Microsoft Gives Vista Backdoor Keys To The Police

from the meaning-the-crooks-have-it-too dept

It's long been assumed that Microsoft has built in various "backdoors" for law enforcement to get around its own security, but now reader Kevin Stapp writes in to let us know that the company has also been literally handing out the keys to law enforcement. Apparently, they're giving out special USB keys that simply get around Microsoft's security, allowing the holder of the key to very quickly get forensic information (including internet surfing history), passwords and supposedly encrypted data off of a laptop. While you can understand why police like this, the very fact that the backdoor is there and that a bunch of these USB keys are out there pretty much guarantees that those with nefarious intent also have such keys. The second you build in such backdoors, no matter how noble the reason, you can rest assured that they will be used by criminals as well. No matter what, for those of you who didn't already know it, now you have more evidence as to why trusting Microsoft's "security" isn't such a good idea. Update: Some folks in the comments, and Ed Bott, claim that this post is a misreading of the original story. The USB key includes a bunch of standard tools, not access to a "backdoor." The confusion, on my part, was due to the original article claiming that the device "can decrypt passwords and analyze a computer's Internet activity, as well as data stored in the computer." In saying so, it appeared that the device must have access to a backdoor to decrypt the password -- but an update claims that it's merely "password security auditing technologies."

Filed Under: backdoor, security, vista
Companies: microsoft


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  1. identicon
    Old_Paranoid, 30 Apr 2008 @ 4:24pm

    RE: Windows USB "Backdoor" NOT

    An amazing amount of sound and fury over essentially nothing, a convenient set of forensic tools and scripts to automate evidence capture by law enforcement.

    Law enforcement cannot use arbitrary hacker tools for evidence gathering because of the issue of integrity and provenance - do you know what the tools do and who will stand up and testify as to what the tools do and do not do?

    As for much of the highly emotional flames, as an old security hand, I have a rather thick skin. If not, the fire from the feature teams I am bugging would long ago have incinerated me.

    Proving the absence of a specified characteristic in complex software is essentially impossible. Hence the Common Criteria evaluation, which looks for security relevant issues and has access to the source code, design documentation, and internal tools. Major governments also have source code reader access so that they can verify that the code is appropriate. Many major corporations do so as well.

    Do you think Microsoft's governmental or enterprise customers would deploy servers and clients with engineered-in back-doors? If so, you have a far lower opinion of the professional competence of their IT and Information Assurance experts than I. I have met some idiots, it is true, but I have met a lot of deeply knowledgeable professionals.

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