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Turning Points

Bill Gates' First RSA Keynote Two years into Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative, Bill Gates put his mouth where his money was, delivering the first of his four RSA Conference keynote addresses. It was not so much what he said on Feb. 24, 2004, but where he said it in front of an audience weary of endless patching and malware hitting Windows systems. For the record, Gates primarily previewed security in XP Service Pack 2.

Spyware Adware vs. spyware debates abated in 2004 when it became clear spyware was a security issue and machines were infected with more than just annoying pop-ups. The market was initially slow to respond. Eventually, antivirus transitioned to integrated, comprehensive antimalware tools, featuring combinations of signature- and behavior-based detection, host-based intrusion prevention, host firewalls and more. Hackers have also built business models around spyware, with large botnets spewing Trojans or hijacking machines used in everything from DDoS attacks to money-laundering schemes.

Wireless Wi-Fi liberated us, changing the way we work, making us mobile, enabling us to connect to the Internet and corporate assets at home, on the road and roaming throughout the workplace without the restrictions of wired Ethernet connections.

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Like most new enabling technologies, security has been playing catch-up to functionality. Wi-Fi was particularly vulnerable with a rash of insecure rogue access points and the use of hotspots to connect to corporate assets. Even reasonable precautions often weren't enough, as WEP, the first security standard, suffered from weak encryption and static keys. WPA and WPA2 standards eventually corrected WEP's weaknesses.

This was first published in January 2008

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