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Microsoft Denies Windows 7 Has NSA Backdoor

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 121 comments

No backdoor action for Windows 7, assures Microsoft.

Earlier this week we learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been working with Microsoft to improve the security measures of Windows 7.

"Working in partnership with Microsoft and (the Department of Defense), NSA leveraged our unique expertise and operational knowledge of system threats and vulnerabilities to enhance Microsoft's operating system security guide without constraining the user's ability to perform their everyday tasks," said Richard Schaeffer, the NSA's Information Assurance Director. "All this was done in coordination with the product release, not months or years later in the product cycle."

This cooperation by the two bodies led some to theorize that the NSA and Microsoft may have somehow built a backdoor into Windows 7.

Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronics Privacy Information Center (EPIC), expressed his concern as the NSA has an interest in surveillance as as a part of its efforts in security.

"The key problem is that NSA has a dual mission, COMPUSEC, computer security, now called cyber security, and SIGINT, signals intelligence, in other words surveillance," Rotenberg said in an e-mail.

Microsoft quickly responded to such concerns.

"Microsoft has not and will not put 'backdoors' into Windows," a company spokeswoman said to Computerworld. "The work being discussed here is purely in conjunction with our Security Compliance Management Toolkit."

Of course, that's the expected response and conspiracy theorists won't likely be set easy with just that statement.

"The key point is that the NSA is not the right agency to promote computer security in the private sector," Rotenberg argued. "The risks to end users are real -- the original NSA key escrow proposal, 'Clipper,' was a terrible idea -- and there is too little transparency about these arrangements."

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Top Comments
  • 38 Hide
    hixbot , November 20, 2009 5:52 PM
    hakestermanIf your not doing anything majorly wrong you have nothing to worry about.

    This is exactly the attitude that will turn your free country into a controlled state.
    "Only those who break laws need to worry about surveillance". That is so wrong! What happens IF the gov't one day pushes an unjust law (there are arguably many of those right now). If the state has complete surveillance (which you want), and you break that unjust law, you'll go to jail or worse. Society can't allow their privacy and freedoms to be taken away for paranoia of an overblown threat (terrorism, crime, etc). You can't allow your freedoms to be taken so easily under the ruse of national security. Do you know for sure you nation is insecure? Could it be that the media/gov't and private security companies would use your fears to take your freedoms unchallenged?!

    It's true that only criminals have anything to fear from surveillance, but what happens when the definition of, criminal, changes? Do you agree with every law?
  • 22 Hide
    El_Capitan , November 20, 2009 6:04 PM
    I want the government to have access to my e-mail, bank accounts, telephone conversations, and record on camera my every move. Wait, they do! I feel so safe.

    Hey, how come there's a video of me jacking off on youtube?
  • 21 Hide
    djackson_dba , November 20, 2009 6:50 PM
    lashtonwhat the fuck does the NSA know about secuirtym hald the 13 year olds here know more


    I can tell you that the NSA has some of the best toys and minds in the business. They even have spellcheck!
Other Comments
  • 3 Hide
    lenell86 , November 20, 2009 5:31 PM
    Enemy of the State
  • 1 Hide
    jellico , November 20, 2009 5:35 PM
    I wouldn't worry so much about Microsoft announcing a collaboration with the NSAs COMPUSEC group. I would be more concerned if there were reports from, "employees speaking on condition of anonymity" about collaboration with the NSA that the company officially denied.

    Besides which, if you're really worried, you can always install a 3rd party, whole disk encryption like TrueCrypt or PGP.
  • -1 Hide
    jerrspud , November 20, 2009 5:35 PM
    oh brother, this is way to paranoid. Up there with black helicopters
  • 6 Hide
    commandersozo , November 20, 2009 5:36 PM
    I don't think Microsoft would go along with any surveillance plans, especially since several governments have had a merry old time screwing them over. I also don't think Microsoft programmers would let an obvious thing like an NSA back door slip past them, so I think we're safe...

    o_O
  • 18 Hide
    El_Capitan , November 20, 2009 5:40 PM
    Even if it did, Microsoft would deny it, anyways.
  • 15 Hide
    ptroen , November 20, 2009 5:42 PM
    Support Reactos and opensource while using Windows. Face it without access to the source code you have no idea what's going on your system unless you hex edit the entire windows api. IF MS turns into a big brother OS at least you have a viable choice with open source(sorry don't count snow leopard).
  • 11 Hide
    Parrdacc , November 20, 2009 5:42 PM
    Well I do not think you can trust either M$ or the NSA. No need to go into why M$ should be looked at with a weary eye everyone hear already knows why. As for the NSA, well, we all know they have had the authority for a while now to spy, survey, and keep tabs on Americans for years. So how can you trust them to tell you straight up, especially when they say one thing but M$ says the other. It just starts raising questions conspiracy or not.

    "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." -Benjamin Franklin
  • 13 Hide
    sunflier , November 20, 2009 5:52 PM
    Quote:
    "Microsoft has not and will not put 'backdoors' into Windows..."

    When asked, "whats a backdoor"? Micrsoft had no comment.
  • 38 Hide
    hixbot , November 20, 2009 5:52 PM
    hakestermanIf your not doing anything majorly wrong you have nothing to worry about.

    This is exactly the attitude that will turn your free country into a controlled state.
    "Only those who break laws need to worry about surveillance". That is so wrong! What happens IF the gov't one day pushes an unjust law (there are arguably many of those right now). If the state has complete surveillance (which you want), and you break that unjust law, you'll go to jail or worse. Society can't allow their privacy and freedoms to be taken away for paranoia of an overblown threat (terrorism, crime, etc). You can't allow your freedoms to be taken so easily under the ruse of national security. Do you know for sure you nation is insecure? Could it be that the media/gov't and private security companies would use your fears to take your freedoms unchallenged?!

    It's true that only criminals have anything to fear from surveillance, but what happens when the definition of, criminal, changes? Do you agree with every law?
  • -2 Hide
    tester24 , November 20, 2009 6:00 PM
    But they might hack in my computer to play crisis!


    ^ that was a joke btw.

    Don't care either way I have nothing to hide if they want to look at terabytes of porn on peoples computers go ahead.
  • 22 Hide
    El_Capitan , November 20, 2009 6:04 PM
    I want the government to have access to my e-mail, bank accounts, telephone conversations, and record on camera my every move. Wait, they do! I feel so safe.

    Hey, how come there's a video of me jacking off on youtube?
  • 8 Hide
    DXRick , November 20, 2009 6:12 PM
    If there were a back door, hackers would find it and exploit it. Aren't they already reverse engineering the OS to find weaknesses? I can't see MS adding such a thing without someone finding out about it. MS would have a huge PR problem when it was found.
  • 4 Hide
    JonathanDeane , November 20, 2009 6:16 PM
    There would be no OS based back door.... the last thing the NSA would want is for some "bad guy" to get a hold of the information to exploit said back door and instantly have 20 million zombie PC's to do some sort of Ultimate DDoS on the entire internet, or worse yet exploit said back door for the purpose of finding the presidents or a senators secrets they keep hidden on some home PC or poisoning communications via Email.
  • 3 Hide
    djackson_dba , November 20, 2009 6:25 PM
    etichiWhy is the man helping a private company? Shame on Microsoft. For such a big company you think they would have the brains and muscle to come up with security on their own.


    Because "the man" will probably be using Microsoft software. Microsoft would have to meet the requirements of "the man". "The man" is a big customer. I'm pretty sure the NSA doesn't want a back door in any operating system used by any government agency. Just a thought.

    BTW, one would be hard pressed to find any private organization that has the research funding and resources that "the man" has.

  • 1 Hide
    osmosium , November 20, 2009 6:25 PM
    Sigh. That is the only answer Microsoft can give.

    If there isnt a backdoor. And if there is, NSA would have made them say there isnt.

    As far as whether there is a backdoor or not, I find it highly likely there is. If youve ever had a security clearance, you would not even doubt the ability of the NSA to do this if they wanted. Under the umbrella of "National Security", they are pretty much allowed to do anything.
  • 1 Hide
    raptor550 , November 20, 2009 6:29 PM
    It's called a firewall. There are no backdoors in my systems.

    --inadvertently, there are backdoors in everyone's system.. maybe not for the NSA per say, and maybe we haven't found them yet but eventually some hacker will find it and exploit it. Control your traffic.
  • 6 Hide
    djackson_dba , November 20, 2009 6:32 PM
    osmosiumIf youve ever had a security clearance, you would not even doubt the ability of the NSA to do this if they wanted.


    If you have ever worked with the NSA, you would know that they don't need assistance or compliance.
  • -8 Hide
    lashton , November 20, 2009 6:39 PM
    what the fuck does the NSA know about secuirtym hald the 13 year olds here know more
  • 21 Hide
    djackson_dba , November 20, 2009 6:50 PM
    lashtonwhat the fuck does the NSA know about secuirtym hald the 13 year olds here know more


    I can tell you that the NSA has some of the best toys and minds in the business. They even have spellcheck!
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