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By Kim Zetter
April 30, 2009
It=E2=80=99s the most secure distribution version of Windows XP ever produced by
Microsoft: More than 600 settings are locked down tight, and critical
security patches can be installed in an average of 72 hours instead of
57 days. The only problem is, you have to join the Air Force to get it.
The Air Force persuaded Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to provide it with a
secure Windows configuration that saved the service about $100 million
in contract costs and countless hours of maintenance. At a congressional
hearing this week on cybersecurity, Alan Paller, research director of
the Sans Institute, shared the story as a template for how the
government could use its massive purchasing power to get companies to
produce more secure products. And those could eventually be available to
the rest of us.
Security experts have been arguing for this =E2=80=9Ctrickle-down=E2=80=9D model for
years. But rather than wield its buying power for the greater good, the
government has long wimped out and taken whatever vendors served them.
If the Air Force case is a good judge, however, things might be
Threat Level spoke with former CIO of the Air Force, John Gilligan, to
get the details.
Gilligan, who served as CIO of the Air Force from 2001 to 2005 and now
runs a consulting firm, said it all began in 2003 after the NSA
conducted penetration tests on the Air Force network as part of its
regular testing of Pentagon cybersecurity.
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LayerOne 2009, Information Security for the discerning professional.
May 23-24 2009 @ The Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, California
Visit http://layerone.info for more information