German publication Der Spiegel has revealed during the weekend that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) has put in place a hacking unit in charge of intercepting PC shipments and track bug reports in order to exploit the latest software vulnerabilities.
As we’ve reported to you earlier today, the new program was called Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and employed state-of-the-art technology, including computer cables specifically modified to collect information sent by the user in front of the monitor.
While the NSA is accused of using backdoors to spy on Juniper, Cisco, Huawei, Western Digital, and Samsung customers, it turns out that in Microsoft’s case the wiretapping process was even more complex.
The German newspaper claims that the NSA intercepted all bug reports sent by Windows users through the dialogs they get to see when encountering an error or when a specific application crashes. This way, NSA engineers could stay up to date with the latest bugs found in Windows software and thus exploit vulnerabilities to get access to system and private data a lot easier.
Redmond, on the other hand, claims that it knows nothing about such a program and explains that it’s now investigating the issue. It did mention, however, that it would have “serious concerns” in case allegations prove to be true.
“Microsoft does not provide any government with direct or unfettered access to our customer's data,” a company representative was quoted as saying by Times of India. “We would have significant concerns if the allegations about government actions are true.”
This isn’t the first time when Microsoft is involved in NSA’s spying scandal, but the company has always denied every possible collaboration with intelligence agencies. Redmond said every time that it only shares user data based on federal requests and only if a court asks it to.