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posted by janrinok on Thursday March 16 2023, @11:51PM   Printer-friendly

The US government looks poised to force tech companies to do more about security:

The US government, worried about the continuing growth of cybercrime, ransomware, and countries including Russia, Iran, and North Korea hacking into government and private networks, is in the middle of drastically changing its cybersecurity strategy. No longer will it rely largely on prodding businesses and tech companies to voluntarily take basic security measures such as patching vulnerable systems to keep them updated.

Instead, it now wants to establish baseline security requirements for businesses and tech companies and to fine those that don't comply.

It's not just companies that use the systems who might eventually need to abide by the regulations. Companies that make and sell them, such as Microsoft, Apple, and others could be held accountable as well. Early indications are that the feds already have Microsoft in their crosshairs — they've warned the company that, at the moment, it doesn't appear to be up to the task.

[...] In theory, if those standards aren't met, fines would eventually be imposed. Glenn S. Gerstell, former general counsel of the National Security Agency, explained it this way to the Times: "In the cyberworld, we're finally saying that Ford is responsible for Pintos that burst into flames, because they didn't spend money on safety." That's a reference to the Ford Pinto frequently bursting into flames when rear-ended in the 1970s. That led to a spate of lawsuits and a ramp-up in federal auto safety regulations.

But cybersecurity requirements backed by fines aren't here yet. Dig into the new document and you'll find that because the new strategy is only a policy document, it doesn't have the bite of law behind it. For it to go fully into effect, two things need to happen. President Biden has to issue an executive order to enforce some of the requirements. And Congress needs to pass laws for the rest.

It's not clear when lawmakers might get around to moving on the issue, if ever, although Biden could issue an executive order for parts of it.

[...] So, what does all this have to do with Microsoft? Plenty. The feds have made clear they believe Microsoft has a long way to go before it meets basic cybersecurity recommendations. At least one top government security official has already publicly called out Microsoft for poor security practices.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly recently criticized the Microsoft during a speech at Carnegie Mellon University. She said that only about one-quarter of Microsoft enterprise customers use multifactor authentication, a number she called "disappointing." That might not sound like much of a condemnation, but remember, this is the federal government we're talking about. It parses its words very carefully. "Disappointing" to them is the equivalent of "terrible job" anywhere else.

[...] Even without laws and executive orders, the company could be in trouble. The US government spends billions of dollars on Microsoft systems and services every year, a revenue stream that could be endangered if Microsoft doesn't adhere to the standards.


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2023, @12:52PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2023, @12:52PM (#1296672)

    I think it still holds.

    Uh huh. All the theory and academic bullshit in the world can't match reality.

    If you need something to route packets for your network and your choices are...oh....Microsoft Windows Server 2022 and FreeBSD 13.1....which one would you pick to keep things secure?

    If you need to accept mail into your network....are you going to run Microsoft Windows Server 2022 with IIS and Microsoft Exchange and Outlook Web Access with PowerShell and...you know...the XBox Live Toolbar that for some reason is installed by default on all their operating systems now? Or are you going to be more secure with...Linux or a BSD running something like Postfix and Dovecot with SSH running?

    I can tell you that during the lifecycle of Exchange 2012, our mail server was compromised 8 separate times. With only SMTP, POP3, IMAP, and good AV client and the rest of the brain-damaged Exchange/Outlook bullshit installed.

    We finally got the corporate OK to axe Microsoft bullshit and installed Postfix, Dovecot, and Roundcube. We've been running it for almost as long as we ran Exchange 2012....zero breaches.

    I mean...I'll admit that Windows could totally be more secure...just not by default....and not in an environment where every goddamned person thinks they're an IT guy because they can do google-and-point-and-click admin with zero knowledge how the technologies work.

    Oh, and it also doesn't work in an environment where businesses are concerned about money. "We need to upgrade to a newer version of Exchange. It'll cost fleventy billion dollars because we need to buy new hardware, new copies of Windows Server, new copies of Outlook, new permission slips called CALs to allow them to all talk and we need to train our IT point-and-click-bros how to use it, and we need support agreements....and....". Or you just get one slightly more expensive person to install software that's "free forever" with no licensing costs...

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