Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Windows 8 And Its TPM Can Be A Security Risk

It seems that for Microsoft, problems have a mysterious way of popping up every now and then. This time, it is quite serious; an entire nation is warning of Windows 8 problems. According to a German newspaper, Windows 8, more specifically, the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) could actually cause some serious trouble as it is an unacceptable security risk for companies and authorities. Why is this? There are experts who warn the government saying that the Trusted Platform Module is a back door for USA’s National Security Agency (NSA).

This information was actually leaked from the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). According to experts, Windows 8 - which has undergone a drastic overhaul considering the touch screen support and supposedly increased level of protection - is extremely unreliable with regard to data security. This allegedly allows the Software giant to control the computer remotely through a built-in backdoor. It is also suspected that keys to that backdoor are likely accessible to the NSA, possibly even the Chinese.

Germany's Federal Office for Information Security, then issued a statement about these press report attested by Die Zeit. According to them, the use of Windows 8 combined with TPM 2.0, actually means there is a loss of control over the operating system and the hardware used. Therefore there can arise new risks for the user; this problem will become significantly large for the Federal government and also for those providing important infrastructure. There will come a time when unintentional errors in hardware and errors committed by the owner of the IT system, can even prevent any future operation of the system, if the computer hardware running Windows 8 uses TPM 2.0. In such situations, it would probably not be acceptable for either users or federal authorities. The risk from these Windows 8 problems should obviously be cleared off before they seriously considering the use of Windows 8 and TPM 2.0 on a large scale.

This cannot be seen as security vulnerability, as the OS stops working purely for reasons resulting from technical failure. But then as far as the security is concerned, this fact isn’t any more comforting. This warning from the German government means that if you would like to be in control of your systems then you better not employ or make use of Windows 8 with TPM 2.0. But then the German government could have been little sterner in explicitly recommending the use of other alternative open source software.

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