Microsoft has denied a cryptographer’s claim that the Windows platform has a built-in backdoor for federal eavesdroppers.
Cryptonym chief scientist Andrew Fernandes says the goverment’s most secretive security service, the National Security Agency, may have complete access to any Windows machine via a security key designed for that purpose.
Microsoft adamantly denies any connection between the agency and the key. The company maintains that the existence of the software key called “_NSAKEY” only signifies that Windows is compliant with NSA encryption standards.
The the controversy surrounds two keys that ship with all copies of Windows. The keys grant an outside party the access it needs to install security components without user authorization. One key is used by Microsoft to sign its own security service modules. The purpose of the second key and the identity of its holder has remained a mystery.
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Fernandes has posted a program that will disable the key on his site at www.cryptonym.com.