C. J. Kelly

The NSA doesn't need a backdoor to Vista

By C. J. Kelly
January 10, 2007 7:21 PM EST
Don't get too excited when you read the Washington Post story about Microsoft working with the National Security Agency on Vista security.  I don't think the NSA actually has the time or desire to create an operating system backdoor so it can spy on citizens, which is somewhat inferred here

And here, Schneier says "A few years ago I was ready to believe the NSA recognized we're all safer with more secure general-purpose computers and networks, but in the post-9/11 take-the-gloves-off eavesdrop-on-everybody environment, I simply don't trust the NSA to do the right thing."

Okay, let's do a little calculating, shall we?  The Post story says,
Windows commands more than 90 percent of the worldwide market share in desktop operating systems, and Vista, which is set to be released to consumers Jan. 30, is expected to be used by more than 600 million computer users by 2010, according to Al Gillen, an analyst at market research firm International Data.
I have no idea how many Windows systems are actually connected to the Internet as we speak, but having backdoor access to a gazillion personal computers doesn't sound very efficient when there are so many other ways to eavesdrop.  Who needs backdoor access?  Most hackers don't need a handy-dandy built-in backdoor.  The NSA doesn't need one either.  I would hope they are smarter than that, there in the security think tank with a federal budget behind them.

Why do we think that our own government has even the time to spy on us regular people?  It is because we have this basic fear that some day we will not be free and that our government will become the evil empire and that the more power we give to our government, the more at risk we become.  It's the basic distrust we have that actually keeps us as free as we are.  A terribly difficult balance to achieve.  You don't mind someone invading your privacy for a good reason if you trust them.  If you don't trust them, you shoot them as soon as they step over the threshold.  That's our mentality.

The sky is not falling.  The NSA has better things to do.  And besides, the bad guys are all probably on Linux.