Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, wrote in the company blog Wednesday that Microsoft and its customers are aware of the US Government’s “persistent” spying and the National Security Agency’s (NSA) aggressive surveillance of the internet. Microsoft and its customers share the same concerns about this threat and consider it as intimidating as sophisticated malware and cyber attacks. Apparently, Google and Yahoo have also been the target of NSA snooping. They too are stepping up their efforts to thwart this threat.
Improving encryption, source code transparency and legal protections are some of the steps the companies are making to put this intruding faction of the government back in its proper place in the coming year. The NSA’s blatant disregard for the law will not be tolerated. Hackers working for foreign governments and coordinating cyber-attacks have now become an all too real threat in light of this breach in security.
The fact that it was our own government and that we do not know what the purpose of the breach was, does not diminish the fact that it could have been used for intents that are more devious and obvious in nature. Smith writes, “Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an ‘advanced persistent threat,’ alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.”
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said the NSA used a program called “Muscular” to intercept unencrypted Internet traffic traveling through Microsoft servers. He said that three Internet giants, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo were the targets of the espionage. The NSA secretly collected private user data from the companies and their customers for purposes unknown to him. The breaches in security involved weak encryptions between data centers and servers in softwares such as Windows Azure, SkyDrive, Outlook.com and Office 365, Smith said.
“We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution. We want to ensure that important questions about government access are decided by courts rather than dictated by technological might,” Smith wrote in response to this critical matter in the Official Microsoft Blog.
The threats weaken confidence from top to bottom in the security and privacy of internet communications. The company takes the threat of government spying and snooping just as seriously as it takes threats from sophisticated malware and cyber-attacks. By the end of 2014, Microsoft is going to give its system a complete overhaul and will be encrypting all online traffic, concluded Smith.
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