No sneak door to Vista

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Microsoft has made it clear that back doors for government surveillance will not be a part of Windows Vista, its next generation operating system.

Niels Ferguson, Microsoft developer and cryptographer, went so far as to facetiously declare that his company would only build backdoors "over (his) dead body," before saying such a hole wouldn't be present in any product he works on.

 

"The official line from high up is that we do not create back doors. And in the unlikely situation that we are forced by law, we'll either announce it publicly or withdraw the entire feature," Ferguson said on the company's System Integrity Team weblog. "Back doors are simply not acceptable. Besides, they wouldn't find anybody on this team willing to implement and test the back door."

 

According to a February BBC News report, the British government was in talks with Redmond about the issue. The story claimed the U.K. was concerned that BitLocker, a new encryption technology planned for Vista, would set back government investigations.

 

Ferguson said Microsoft will continue to stay in touch with law enforcement agencies about how Vista will change investigations.

 

"We are of course talking to various governments; we want them to buy Vista and use BitLocker for their own security. We get the typical questions you always get: ease of use, performance, security, etc. We also get questions from law enforcement organizations. They forsee that they will want to read BitLocker-encrypted data, and they want to be prepared," he said. "Like any security technology, BitLocker has its avenues of attack and law enforcement should know about them. For example, if they search a house and find a computer, they should also take all USB thumb drives, as these might contain a BitLocker key.

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