United States Government Sued by Microsoft and Other Security News

Today in Security Tech - United States Government Sued by Microsoft, Canada Had Blackberry Encryption Master Key

Following Apple’s battle against the FBI, the world is concerned about security and encryption. Today, we report the latest security news in the tech industry.

United States Government Sued by Microsoft

In a surprise move, Microsoft has sued the U.S. Government for not allowing them to tell their customers when a federal agency requests for data stored in the cloud to aid criminal investigations.

“This morning we filed a new lawsuit in federal court against the United States government to stand up for what we believe are our customers’ constitutional and fundamental rights – rights that help protect privacy and promote free expression,” said Brad Smith, Chief Legal Officer for Microsoft, in a blog post.

Smith added that in the past 3 years, the company received 5624 requests, 48% of which were to be kept from the public. Additionally, 68% of the secret requests had no end date, implying that they were to be kept secret indefinitely.

“We believe that with rare exceptions consumers and businesses have a right to know when the government accesses their emails or records. Yet it’s becoming routine for the U.S. government to issue orders that require email providers to keep these types of legal demands secret. We believe that this goes too far and we are asking the courts to address the situation,” he adds.

"This means that we effectively are prohibited forever from telling our customers that the government has obtained their data.”

Canada Had Blackberry Encryption Master Key Since 2 Years

According to reports from Vice News and Motherboard, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had the Blackberry master encryption key since 2010, and had used it to access more than 1 million messages sent through BBM (Blackberry Messenger).

"We reject the notion that tech companies should refuse reasonable, lawful access requests," Blackberry CEO John Chen had written in a blog post more than a year ago.

Vice reports the existence of a secret server in Ottawa that acts as a Blackberry simulator to receive a BBM message. Then, the system decrypts the message using the master encryption key. All this was part of Project Clemenza, an RCMP operation that involved a Montreal crime gang pleading to a murder in 2011.

It is still not yet known how the RCMP obtained the master key, and whether they are still using it to access personal information of Blackberry users.

US Government Tells Windows Users to Uninstall QuickTime

Windows users have been advised by the Department of Homeland Security to uninstall QuickTime, a media player used popularly on Apple computers, after discovering two critical vulnerabilities in the software. As Apple doesn’t offer updates for the Windows version, a complete uninstall is the only solution, according to the authorities.

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