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Microsoft enlists VeriSign for .Net security

The software giant says it has signed up the provider of Internet security services and technology to help build defenses for its forthcoming array of Web services.

Microsoft said on Tuesday that it has signed up VeriSign, a leading provider of Internet security services and technology, to help build defenses for its .Net array of Web services.

Under the agreement, Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign will provide authentication and security technologies for forthcoming .Net services and will adopt .Net technologies into its Internet trust services. Microsoft's .Net initiative entails a transformation of the company's software into Web-based services that businesses can rent for e-commerce and other transactions.

In addition, the security provider will distribute Microsoft's Windows 2000 Server software to all of its registrar-hosted domain names and Web sites, the companies said in a statement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal comes as technology users and analysts have voiced worries about Microsoft's ability to handle a major Web-based undertaking. In recent days, the company has bobbled the delivery of a preview version of its Windows XP operating system and struggled through service glitches with its MSN Messenger service.

The areas of security and privacy are central to these concerns. A key element of .Net known as HailStorm entails Microsoft becoming the conduit for a wide range of consumer information, including addresses, schedules and credit card numbers, via devices from PCs to cell phones. The plan has drawn scrutiny from privacy advocates concerned that Microsoft will gain control of consumer data. Microsoft has insisted that HailStorm customers will "own" their data, which will be maintained by a third party.

The deal with VeriSign calls for the security company to support the implementation of HailStorm, including the Passport sign-on and authentication system.

The two companies have also agreed to collaborate on efforts to deliver future versions of .Net services. For instance, Microsoft will support VeriSign's server digital certificates to help verify and manage relationships with developers of applications that use HailStorm services.

VeriSign's digital certificates provide encryption to protect information transactions over networks and the Web.

The companies will also work together to integrate VeriSign's Personal Trust Agent technology as part of Microsoft's Passport. That agent provides users with a tool to manage their digital credentials.

In May, Microsoft signed a similar security deal with