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Techweb: NSA Builds Security Access Into Windows

[ 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.”

Complete
Story