Report: Microsoft to encrypt more of its data to prevent NSA spying

Microsoft is reportedly taking steps to increase the amount of encryption in its Internet services, thanks to new suspicions that the National Security Agency is using a program called MUSCULAR to intercept its traffic. The program was first reported back in October as part of the continuing leaks of NSA documents provided by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The MUSCULAR leak in October said that the NSA was using the program to look into traffic and data from both Google and Yahoo, but today's report from the Washington Post said that two slides from the leaked files showed references to Microsoft’s Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger, which has now been replaced by Skype. The story, using unnamed sources, claims that Microsoft has no direct proof that the NSA has been spying on their Internet activities. However, company executives are now reportedly making efforts this week to figure out what they can do to improve their security and how quickly they can move to implement these new programs.

When asked for comment on the references to Microsoft services in the leaked NSA files, the company's general counsel Brad Smith told the Post, "These allegations are very disturbing. If they are true these actions amount to hacking and seizure of private data and in our view are a breach of the protection guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution."

Source: Washington Post
Encrypt image via Shutterstock

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13 Comments

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Only if that was supported by a valid and specific warrant which is the point here. The implication is that the NSA, authorized by the very top of government, routinely accessed private data without permission, justification or warrant.

Edited by CtrlShift, Nov 28 2013, 11:21am :

I remember making comments like the ones above just a couple of years ago resulted in attacking anyone with such outlandish claims...first step towards changing things is acknowledging the problem. I for one find it encouraging that the majority of people know that "securing" data to thwart the NSA is ridiculous. MS knows this and that angers me even more, would have been better to just STFU about it instead of adding insult to injury.

Andrew Lyle said,
Doesn't do anything if you give them a backdoor to everything.

Stuff like this is most likely to shore up people who aren't very technical already. It is a counter to all the news of these companies being associated with NSA spying. Encryption and all of its buzz is used in an attempt to make people think their data is safe at these companies again.

Since the NSA has been given direct access to a lot of these companies encryption buys you nothing; as you stated.

Even with the "lawful" ways for the NSA to get data though, they resorted to tapping into datacenter links to get more information, the encryption is to stop stuff like that.

The_Decryptor said,
Even with the "lawful" ways for the NSA to get data though, they resorted to tapping into datacenter links to get more information, the encryption is to stop stuff like that.

Not as easy to say... Since the NSA has had inside collaboration with these companies they could always be supplied with the private key for the SSL encryption. This can be assumed to be the case and would allow them to decrypt any packets flying by as if they were unencrypted anyway.

SSL doesn't guarantee privacy as it has its weaknesses...

There will always be a conspiracy theory argument to cut through any sense of truth in the great privacy/freedom vs security debate. The fact that Microsoft are openly admitting that their security between their datacentres is either weak or non-existent and that they plan to do something about it is a big step forward and should be applauded.

CtrlShift said,
There will always be a conspiracy theory argument to cut through any sense of truth in the great privacy/freedom vs security debate. The fact that Microsoft are openly admitting that their security between their datacentres is either weak or non-existent and that they plan to do something about it is a big step forward and should be applauded.

Conspiracy theory? It has already been publicly exposed that Microsoft, Google, and other companies provided direct access to the NSA.

Strange world we live in... Where people even deny publicly exposed facts.

http://www.theguardian.com/wor...nsa-collaboration-user-data

Encryption does nothing when they also share the keys...