A set of leaked documents that reached the web today reveal that the German authorities have advised the local government to avoid using Windows 8, as the operating system contains backdoors that would allow Microsoft and the United States National Security Agency (NSA) to access all computers running it.The papers published by German newspaper Zeit.de (translation needed) reveal that the Federal Administration and other departments have been warned of a so-called backdoor in the Trusted Computing technology standard and the built-in Trusted Platform Module (TPM) that would allow Microsoft to remotely access any system powered by Windows 8.
TPM 2.0 was officially launched in 2011 and cannot be disabled, as it’s automatically started whenever the user starts booting Windows 8 on both desktop computers and tablets.
The leaked documents have reportedly been sent to German authorities in early 2012, which could be a sign that local agencies found out about the PRISM program and NSA’s spying activities way before whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed the US government’s secret operations this summer.
"Due to the loss of full sovereignty over the information technology, the security objectives of ‘confidentiality' and ‘integrity' can no longer be guaranteed," the documents read, according to the aforementioned source.
"This can have significant consequences on the IT security of the Federal Administration."
What’s more, the German officials have explained that using Windows 8 on government computers "is unacceptable," and recommended everyone to stick to Windows 7, which should be the right choice "until 2020."
Microsoft hasn’t yet responded to these allegations, but expect an official statement on this anytime soon.
This isn’t the first time when Microsoft is involved in activities that come down to spying on users, but up until now, the company has always denied accusations, claiming that it only complies with state laws when it’s being asked to provide user data.
The tech giant has repeatedly stated that it doesn’t provide the NSA or other US intelligence agencies with free access to its user database, emphasizing that all details are encrypted and access to private information is only done based on federal request.