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In January, Bill Gates declared that product security, or “trustworthy computing,” is Microsoft Corp.’s highest priority. To demonstrate his commitment, Gates named Scott Charney Microsoft’s chief security strategist. Charney, 46, ran the U.S. Department of Justice Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section from its inception in 1991 until 1999, when he joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as a partner in charge of computer security for many Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft. Since his arrival at Microsoft in April, Charney has been representing the company in meetings with trade groups, IT associations, government agencies and legislators, as well as assessing the security of Microsoft products. IP Worldwide contributor M.J. Zuckerman talked to Charney about his new job. M.J. Zuckerman: Why do you suppose you can succeed at Microsoft, in a culture that even Bill Gates acknowledges has never made security a top priority? Scott Charney: Public concern about security has grown. Security has to be built into products at the design phase, as opposed to patched later. That requires a mind-set and culture where you are thinking about security right out of the box. I see objective evidence of that cultural commitment. MZ: What will be an indication that you are succeeding? SC: The No. 1 goal is to reduce the number of successful [virus] attacks on [computer systems] and reduce the number of system failures, unavailability, stuff like that. Next, [there must be] consensus that products are getting easier to use in a more secure way and people have more faith in technology. MZ: What’s going to be the toughest part of your job? SC: The toughest part will be balancing privacy, security, commercial and business interests. You know, it’s fine for me to say, “Let’s delay that product for five years while we make it more airtight,” but you can’t just [do that]. There’s a market out there. … It’s an environment where technology is changing really fast and social mores are not well defined. MZ: What do social mores have to do with technology and security? SC: When I was at Justice, people wrote letters saying, “I found a cookie on my machine. I didn’t authorize anyone to do this. I want you to indict them.” I always declined. Technically, maybe that is [a violation]. But it’s also a common practice done by reputable companies. I don’t think threatening them with jail is the way to develop social mores. MZ: Tensions between Microsoft and the government seem to reflect some larger issues between the government and the IT industry. Are these frictions resolvable? SC: [At] Justice … we set up this industry-information group where we could sit down at regular intervals and tell them what we were seeing in the hacker world and [they could share] what they were seeing. At the first meeting … someone from IBM walked over to me first thing and said, “You know, we’re adversaries. … We’ve [been] in antitrust litigation since 1945.” I said, “Oh my God, does that mean we can’t talk?” He said, “No. We have complex relationships with the government. Sometimes we’re on the same side and sometimes we’re [not].” These are complex relationships … . There are times [when] we can’t live with each other and times [when] we can’t live without each other. We have to manage both of those relationships at the same time.

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