Spooks help out on Vista security

American spies helped out with security in Microsoft's new operating system Vista in a bid to secure the OS from hackers.

According to reports from the Washington Post, The US National Security Agency helped out the software firm in developing the security features of the OS but Microsoft declined to give specific details of the NSA's contribution.

Microsoft mentions the agency in deep down in the company's "Windows Vista Security Guide," which said that the "guide is not intended for home users" but for information and security specialists.

According to reports, The spy agency used two groups, called "Red Team" and "Blue Team" to test the security of the new operating system. The Red Team acted as hackers, finding holes in the OS while the Blue Team helped out US Department of Defense system administrators with configuring Vista's security.

The software company also enlisted the help of other US and international organisations.

"I cannot mention any of the other international agencies," Donald R. Armstrong, senior program manager of Microsoft's government security program told the Washington Post, and said those agencies wished to remain anonymous.

Tony W. Sager, the NSA's chief of vulnerability analysis and operations group said that while the agency has worked with other IT companies in securing their products, Microsoft has been the only one "with this kind of relationship at this point where there's an acknowledgment publicly."

According to the report, the NSA, which provided its service free, said it was Microsoft's idea to acknowledge the spy agency's role.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.