Risk
6/28/2011
03:35 PM
50%
50%

Microsoft Wins Patent For Internet Spying Technology

The company has patented a method for intercepting Web-based communications so they can silently be recorded.

Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
Microsoft has been granted a patent for technology that acts as a wiretap of sorts for Internet communication, allowing governments or other law-enforcement authorities to record the data without detection.

Dubbed "Legal Intercept," using the technology means "data associated with a request to establish a communication is modified to cause the communication to be established via a path that includes a recording agent" that silently records the data, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In other words, the technology intercepts Internet communications data so it can be recorded for the purposes of reviewing it later by, presumably, government or law-enforcement officials.

"Sometimes, a government or one of its agencies may need to monitor communications between telephone users," Microsoft said in the filing, describing how a recording device can be placed at a central office to record communications over a traditional telephone network.

But with Voice over IP and other Internet-based communications, "the [conventional] model for recording communications does not work," according to Microsoft.

The company filed for the patent on Dec. 23, 2009, and patent number 20,110,153,809 for the technology was granted on June 23.

Microsoft declined to comment about if and how it plans to use the technology and if it plans to possibly sell it to the federal government, according to a spokesperson reached via email.

It's no secret the federal government is looking for better ways to legally intercept Internet communications, and that it feels hampered by the inadequate ways to do so at the moment.

FBI officials have complained at length about the "going dark" problem, which refers to their inability to intercept electronic communications in a timely and efficient fashion even when they have a warrant to do so.

Part of the problem is that companies that have access to the communications don't have the capability to access it and get it in the hands of officials quickly and efficiently.

It's unclear whether the technology Microsoft patented will help alleviate this problem, but as described in the patent fling, it certainly should make it easier to record Internet-based communications delivered via a variety of means--including Voice over Internet Protocol, smartphones, PCs, set-top boxes, and Internet-based gaming devices such as Microsoft's own Xbox.

Security concerns give many companies pause as they consider migrating portions of their IT operations to cloud-based services. But you can stay safe in the cloud, as this Tech Center report explains. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-4231
Published: 2015-07-03
The Python interpreter in Cisco NX-OS 6.2(8a) on Nexus 7000 devices allows local users to bypass intended access restrictions and delete an arbitrary VDC's files by leveraging administrative privileges in one VDC, aka Bug ID CSCur08416.

CVE-2015-4232
Published: 2015-07-03
Cisco NX-OS 6.2(10) on Nexus and MDS 9000 devices allows local users to execute arbitrary OS commands by entering crafted tar parameters in the CLI, aka Bug ID CSCus44856.

CVE-2015-4234
Published: 2015-07-03
Cisco NX-OS 6.0(2) and 6.2(2) on Nexus devices has an improper OS configuration, which allows local users to obtain root access via unspecified input to the Python interpreter, aka Bug IDs CSCun02887, CSCur00115, and CSCur00127.

CVE-2015-4237
Published: 2015-07-03
The CLI parser in Cisco NX-OS 4.1(2)E1(1), 6.2(11b), 6.2(12), 7.2(0)ZZ(99.1), 7.2(0)ZZ(99.3), and 9.1(1)SV1(3.1.8) on Nexus devices allows local users to execute arbitrary OS commands via crafted characters in a filename, aka Bug IDs CSCuv08491, CSCuv08443, CSCuv08480, CSCuv08448, CSCuu99291, CSCuv0...

CVE-2015-4239
Published: 2015-07-03
Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) Software 9.3(2.243) and 100.13(0.21) allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (device reload) by sending crafted OSPFv2 packets on the local network, aka Bug ID CSCus84220.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Marc Spitler, co-author of the Verizon DBIR will share some of the lesser-known but most intriguing tidbits from the massive report