The Pentagon, the National Security Agency, and private organizations have developed security standards and a software program to help users of Microsoft's Windows 2000 configure their computer systems for maximum security against hackers and thieves.

Similar solutions for other operating systems will be coming soon, government officials said. The standards and software are available free to anyone who wants to use them.

The government's software program probes computers for known security flaws and makes suggestions on how to eliminate holes used by hackers.

The unprecedented effort is expected to have immediate impact. All Defense Department computers have to meet the standards


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