Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

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
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
7 Tips for Infosec Pros Considering A Lateral Career Move
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/21/2020
For Mismanaged SOCs, The Price Is Not Right
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-3154
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
CRLF injection vulnerability in Zend\Mail (Zend_Mail) in Zend Framework before 1.12.12, 2.x before 2.3.8, and 2.4.x before 2.4.1 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary HTTP headers and conduct HTTP response splitting attacks via CRLF sequences in the header of an email.
CVE-2019-17190
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
A Local Privilege Escalation issue was discovered in Avast Secure Browser 76.0.1659.101. The vulnerability is due to an insecure ACL set by the AvastBrowserUpdate.exe (which is running as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM) when AvastSecureBrowser.exe checks for new updates. When the update check is triggered, the...
CVE-2014-8161
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
PostgreSQL before 9.0.19, 9.1.x before 9.1.15, 9.2.x before 9.2.10, 9.3.x before 9.3.6, and 9.4.x before 9.4.1 allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive column values by triggering constraint violation and then reading the error message.
CVE-2014-9481
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
The Scribunto extension for MediaWiki allows remote attackers to obtain the rollback token and possibly other sensitive information via a crafted module, related to unstripping special page HTML.
CVE-2015-0241
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
The to_char function in PostgreSQL before 9.0.19, 9.1.x before 9.1.15, 9.2.x before 9.2.10, 9.3.x before 9.3.6, and 9.4.x before 9.4.1 allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via a (1) large number of digits when processing a numeric ...