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MS takes a stab at security bulletin for the masses

Damned if you don't, damned if you do, do-be-do-be-do...

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Website security in corporate America

Microsoft has several problems with security, in addition to the obvious. The company has a lot of security alerts, yes, and if it's serious about security it has to keep people informed. But security bulletins in their unvarnished form are desperately techie, and will only serve to confuse/scare most users.

So don't send them all to everybody? Then you get whacked for 'hiding' problems. Microsoft's preferred solution has been and still is automatic update, but this week it offered a small concession - an email newsletter intended to cover the same territory as the TechNet security notification service, but in less technical language.

You can sign up for the service here. It's worth noting that it just asks for your email address - no other data, and it's one of the few things that you can get from Microsoft that doesn't require a Passport.

Microsoft UK chief security officer Stuart Okin told The Register that the ultimate goal was self-healing systems that use automatic update. Stuart, however, is neither an imbecile nor in the MS marketing team, and recognises how far over the horizon this is. A fair, and probably growing, number of consumers will use automatic update without quibbles, but there are plenty people who don't trust Microsoft, and/or have reasonable concerns about patches breaking their apps. Businesses probably also want to use alternative means (although a fair number of these will use the TechNet service as well, and some do use automatic update).

Okin confesses that his mother uses automatic update; which is good, because in his job, if even your mother didn't trust you you'd be in big trouble. But the proof of the new service will lie in what it says, and how it says it. How, for example, would Microsoft have explained Slammer to the masses? We look forward to the first one, and then to the first one when there's a big one. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

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