Microsoft Unveils New Security, Mobile Offerings

Microsoft today made moves to help enterprise IT managers accomplish two top goals: tighten security; and improve efficiency by making more applications available through wireless connections.

First, the Redmond, Wash., giant said it will offer customers user identification technology from RSA Security to block fraudulent attempts to tap into corporate networks.

“Our joint customers now have the option of incorporating stronger authentication technology into their applications,” said RSA spokesman Timothy Powers.

Under a new license, Microsoft will integrate RSA’s SecurID agent, which prompts users for two authenticating factors at sign-on, into its offerings. The first product to have the feature built-in will be Microsoft’s Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, which handles firewall and Web cashing services for enterprises.

In addition, RSA has developed a software token for the Windows Pocket PC 2002 operating system. Now, after passing an initial security check, users of mobile devices can obtain a second unique code to access the network from their PDA. By embedding the technology into the operating system, users no longer have to carry separate hardware tokens — small devices attached to keychains that generated access codes, Powers said.

RSA and Microsoft also reiterated support for the submission of WS-Security standards to OASIS, a Boston policy making board. WS-Security is a set of SOAP extension that supports, integrated and unified several popular security technologies and allows interoperability with Web services.

Neither the financial terms, nor duration of the licenses, was disclosed. With support for the Windows Pocket PC platform, RSA has nearly blanket coverage of the mobile security market. Earlier this year, it inked a deal to provide authentication and data protection for the popular newest Palm handheld operating system.

In other Microsoft news, the company detailed its wireless messaging and customer relationship management (CRM) strategy at the MEC 2002 trade show in Anaheim, Calif.

First announced in July, the Mobile Workplace initiative simplifies deployment of Windows-powered mobile device applications through coordination between Microsoft and mobile operators and systems integrators, including Accenture, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, HP Services and AT&T Wireless.

The offerings include Mobile Workplace Messaging, integrated software that enables wireless access to e-mail from PocketPCs, Web-enabled phones and laptops that support wireless networks; and Mobile Workplace CRM, software for sales and field personnel to help track orders, retrieve contact information and directions, among other things.

Microsoft expects the number of systems integrators offering Mobile Workplace to increase. Partners are expected to deliver additional offerings, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, to their government, utilities, pharmaceutical and health care providers, and financial services customers.