Microsoft’s global desktop and laptop computer market share is estimated to be approximately 90%. Nearly all of us with a computer have a Windows operating system within it, the Microsoft core product that enables our computers to do what it does.
Most people don’t realize that during the second Tuesday of every month (at a minimum), nearly all Windows operating systems silently “phone home” over the internet and receive an automatic update from the mother ship. While this typically entails “security” updates and other such things, how are we to know or trust what’s really within these software updates entering our computers?
Could all of our Windows computers be compromised with secret code embedded within them that gives our government’s National Security Agency access to the things that we do? Is it a reasonable question to ask, given the extent to which we’ve recently discovered the NSA spying programs on Americans and their communications?
The Guardian has just reported on Thursday that Microsoft Corp worked closely with U.S. intelligence services to help them intercept users’ communications, including letting the National Security Agency circumvent email encryption.
Citing top-secret documents provided by former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden, the UK’s Guardian newspaper said Microsoft worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the NSA to ease access via PRISM (an intelligence-gathering program uncovered by the Guardian last month) to their cloud storage service, SkyDrive.
Microsoft also helped the PRISM program collect video and audio of conversations conducted via Skype, Microsoft’s online chat service, the newspaper added.
Microsoft had previously said it did not provide the NSA direct access to users’ information. (Caught in a lie?)
“To be clear, Microsoft does not provide any government with blanket or direct access to SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Skype or any Microsoft product,”
…the company said in a statement on its website.
While this may or may not be true (“blanket access,”) who’s to say that Microsoft has not embedded the “hooks” within their Windows operating systems to enable the NSA to spy on you and everything you do on your computer (for national security reasons of course)?
Trust has been damaged, to say the least. It serves as a reminder to assume that everything you do online is not only leaving breadcrumbs of your activities, but may actually be monitored live by your assigned NSA agent. This thought would have seemed crazy, not that long ago. But unfortunately our world has changed and we’re apparently not as “free” as we once thought we were.