Microsoft Gets NSA Approval For Windows 10 And Surface

Microsoft announced that the NSA has cleared Windows 10 and the Surface tablet for classified use. The company also teased security improvements that will be discussed at the annual RSA Conference next week, where security experts from all over the world will gather.

Being cleared for classified use could help Microsoft do business with government agencies, independent contractors, and other groups that handle sensitive data. A place on the NSA's list of approved devices also gives Microsoft bragging rights--and the company put 'em to good use in its blog post:

Our customers are the most security-conscious in the world and demonstrating our commitment to meeting their needs is incredibly important to us. Today, I’m excited to share that both Windows 10 and Surface devices including Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book have been added to the NSA’s Commercial Solutions for Classified Programs (CSfC) list. The CSfC program listing demonstrates Windows 10, as well as Surface devices (the only Windows 10 devices currently on the list), when used in a layered solution, can meet the highest security requirements for use in classified environments.

But that doesn't mean Microsoft is done battening down the hatches of its software and hardware. The company also teased a number of security improvements that have either recently debuted or are expected to be released this year. These include more control over devices via Surface Enterprise Management Mode (SEMM), expanded device management, and updates to Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (WDATP), among others.

Many of those updates share a common goal: letting businesses use Windows 10 to control end points and defend against common threats. Microsoft said updates to SEMM will let companies disable a tablet's camera or microphone, for example, whereas updated Windows Analytics will let them know if software updates are being installed like they should be. To abuse the obvious pun--Windows is getting some bars, locks, and other reinforcements.

Microsoft also touted some of the operating system's existing features, such as Windows Hello, which allows people to sign in to their PC via facial recognition or fingerprint scan instead of a password. Combine that with a feature that automatically locks a PC when a paired smartphone leaves its vicinity--which is already available to Windows Insider program members--and Microsoft can help prevent careless mistakes on Windows 10 devices.

More information about these updates is available from Microsoft's blog post, and still more will be revealed in the days leading up to the RSA Conference that will run February 13-17. The bottom line is this: Windows 10 and Surface got a vote of confidence from the NSA, and over the next couple months, Microsoft will make it easier for businesses to manage their own security instead of relying on their employees' competence.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • 3ogdy
    So first they make'em NSA-infested, then they make them NSA-approved. Interesting.
  • itsmedatguy
    This is good news for me, I work for a gov't agency and it can be frustrating being stuck on Windows 7 when you order new hardware and they have to downgrade the OS, or you're trying to work with VR and other emerging tech that works better with Windows 10
  • loki1944
    Pretty sure Windows 10 was NSA approved from the get-go, I mean, that's a great collection platform for them. Collection on everybody.
  • popatim
    when used in a layered solution, can meet the highest security requirements for use in classified environments.

    Spying aside, I hope none of our users/readers forget that this is only a small step in securing your pc.
  • falchard
    But what will the government agencies do about hostile actors intercepting data meant for the NSA?
  • nitrium
    19280713 said:
    But what will the government agencies do about hostile actors intercepting data meant for the NSA?
    Maybe the NSA get a version WITHOUT the NSA backdoor that we plebs have?

  • NeTwizArD
    Yeah but... Microsoft and the NSA are in bed together, of course its going to be NSA approved - all the more for the NSA and other agencies to spy on windows users.

    I mean lets face it, who in their right mind would use an operating system so infested with viruses, malware and spy bots to name just a few and 'trust' it to be oh so secure for home use, networking and of course.. business?? I wouldn't?

    Due to microsoft's wonderful operating system it cost me over 2TB of data lost all because when you log into your windows account on system the hard drive keeps on reading continually and never stops for a good ten minutes or more... that over time degrades your hard drive. I said good bye to windows and a wonderful hello to Linux, none of the problems you get with windows and just pure speed and reliability.

    When it comes to updating no problem, just update and carry on - none of this crap having to restart and wait in the excess of twenty minutes just so that your system can update... Microsoft, the NSA and other agencies suck all because they want to be in bed with the big corporate giant Microshaft (soft).
  • Dags
    I wonder why on the list with Software Full Drive Encryption there is only Windows 8 and Windows 2012....
  • gregzeng
    Hundreds of NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCIES. Russian, via Donald Trump?
  • jackt
    Seriously, hacker is what scare me less !