June, 2010

  • Creating Trust for the Government Cloud

    Posted by Scott Charney
    Corporate Vice President, Trustworthy Computing

    Today I’m testifying at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  The hearing is on the benefits and risks of the federal government’s adoption of cloud computing.

    Cloud computing in its many forms creates tremendous new opportunities for cost savings, flexibility, scalability and improved computing performance for government, enterprises and citizens. At the same time, it presents new security, privacy and reliability challenges, which raise questions about functional responsibility (who must maintain controls) and legal accountability (who is legally accountable if those controls fail). Customers, including the government, need to make informed decisions about adoption of the cloud and its various service models because the model that is embraced will entail different allocations of responsibility between the customer and the cloud provider(s).

    This shifting responsibility requires that both cloud providers and governments take seriously their distinct and shared responsibilities for addressing the security, privacy and reliability of cloud services. Both customers and cloud providers must understand their respective roles. Customers must be able to communicate their compliance requirements, and cloud providers must be transparent about the controls in place to meet those requirements:

  • Capitol Hill Gets Game Smart

    Posted by Fred Humphries
    Managing Director, U.S. Government Affairs  

    Last night, an important audience experienced Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring that children use digital media and video games in safer, healthier, and more balanced ways. The audience was the U.S. Congress.

    In cooperation with Reps. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Bobby Scott (D-VA), John Shimkus (R-IL), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Microsoft and the Get Game Smart program hosted Capitol Hill Family Game Night. More than 150 members of Congress, staff and their family members were joined at this educational event by parents and children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

  • Using All the Tools at Our Disposal to Stop Spam Scams

    Posted by John Scarrow
    General Manager of Safety Services

    Last week the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court under the federal CAN-SPAM Act against the perpetrators of what we believe to be one of the largest-ever spam attacks on Windows Live Hotmail. The lawsuit –Microsoft Corporation v. Boris Mizhen, et al. – alleges defendants engaged in an elaborate scheme to evade Microsoft’s filters by abusing Microsoft’s Junk E-Mail Reporting Program (JMRP) and Smart Network Data Services (SNDS) to send vast quantities of spam each day. JMRP and SNDS are free services designed to help protect Windows Live Hotmail customers from spam by encouraging people to report it and to help improve our spam filters by identifying legitimate mail as such.

    In our lawsuit, we allege that defendants opened millions of Hotmail e-mail accounts and hired people to manually identify spam mails as legitimate mails in order to trick Hotmail into classifying spam as legitimate mail. Such actions undermine the measures we’ve put in place to protect people. We take this abuse very seriously, and while Hotmail and our SmartScreen filter continue to work to block spam from this identified scheme, we’ll keep investigating and pursuing spam attacks to protect our network and our customers.

  • Education and Empowerment: Making the Internet Safer For Children

    Posted by Caroline Curtin 
    Policy Counsel, U.S. Government Affairs

    Caroline Curtin
    Caroline Curtin

    A broad-based group representing the technology industry, public interest groups, and the federal government has released a report—“Youth Safety on a Living Internet”—that exploresindustry efforts to make the Internet a safer place for children.

    The Online Safety and Technology Working Group (OSTWG) was established by the Broadband Data Improvement Act. Passed by Congress in 2008, the legislation directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to create the OSTWG in order to examine industry efforts to promote online safety and evaluate the development of parental control technologies.

    I participated on Microsoft’s behalf—along with more than 30 child safety experts from the public and private sectors—in the OSTWG meetings over the last year.

    I learned many things during my year with the OSTWG, but one meeting particularly stands out. We invited middle and high school students from Washington, D.C. schools to talk about their experiences on the Internet. Students expressed genuine concern for their “digital reputations” and how unintended consequences of the pictures they post and messages they leave on social networks could potentially affect their ability to get into college or attain a job.

  • Innovation at the U.S. Patent Office: Director Kappos' Three-Track Examination Proposal

    Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
    Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel

    For more than a decade, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been criticized for long delays in the processing of patent applications and for issues around patent quality. Both can have negative impacts on innovation, as the USPTO recognized in a recent White Paper.

    To address these problems, USPTO has done some innovating of its own. Director David Kappos announced a proposal earlier this month that grapples with the backlog issue and offers an opportunity for applicants to work with the Office to assign priority to pending applications. The “Three-Track” proposal would enable applicants, when they file, to request expedited review under Track I or delayed examination under Track III. Applicants that do not request either option would have their applications processed under current procedures (Track II). We applaud the creative thinking and leadership behind the Three Track initiative. If carefully implemented, it will have real benefits for innovators of all sizes, from companies like Microsoft to small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as individual inventors and universities.

  • The Campaign Cloud

    Posted by Pamela Passman 
    Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs

    and Ravi Singh 
    CEO of ElectionMall.com

    The 2008 presidential election showed how powerful the Internet has become in modern politics. From raising money to communicating with constituents to organizing staff, cloud computing is enabling incredible opportunities and efficiencies. 

    Candidates are increasingly using social media tools like Twitter to communicate directly with voters, and Facebook recently launched a new U.S. Politics on Facebook Page where people can track campaign and political activity occurring on the social networking site. 

    To help campaigns of all sizes leverage the power of the Web, ElectionMall.com and Microsoft have partnered to create Campaign Cloud, a customizable platform of technologies that simplifies the process of building and maintaining an online political presence.

     

  • Privacy in the Era of Social Media and Cloud Computing

    Posted by Peter Cullen
    Chief Privacy Strategist

    I have been actively engaged in privacy issues for over a decade, first at the Royal Bank of Canada and now as Chief Privacy Strategist for Microsoft since 2003.

    During that time privacy has rarely received as much attention as it’s getting now.  Mainstream media from  Good Morning America to USA Today regularly have stories about everything from shifting online privacy policies to unauthorized collections and use of personal data.  At the same time, some in the tech industry have suggested that social networking and other new technologies are making privacy obsolete.

    Given the high level of interest, I’m pleased to be in San Jose this afternoon to deliver the keynote address at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference.

    Microsoft has been working on online privacy issues since launching MSN in 1994.  We’ve had our challenges along the way, but we’ve learned from our mistakes and privacy has become increasingly central to everything we do.

    Earlier this year, in a speech at the University of Washington, Steve Ballmer said: “As a mature and responsible organization, we have got to lead with privacy.”

    And this is very much Microsoft’s goal.  To apply what we’ve learned in the past around privacy to today’s rapidly evolving landscape of social media, information flows and the cloud.

    One reason we are focused on privacy is because it still very much matters to our customers- it remains a matter of “trust.”

    While social media may be pushing the boundaries around privacy and altering certain behaviors, heavy users of social media – including young people who some claim don’t know better --  value and fiercely protect their right to privacy.

  • “Clicking With Caution” During Internet Safety Month

    Posted by Caroline Curtin
    Policy Counsel, U.S. Government Affairs

    Yesterday the U.S. Senate proclaimed June as National Internet Safety month, part of a nationwide effort to raise public awareness of potential online threats.

    At Microsoft, we’re continually looking for new ways to share online safety tips and tools with parents and children. Recently we worked with the nation’s largest school system – the New York City Department of Education – to develop a four-part Internet safety video called Clicking with Caution. The video series will be distributed to all NYC middle-school students this week.

    We‘re especially excited about this safety video because it was produced by teens for teens. ReelWorks, a New York City-based company that mentors teens in the art of filmmaking, produced the documentary-style videos, which focus on online awareness, online predators, cyber-bullying and smart gaming. As the students in the video explain during a classroom discussion about online safety, kids know more about the Internet than adults do, in some ways, though they may not understand the risks.

  • IP Ventures Helps a Dublin Financial Startup

    Posted by Patrick Brazel
    CEO of Zignals

    (Cross posted from The Official Microsoft Blog)

    Patrick Brazel
    Patrick Brazel

    In 2008, the financial markets changed fundamentally and completely. The causes will be debated and they of course predate the collapse. But there is no argument that the summer of 2008 is when the market certainties that had prevailed since 1945 evaporated.

    It was at this time that my business partner and I had been working on a plan to address what we saw as a huge gap in the financial market. We saw a need to empower individual investors with the online capabilities that were available only to professional or major institutions. At the same time, we wanted to create opportunities for a new class of researchers to earn from its expertise by being paid for the strategies it creates and publishes.

    We believed strongly that the model had to change — something different was needed. We had a compelling idea and a strong plan, but were searching for the technology to lift it off the ground.

    Around that time, while attending an event hosted by Enterprise Ireland ­ the economic development arm of the Irish government, I was introduced to Microsoft’s IP Ventures program. We learned that IP Ventures identifies innovative technology developed at Microsoft, and provides it to interested entrepreneurs like us to start new businesses. We brought the idea and our financial services experience to the table, and after approving our plans, IP Ventures gave us access to IP assets, as well as the support and business guidance we needed to help us develop our idea into something concrete.

  • Administration Issues Plan for Growth through IP Enforcement

    Posted by Nancy Anderson
    Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel

    This week the Obama Administration released the nation’s first-ever Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement. Joining Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel in announcing the plan were Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. The plan demonstrates the Administration’s strong commitment to protecting intellectual property and promoting job creation and growth. Microsoft is pleased to support it.

    As the Joint Strategic Plan recognizes, “Intellectual property supports jobs across all industries, and in particular where there is a high degree of creativity, research and innovation.” A prime example is the software industry, which has been a remarkable engine for jobs and economic growth. According to the Business Software Alliance, the software and related services sector employed almost 2 million people in the United States in 2007, in jobs that paid 195 percent of the average wage. The sector contributed more than $261 billion to U.S. GDP in 2007, making it the largest of the U.S. copyright industries, and its overseas earnings added a $37 billion surplus to the U.S. balance of trade in 2009.

  • A New Tool in the Fight against Fraud

    Posted by Nancy Anderson
    Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel

    Today in Washington, DC, the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) and other leading industry and consumer protection organizations are announcing the worldwide launch of Internet Fraud Alert. It’s a new program to help make the Internet a safer and more productive place for consumers and businesses.

    Through a centralized alert system powered by Microsoft technology and managed by NCFTA, Internet Fraud Alert provides a new, powerful tool to quickly inform financial and online companies about compromised customer account credentials (such as online usernames and passwords) or stolen credit card numbers. With this information, institutions can take action to protect their customers from further fraud against their accounts.

    The effects of fraud can be devastating to people and the financial and online institutions whose services they use. Last year, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, one million U.S. households lost money or had accounts misused as a result of phishing, at a cost of $650 million. APWG’s recent data suggests that phishers are exploiting more brands than ever before.

     

    As online fraudsters become increasingly sophisticated in their endeavors, so too have public/private countermeasures. But we’re not yet as effective as we could be. For example, when compromised or stolen account information is uncovered, there is no easy way to determine the company responsible for the account or how best to report the problem – which wastes valuable time and resources.

  • Congratulations, School of the Future Graduates

    Posted by Mary Cullinane
    Director of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives, Microsoft Worldwide Education

    With great fanfare four years ago, teenagers began their high school careers at a new school called The School of the Future. A partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and Microsoft, the school was built to help lead the way toward establishing a new norm in urban education: one where mediocrity is no longer acceptable, every child can be successful and opportunity is provided to all, not just those lucky enough to be chosen.

    I’ll never forget that day and seeing the hope in students’ eyes. You could sense their apprehension, but also their intense desire to embark on the journey.

    This week again I will witness the power of hope and inspiration as 117 School of the Future students walk across the stage and become what more than 35 percent of high school freshmen in this country do not: graduates. They have surpassed their own expectations, and it wasn’t easy. While more than 3,000 inquisitive visitors from 50 countries walked the hallways to observe the school first hand, students overcame many challenges: Leadership changes, social and economic pressures, and simply the challenge of being teenagers. Now they are graduating, and – pay close attention here – every graduate has been accepted into a technical school, community college or university.

  • Computers, Freedom and Privacy

    Guest Post by Jon Pincus
    Chief Technology Officer, Qworky
    Co-Chair, Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference

    The issue of privacy in social networks is on the cover of Time magazine and is showing up in attack ads in political races. We're in the midst of intense political battles over net neutrality and cybersecurity. The one-year anniversary of the Iranian election protests highlights the potential as well as the risks of online activism for human rights.  Issues like privacy of health-care information, the 'smart grid' and intelligent transportation systems are affecting more and more people in their day-to-day lives.

    And hey, guess what? All of these topics and more are on the agenda for this week's 20th anniversary conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy in San Jose, California. On top of that, we’ll draft a Social Network Users' Bill of Rights and wrap up the conference with a debate and voting.

    CFP is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) as part of its ongoing effort to educate policymakers and the public on how computing and information technologies are transforming our society. In aid of that, we're webcasting many of the sessions, including Tuesday's opening session on Privacy and Free Speech: It's Good for Business and Microsoft Chief Privacy Strategist Peter Cullen’s Tuesday afternoon 5 p.m. PT keynote, on The Importance of Accountable and Privacy-Centric Organization in the Cloud Era: Why Privacy Matters.

  • Task Force Weighs Privacy and Innovation

    Posted by Peter Cullen
    Chief Privacy Strategist

    The Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force is seeking comments and holding meetings with Internet stakeholders about “the impact of current privacy laws in the United States and around the world on the pace of innovation in the information economy.” The Department intends to issue a report that will likely help shape the Administration’s policy engagement on Internet privacy.

    Interest in privacy issues is more intense than ever because of the world’s growing reliance on online interactions, the pervasive use of mobile devices, the ubiquity of social networking and the rise of cloud computing. Privacy policymaking is complicated, however, by the global nature of the Internet as various jurisdictions come into play. Yet we must get this right. As the Department noted in its request for comments: “Proper use of personal information can play a critical, value-added role, so establishing consumer trust and assuring flexibility for innovators is vital.” We agree that it’s important to identify policies that will help ensure “public confidence necessary for full citizen participation with the Internet.”