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by Paul Kerstein

Microsoft Security Initiative in Germany Progresses

Oct 25, 20054 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

An online security program spearheaded by Microsoft Corp.’s Germansubsidiary could serve as a model for similar programs in otherEuropean and North American markets, a company spokesman said in aninterview at the Systems exhibition and conference in Munich this week.

The German program, called Sicher im Netz, or Safe in the Net, waslaunched earlier this year by Microsoft Deutschland GmbH incollaboration with several organizations including eBay GmbH, SAP AG,VeriSign Inc. and the Internet division of Deutsche Telekom AG. It hasbeen endorsed by the German Federal Ministry of Economics andEmployment.

Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect, attended the kick-off event in January.

The program targets three primary groups: small and medium-sizebusinesses (SMBs), consumers and young children. It consists largely ofproviding information to make users aware of e-mail viruses, Trojanhorses and other malicious software programs distributed over theInternet, according to Walter Gansser, a Microsoft Deutschland director.

“For small businesses, we provide information tailored to managingdirectors, IT staff and employees,” Gansser said in a presentation.

The group is distributing a CD at Systems that allows users ofWindows-based computers to locate and remove malware and also to rebootinfected machines. In November, several German-language PC magazineswill distribute 4 million copies of the CD, according to Microsoftspokesman Thomas Baumg?ner.

All information is presented in a quick, easy-to-read and “playful”style, according to Baumg?ner. “We’ve used this approach even for theinformation we’re providing to SMBs,” he said.

The Sicher im Netz program has seven components, of which six are nowcomplete: a security check; support for software developers andstudents; an IT security information package with checklists andexamples of good IT security practices; an online test certificate; aportal ( for young people between the ages of8 and 13; information on how to buy and sell securely on the Internet;and the yet-to-be completed security barometer.

“The security barometer is sort of like a weather barometer; it warnsyou of current viruses, Trojans and other malware that could penetratesystems if users aren’t properly informed,” Baumg?ner said. “We hopeto have this completed shortly.”

The online test certificate is aimed at individuals and small ISVs(independent software vendors) that want to offer security services,according to Baumg?ner. Applicants can obtain information andcomplete an exam online to become a security assessor “We had more than800 people certify themselves within the first three weeks,” he said.

The security initiative has also included a “security truck,” whichvisited 18 cities over the past few weeks and attracted about 15,000people. Of those, more than 600 came with their computers, of which 95percent were desktops and 5 percent notebooks, according toBaumg?ner. Experts in the truck found 1,371 viruses, 307 Trojans and1,585 spyware bugs.

“We had one 80-year old woman come with an infected notebook,” thespokesman said. “But what really surprised us is that so many peoplewere willing to lug their desktops to the truck.”

The program is scheduled to run in Germany through May 2006, but the 13companies and organizations participating are discussing an extension.”It’s primarily a money issue,” Baumg?ner said.

Microsoft subsidiaries in several other countries, including France,the U.K. and the U.S., are looking at the German initiative, accordingto Baumg?ner. “We have put together a program that can be fairlyeasily transferred to other markets,” he said.

Asked why the program started in Germany, Baumg?ner said the countryis “very critical of technology” and is one of only a few that have agovernment agency that studies the impact of new technologies onbusiness and society.

Additional information about the security initiative is available at:

The Systems event runs through Friday.

By John Blau – IDG News Service (D?sseldorf Bureau)