• United States

Time to get educated about Microsoft’s InfoCard initiative

Feb 22, 20062 mins

* Why your end-users will want you to know about InfoCard technology

Microsoft’s Chairman Bill came down from the mountain to San Jose last week, to deliver his wisdom to the assembled masses at RSA Conference 2006. This event used to be called the RSA Security Conference, and having the head of Microsoft keynote the event is akin to having Enron’s Ken Lay kickoff a business ethics symposium.

Still, the general press continues to swoon whenever Gates orates and this time was no exception.

According to a copyrighted story in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Gates issued a call …for better and simpler approaches to making computers more secure in the face of increased dangers.” Um, Bill? Removing all those potential buffer overruns in Windows would go a long way towards making our computers more secure, don’t you think?

But Gates was more intent on evangelizing add-on tools and systems to keep crackers, hackers and thieves away from our data than he was on finding ways to reduce vulnerabilities. One of the thrusts of his message was to build interest in the new “InfoCard” technology due with Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Vista. This is a way for users to remain in control of their identity data, while sharing it only when and where necessary without the need to remember multiple usernames and passwords. Of course, the general press ran off after a demonstration of the use of “smart cards” (credit card sized devices holding identity tokens) and assumed that InfoCard (which uses a smart card/credit card virtual metaphor) was the same thing. Your security officers and executives will need some re-education now that they’re back from the show. But, then, that seems to be necessary every time Mr. Gates makes a pronouncement, doesn’t it?

InfoCard is important, and it will be something you’ll need to be very aware of, need to educate your users about and have to incorporate in your overall network management. It will be available later this year and, as a “user-centric” function, will be used by your users on their home machines. That means they’ll want you to help them install and use it on their office machines. Once you become familiar with the technology, you’ll agree that it’s something desirable. Visit Microsoft’s InfoCard site to learn as much as you can about this technology, and then be sure your users, peers and execs understand what it can – and what it can’t – do.