Microsoft has named Peter Cullen as its new chief privacy strategist to help bolster its "Trustworthy Computing" initiative aimed at improving the reliability and security of its software products.

Cullen, who leaves his position as corporate privacy officer for Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), replaces Richard Purcell, who reportedly resigned in March.

The new privacy strategist is expected to work closely with Scott Charney, chief Trustworthy Computing strategist at Microsoft, to help bolster the company's efforts to ensure sensitive information is protected in all of its products.

Cullen, who will join Microsoft on July 14th, comes at a time when the software giant is working to improve its reputation for secure products after a recent spate of security problems in some of its products.

In May, for example, the company scrambled to plug a security hole in its .NET Passport service, which potentially risked disclosing the personal information of Microsoft's Hotmail users.

Since then, however, the company has been moving to beef up its Trustworthy Computing initiative, which is built around four main principles: security, privacy, reliability and business integrity.

In early June, the company also joined with secure e-commerce concern VeriSign in order to jointly develop enhanced authentication security and digital rights management (DRM) products. Among the goals in the alliance is to improve security in existing software, while providing automated renewal of digital certificates, secure e-mail and digital signatures.

Cullen said he decided to join Microsoft because of its commitment to driving privacy protections and programs within the company and throughout its industry.