In an effort to help its customers secure their computer systems and maintain that security, Microsoft Corp. Wednesday announced a new program called the Strategic Technology Protection Program (STPP).

The program will be implemented in two phases, with the first, Get Secure, launched Wednesday and the second, Stay Secure, set to debut within 60 days, according to a Microsoft statement.

The Get Secure phase of the STPP will see Microsoft technical account managers and field representatives working directly with customers to ensure that their networks and computer systems are operating securely, Microsoft said. In addition, the company will also offer customers free technical support related to viruses and a Security Tool Kit that includes patches and service packs that address the important security vulnerabilties in Windows NT and 2000, along with the IIS Lockdown tool and documentation. The Security Tool Kit can be downloaded for free Wednesday and will be available on CD-ROM on Oct. 15, Microsoft said.

The second step of the program will include new security packages made available to customers through the Windows Update Web site, which will offer one-step security configurations, the company said. Microsoft also plans to offer an automated service that will provide security fixes to enterprise customers as they are made available. This service is set to be ready by the end of the year, the statement said. The company will also expand the scope of its Secure Windows Initiative program, an effort to improve the security of all Microsoft products, the company said. The expanded program will include improving the code in IIS (Internet Information Server — Microsoft’s Web server software), and installation of IIS in the more secure lockdown mode by default, it said.

More information about the Strategic Technology Protection Program and the download of the Security Tool Kit can be found at

Canadian customers are being asked to contact Microsoft Canada directly,