In January, Microsoft Corp. turned in a new strategic direction, with Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates telling employees that they must now make security in Microsoft's products their first priority. On Friday, the company turned to an outside security expert to help implement that goal.

Microsoft is bringing on Scott Charney, a principal for PricewaterhouseCoopers' Cybercrime Prevention and Response Practice, to serve as the company's chief security strategist, replacing Howard Schmidt, who left the company after he was tapped by the Bush administration as electronic security advisor.

Charney has been charged with developing strategies to enhance the security of Microsoft's products, services and infrastructures.

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But Charney is not a software engineer. The Syracuse University law school graduate made his name in computer security circles while chief of the U.S. Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS). From 1991 to 1999, while with the DOJ, Charney used wire taps to catch and prosecute the notorious teenage hacking crew known as the Masters of Deception (MOD). Under his direction, the division also investigated and prosecuted a number of other international hacker cases, economic espionage cases and violations of federal criminal copyright and trademark laws.

"As one of the industry's top computer security experts, Scott has wide-ranging experience in cybercrime and computer forensics, which will make him an essential member of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing leadership team," said Craig Mundie, chief technical officer at Microsoft. "Scott takes a long-term, industry-wide perspective on security strategy and understands the critical challenge of building safe and secure software and services for our customers and the industry."

After leaving the DOJ, Charney moved on to PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he worked to provide computer security services to major companies. Those services included designing and building computer security systems, testing existing systems, and investigating cybercrimes.

"I am excited to join Microsoft, especially in light of the company's significant commitment to Trustworthy Computing," Charney said. "The opportunity to work at Microsoft to enable Trustworthy Computing through secure technologies, products and services made this job, in a word, irresistible."

This article was first published on InternetNews, an internet.com site.