Microsoft Admits Its Datacenters Are Wide Open To NSA Attacks

from the uh,-guys... dept

When the NSA news started breaking this past summer, it was noted that Google quickly realized where the NSA might be hacking in, and rushed to encrypt the links that connect their data centers. While some may criticize this, it’s easy to see why companies never bothered to encrypt these links. They’re internal networks, with no direct access to the outside world. The threat likelihood was quite low… unless you’re a giant government spying operation. That said, once it was revealed that, indeed, this is how the NSA hacks in, no company has an excuse for not encrypting such links. Some Google engineers stated a direct “fuck you” to the NSA, as they were making sure that those links were encrypted (they claimed the job was done, though Google officially has said it’s an ongoing process, suggesting they may still be finishing up).

Unfortunately, it’s not clear that other companies are following suit. When asked about this right after the infiltration was revealed, Yahoo gave a non-committal answer:

“We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency.”

Yeah, but that doesn’t say they encrypt the links between data centers, or even that they’re planning to do so. Since then, Yahoo has basically said nothing as far as I can tell. Over in Europe, however, Microsoft has now admitted that it still is not encrypting those links, and is only now investigating the idea.

Dorothee Belz, EMEA VP for Legal and Corporate Affairs made the remark when answering a question from Claude Moraes, MEP during a meeting at the European Parliament on Monday.

“Generally, what I can say today is server-to-server transportation is generally not encrypted,” she said. “This is why we are currently reviewing our security system.”

Sure, it’s not something that can be done overnight, but large internet companies who use multiple data centers now need to assume that all of their data is compromised if they’re not encrypting the links. Whether or not it’s done yet, these companies have a responsibility to get that process started as soon as possible. Hell, they all probably should have started doing this as soon as the news broke that Google was rushing to do this, since it was pretty clear they’d figured out what was going on.

It’s especially ironic that Microsoft is now admitting that it’s not encrypting the data leaks, because the company has been on a rampage trying to present itself as protecting users privacy and that Google is a privacy nightmare. But, given these admissions, Microsoft has now basically said that its made all of your data available to the US government and it’s still thinking about what to do about it, while Google has been rushing to protect its users privacy.

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Companies: google, microsoft, yahoo

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Comments on “Microsoft Admits Its Datacenters Are Wide Open To NSA Attacks”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Collen Kollar-Kotelly

From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia: Colleen Kollar-Kotelly

Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (born 1943, New York, New York) is a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and was presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).?.?.?.

?.?.?. and later as Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, where she served from 2002 to 2009.?.?.?.

Notable cases

In August 2001, Kollar-Kotelly was assigned the United States v. Microsoft anti-trust case, after Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson was removed from the case.?.?.?.

The judge overseeing Microsoft was also the chief judge of the rubber-stamp court.


Or an opportunity to twist arms?and make sure Microsoft cooperated satisfactorily with the government.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Collen Kollar-Kotelly

?Microsoft vs U.S. antitrust battle soon to be history?, by Diane Bartz, Reuters, April 27, 2011

Thirteen years after the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, accusing the software giant of using its market power to pummel potential rivals, the case will soon be history.

“And so May 12 will close an important chapter in the history of antitrust law,” said Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly during the last oversight hearing on Wednesday?.?.?.?.

Note the year: 2011.

Rubber-stamp court Judge Kollar-Kotelly was actively supervising Microsoft during this period.

Anonymous Coward says:

With google you can add your own encryption to emails, and at least protect the contents. Can you do the same with the Online office suite, which for companies will likely contain much more interesting information than emails?
While companies encrypting internal links is security 101, it only works until the government demands their keys with a gag order. Has Microsoft committed to software as a service just in time for it to go right out of favour due to governments demanding access to everything that traverses the net?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:


> encryption unlocked even before official launch

> Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new portal

> The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on, including Hotmail;

> Microsoft also worked with the FBI’s Data Intercept Unit to “understand” potential issues with a feature in that allows users to create email aliases

> Within five months, the documents explain, Microsoft and the FBI had come up with a solution that allowed the NSA to circumvent encryption on chats

So please, do tell me more about how “secure” Outlook is. As you can see, even if private CA’s, Microsoft helped NSA get the data BEFORE being encrypted.

Jay says:

Dumbass Microsoft

This is a helluva lot bigger than people should be expecting. Microsoft is asking for customer’s data on their Xbox One. Now you’re telling the same people that if they give their addresses and their other products, that’s basically going to harm their reputation.

There is NO point to get the Xbone. They take money from private marketers to make more money.

And now you’re telling me that as a company, that has multiple products, you can’t get your bean counters to work to make the user experience better?

Microsoft, quit messing up!

Anonymous Coward says:

Encryption at the transport layer is not a trivial matter depending on the links that connect the DCs. I honestly don’t know of even 1 manufacturer that is doing encryption on 100Gb links and it’ll probably take a separate ASIC system to handle the load. My guess is that Google engineers designed their applications for end to end encryption at the application layer, but didn’t implement it for power savings and well you don’t expect the US government to be hacking into US companies….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Agreed about this process being non-trivial.

Thank about how much data they have to transfer between their data centers.

Then think about what it takes to process(by encryption and decryption) all that data.

Now think about how much power you need to do all that processing.

That would be an interesting article just to see the methods and numbers involved.

out_of_the_blue says:

Years after internet taps were known to me: "Google quickly realized"!

This is actually one of Mike’s pro-Google pieces. Just note the several positive mentions of Google and the spin as I explain:

“they [Google engingeers] claimed the [encrypting] job was done, though Google officially has said it’s an ongoing process,” — And so the Google engineers were LYING, as one commenter here pointed out: you just don’t put encryption at huge scale into place with one click. [PS: that was ME, kids. You all, including Mike at the time, just swallowed that whole.]

“Google has been rushing to protect its users privacy” — BUT until the last few days, was EXACTLY same place as Microsoft! AND we know from the above that first statements from Google about encryption in place were LIES. YET, after exposing here the known lies from Google, Mike goes on to assert that Google is ever so much more trustworthy than Microsoft, because Microsoft hasn’t put out any comforting lies. Now, that’s spin done the Mike way.

If Microsoft weren’t so evil for so long and so well-known as evil, it’d be difficult to show Google as better in comparison.

Besides that, Google’s business is SPYING! It’s a bit difficult to claim it’s better for privacy! Mike attempts it, even so!

Here’s this official piece from the globalist Council on Foreign Relations again:

Privacy Pretense

How Silicon Valley Helped the NSA

When you think surveillance or spying or snooping, think Google!


Duncan says:

Re: Years after internet taps were known to me: "Google quickly realized"!

Hi out_of_the_blue,

I hope you are able to help me with something, but if not – no worries.

I see your posts on Techdirt a LOT, and it appears you don’t like the site at all. Because of this I am honestly really fascinated to know why you keep visiting. I’t difficult for me to understand this, and to help me get some sort of picture of you, can you maybe tell me something about you?

I’d love to know a few general things like: what job you do, what other sites you visit, how old you are, what you studied, and the reason you keep coming to this site. I’d understand if you’re not keen to divulge this – I’m not big on giving details out on the internet either (I studied philosphy but am in IT), but I’d seriously just love to know.


weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Years after internet taps were known to me: "Google quickly realized"!

Ha ha ha at YOU… Blue.
Blue Bait:
“It’s especially ironic that Microsoft is now admitting that it’s not encrypting the data leaks, because the company has been on a rampage trying to present itself as protecting users privacy and that Google is a privacy nightmare. But, given these admissions, Microsoft has now basically said that its made all of your data available to the US government and it’s still thinking about what to do about it, while Google has been rushing to protect its users privacy.”

Ha ha ha Blue… YOU got trolled.

Joseph M. Durnal (user link) says:

Encryption should have been standard

In the e-mail world where I do most of my work, I’ve been encrypting traffic between internal e-mail servers for many years, STARTTLS isn’t a tough concept, internal network or not.

My employer does more with network than systems, and they’ve made encryption standard for our customers for many years as well. Anything on the outside of a router that is under our customer’s control, would be encrypted. Perhaps it helps that our network guys had a lot of experience in the Telco world and knew better than to trust Verizon, Century Link, AT&T, etc. with our customers’ data.

Of course, as consultants, we pride ourselves in doing the right thing for our customers. We’ve been skeptical of this whole public cloud thing, explaining exactly these sorts of risks to our customers and letting them choose. Basically, once your data exists on a system you don’t control, you cannot assume that your data is secure unless it is encrypted with keys that are not shared with the provider.

out_of_the_blue says:

Well, well. Maybe Mike was offsetting pro-Microsoft "news":

Microsoft shows off digital-crime-fighting center

Microsoft offered a glimpse inside its new center that?s devoted to combating cybercrime.

So looks like Mike is against “combating cybercrime”! And WHERE is Google’s new center, huh?

[ Note to the innocent who might wander in here: I’m again mocking Mike’s actually pro-Google piece disguised under headline having “Microsoft”. Of course, actually both mega-corporations are fully co-operating with NSA; “direct” access according to Snowden.]

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