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
    Joel, 29 Apr 2008 @ 12:38pm

    Did you even read the article

    How on earth is this a backdoor? First off all the investigators need physical access, which is already a big step (and the only step unless the drive is encrypted or the "evidence" resides only in memory). You're pulling some pretty large assumptions out of thin air (e.g. backdoor to drive encryption) when in fact the only difference between this and simply using one of the numerous Live CD forensics kits is the potential to pull data out of memory (which in the case of Vista is likely to be on the disk somewhere anyways) and possibly gain access to an encrypted volume, but that still depends on the scheme, and is not at all indicated in the article.

    The article is sadly anemic on the details besides it being apparent that MS is providing forensics tools tailored to its OS, tools which in your fearmongering scenario would be useless against any intelligent criminal, and the unintelligent criminals probably aren't going to be using security features which this, in your mind, works around. All we really glean from this is you can more quickly obtain a password (which was already crackable on windows machines). It doesn't mention the ability to bypass any drive encryption, even BitLocker, which MS also says is secure from any backdoors.

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