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[] Homeland Security: Industry group wants DHS agency to review deal with Microsoft,

Industry group wants DHS agency to review deal with Microsoft

Story by Todd R. Weiss 
AUGUST 27, 2003 

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) is
criticizing last month's decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) to exclusively use Microsoft Corp. software, arguing
that recent computer virus and worm attacks against Microsoft products
are evidence that such a decision is a poor choice.

In a letter today to Tom Ridge, the secretary of the DHS, Ed Black,
the CEO and president of the Washington-based CCIA, asked the agency
to "reconsider" its decision to use Microsoft software inside an
agency with critical security needs.

"We believe that for software to be truly secure it must be well
written from the outset, with security considerations given a high
priority," Black wrote in his letter. "Unfortunately, there is ample
evidence that for many years economic, marketing and even
anticompetitive goals were far more important considerations than
security for Microsoft's software developers, and these broader
objectives were often achieved at the cost of adequate security.

"Also, from a security standpoint, the lack of diversity within a
networked system amplifies the risk emanating from any vulnerabilities
that do exist," he wrote. "But diversity is difficult without
interoperability, and the benefits of interoperating with more robust
systems can be blocked if any dominant player does not cooperate in
fostering interoperability."

The DHS awarded Microsoft a $90 million enterprise software deal last
month, just two days after company Chairman Bill Gates met with Ridge
in Washington.

A DHS spokesman couldn't be reached for comment on the CCIA letter
late this afternoon. A spokesman for Microsoft was also unavailable by

In an interview today, Black said his group reacted publicly because
of the recent Blaster and Sobig.f viruses and worms that have caused
problems on Microsoft-equipped computer systems since last week. "It's
no secret that Microsoft isn't the most secure software around," Black
said. "We care a lot about homeland security. The issue about [DHS]
setting a good example on security has also come up before."

The group was "somewhat surprised and a little disappointed" by the
DHS decision to use Microsoft software as a preferred choice, Black
said. "They really should revisit this decision," he added. "They
should be urging the best products, the most secure products."

Other software and operating systems, including Linux, Unix and Mac
OS, should be considered, Black said. "In our office, we integrate
Windows, Linux and Macintosh. There should be a certain recognition
that diversity ... has some benefits."

In his letter, Black noted that the CCIA has recently pointed out in
submissions to the Bush administration and Congress that there are
"dangers of relying on single suppliers for information technology"  
and "the inherent risks associated with homogenous systems."

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