Microsoft signs up VeriSign to secure .NET

And HailStorm hits Network Solutions domain reg business

VeriSign is to provide authentication and security technologies within future .NET offerings. And in return VeriSign will use Microsoft's HailStorm suite of fee-based services throughout its business.

The deal means that HailStorm, which has been criticised by privacy and security experts, will find its way into VeriSign's Network Solutions domain registration operation, which will be moved onto Windows 2000 servers along with the rest of VeriSign's business.

HailStorm, which is currently in development, is designed to enable users to access their personal information from any location and any device through the use single sign-on and authentication system based on Microsoft's Passport.

The companies will work together to integrate VeriSign's Personal Trust Agent technology, which provides users with a tool to manage their digital credentials and preferences, as part of Microsoft's Passport authentication, single sign-in and secure messaging capabilities.

Microsoft's agreement with VeriSign is designed to give confidence to users that Web-based services on online transactions can be made secure, however doubts over Redmond's patchy security record mean Microsoft will need to do a great deal to convince the market on this.

Let's not forget that in March Microsoft had to admit that VeriSign issued two certificates in its name to a scam artist posing as a Microsoft employee. The certificates were of the sort used to digitally sign programs and the group who obtained the certificates might use them to trick users into running malicious code, signing Trojan horses and viruses with Microsoft's name.

That, and Microsoft's failure to keep the digital certificate on one of its own ecommerce sites up to date hardly inspires confidence. And that's before we even get to consider the fear that the deal may be a key part in a plan by Microsoft to extend its dominance of the desktop into the Internet market.

On the positive side the deal does imply that Microsoft is beginning to recognise that security is a factor that might affect the uptake of its technology, and not something that should be easily traded off against making products easier to use. If improving security becomes linked in the minds of senior execs in Redmond to increased sales we might actually end up with more secure products. ®

External Links

Microsoft and VeriSign Announce .NET Alliance

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