Security Watch

Windows on a Stick

Plus: Google phases out IE 6 support; Azure shines spotlight on cloud computing security.

You're heard of a hot dog on a stick. But what about Windows on a stick?

Microsoft and one of its certified gold partners, Spyrus, are preparing to release the Hydra PC secure pocket drive for Windows PCs. This is a portable USB tool designed for mobile government employees, government IT contractors, soldiers in the field of battle and frequent Windows users in the public sector.

The encrypted drive is designed specifically to protect Windows OS architecture and related applications. It's scheduled to hit the market in early March.

Google Phasing Out IE 6
The result of recent Windows and Internet Explorer security issues? Google announced this week that it will drop support for IE 6 beginning March 1.

In a post last Friday on Google's enterprise blog, Rajen Sheth, senior product manager for Google Apps, intimated that the plan to do so had already been in place before hackers started using IE 6 to break into Google's corporate network.

Part of the reason Sheth gave for Google's decision is that newer Google Docs apps simply won't work on older browsers. However, there also seems to be an underlying strategic play afoot here -- a vote of no-confidence in the security of older IE browsers.

Incidentally, this is all happening just as Google gains market share with its own Chrome browser. Just last week, Google said it would essentially buy proofs-of-concept for at least $500 each from security researchers who find workable vulnerabilities affecting Chrome and its underlying open source code.

Azure Ready To Go; Cloud Security Not So Much
Microsoft on Tuesday will begin to bill early enterprise adopters of its Windows Azure and SQL Azure cloud computing products.

The problem, according to Directions on Microsoft analyst Rob Sanfilippo, is that the young platform still needs larger enterprise deployments to prove Redmond's claims of Azure's stability, scalability and -- most important -- security.

Azure will serve as a good litmus test for security in the cloud. Providing a range of functionality for developers to build supported applications in both Microsoft and non-Microsoft programming languages, as Azure does, will also leave room for faulty or purposely malicious code that can live in both traditional client service environments and the cloud itself.

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.

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