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Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Will Windows Vista compromise India's national security?

Its time India's security establishment sat up and took notice of the Windows Vista Operating System that launches early next year. Of particular concern should be the anti-piracy features that Microsoft is building inside Windows Vista.

Lines of code embedded in new the OS will allow Microsoft to peer into each and every computer so that machines with pirated versions of WV and other licensed software can be blitzed automatically. In other words all data inside a computer with WV installed is liable to be dissected for examination by techno-snoops in the US and other sites where Microsoft has its servers.

While the impact of WV technology on the privacy of the ordinary computer user is still being debated, the portents are more ominous for government establishments.

At present nearly all computers in Central government offices including those in the Defence and Home ministries have Windows installed in them. Not all of them are licensed either! Should these be upgraded to Windows Vista, every single byte of data flitting through wires of the Indian establishment would be rendered vulnerable.

If Microsoft can read the data, then so can the CIA. Microsoft's cosy relationship with the CIA came out in the open when techies from the secretariat of the National Security Council who sold sensitive data to the American spy agency found jobs with the company in exchange.

Banks, financial institutions, technological and educational institutions like IIT, Research and Development labs, patent offices...in other words anyone concerned with espionage should steer clear of Windows Vista. Never mind what the sweet talking executives of Microsoft tell the babus if Bill Gates can see your data so can Uncle Sam. And their interests do not always coincide with India's interests.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue is not just about data being spied on. Windows Vista incorporates the ability to put a computer into so-called 'reduced functionality' mode.

This technology can also be used to completely disable a computer.

Once in place this effectively allows one nation to switch off a large part of another nation's IT infrastructure.

Think about it. Think about what that would mean.

This is every bit as effective as a bombing campaign. A truly strategic threat.

China understands this and they are, very sensibly, building a genuinely independent IT industry, much of it based around software, hardware and standards that they have the ability to shape.

We can only hope that more nations will understand the threat and follow the Chinese example.

4:05 AM  
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