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."