[dave at farber.net: [IP] READ UK gov wants MS to give them a backdoor into Windows Vista ?! READ]

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Wed Feb 15 07:04:46 PST 2006

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: UK gov wants MS to give them a backdoor into Windows Vista ?!?
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2006 09:16:15 -0500
From: Richard Forno <rforno at infowarrior.org>
To: Blaster <rforno at infowarrior.org>
CC: Dave Farber <dave at farber.net>

UK holds Microsoft security talks
By Ollie Stone-Lee
BBC News political reporter

UK officials are talking to Microsoft over fears the new version of Windows
could make it harder for police to read suspects' computer files.

Windows Vista is due to be rolled out later this year. Cambridge academic
Ross Anderson told MPs it would mean more computer files being encrypted.

He urged the government to look at establishing "back door" ways of getting
around encryptions.

The Home Office later told the BBC News website it is in talks with

Professor Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge
University, was giving evidence to the Commons home affairs select committee
about time limits on holding terrorism suspects without charge.

He said: "From later this year, the encryption landscape is going to change
with the release of Microsoft Vista."

The system uses BitLocker Drive Encryption through a chip called TPM
(Trusted Platform Module) in the computer's motherboard.

It is partly aimed at preventing people from downloading unlicensed films or

"This means that by default your hard disk is encrypted by using a key that
you cannot physically get at...

"An unfortunate side effect from law enforcement is it would be technically
fairly seriously difficult to dig encrypted material out of the system if it
has been set up competently."

Professor Anderson said people were discussing the idea of making computer
vendors ensure "back door keys" to encrypted material were made available.

The Home Office should enter talks with Microsoft now rather than when the
system is introduced, he said.

He said encryption tools generally were either good or useless.

"If they are good, you either guess the password or give up," he said.

The committee heard that suspects could claim to have lost their encryption
key - although juries could decide to let this count this against them in
the same way as refusing to answer questions in a police interview.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Home Office has already been in touch
with Microsoft concerning this matter and is working closely with them."

Increased awareness about high-tech crime and computer crime has prompted
the Home Office to talk to IT companies regularly about new software.

Government officials look at the security of new systems, whether they are
easy for the general public to hack into and how the police can access
material in them.

Preventing tampering

On its Windows Vista website, Microsoft says Bitlocker Drive Encryption
"provides considerable off-line data and operating system protection for
your computer".

"BitLocker ensures that data stored on a computer running Windows Vista is
not revealed if the machine is tampered with when the installed operating
system is offline," it says.

The system, part of what is called "trusted computing" mechanisms, is
designed to stop malicious programs being installed surreptitiously on

The Trusted Computing Group has been working for some years on a
hardware-based system which is built into the motherboards of many
Intel-based computers.

But most people will not be able to use its features until Microsoft Windows
Vista is launched.

Critics say the companies behind most trusted computing want to use digital
rights management to ensure users cannot use programs they have not

Story from BBC NEWS:

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