German government warns of Windows 8

Windows 8 is an unacceptable security risk for companies and authorities, experts warn the government. The so-called Trusted Computing is a back door for the NSA. By Patrick Beuth
20th August 2013
Windows 8 may not be used in German authorities, IT experts say.

How trustworthy is Microsoft? For the federal and all of the German authorities, businesses and private users who want to continue to work with the Windows operating system, this question is now more than ever. Because sooner or later they would have to use Windows 8 or its successor. From internal documents TIME ONLINE exist, but it is clear that the IT professionals of the federal Windows 8 deem downright dangerous. The operating system contains a back door in their view, can not be closed. This backdoor is called Trusted Computing and could have the effect that Microsoft can control any computer remotely and control. And thus the NSA.

Trusted computing is anything but a new phenomenon. Over the past decade, the technology is on the market. Simply put, it’s about trying to protect the computer against manipulations by third parties, for example from viruses and trojans. The user is having to care about anything anymore. To achieve this, first, it needs a special chip that is called a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), and secondly a coordinating operating system. Together, they do not regulate, among other things, the user can install the software on a computer and which. Exactly how it works and what features are part of the Trusted Computing else, is explained for example here and here.

The way how the chip and the operating system work together is standardized. The corresponding specification is defined by the Trusted Computing Group (TCG). The TCG was founded ten years ago by Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, AMD, Hewlett-Packard and Wave Systems – all U.S. companies.

The current TPM specification is soon replaced by a new one, it is just 2.0 TPM. What is common already in smartphones, tablets, and game consoles, is the combination of TPM 2.0 and Windows 8 on PCs and laptops becoming the norm: hardware and operating system are matched, and the manufacturer of the operating system determines installed the applications on a device may be and which are not. In other words, trusted computing is a way, a digital rights management (DRM) to enforce.

Microsoft could thus theoretically determine that no word processing program other than Microsoft Word works on Windows 8th The competition may be legally problematic. But it also has security implications, precisely because the user has no influence on what Microsoft is allowed and what is not. Three points are decisive: First, the TPM in contrast to the current standard in the future is already activated when you first turn on the computer. Who takes care of the computer is in use, so can not decide whether he wants to use the trusted computing functions (opt-in). Second, no subsequent future, complete disabling the TPM longer possible (opt-out). Third, the operating system takes over sovereignty over the TPM, in the case of a Windows computer that is ultimately Microsoft.

No later than 2015 will work with Windows 8.x according to the standard TPM 2.0 virtually every regular computer. What then Microsoft makes updates remotely through the system and thus the whole computer is not completely overlook for the user.

In summary, the user of a trusted computing system lose control of their computer. While this is to some extent the basic idea of ​​trusted computing, explains how the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) here in great detail. The BIS recommends that governments, businesses and private users as well, provided it meets certain conditions the use of this technique. These conditions include the options but the opt-in and opt-out – and the drop off in the future.

“Confidentiality and integrity is not guaranteed”

Instead, Microsoft could decide which programs can be installed on the computer, make already established programs unusable and subsequently help intelligence to control other computers. The competent professionals in the Federal Ministry of Economics, in the federal and the BSI as well as unequivocally warn against the use of trusted computing the new generation of German authorities.

Thus, according to an internal document from the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the beginning of 2012: “The loss of full sovereignty over information technology” are “the security objectives ‘confidentiality’ and ‘integrity’ is no longer guaranteed.” Elsewhere are phrases like: “Significant impact on the federal IT security can go with it.” The conclusion is therefore: “The use of ‘trusted Computing’ technique in this form … is unacceptable for the federal administration and the operators of critical infrastructure.”

Translated above article using Google translate from this SOURCE  http://www.zeit.de/digital/datenschutz/2013-08/trusted-computing-microsoft-windows-8-nsa

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