront Server Security Management Console, a centralized, Web-based management offering for the administration of the vendor's messaging and collaboration security solutions.

In addition, the company said it has added support for Extended Validation SSL Certificates in Internet Explorer 7, which alerts users to available identity information for the sites they visit.