Bonum Certa Men Certa

Debunking the Idea of 'Secure' Windows (or Proprietary Software, by Extension)

"The continuous and broad peer-review enabled by publicly available source code supports software reliability and security efforts through the identification and elimination of defects that might otherwise go unrecognized by a more limited core development team."

--CIO David Wennergren, Department of Defense (October 2009)



Summary: Microsoft has a new charade, centered around lobbying hubs such as Brussels, to give non-technical people the false impression of Windows 'security'

GIVEN the special relationship between Microsoft and the NSA (proven by NSA leaks), one might expect no sane government (or even company) to do business with Microsoft ever again. But after some show trials (e.g. in Ireland), public lobbying, and the many lies spread through corporate media (puff pieces) some actually do view Microsoft as antagonising the NSA -- a nice and convenient myth if you can get yourself to believe it.



Dr. Glyn Moody wrote a response to Microsoft's publicity stunt which tries to sell the impression that Windows and other Microsoft software do not have back doors, despite admissions to the contrary. Microsoft is pretending that Windows is secure using the 'Transparency Centre' farce. Here is some of Moody's response to it:

The issue of back doors and the possibility that software companies have been cooperating with the NSA to undermine the security of their products has become particularly sensitive in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations about the surveillance activities of the NSA and GCHQ. One of the earliest leaked documents concerned the Prism programme, which apparently showed that the NSA had direct access to the systems of all the top US software and Internet companies.

On a presentation slide indicating the dates when Prism began for each "provider," Microsoft is listed as the very first, starting in 2007. In response, Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft, denied that the NSA had "direct and unfettered access to our customer’s data." He insisted: "Microsoft only pulls and then provides the specific data mandated by the relevant legal demand."

Soon after the Prism story appeared, a report from Bloomberg claimed that Microsoft "provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix." In an article published this week by The Intercept discussing criticisms of Microsoft's BitLocker disk encryption program, the company was asked to respond to Bloomberg's allegations from 2013. A Microsoft spokesperson said that sharing bugs was simply part of the GSP, and that "its intention is to be transparent, not to aid spy agencies in making malicious software."

According to the original Bloomberg article, however, that's exactly what the NSA used them for: specifically, they "allowed the U.S. to exploit vulnerabilities in software sold to foreign governments." Asked about "instances in which Microsoft built methods to bypass its security and about backdoors generally", the spokesperson also told The Intercept that Microsoft "doesn’t consider complying with legitimate legal requests backdoors."

The opening of the Transparency Centre in Brussels is evidence that Microsoft is worried that some in Europe still have their doubts about whether its software can be trusted. Microsoft's Thomlinson described the move as "the latest step … to enhance the transparency of our software code and continue building trust with governments around the world." He also said that there needs to be "a high level of openness and cooperation between public and private sectors."


Microsoft's back doors in its software do not need to be built into the binaries. Microsoft can add them when it's time to update, it can use security holes (which it tells the NSA about before they are fixed), and it uses bogus encryption -- as it does -- to completely beat the purpose of secure messaging or massage-passing. Moreover, nobody supervises the build process of Windows, except the NSA. There is no telling what is being compiled and how. There is no telling what happens before binaries are installed on computers (en route), where hard drives and various other hardware have back doors (as revealed by NSA leaks) that 'hook' onto Windows like a hand inside a glove. Proprietary software cannot be trusted, not in this 'transparency' sense. It might, however, be just enough to fool some non-technical people.

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