Uh-oh, is somebody hacking into your Internet Information Server (IIS) again? Microsoft programmers may not have a good excuse for the many bugs in its breach-prone software, but now you don't have a good excuse for not cleaning up after them. Microsoft's Strategic Technology Protection Program is a multifaceted approach to making its software safer for businesses. Found at www.microsoft.com/security, the program makes fixes available for download.
Businesses that suffered at the hands of the Nimda virus or the IIS-munching Code Red worm can take the first step and try out a trial version of Microsoft Security Tool Kit. The kit includes security information, service packs and patches to fix software holes many viruses have exploited. Free virus-related phone support is also being offered to business customers.
Microsoft is also trying to shore up its reputation by making IIS a little more bulletproof. Entrepreneurs who invest in the latest version will notice that the product ships in a default "lock down" mode to provide the strongest level of security straight out of the box. You will also be able to get security fixes more easily through Windows Update. But in the end, it's up to you to turn your server from a virus welcome mat into a virus repellent.
Tower of Label
Online rivals AOL, MSN and Yahoo! make unlikely bedfellows, but the big three have banded together to support a Net initiative from the nonprofit Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA). The ICRA is a proponent of a content-labeling system designed to aid parents in filtering out objectionable Web sites. Use of the labels is entirely voluntary, but this show of support from large Internet companies ups the pressure for growing businesses to play along, because surfers can also set their software to block out unrated sites.
One purpose of the labeling campaign is to head off potential legislation by proving the effectiveness of self-regulation on the Internet. With the backing of Net giants like AOL, the system is getting a boost toward widespread usage. Entrepreneurs interested in tagging their Web sites can visit the ICRA at www.icra.org and use the online content questionnaire to generate an HTML filtering label.