Love and Kisses, Bill

Love and Kisses, Bill

[1/17/2002 11:52:40 AM | Shelley Powers] Bill Gates sent an email (copy at the Register) about how the company is going to have to get tougher on security. I stole a copy of it from the Register to present here, along with my own crystal ball interpretation (not actual fact, you understand) of how the memo looked with edits (which I’ll probably get in trouble for and have to pull so read quickly):

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 5:22 PM
To: Microsoft and Subsidiaries: All FTE
Subject: Trustworthy computing whatever you do, don’t leak this to the press 😉

Every few years I have sent out a memo talking about the highest priority for Microsoft that keep getting leaked to the press. Two years ago, it was the kickoff of our .NET strategy. Before that, it was several memos about the importance of the Internet to our future and the ways we could make the Internet truly useful for people, which got leaked to the press (hint) . Over the last year it has become clear that ensuring .NET is a platform for Trustworthy Computing is more important than any other part of our work. If we don’t do this, people simply won’t be willing — or able — to take advantage of all the other great work we do. Trustworthy Computing is the highest priority for all the work we are doing. We must lead the industry to a whole new level of Trustworthiness in computing. And whatever we do, we must not leak this to the press (hint, hint).

When we started work on Microsoft .NET more than two years ago, we set a new direction for the company — and articulated a new way to think about our software — and found a new way to charge people lots of money. Rather than developing standalone applications and Web sites, today we’re moving towards smart clients with rich user interfaces interacting with Web services. We’re driving attempting to ownthe XML Web services standards so that systems from all vendors can share information, while working to make Windows the best client and server for this new era , and our foot firmly planted on Linux’s neck.

There is a lot of excitement about what this architecture makes possible. It allows the dreams about e-business that have been hyped over the last few years to become a reality. It enables people to collaborate in new ways, including how they read, communicate, share annotations, analyze information and meet. It provides us a new way to make a shit-load of money..

However, even more important than any of these new capabilities is the fact that it is designed from the ground up to deliver Trustworthy Computing. And if you don’t leak this line to the press, you’re all fired. What I mean by this is that customers will always be able to rely on these systems to be available and to secure their information.Big Bill is watching you….and your little doggie, too. Trustworthy Computing is computing that is as available, reliable and secure as electricity, water services and telephony. And don’t anyone mention Enron in the same breath with electricity, okay?

Today, in the developed world, we do not worry about electricity and water services being available. With telephony, we rely both on its availability and its security for conducting highly confidential business transactions without worrying that information about who we call or what we say will be compromised. Computing falls well short of this, ranging from the individual user who isn’t willing to add a new application because it might destabilize their system, to a corporation that moves slowly to embrace e-business because today’s platforms don’t make the grade. And they’re not buying Windows XP because they heard it’s buggy as hell..

The events of last year — from September’s terrorist attacks to a number of malicious and highly publicized computer viruses — reminded every one of us how important it is to ensure the integrity and security of our critical infrastructure, whether it’s the airlines or computer systems. Computing is already an important part of many people’s lives. Within ten years, it will be an integral and indispensable part of almost everything we do. Microsoft and the computer industry will only succeed in that world if CIOs, consumers and everyone else sees that Microsoft has created a platform for Trustworthy Computing. Me: I didn’t need to add anything to this one for it to creep me out.

Every week there are reports of newly discovered security problems in all kinds of software, from individual applications and services to Windows, Linux, Unix and other platforms. We have done a great job of having teams work around the clock to deliver security fixes for any problems that arise. Our responsiveness has been unmatched no one else creates such buggy software — but as an industry leader we can and must do better. Our new design approaches need to dramatically reduce the number of such issues that come up in the software that Microsoft, its partners and its customers create. We need to make it automatic for customers to get the benefits of these fixes. We must scare people into letting us in to their systems.. Eventually, our software should be so fundamentally securepervasive that customers can’t hide from it never even worry about it.

No Trustworthy Computing platform exists today. It is only in the context of the basic redesign we have done around .NET that we can achieve this. The key design decisions we made around .NET include the advances we need to deliver on this vision. Visual Studio .NET is the first multi-language tool that is optimized for the creation of secure code, so it is a key foundation element. We want people to feel that they have to have .NET or their computers will turn to green goo.

I’ve spent the past few months working with Craig Mundie’s group and others across the company to define what achieving Trustworthy Computing will entail, and to focus our efforts on building trust into every one of our products and services. Key aspects include:

Availability: Our products should always be available when our customers need them. System outages should become a thing of the past because of a software architecture that supports redundancy and automatic recovery. Self-management should allow for service resumption without user intervention in almost every case.

Security: The data our software and services store on behalf of our customers should be protected from harm and used or modified only in appropriate ways to be decided by us, of course. Security models should be easy for developers to understand and build into their applications using our tools and technologies, of course.

Privacy: Users should be in control of how their data is used * giggle, snort *. Policies for information use should be clear to the user represented by a sharp and quick eyed lawyer. Users should be kept out of in control of when and if they receive information to make best use of their time. It should be easy for users to specify appropriate use of their information including controlling the use of email they send.

Trustworthiness is a much broader concept than security, and winning our customers’ trust involves more than just fixing bugs and achieving “five-nines” availability. It’s a fundamental challenge that spans the entire computing ecosystem, from individual chips all the way to global Internet services. It’s about smart software, services and industry-wide cooperation. It’s about us achieving world domination, which we won’t if people keep hearing about these damn security leaks..

There are many changes Microsoft needs to make as a company to ensure and keep our customers’ trust at every level – from the way we develop software, to our support efforts, to our operational and business practices. As software has become ever more complex, interdependent and interconnected, our reputation as a company has in turn become more vulnerable. We’re getting hammered boys and girls, and this is really tweaking my nose. Flaws in a single Microsoft product, service or policy not only affect the quality of our platform and services overall, but also our customers’ view of us as a company. Which kind of sucks at this time.

In recent months, we’ve stepped up programs and services that help us create better software and increase security for our customers. Last fall, we launched the Strategic Technology Protection Program, making software like IIS and Windows .NET Server secure by default, and educating our customers on how to get — and stay — secure. Ooo. That sound’s good. Make sure you leak that one. The error-reporting features built into Office XP and Windows XP are giving us a clear view of how to raise the level of reliability. We know what our customers are doing at all times now.. The Office team is focused on training and processes that will anticipate and prevent security problems. In December, the Visual Studio .NET team conducted a comprehensive review of every aspect of their product for potential security issues. We will be looking for scapegoats conducting similarly intensive reviews in the Windows division and throughout the company in the coming months.

At the same time, we’re in the process of brainwashing training all our developers in the latest secure coding techniques. We’ve also published books like “Writing Secure Code,” by Michael Howard and David LeBlanc, which includes subliminal messages that open source is evil gives all developers the tools they need to build secure software from the ground up. In addition, we must have even more highly trained sales, service and support people, along with offerings such as security assessments and broad security solutions. I encourage everyone at Microsoft to look at what we’ve done so far and think about how they can contribute.

But we need to go much further if we’re going to own the world.

In the past, we’ve made our software and services more required by compelling for users by adding new features and functionality, and by making our platform richly proprietaryextensible. We’ve done a terrific job at that, but all those great features won’t matter unless customers buy trust our software. So now, when we face a choice between adding features and resolving security issues, we need to choose making money security. Our products should emphasize security right out of the box, and we must constantly refine and improve that security as threats evolve. A good example of this is the changes we made in Outlook to avoid email borne viruses. If we discover a risk that a feature could compromise someone’s privacy, that problem gets solved first. If there is any way we can better protect our butts important data and minimize downtime, we should focus on this. These principles should apply at every stage of the development cycle of every kind of software we create, from operating systems and desktop applications to global Web services.

Going forward, we must develop technologies and policies that help businesses better manage ever larger networks of PCs, servers and other intelligent devices, knowing that their critical business systems are safe from harm and safely in out grasping little hands. Systems will have to become self-managing and inherently resilient and ours, all ours. We need to prepare now for the kind of software that will make this happen, and we must be the kind of company that people can rely on to deliver it or else.

This priority touches on all the software work we do. By delivering on Trustworthy Computing , customers will get dramatically more value out of our advances than they have in the past. The challenge here is one that Microsoft is uniquely suited to solve. This is for internal use only, you understand. Whatever you do, don’t leak this to the press 😉 * wink *

Bill The First

Print Friendly, PDF & Email