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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

November 18, 2009 at 2:26 PM

NSA helped secure Windows 7

This is a little spooky: The National Security Agency worked with Microsoft to “enhance” the security of Windows 7.

From Computerworld’s report:

“Working in partnership with Microsoft and elements of 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 to perform their everyday tasks, whether those tasks are being performed in the public or private sector,” Richard Schaeffer, the NSA’s information assurance director, told the Senate’s Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security yesterday as part of a prepared statement.

The NSA has worked with Microsoft before to develop secure configurations of Windows and Internet Explorer for federal and military users, but this time it started the process during the Windows 7 beta so it was ready when the software launched.

It’s still a little unnerving. Electronic privacy advocate Marc Rotenberg told the publication, “When NSA offers to help the private sector on computer security, the obvious concern is that it will also build in backdoors that enables tracking users and intercepting user communications.”

Now the agency is trying to work with Apple, Red Hat, Sun and others on “secure baselines” for their products, Schaeffer said in his prepared testimony.

Maybe they should have a logo program so buyers know which systems have the NSA seal of approval.

Comments | Topics: Microsoft, nsa, Public policy

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