Microsoft is working on solutions to strengthen the encryption of incoming and outgoing data of users and at the same time, protect its trade secrets. The move was triggered by reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) might have tapped its communication links through a surveillance program codenamed MUSCULAR, the program that purportedly collected data from Yahoo and Google data centers. According to sources, top executives of the Microsoft will be meeting about the matter and discuss possible security strategies.
The Washington Post was the first to break the news about the alleged NSA snooping on Yahoo and Google, based on documents obtained from former NSA contractor and PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden. Two documents that have not been made public earlier, revealed that the Windows Live Messenger and the Hotmail service could have been tapped to collect user information. A leaked email pointed to the company's discontinued Passport service as another possible source of data.
"We're focused on engineering improvements that will further strengthen security including strengthening security against snooping by governments," said Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith, at a shareholders meeting.
"These allegations are very disturbing. If they are true these actions amount to hacking and seizure of private data and in our view are a breach of the protection guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution," Smith added.
Microsoft has not verified if the company was subjected to such surveillance by the NSA but decided to take the same path as Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, to improve its defenses. However, it might not be enough as a government official revealed to The Washington Post that data collection can happen at other points of the data super highway and does not have to occur in the private communication links of the companies.
"NSA's focus is on targeting the communications of valid foreign intelligence targets, not on collecting and exploiting a class of communications or services that would sweep up communications that are not of bona fide foreign intelligence interest to the U.S. government," was the boilerplate statement made by a spokesperson of the NSA, in response to queries of The Washington Post.