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Microsoft Joins MIT Kerberos Consortium

The Kerberos Consortium on Monday added Microsoft to the ranks of its industry supporters. The company has joined the group, run out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as a founding sponsor, gaining a seat on the executive board that includes representatives from Apple, Sun, Google and, of course, MIT itself. Microsoft's director of Windows Core Security, Slava Kavsan, will take the seat.

Kerberos itself is a network authentication protocol that originated at MIT. The consortium that formed around it back in September aims to expand the protocol to offer data protection to a wider range of clients, including various consumer devices, and to release open source implementations of the technologies developed that will be available to consortium members without licensing fees for use in their technologies and within their organizations.

"We are proud to join the MIT Kerberos Consortium as a founding sponsor. Microsoft has always been committed to interoperability of our authentication protocols, and Kerberos' universal authentication platform is of strategic importance for Microsoft and our customers," Kavsan said in a statement released by MIT this morning. "Today, the majority of enterprise deployments consist of a large number of heterogeneous systems. Microsoft's implementation of Kerberos on the server side as well as the client side provides our customers with a smooth deployment experience, and we want these implementations to interoperate with others in these diverse environments. Kerberos' vast user base will give us a better opportunity to listen to customer feedback and help us continue to actively contribute to future improvements in Kerberos."

Besides Sun, Apple and Google, other industry supporters of Kerberos and the Kerberos Consortium include Centrify and TeamF1. Institutional supporters, aside from MIT, include Stanford University, University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, Duke University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University and Pennsylvania State University. NASA and the United States Department of Defense are also founding sponsors.

"Microsoft joining the Kerberos Consortium is significant," said Kerberos Consortium Executive Director Stephen C. Buckley, also in a statement released today. "They represent a vast number of users of Kerberos. It is an important step forward towards our common ambition to create a universal authentication platform for the world's computer networks."

The Kerberos protocol has already been implemented in several Microsoft products, from Windows 2000 to Vista, and is the main authentication mechanism used in Active Directory.

According to the MIT News Office, Microsoft will be at the next executive advisory board meeting for the group, which will be held at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., on April 7.

About the Author

Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com.

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