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Techweb: NSA Builds Security Access Into Windows

Sep 03, 1999, 18:26 (17 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Duncan CampbellNS)

[ Thanks to James Derry for this link. ]

"A careless mistake by Microsoft programmers has shown that special access codes for use by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) have been secretly built into all versions of the Windows operating system."

"At last year's Crypto 98 conference, British cryptography specialist Nicko van Someren said he had disassembled the driver and found it contained two different keys. One was used by Microsoft to control the cryptographic functions enabled in Windows, in compliance with U.S. export regulations. But the reason for building in a second key, or who owned it, remained a mystery."

"Now, a North Carolina security company has come up with conclusive evidence the second key belongs to the NSA. Like van Someren, Andrew Fernandez, chief scientist with Cryptonym of Morrisville, North Carolina, had been probing the presence and significance of the two keys. Then he checked the latest Service Pack release for Windows NT4, Service Pack 5. He found Microsoft's developers had failed to remove or "strip" the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for the two keys. One was called "KEY." The other was called "NSAKEY."

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