Microsoft: There is no NSA “backdoor” in Windows 7
Microsoft assured users over the weekend that rumors of a secret “backdoor” in Windows 7 which would grant federal authorities access to Windows computers without their users’ permission were completely false.
Reacting to the concerns raised by privacy advocates after it was revealed that the NSA had a hand in the development of Windows 7, the company stated bluntly, “Microsoft has not and will not put ‘backdoors’ into Windows.”
So what was the NSA doing in Redmond? The NSA says it’s simply helping with the “operating system security guide,” which I presume means the NSA says it is aiming to improve security on Windows, not provide an easy means by which it can be broken.
Naturally none of this is convincing the skeptics. Concerns have long been held over whether the NSA and other agencies have worked out deals to be given secret, low-level access to various operating systems, but to date those fears have been largely unfounded. History is on the side of the rational: As ComputerWorld notes, 1993’s Clipper chip was originally proposed as a hardware device that would hard-code a law-enforcement backdoor into the processor, but after massive citizen protest the idea was killed. Clipper ultimately failed completely within three short years.
So, is there really a backdoor in Windows 7? I’m as paranoid as they come but am nonetheless extremely skeptical that Microsoft would do something so foolish as to allow such a thing to happen, and tend to agree with independent analysts that concerns like this are overblown hysteria this time around. Thanks to its reputation, the NSA is probably not the best group to be meddling in security standards on consumer-level computer hardware and software, but I do believe that its goals here are altruistic.
In other words, there’s probably nothing to see here. Hey look, a narwhal!