An internal document issued by IT experts working for the German federal government warned national agencies and companies not to use Windows 8. The reason? An alleged backdoor exploit has been discovered, and the details were obtained and published by German site Zeit Online. The leaked message suggests that the NSA likely has access to a hidden feature which apparently can’t be shut off and allows Microsoft to remotely control any computer running the software.
The Windows 8 feature under scrutiny by the German government is called Trusted Computing, a backdoor setting established ten years ago by a number of American tech giants including Microsoft, HP and IBM. Trusted Computing is supposed to protect computers from being manipulated by malicious third parties using viruses or other methods. The chip used to install Trusted Computing on Windows 8 computers allegedly offers Microsoft backdoor access, though the implication appears to be that the American company will extend that power to the U.S. government as well.
A second leaked report also notes that Windows 7 can “be safely operated until 2020,” implying that the German government may revert to the now-outdated operating system until the current security holes are plugged. However, in response to Zeit Online’s report, the Reichstag issued a statement partially denying claims it would downgrade its software.