Microsoft Plans VeriSign Security

SEATTLE — Microsoft Corp. will enlist VeriSign Inc. to help provide security for its planned set of Internet services called .NET, the companies were scheduled to announce Tuesday.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Microsoft has been hounded by concerns over privacy and security since announcing plans to release .NET and Hailstorm, a related set of paid subscription services ranging from banking to making dental appointments over the Internet.

The system will depend on customers’ willingness to store personal information including credit card numbers and personal calendars via a Microsoft system called Passport.

Passport was originally introduced as a system for remembering multiple Web site log-ons across the Internet, and is now shaping into a cornerstone to storing personal information needed for .NET.

Through this deal, VeriSign will provide additional “digital certificates” over the Passport system for certain transactions requiring extra security, such as bank transfers, the companies said.

Those customers who use Microsoft’s Windows desktop operating system will find that the two services can be linked, said Microsoft Vice President Sanjay Parthasarathy, with the digital certificates stored on the operating system. Others will be able to store their certificates in areas designated by VeriSign, based in Mountain View, Calif.

The companies are touting the ease of this system, saying the added security won’t necessarily require that users use an extra password.

“The issue you deal with is that customers want ease of use but they also want higher levels of trust,” VeriSign President and Chief Executive Stratton Sclavos said. “Before those two things were mutually exclusive, but now they can be as simple as one password.”

But Sclavos acknowledged that providing the extra security without an extra log-on could backfire because it only requires that a potential hacker know one password to access a broad array of personal information.

“It needs to scale with the level of risk,” he said.

The non-exclusive deal will allow both companies to partner with other enterprises, Parthasarathy said.

Microsoft previously announced a partnership with, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., to provide personal firewall security services for Passport.

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