Microsoft’s Anti-Virus Business Will Hurt the Global Network

Posted by Mike Brittain on July 24, 2006
Microsoft

There is an article on ZDNet today about Microsoft’s security get-together with security and anti-virus companies. The gist is that Microsoft is now a competitor in the space for anti-virus products and will be less likely to reveal some product secrets that they used to share. My guess is that this is true.

It’s unfortunate that Microsoft can’t keep their focus straight. The company’s job, with respect to Windows, is to put forth a secure operating system that is immune, so-to-speak, from computer viruses. The goal shouldn’t be to build some junky security scheme and build another process to guard it. Instead, build the security policy well and maintain an upgrade program that fights problems that arise.

Norton, McAffe, and others have a very valid place in the industry. They play the role of third-party watch guards over the Windows (and Macintosh) operating systems. The product that watches for security problems and viruses really shouldn’t be built by the same people who build the OS and the security policy. That leaves the company (Microsoft) open to compromised decision making on what is and is not a flaw.

Sadly, I believe that companies in the anti-virus industry are going to be hurt by Microsoft’s new tools in Vista. Consumers will tend toward using the tool that comes along for free with Vista. This will inevitably spell trouble for the global network (the majority of consumers and businesses who use the Windows OS) as third-party anti-virus tools, which are now common place, begin to disappear. I suspect that exploits, viruses, and worms will be on the rise.

The watched becomes the watcher.

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