Thinking Privacy and Security? Microsoft's Passport Program


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Thinking Privacy and Security?

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MS: You don't trust us? OK, we'll open Passport, Hailstorm
David Coursey
Executive Editor, AnchorDesk

Thursday, September 20, 2001

Microsoft says it wants Passport and Hailstorm, its foundation services for Web-based applications, to play well with others. So in a shocking move, the company is announcing today that Passport will be changed to use an Internet-standard security model and Hailstorm won't be the only place for users to store their personal information.

For months, Microsoft has been taking heat from critics upset about Microsoft's apparent plan to make itself the repository of users' passwords, calendars, contact lists, and other information that might prove useful to future Web-based applications. Now, Microsoft says, anyone will be able to join what it's calling a "federation of trust" and provide those services themselves.

IN PRACTICE, this means that competitors like AOL or Yahoo, along with corporate customers, will be able to create their own user authentication services, with each accepting credentials supplied by the others.

Microsoft compares this to an ATM network where customers, who originally could use their cards only at machines owned by the issuing bank, are now able to use their ATM cards at any bank virtually worldwide. That is possible because each bank accepts the user information presented by the bank where the customer is using the card.

On the Internet, this means that an AOL or Yahoo login could someday be just as valid for accessing Microsoft's MSN, or even corporate networks, as they are on the service that originally issued the user name and password.
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