US National Security Agency ‘enhanced’ Windows 7

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The National Security Agency (NSA) worked with Microsoft to enhance the security of Windows 7, according to a statement given to the US Senate Committee.

Richard Schaeffer, NSA information assurance director, said that the organisation shared its "unique expertise" and "operational knowledge" of system threats to strengthen Windows 7 security "without constraining the user's ability to perform their everyday tasks".

"All this was done in coordination with the product release, not months or years during the product lifecycle," he said.

Schaeffer said that the NSA started with working with Microsoft, other government agencies and the American armed forces in 2005 to build consensus on security configurations for XP, Vista and Internet Explorer.

"Today, national security systems are heavily dependent on commercial products and infrastructure," he revealed. "This creates new and significant common ground between defence and broader US government and homeland security needs."

"More and more, we find that protecting national security systems demands teaming with public and private institutions to raise the information assurance of products and services more broadly," he added.

"If done correctly, this is a win-win situation that benefits the whole spectrum of IT users."

The director revealed that the NSA was also working with vendors such as Apple, Sun and Red Hat to "develop secure baselines" for their products.

Schaeffer also said that the NSA worked directly with vendors across the IT security community.