December 2, 2009
The National Security Agency (NSA) acknowledged having worked with Microsoft on the development of Windows 7, as testified on 17 November 2009 by Richard Schaeffer, the NSA’s information assurance director, before the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security.
The cooperation between the NSA and Microsoft has been an open secret since a the judiciary agreement was reached between the U.S. Government and the computer giant. It is however the first time that official mention of this has been made.
In terms of cyber security, over and above the issue of protection from external intrusions, the crux of the matter lies in who is the doorkeeper. In other words, while it is NSA’s prerogative to have sole security access control over the most-widely used software equipment inside the United States, the fact remains that Windows 7 is marketed globally. Undoubtedly, this opens up considerable opportunities for U.S. cyber espionage beyond its borders.
As for Microsoft, while it has denied that the NSA has the possibility to access Windows 7, it is not in a position to guarantee it.
To date, no state is known to have barred Windows 7 software in order to protect its citizens from U.S. espionage.