Microsoft Proved Why a Master Key is a Bad Thing

A portion of the “Golden Key”

When the FBI was suing Apple to create an easily hacked version of iOS, everyone in the tech community was baffled. The FBI was working hard to violate the rights of Apple employees as well as risk the security of everyone with a mobile device. We all pointed out that the software would leak, either accidentally or intentionally, and that would compromise everyone’s security. The FBI balked at the idea, but the NSA agreed, creating operating systems with backdoor security holes is a terrible idea. Despite everyone pointing out that the FBI was wrong, they held on until it was obvious they could not win a trial. Now, Microsoft has helped prove we were right all along, by accidentally leaking a vital key that allows Windows devices to be compromised. The so-called “Golden Key” was leaked accidentally by a Microsoft developer, which was used during development. Microsoft is unable to close every security flaw they created by leaking this key, and they’ve only proven that a master key is a very risky thing to create. 

Microsoft’s leak involved their “Golden Key,” an encryption key that unlocks the Windows bootloader. This could allow a hacker to install any version of Windows they they want and completely compromise the system. It only worked on Windows Surface devices and Windows phones, so desktops are not vulnerable. A hacker would have to gain direct access to your devices for this to work, but if your Windows phone or tablet is lost or stolen, this would be an easy task. This is the exact situation Apple wanted to avoid in their fight against them FBI, and Microsoft, who largely stayed out of the fight, managed to prove that Apple was right the whole time. This leak could have been worse if the FBI had their way, and every single operating system had a giant backdoor that could be as easily leaked as this. Fortunately, for Windows users, this leak isn’t even as harmful as the one the FBI wanted. Unfortunately for us, since the FBI dropped their cases, a precedence was not set, and the FBI could try to violate our rights and security again in the future. 

Source: 9to5Mac, rol.im (you may want to mute your device first)

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