Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Microsoft Funded by NSA, Helps Spy on Win Users? 264

OpperNerd writes "A French intelligence report has accused U.S. secret agents of working with computer giant Microsoft to develop software allowing Washington to spy on communications around the world. According to the report, 'It would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by the NSA, and that IBM was made to accept the (Microsoft) MS-DOS operating system by the same administration.'" I personally don't believe this is true, but it's an interesting enough rumor to post for discussion. (SFX: Black helicopters whirring overhead.)
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Funded by NSA, Helps Spy on Win Users?

Comments Filter:
  • Why does this seem familiar ?
    Because it was stated in a X-files episode long time ago. I saw it by chance (I'm not a X-files fan) about 2 years ago.
    That much for the french intelligence, I guess
  • There will be some fun times in for the next few days over this one.

    "And the beast shall be made legion. Its numbers shall be increased a thousand thousand fold."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    -- DOS simply isn't capable of doing any spying whatsoever. Windows 3.11 has more back-doors than a highschool but I don't think its a conspiracy. Windows 95+, where everybody has to use the same dialer and network 'stack' VERY suspicious... I use windows 3.11
  • Imagine your first day on the job at No Such Agency.... Your first assignment is to go to Redmond, WA. to work with the MS development teams.... :->
  • by srk ( 49331 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @05:20AM (#1260124) Homepage
    I can believe that there can be something like that in Windows but I doubt that it was possible to hide just anything in DOS. DOS is too small and too simple. Also it was reverse engineered sooooo many times. BTW, does anybody know if there are any pieces of DOS code which purpose is unknown or unclear?
  • by Crutcher ( 24607 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @05:29AM (#1260126) Homepage
    Never attribute to malice what can be accounted for by stupidity.

    It would be nice to believe that the buggy security was deliberate, but I just don't.
  • by link2NULL ( 123631 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @05:29AM (#1260127) Homepage
    Sounds to me like Inspector Clouseau is heading up the French Defence Ministry these days.
  • Hmmm... the NSA key in WinNT sure springs to mind. And there was that unfortunate "bug" in the first release of Win98, which sent a lot of info to Microsoft, about user activities. Scary.

    We'll just have to use Linux and PGP when we plan assassinations and cyber terrorism.


    The above text is written in Word97.... [Sound of black helicopters]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    65,000 backdoors and a security fix update every 90 days.
  • Yeah....and then Marilyn Monroe was murdered by J Edgar Hoover, the Martians really are watching us, the NSA can tap any phone in the world and the government is an evil oppressive force that keeps extensive records on the number of times you visit the bathroom..

    What a load of BS....

    Let's face was Gates who made MS, for better or worse.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Someone needs to tell the french that Frogger was just a game, not a spying tool against their country.
  • Ahhha Funny! =)~
  • by FrankW ( 26453 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @05:39AM (#1260136)
    Yes, the theory sounds a bit like something from X-files, and the french are known to, well not exactly like the US,


    When people were speculating about ECHOLON a few years back, many also said it was nothing but conspiracy theories (and the first time its existance was officially admitted, was due to a question in the european parliament).

    Secondly, it is generally assumed (or known) that the CIA shifted considerable effort into spying out foreign companies, and passing secret business information on to american companies, when the Cold War faded. That even lead to several american diplomats being "asked to leave" Germany (and yes the French do the same, ask Siemens about the ICE/TGV competition...)

    Hence I think it would be wrong to immediately dismiss any thought of cooperation between Microsoft and some US Goverment agency.

    I admit I don't believe that IBM was forced to accept MS-DOS as part of some master plan by the NSA to spy on the world, but rather that once MS was becoming so succesful, some agency recognized the potential...

    And even if there are no backdoors etc, getting detailed inside knowledge about the protocols, formats, api's etc directly from the source would be a great help to NSA, CIA, etc.

    After all, spying really IS the business of those organizations, and thinking they are only interested in other spies and terrorists would be quite naive...

    Just my $0.02

  • Check the "Breaking News" section on your right and you'll see this publication is not exactly up there amongst CNNs and the like, but I enjoyed the 'news' anyway for some reason :)
  • by Kaufmann ( 16976 ) <rnedal&olimpo,com,br> on Saturday February 19, 2000 @05:40AM (#1260139) Homepage
    Okay. The bad news is, Microsoft software users are being spied on. But everybody fails to see the practical benefits of this. So here are the Top Five good things about Microsoft and the NSA teaming together:

    * All the software will already know your personal habits and information, therefore freeing you from the hassle of having to perform configuration.

    * In time, all NSA programming staff will develop chronic psychosis (sp?) from prolonged exposure to the Windows sources.

    * They can investigate user habits to find out what kind of graphical user interface is best suited to desktop users. And if even without this information they were able to create such great things as MS Bob (tm) and the Office Assistant, I can't help but wonder what great stuff may come next!

    * Windows Millenium will come with earmuffs, to keep the constant noise from the black helicopters from blowing up your inner ear.

    And last but not least, the Best Thing about Microsoft and the NSA teaming together:

    * If the Shadow Government computers that run Echelon are Windows boxes, then you have nothing to worry about - by the time they recover from the BSOD, you'll already have hung up the phone!


    (Why only five, you ask? Well, I'm not _that_ creative. It's an open list ("open source", much like Al Gore's campaign site), so feel free to add to it.)
  • by Christopher B. Brown ( 1267 ) <> on Saturday February 19, 2000 @05:42AM (#1260140) Homepage
    If there had been a more robust OS than MS-DOS, this could prevent security exploits.

    The non-existent security of MS-DOS caused an utter lack of security to proliferate around the world.

    Whether black helicopters were involved or not is a whole other question...

  • on the day IBM were shopping for an OS [].
    it would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by the NSA.
    Did the NSA really have a clue at this point in time, I thought the development of Microsoft was the acceptance of Basic in boxes like the Altair and the C64, which I would doubt the NSA would have had much interest in at the time, unless they wanted to check you were taking proper care of your Sims^H^H^H^HLittle Computer People...
  • How did this world get so messed up? Maybe Bill Gates REALLY is The AntiChrist :)

    Ok, so assuming this is true, and in light of Echelon and all of the other strange stuff the NSA/CIA/FBI/ATF gets accused of, what is the better method of doing things? How should these organizations be operating in a free society in which computers and networking are an every day part of life? Or better yet: How should these organizations run to prevent Fascism 2.0 from taking over the world?
  • After all, we need to keep tabs on these people; they could be a direct threat to American citizens. What if there's another "Le Car" in the works?

  • by scrutty ( 24640 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @05:45AM (#1260145) Homepage
    Not that I am trying to stand up for this theory in any way, but not having read the actual report the link summarises, but I think you might have a hold of the wrong end of the handle.

    I don't think for a second that the authors are suggesting that DOS contained hidden security back doors. Look at the paragraph where DOS is mentioned.

    it would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by the NSA, and that IBM was made to accept the (Microsoft) MS-DOS operating system by the same administration.

    I infer from this that the creation of a dominant controlling software company overseeing PC operating sytems was the aim,and to further this scheme IBM was persuaded to use MS operating sytems on their incumbent PC platform. In this way a spook controlled company would be delivering the OS that was in use on the majority of the worlds desktop computers. Even if that operating system contained nothing shady on initial delivery, maybe enough foresight allowed them to realise that in later years it would be easy enough to slip in features like the famous NSA key as these devices became more powerful and networked.

    Establish an initial base camp in the foothills , so to speak and there's no real harm done if nothing comes of it.

    Still it all seems a bit far fetched to me. Now, if they'd suggested extraterrestrial involvement or drug money on the other hand . . . :o)

  • Windows can't be a spy tool, its inherently secure, due to its igenious MSMD, More Security through More Downtime.
  • When I said "assuming this is true" I was referring to the article, NOT to my previous statement about Bill Gates being The AntiChrist. Clearly Marilyn Manson has him beat on that position :)
    antichrist or not, the guy is definitly an interesting artist.
  • It's not like they are going to use it on people who are doing things like MP3s. They don't want to risk it coming out that they did something like that. They would only use it if they thought something was going on that would threaten national security, like terrorists in the US using PCs as communication.
  • by Serf ( 11805 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @05:54AM (#1260151)
    The page is blocked by the Chinese government.
    (Yes, it actually is. I had to use a proxy in the States.)

    Whacked-out theories, anyone?
  • They should have at least accused the proper agency. The CIA is the agency that has a world-wide reach. NSA is concerned with internal matters ONLY.
  • No, they will not likely conduct raids upon poor working class families. That's not the goal. Its when the warez are brought into places of employment that the software audits, or raids, are profitable in scoring new sales through "license settlements."

    Play with warez at home and no one is going to complain.

    Do it at work and you put the employer in a position of serious liability. $250,000 and 20 years in jail for each offense is a lot of negotiating power for agreeing to an all Microsoft solution. What a bargain.
  • Heinlein said "What do you want from me? I'm just a Monkey."???

    Gosh, you learn someting every day.
  • >into Windows. If it was proven that they did
    >they would be either driven out of business by
    >lawsuits or they would be so disgraced not even
    >their best marketting people could get their
    >good name back in the eyes of the public.

    You think so? They are getting away with selling operating systems full of bugs for like fifteen years already! And still they are the most popular software company... Do you think so many people would suddenly change their operating system because they know "certain information" about what they do is monitored?
    If all people were that smart and had that much knowledge (Windows is an operating system that can even be used by a complete computer newbie), everyone would be using linux by now :)

  • I can't believe M$ would spy on Windows users.

    It would be more likely that Microsoft would spy on OS/2 and Linux users.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It will be interesting to see how Microsoft responds to this. On the face of it, it appears too outrageous to even need a comment.

    But their PR department has been so inept lately, that they will probably issue such an incompetent denial that all the conspiracy buffs will be convinced that it is true, all true! For example, look at Microsoft's DOJ testimony, look at the 63000 bugs memo, look at Mr. Bill's open sourcing Windows interview (Oh, no, he didn't really mean what he meant!)

    What "innovative" way will Microsoft find to fumble the ball this time?

    But it probably won't matter anyway, because Microsoft has cleverly marketed their products to morons who actually seem to find Microsoft's bumbling comforting, or at least non-threatening.

  • You seem to imply that this is some kind of "Weekly World News" publication. It doesn't appear to be. A tabloid, yes. They simply quote from a "French report." They probably haven't done much fact checking themselves on it. But The Age appears to be at least somewhat useful as an information source.
  • I thought the NRO handled the spy sats?
  • This is plainly wrong. The NSA is mainly concerned with eavesdropping on the communications of anyone/any government that might antagonize the US. They are also concerned with securing the communications of the US government to prevent eavesdropping by others.

    Additionally, the NSA's mission statement (on plainly indicates NSA's supportive role for the USA's "warfighters," or American soldiers in various theatres and conflicts throughout the world.

    If the NSA runs anything like Echelon, then they further would have both external and internal roles.

  • It is my understanding that Microsoft certified a non-network connected NT machine C2 certified and then sold whatever version and configuration the customer wanted, while saying:

    "sure NT is C2 certified"

    Seems like this ties into the helping out the spies therory. Sell something that is as open as a baby and then tell everyone it is solid as a rock. Could make it much easier to spy.

    Noel -- Nothing but Unix []

  • And there was that unfortunate "bug" in the first release of Win98, which sent a lot of info to Microsoft, about user activities. Scary.

    Would be nice to think that such a thing would create some noise... do you have any facts to back that up (as in, reports/articles/more info on how and what was actually sent/etc) or is it just one of those i-dont-like-MS-rumours?

    Now trust me, dont like M$ at all, which is why I'd be very interested in some hard facts on the subject.

  • I can't believe M$ would spy on Windows users.

    Beleive it. []
  • If this story is actually true (ha ha ha), then it does matter. My freedom and privacy cannot be bought and sold like the shares of Red Hat and VAndover. These are priceless things. I want to know if they've been violated.
  • by Yebyen ( 59663 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @06:28AM (#1260182) Homepage
    Linux Funded by China, Helps Lessen American Influence and spread Communism

    Someone had to say it, but here are some reasons to support my theory :-)
    • Freely distributable... "Spread it around"
    • Official OS of China (don't remember if this turned out to be false...)
    • Most of the licensing seems to ask developers to make programs because you need them and distribute them for the good of the community

    linuxisgood:~$ man woman

  • Come on now. Do you think a US Government Agency
    spending billions of tax dollars could really make Windows so easy to break into, spy-on, crash on demand? It takes real evil genius to do all this and then mind control thousands of clueless marketroids into actually buying Windows.
  • So this is why the Justice Department is trying to break them up now?

    I don't think so. If they had all these little buggers hidden within the code on each windows box, I think that the Justice Department would have "dropped the case" by now.
  • You are right here, only what the CIA does abroad, the FBI does internally.

    The NSA is just one of the means to give the US military an advantage in combat along the lines of the old warfare axiom "Get there the firstest with the mostest".

    BTW, it is illegal for the NSA to spy on US citizens unless authorized by the US Attorney General. In most cases, a violation of this is a career stopper, so everybody's scared of doing this.

  • The IBM PC has its bottleneck on the processor, being also responsible for I/O etc. This processor also has got to do big work just for backwards compatibility. The remaining time it is just doing NOPs on 500 mHz, because it needs to be fast (they say). This overstressed piece of hardware needs cooling.

    Now do the following calculation: the more important the computer, the bigger the CPU mHz must be, and the bigger and noisier the cooler.

    So these black heli's can come nearer to more important computers without being heard through the noise of the CPU ventilator (chop! chop! chop!).

    Strategic, eh?

    It's... It's...
  • Isn't the whole "Kildall was out of the office so they went with Microsoft" one of those urban legends that isn't totally true.

    If you think about it, if your a large company and you are looking to bundle an OS with your PC, that's a HUGE decision. Are you really going to go with choice B just because you can't immediatly get hold of choice A? It makes for an interesting story, but it just doesn't ring true if you think it through.

    Kinda makes me wonder what the PC indsutry would be like if they had bundled CP/M instead of QDOS though...
  • Such a conspiracy would require the NSA or MS to have some clue as to the course of electronic communications, and that the Internet would become as great a phenomena as it has been. Given the explosive growth of the medium took MS almost completely by surprise, they rushed to develop IE, and Netscape continued to kick their butts until they "leverag[ed] their OS advantage," I find this completely incredulous.
  • 3rd press office in the world. Largely subsidised by the French govt, BTW, but that's (maybe?) another story. Well, they're at least somewhat reliable.
  • This is the WinXX world after all, and since networking was a later add-on, and security was an add-on to that, the security just isn't too reliable to start out with.
  • Pretty Sparc20's with 21-inch monitors.
    Don't ask.

  • ", does anybody know if there are any pieces of DOS code which purpose is unknown or unclear? "

    Only the ARRD detection code :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This message is a waste of bandwidth! Anyone who believes this crap is a moron.

    I thought the same about all the bloat in Microsoft Word. Boy, was I wrong! What waited in that heap of feature ridden code was traps for viruses and word basic trojans. I know the purpose of your pointless post was to insert some secret code, such as DeCSS snippets hidden under the html tags. I know what you're up too. Don't lie to me.
  • I checked, it's on the AFP wire. Not exactly a tabloid. (Disclaimer: I used to work there)
  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @06:45AM (#1260200)
    "A French intelligence report has accused U.S. secret agents of working with computer giant Microsoft."

    This is an interesting acusation, and may very well be true, but how does one define "working with"?

    1) Call Micros~1 tech support.
    2) Sit on hold for hours on end listening to the nail-grating advertisements.
    3) Listen to a tech pick up the phone and answer "wusup dude?"
    4) Explain how your windows peecee constanly locks up with a blue screen every time the computer actually gets used.
    5) Listen to the little dude squirm.

    Congradulations, you're "working with micros~1". The broad acusations in this press release could indeed be very true, but not relivant.

    Another interesting quote is: " the National Security Agency (NSA) helped install secret programmes on Microsoft software..."

    people install applications onto the os everyday! Does this mean there is some kind of link between the program being installed and the OS?

  • What about that bug in the first release of Win98? I must have been blind and deaf not to hear about it at the time. I think I'm still running the first release of that OS. Scary.
  • by noeld ( 43600 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @06:52AM (#1260205) Homepage
    We must also remember PROMIS []. PROMIS was written by Inslaw and then used and modified []by the govenment adding a secret 'trapdoor' access, modifying PROMIS and creating a bugged version which was sold to foreign government, intelligence, and police agencies, friend and foe, around the world.

    You can read more about it on WIRED [].

    France [] has also complained about PROMIS.

    Bill Hamilton of Inslaw Corporation who was going after the government for stealing PROMIS gave this document [] to each member of the House Judicary Committee.

    and we must not forget that Crypto AG supplied encryption machines to over 120 countries. Officials from Iran, Iraq, and the Vatican, to name a few, relied on Crypto's tech for top secret dispatches and the NSA had a deal with Crypto, which gave them a backdoor that made those encrypted messages easy to decipher and they were not even a US company.

    Also what about Lotus Notes' NSA backdoor [] that is in international versions of the software.

    Noel -- Nothing but Unix []

  • eh.
    if ms-dos had flopped alot of things in regards to OS's would be different. Linux and/or *nix

    but if *nix was predominant first everyone would be using it and would be discussing the relearning of OS's to use winblows because the NSA had corrupted *nix's to be able to spy on the masses.

    *up long time thought processes fading please dont moderate me down to much im making a valid attempt at a rational and intelligent thought*

    guess its a woulda coulda shoulda

    if the masses were made to use a *nix they'd do what it takes to work the system
    especially when the net boom came along
    or maybe it would have kept is simple less clogged and more closer to what us geeks wanted originally .

    wouldn't that be nice?

  • As an ex NT admin, I take offense to that. :)

    The problem is that the demand for admins is higher than the supply. MS is very good at telling ties that MCP/MCSEs are highly qualified, while at the same time pushing their certifications to the masses - "get certified and double your salary". The result? A lot of MCP/MCSEs with little or no real-world experience.
  • >The problem with mailinglists is that you can't post as the anonymous coward.

    Why not? Just set the From: header to Anonymous Coward, or if you must, use an anonymous remailer.
  • Not true. The NSA and CIA are not allowed to spy on internal matters. This was backed up by Congress in either the late 50's or 60's (I'm foggy right know on which).

    That was one of the big deals about them spying on email. They aren't supposed to do that to Americans and some American mail might have gone through foriegn servers and hence been seen. The FBI generally handles the internal matters that would be handled by the NSA if they could work inside US borders.

  • So what they're saying is that an advance in technology that no one anticipated as selling to the extent that it has. relying on technology that was yet to be invented got funded by the government. and they are using this technology on the grounds that everyone has it. even though the majority of the components are manufactured in other countries.

    Don't you think some other country would have squealed yet? Were they paying the Russian government throughout the 80's not to tell people that they'd implanted spying devices in everyone's computers? I think we should be told.

    Apart from that. If this is true. do they fancy funding my interdimensional periscope. which will allow them to look up from the floor of any office building in the world? I'll let them fund me for the minor ammount of $500 million but theres a chance this groundbreaking technology may not work......
  • So I quit. Never felt better.
  • Microsoft would never to anything to compermise our privacy. Microsoft is the leader in OS....


    A fatal exception 0E has occured at F0AD:42494C4C
    The current application will be terminated.

    * Press any key to terminate the current application.
    * Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE again to restart your computer.
    You will lose any unsaved information in all applications.

    Press any key to continue

    Damnit! where the hell is the "any" key?
  • ...but everyone is out to get me.

  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @07:15AM (#1260218)
    About a year ago, there were several stories about how the Department of Motor Vehicles in four states were selling citizens' personal information, including the drivers' license photos, to a private company in New Hampshire (Image Data). The focus of this company was a system that would allow merchants to visually identify consumers, via the photos, and as such (it was alleged) would reduce fraud.

    I watched a newscast shortly after the initial story broke, where an official from one of the four states was *very* ticked off at this company for misleading him with respect to their source of funds. Apparently, it was discovered that the company had received about $1.5 million from the U.S. Secret Service. Read about it at 7.html

    So, while the notion that the NSA is in bed with Bill might seem a little far-fetched, this incident with Image Data makes the NSA/Microsoft issue seem a little more plausible.
  • I have long ago resolved that humans are evil. This is because they are greedy. Then you must ask why they are greedy... because they are animals. The current socio-economic system in place here in America is a self-destructive system. It's bound to fail due to the polar extremities of the socio-economic class structure. This is directly to blame for the type of Inhuman corporations that we have today (very McDonaldized.)

    The Irony in all of this seems to be that despite the companies' insistence that more Calculability, Predictability, Control will yield greater efficiency this is not the case. Here is where the irrationality of rationality comes forth and its stench reigns.

    Over rationalization works only to dehumanize society, for personal profit of the corporate class (the Capitalists.) It is intended to keep the humans around long enough only to strip them of the ability to create, to practice skills and offer judgement. Ultimately, it replaces humans with technology.
  • Here's one for you. Maybe the NSA is funding the Cult of the Dead Cow so that they can make tools for them! It makes sense. They couldn't have made BO and BO2K by themselves. It's just too well done.

    It has to be the work of a evil agency bent on getting the UN into power as the one world government (never mind that the bulk of UN troops are United States AND the United States has a ultimate veto power in the Security Council).

    I think stories like this are generally a little far fetched. As for the NSA key I think the Crypto Newsletter from Counterpane said it best. If you want to put a key into a program you don't put your agency name on it where anyone can see it.

    This is the NSA. They do know a little about security and something this stupid is a little below them. After all if Windows is as insecure as everyone keeps saying why do they need to put some secret key in? They can just go in like any script kiddie and see what they want.

    As for the DOS argument about trying to get a standard system in place... was DOS really that powerful or was I missing something? Windows I could kinda see but DOS? Never mind most of the major corporations they would want to spy on at the time were using UNIX or some other kind of heavy duty OS.

    How did the NSA know that Microsoft would be well recieved? Maybe everyone would fall in love with the MAC and use it instead and then the NSA would be up a creek. Also the countries that the NSA would be most interested in (Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Cuba, etc) can't have computers exported to them anyway. This whole thing is full of holes if you just take a moment to think about it from a logical point of view.

  • you wouldn't hear em, right?
  • The best argument against the report is that the NSA would never have relied on Billy Gates, a 20 year old kid, to do their dirty work for them. It's just too risky for the NSA's supposed plans, considering that Gates might have turned against them. Microsoft didn't hire many gray haired veterans until later down the road.

    To continue, why would the NSA need Microsoft to force IBM to comply with its wishes? IBM has always been in bed with all levels of the government.

    A good argument for the rumor is that the US intelligence community's modus operandi is to start up "front" companies to serve as cover for whatever black op they are about to take on. Could Microsoft have started as such a "front" company?

    Who knows? It's just idle speculation.

    A denial by the big M wouldn't be convincing. The only way to find out would be a massive lawsuit against Microsoft that would force it to open up its vaults of internal documents & memoranda to public scrutiny. The tobacco companies recently faced such an onslaught. Oh, wait. That lawsuit is "United States v. Microsoft." The private antitrust suits, like that of Caldera, are probably going to be settled out of court. No production of documents, I guess.

    We'll never know unless there is a political movement in the US that demands change in the intelligence community.

    Oh my god! Just as I was about to post this, I lost my net connection! LOL. ROTF.

  • If you think about it, if your a large company and you are looking to bundle an OS with your PC, that's a HUGE decision. Are you really going to go with choice B just because you can't immediatly get hold of choice A? It makes for an interesting story, but it just doesn't ring true if you think it through.

    Large corporation or not, business is still conducted by people. The ability to feel 'safe' when dealing with a company or individual is crucial when you are making a deal. It is not at all far fetched to me that as a result of this incident, as well as their response from Microsoft and Gates that they decided that Microsoft (and Gates) were people that were a better fit with their way of doing things.

  • Well, that would certainly explain Gates refusal to make Windows open source. I guess the guys from Fort Meade need to have a talk with Janet Reno. Only thing it doesn't explain is the black helicopter hovering outside my window. :-)
  • The whole NSA key thing makes no sense though there were a hundred things that the NSA could do to get Microsoft to give them access to a computer, that were easier than just having their own key put in. And neither the NSA nor Microsoft would be dumb enough to actually name a the key NSAKEY if it were what everyone thought it was.

    Conscience is the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.

  • french inteligence... isn't that an oxymoron?
  • Well, I've been saying something like this for ages. Only it's the other way around. Why would the government try to disrupt and destroy MS if MS was it's biggest spy? Seems coutner-productive. Taking teh chance to seem uninformed, I'll present a little strange, but possible possibility. Perhaps the feds are attacking MS because they AREN'T spies, and refuse to be spies. IBM, and other big folks have been helped along in their lives by Government contracts, which we all know pay 5 times as much for things. So, here's MS uncontrolled by the government, so the feds decide to burn them. Seems like a plausible situation. Atleast it would probably make a good movie. Imagine Bill strapped to a chair being drugged and interrogated. Hypnotizing him "You WANT to work with us" then he bites the guys nose off... well, maybe it's been done before. Anyway, no evidence, but that's what conspiracy theories are, aren't they?
  • I could sort of believe this to be true with windows. With everyone and their parents, grandparents, etc, on the internet, this might have use. Get windows to allow agents to connect to your machine and spy on you. That is very far fetched, it would be easy to do, and havn't there been stinks in the past about certain programs sending off info without asking first? Same sort of thing.

    However, I find this story to be unbelievable because it supposedly started as early as dos. Most dos computers were not hooked up to the internet. The internet was still Darpa net during most of dos's years wasn't it? Anyways, the point is how would the NSA have been able to spy anyways? They would have to physically be at the comptuer, and well.... dos is not at all secure, anyone could "spy" on someone if they were sitting at the suspects dos box.
  • people install applications onto the os everyday! Does this mean there is some kind of link between the program being installed and the OS?

    Certainly. After all, it's a hell of a lot easier to install something nasty on a 95/98 box than a Linux or *BSD box. It can be done but it can sometimes take a fair amount of effort (especially if the person is security concious and prevents floppy booting, booting into single mode without a password, etc)
  • Not only does m$ get a whole shitload of info from your PC when you login to they're 'Update' site, our 'friend' AOL also creates a huge database of info on your pc and uploads it when you connect the first time. Filemon is such a wonderful program. And is it a coincidence that AOL's mainframes are physically located so close to the CIA and NSA? They realize that the really good programmers won't ' work for the facists' .(A quote from Teller, the first time he quit work on the fusion bomb.) So, they have to make sure they aren't overthrown somehow!
  • Yeap? Could be. But there's is no need to show Microsoft looking bad. It is BAD by itself. Or you have never seen small packs running out of your computer, without your clear knowledge, into some location in the Net? That happens with some Windows soft... (And why they need this damn GID anyway? :) )

  • naivete paranoia

    ok, maybe it's not art.

  • hmm. nevermind.

  • I guess that is the reason there is so much pressure from higher ups to replace Macs in the govornemnt workplace. Regardless of how well they work.

    Steve Jobs used to be a big ant-establishment guy back in the day. I guess he wouldn't let them spy.
  • It's from the French. What do you expect?
    If there was a French company, Micro-crossaint, that was dominating the software industry, do you think they'd be crying?

    This from a country that thinks Jerry Lewis is a national treasure.

    This signature contains text from the worlds funniest signature.

  • In other words, Windows 2000 is killing Linux now, so Slashdot has to post whatever it can find that makes Microsoft look bad.

    WTF? You've been able to buy it for, what, 2 whole days now (release date was 2/17, right?). Realistically, how many people are going to replace their Linux and FreeBSD x86 servers with Windows 2000? That's a pretty massive risk, not to mention the enourmous amount of downtime and integrartion problems (a lot more than some companies - like ISPs, can handle, and more than any company wants to have). And of course Win2000 is not running on Alpha or UltraSPARC (to mention 2 popular server architechures), so if you've got any of those around, you'll SOL (not to mention PowerPC, HPPA, etc)

    I suspect that that vast majority of people using Windows 2000 are going to be people upgrading from 95/98/NT. And in the single user area, you can still dual boot, y'know. Personally, I'm waiting for at least 6 months to see if major problems crop up, then I'll replace 98 with 2000, and play Windows games on an SMP machine (hopefully by then I will have a dedicated Linux box)
  • The article is mostly the antology of a paranoia tale that roamed before Net days. "Why MS-DOS has so many holes? Because the NSA, CIA, FBI, the Shadow Government are behind this..."

    It is no more than this. It seems that jounalists, without having ANYTHING new to publish, decided to hunt down on more deeper waters. The result? They are publishing urban legends as news...

    But... Don't trust more Microsoft by this. THEY DO A LOT to get some info about you and your use of computers. The "lemedofoyou" philosophy of their OSes hides a dangerous system of information gathering. Besides more and more they bound this philosophy on your computer use. Wanna get a patch? "lemedofoyou". Wanna get a new program? "lemedofoyou" Wanna search for something on the net? "lemedofoyou"

    But for "lemedofoyou" to work they must know something about you. And they gather some info. Presently it looks that this information gathering is not very substantial. Maybe because it is gathered by a few bits each time. So the whole may be much worser.

    And this information can be used for very dangerous purposes. It can be sold to NSA, CIA, FBI, the Shadow Government... Or worse. It can leak and be sold to snake oil sellers, major corporations, religious sects and even leak into the criminal environments. Imagine someone getting thousands of credit card numbers from satisfied Microsoft customers.
  • No sources named. In a paper which has been pointed out by another poster to have the tabloid nature.

    You know what this probably is? Someone in France heard about NSAKEY. This got mentioned in a report as "Probably not actually related to the NSA, but we're putting a note on it in the We-Hate-Microsoft file." This in turn gets transmitted via friend-of-friend through three or four hops, reaches The Age, and you've got this lovely article.

    Nothing new here, folks.

  • What are you saying, Chris? That CP/M had
    better inherent security? AFAIK Unix wasn't
    a competitor for the first PC OS.
  • Of course! It all makes sense now! Microsoft really pioneered, and is using MS Office as a client to process Echelon data. I wondered my PC kept getting slower.
  • Whatever, the spy tools are, I cannot imagine them in Win 2000. As the DOJ trial is going on, at least the POSSIBILITY of open-sourcing Windows is being discussed. If it were open-sourced, such things would be easy to detect--and then MS gets its pants sued off by millions of angry users. They don't want that.
  • My W2K computer?

    Sorry, you got the wrong guy here. I'm sensible, so I use an Apple running LinuxPPC.
  • destroy the productivity of the US workforce.

  • by Crixus ( 97721 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @10:16AM (#1260283)
    This may or may not be true, but people too often dismiss such reports as conspiracy theories because the naive little word they live in would crumble if they believed any branch of their beloved US gov't would ever do anything corrupt or unlawful. So to them stories such as these HAVE to be conspiracy theories.

    However, right now, the US gov't is engaging in activities both in this country and others which in 5 years will eventually get reported and dismissed as "conspiracy theories" and in 20 years will be found to be fact, and those same people who were calling them conspiracy theories will then apologize for the "one time" error the government made and then believe they won't do it again. (after all, the gov't SAID they wouldn't do it again....).

    The problem is, our government does horrible things as a part of POLICY, and this will never change until we get a real democracy.

  • The same sort of paranoia goes everwhere. A customer did a 'strings' against our product, then made all sorts of paranoid accusations about how our product is a tool of the FBI/Microsoft used to spy on people. For example, we use the Windows API GetPrivateProfileString() in order to read configuration files. The paranoid interpretation is, of course, that we are attempting to read private secrets from the customer. Anyway, we posted the full rant to our website (along with our rebuttal, of course) here []

    (Moral of the story: decompile you product and remove any strings that a paranoid might interpret incorrectly).

  • What is "Le Car"?

    The name under which the Renault 5 was sold in the US at one time. (Too bad they didn't sell the R5 Turbo - a wacky idea done as, I think, a homologation special; move the engine from the front to behind the driver, make it drive the rear wheels rather than the front wheels, and turbocharge the hell out of it - here.)

  • by whoop ( 194 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @10:55AM (#1260291) Homepage
    See, this shows just how beautiful CS companies can be. Not only can Microsoft declare their programs the most secure, best, or whatever (and no one can refute it without cracking it), but the other side can make outlandish claims (and there's no way to refute it without looking at the source). If anyone makes these claims about Linux, Apache, etc, we can easily say, "Here's the source code, point out where it's spying on you and we'll remove it." All Microsoft can say about this is, "Um, no we're not. Buy Windows 2000 though."
  • Pretty Sparc20's

    Nice to know they're using the latest and greatest hardware....

  • This is an interesting post. If the Chinese government wants to block someone then maybe we should work extra hard to make shure Chinese people see it. Are there any blocked site news letters so Chinese people can know what to go find on the internet?

    I think we need to se up a sindicated blocked site list which sites like slashdot can included in baxes. It would list sites blocked by censorware, governements, etc. and have information for getting arrouind the block so people could get to these sites easily. Ultimatly, it would make blocking a site have the opposite effect.
  • by grappler ( 14976 ) on Saturday February 19, 2000 @12:58PM (#1260308) Homepage
    What would MSDOS have to do with spying on communications back when IBM included it with their PCs?

    It wasn't even a network operating system, and the Internet was not exactly a widely used public network at the time.

  • I think the NRO handles the visible light and radar reconnaissance satellites and the NSA handles the SIGINT/COMINT eavesdropping satellites.
  • Gary Kildall, the author of CP/M, was in the Naval Reserve and was on the faculty of the Naval Postgraduate School. Bill Gates was a young college dropout from a wealthy family. I think the NSA would have been more comfortable working with Kildall and Digital Research.
  • How is this vacuous comment insightful? It says nothing. The poster rants about the US govt doing illegal things now, that in 20 years will be known fact. Yet does he ever try to support his point?

    On the whole I agree with this poster's complaints. I have said the same thing many times.


    I was not attempting to do anything with that post but paint a general picture in the abstract. I have dozens of posts currently on /. and many of them have the very facts for which you ask.

    • And all of this is a good thing.

    I agree. I'm all for stronger European nations. The true Democracies don't involve themslves in wars.

    I'm not concerned about a strong Europe. I'm more afraid of a weak one.

    • The US keeps bitching that "we Europeans" can't take care of ourselves, and need their "constant protection". Europe is getting an army and is propably going to pool their arsenal of nukes.

    Well, I'm sure that "you Europeans" hate being painted with a broad brush as much as people in "The US" do.

    I do know a lot of people who wonder why the United States bears the brunt of responsibility for fighting wars that, if there were any equity, would be at least as much Europe's responsibility (Kosovo, The Gulf War).

    • Europe isn't backwards. It's just different. Many Americans fail to realise that by the rest of the world's standards they are fat, lazy ... <rant about how horrible Americans are deleted>

    I'm don't think that "fat and lazy" are fair characterizations of Americans as a whole. We work more hours than Europeans and I think we can be proud of our many high technology achievements. I've worked in Europe and I didn't notice people working any harder there than I see in the US.

    But, if Eurocentric bigots want to look down their noses at us, I doubt that any arguement I could make would be of any help.

    • ...not to mention America's opressive way of forcing its culture on everyone else.

    Yes, Americans are clever the way we force all those European TV networks to carry Melrose Place. Face it, nobody forces American culture on anybody who doesn't buy it.

    The only coercion I see in cultural matters is how various governments around the world forbid American (and other foreign) culture from being allowed in their country because given the choice, the people might freely choose the foreign culture.

    -Jordan Henderson

  • No, you mixed it with american intelligence...

  • RTFM = Read The Manual

System restarting, wait...