Security experts skeptical of Microsoft security plans

Microsoft's security plans for Windows caught criticism during the cryptographers' panel at last week's RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect, kicked off the conference by detailing the company's security efforts. For example, Microsoft plans to release a security-focused Service Pack 2 for Windows XP that features the Windows firewall turned on by default and a new component called Windows Security Center, which displays the status of security settings and recommends security guidance.

"Someone will spoof that nice security window," Adi Shamir, professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and co-inventor of the RSA cryptosystem, said, referring to the Windows Security Center.

Paul Kocher, president and chief scientist at Cryptography Research, received applause from the audience when he remarked, "Gates never talked about simplifying things. Everything was an addition."

Security requires simplicity, he said: "We aren't smart enough as a species to handle the complexity. We've got to get that complexity out of there."

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