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March 2002

Trustworthy computing: Don't compromise security for convenience

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates recently told his troops that it was time to learn about computer security. So 8,000 Microsoft systems programmers will march off to boot camp for a month of security training. I'm glad to hear it. Viruses and worms--such as Code Red, Melissa, LoveLetter, Nimda and MyParty--have been wreaking havoc on the Internet. It's nice to know that, now that Windows XP is on the shelves, Microsoft is going to check it over for security flaws. But security may be more difficult than my esteemed colleague expects. At Sun, we've spent 20 years building security into the box. Solaris, Sun's Unix-based operating system, was designed from day one for a multiuser environment, and security was a concern from the beginning. And when Sun developed its Java technology for automatically downloading executable code from the Web, security was a primary design requirement. To keep downloaded code from misbehaving, we designed in such groundbreaking language implementation technologies as code-safety verification and runtime ...

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