NSA Helped Microsoft on Windows Vista Security

Microsoft had not publicly released the fact that the National Security Agency had helped them on Windows Vista Security, although they had mentioned it at the end of the Windows Vista Security Guide, with a red team as the “bad guys” and the blue team setting the security on Windows Vista. The NSA, said they had helped on the security to help protect it against worms, Trojan horses and malware.

The NSA’s impact may be felt widely. 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.

The Redmond, Wash., software maker declined to be specific about the contributions the NSA made to secure the Windows operating system.

The NSA also declined to be specific but said it used two groups — a “red team” and a “blue team” — to test Vista’s security. The red team, for instance, posed as “the determined, technically competent adversary” to disrupt, corrupt or steal information. “They pretend to be bad guys,” Sager said. The blue team helped Defense Department system administrators with Vista’s configuration .

Cherry says the NSA’s involvement can help counter the perception that Windows is not entirely secure and help create a perception that Microsoft has solved the security problems that have plagued it in the past. “Microsoft also wants to make the case that [the new Windows] more secure than its earlier versions,” he said.

Armstrong, the Microsoft manager, said: “The entire crux of Vista was security. . . . Security is at the forefront of our thoughts and our methods in developments and is critically important to our customers.” Source: WashingtonPost

The article says the NSA has actually helped them test their security before, and have for about four years on Windows XP Home and Windows Server 2003.