Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s largest software company, provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, according to two people familiar with the process. That information can be used to protect government computers and to access the computers of terrorists or military foes.They ship a buggy product in the name of national security! So stop complaining all you Microsoft users. Your blue screen of death could be saving the country.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft (MSFT) and other software or Internet security companies have been aware that this type of early alert allowed the U.S. to exploit vulnerabilities in software sold to foreign governments, according to two U.S. officials. Microsoft doesn’t ask and can’t be told how the government uses such tip-offs, said the officials, who asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.
On a serious note, however, the latest news in national security/technology/surveillance is from this Bloomberg story revealing that thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies provide sensitive information to national security agencies and receive "benefits that include access to classified intelligence."
Along with the NSA, the Central Intelligence Agency (0112917D), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and branches of the U.S. military have agreements with such companies to gather data that might seem innocuous but could be highly useful in the hands of U.S. intelligence or cyber warfare units, according to the people, who have either worked for the government or are in companies that have these accords.This is also legal, requiring no oversight from any court. It doesn't involve sensitive data about American persons, but instead gives the government more tools to exploit. It's the other side of it, the "benefits that include access to classified intelligence" that is just a little more troubling. How many people outside the government, and that includes private contractors, are getting classified intelligence? Throw in the nearly 5 million people with security clearances with access to all this classified information, and you have to start wondering how they can justify continuing to keep it all secret from the American public that's footing the massive bill.