Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer warned on Monday that recent security vulnerabilities represent a "new and growing challenge to innovation" and conceded that his company is under attack from "thieves, con artists, terrorists and hackers".
In response, the Redmond, Washington, software giant plans to develop new means for thwarting such attackers and aims to shut down the invasions before they wreak the havoc seen with recent viruses such as MSBlast.
"The most important technology area we are focused on is shield technology," Ballmer said in a speech to the Churchill Club, a gathering of Silicon Valley businesspeople in Santa Clara, California. "We know bad guys keep writing viruses. The goal is to block them before they get on PCs."
Such technology has traditionally been the domain of anti-virus software makers but Ballmer stressed that he wants to work more closely with companies such as Symantec and Network Associates.
"This is an industrywide problem that must be fought not only by Microsoft," Ballmer said, noting that it is not just the software giant's operating system that is threatened but also other areas of network infrastructure that are at risk, including routers, databases and ISP connections. In June, Microsoft purchased GeCad Software, a Romanian maker of anti-virus software.
Ballmer said he understands that customers expect more from his company.
"Many of our customers are feeling the pain," he said. "We have to raise the bar on the quality of products when it comes to security."
In particular, Ballmer said Microsoft must improve the way it distributes and manages the software patches that it uses to update its operating system and other programs. The software maker also is looking for ways to involve other companies in what it calls the "post processing" of its code - that is, looking through existing programs for vulnerabilities and using the latest viruses to see if they point to other flaws.
"There is still a lot of work ahead of us," he said.
The one thing Microsoft can't do, Ballmer said, is stop innovating. "In the old West, the banks didn't shut down when there were robberies. They improved the banks. They improved the law enforcement." continue