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Nein, danke Microsoft

Germans allegedly to close Microsoft back door

Germany's military will not use Microsoft software on computers in "sensitive areas", according to news magazine Der Spiegel. But the German army denies it is pushing Microsoft out in favour of homegrown security technology.

The German defence ministry is concerned US intelligence services could gain access to secret information, according to the magazine's 17 March online edition.

German security officials are aware that the US National Security Agency (the NSA) has access to "all relevant source codes" to Microsoft software, Der Spiegel said. Authorities instead plan to use encryption technology from German companies Siemens and Deutsche Telekom.

But the German army hotly denies the claims.

"This report is wrong," said a defence ministry spokesman. "We have a general licence contract with Microsoft, and that is remaining in force." He added that various security measures, including firewalls, were being implemented in consultation with the federal IT security agency BSI, but declined to give further details.

However, German sources say the BSI is traditionally anti-Microsoft. Microsoft denied claims that its software is flawed, but somewhat contradictorily said the NSA did know its source code.

"There are no back doors in any Microsoft products," said Louise Conroy for Microsoft. Asked about reports that NSA had been given access to source codes, she would only say: "over the years, Microsoft has had its products evaluated by independent third parties to confirm that they meet US, Canadian, and European security standards."

In the UK, at least, this security testing means opening up your source code to government testers.


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