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
    proofinlife, 15 Nov 2008 @ 12:15am

    I think people are focussing on the issue of "Now there's a way in, now the coppers can find what I'm doing!!!". It was most likely never built for that reason (I can't say it wasn't, cause I didn't design anything), but my best guess for what it IS used for could be this:

    Government forensics has a lab situated in the FBI headquarters where technicians are paid ridiculous amounts of money to retrieve important "National security" information. If a laptop was retrieved in Texas, it would have to be sent out via secure delivery to HQ, then let the techs take their sweet time doing their jobs.

    This key wasn't made to place fear, but to save costs and improve efficiency and cut out the long process of sending out and confirming, they now have the power to take the PC back to the station, and plug in a key and get what they want.

    But key point, they need reason of confiscation to take it, so if you're not a security exploiter, media pirate, or any other "internet-illegal" position, then you have nothing to worry about.

    However, the probability of hackers gaining access and making this technology into line-level processes, then we definitely have something to talk about.

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