Do you use SkyDrive, Skype or Outlook.com? Recent evidences suggests that Microsoft assisted NSA to fully decode, intercept and monitor all emails on outlook, files on SkyDrive and calls made through Skype. As a standard protocol, all messages and files stored on servers owned by Microsoft are properly encrypted, however, Microsoft has chosen to assist the intelligence agency to bypass all encryption protocols to help NSA with their PRISM program.
The recent controversy surrounding Edward Snowden and theprogram brought to light several documents and evidences that clearly demonstrated the magnitude of support offered by numerous internet companies to the NSA. In its case, Microsoft was at the frontier of passing information to the NSA and other intelligence agencies, while enabling access for official agents to access and retrieve confidential private information without much sweat.
Upon detailed investigation, the following vital particulars about the co-operation between Microsoft & NSA have been revealed:
- All classified materials mined from Microsoft servers are updated on the PRISM program on a regular basis and can be accessed by the different intelligence and law enforcement agencies, including the NSA, FBI and CIA.
- The SkyDrive, which has over 250 million subscribers, was designed by Microsoft with correspondence between FBI and NSA to allow the PRISM program access to all the files stored in the cloud.
- The NSA took pride in the fact that they had been able to intercept and monitor a record number of Skype calls; just months after Microsoft had acquired Skype. Leaked PRISM documents show that NSA had backdoor access to all Skype conversations, helping them monitor over three times more calls than what was possible before Microsoft acquired Skype.
- Outlook.com, which was launched recently, boasted of immaculate security and encryption for users, and had a number of user-oriented functions and features, including live chat. However, it has been revealed that NSA had been able to bypass the encryption even before the official launch of Outlook.com, indicating that Microsoft had granted backdoor access for PRISM to easily intercept all traffic on outlook.com before the encryption stage. Evidence also suggests that Microsoft worked with FBI to monitor new user additions and took steps to track all new email aliases.
Microsoft, in their retaliation statement, has chosen to rebut all the claims that it has willingly shared information with NSA, instead emphasizing on the legal entity to show that the company only follows standard legal protocols to ensure smooth compliance with the law.
Currently, all Silicon Valley companies are lobbying against the Government to clear the air about the PRISM program and to publish a list of Companies that contributed to the PRISM program. This move is aimed at easing the mind of users and customers of those companies that clearly opposed the PRISM program and didn’t co-operate with the NSA.
Microsoft is a part of a large group of companies that contributed to the PRISM program, which include Internet giants such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and tech giant Apple. Such a large scale intrusion into user privacy was possible due to the nature of blanket orders issued by secret surveillance courts, which could issue a warrant to investigate any matter if the investigative agency has probable cause to suspect any threat to the United States of America. These blanket orders were used exhaustively to build up the PRISM program and forced these large companies to comply with the law.
Microsoft’s role in the PRISM program can only mean that the encryption promises offered to the users are invalid, and it is essential for users to choose alternate encryption technologies to protect their online data.