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@stake luminary fired for controversial paper

Consultancy @stake fired its CTO, noted security researcher, Dan Geer last week for his participation in a research paper critical of Microsoft's dominance in computer networks, and the security implications of its market share.

The fallout continues over the firing of noted security researcher Dan Geer by his employer, @stake, for publishing a controversial paper warning that Microsoft's market dominance threatens U.S. security.

"We're security researchers," said paper coauthor Bruce Schneier, CTO at MSSP Counterpane Internet Security. "We speak, write and state our views all the time."

"Cyber Insecurity: The Cost of Monopoly," released last week at the Computer & Communications Industry Association's meeting in Washington, D.C., asserts that Microsoft's overwhelming market share has caused U.S. computer networks to be susceptible to massive, cascading failures. The authors didn't elaborate on the consequences of Microsoft security problems.

Although Geer said the paper was an independent project, @stake said it was unaware of the paper until it was released. "The values and opinions of the report are not in line with @stake's views," said @stake spokesperson Lona Therrien.

Geer was unreachable for comment. @stake wouldn't confirm that it fired Geer, but close associates of Geer say his termination was no coincidence.

"When we presented the report, he was employed at @stake. And they tried to retroactively fire him," Schneier said of a short e-mail sent to the press by @stake saying the former @stake CTO is no longer "associated" with the firm as of Sept. 23, the day before he presented the paper.

Geer coauthored the paper with Schneier; Becky Bace, CEO of consultancy Infidel; Peter Gutmann, a computer science researcher at the University of Auckland; Charles Pfleeger; master security architect at Exodus Communications; John Quarterman, founder of InternetPerils; and Perry Metzger, the managing partner at Metzger, Dowdeswell & Co. According to the authors, Microsoft's market dominance with faulty software is undermining national security and puts critical infrastructure at risk to hackers, malware and cyberterrorists.

Geer and his coauthors called upon the government to break up Microsoft's grip on the software market and promote heterogeneous infrastructures.

@stake does extensive security work for Microsoft, but Therrien wouldn't comment on whether the firm's relationship with Microsoft played a part in Geer's separation.


"Cyber Insecurity: The Cost of Monopoly"

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