After the revelations began following the Edward Snowden document leaks, tech companies were quickly on the defensive. Google has been an especially vocal opponent of NSA spying, insisting that they only legally provided information on customers under valid court orders.
But Al Jazeera has found numerous emails allegedly between NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, and Google founders Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, which tell a different story.
It all seems to have started with a security briefing that Schmidt was invited to back in 2012. It was the second of meetings between the NSA and execs from numerous companies, but this one was “topic-specific, and decision-oriented, with a focus on Mobility Threats and Security.” Schmidt was unable to make it.
So far, not that shocking, right? Cyber security is a real thing, and it isn’t unusual that the government would connect directly with the biggest names in technology to handle it. Google, Microsoft, and Apple were all among those being represented.
But all of this seems to be connected to BIOS, which is where it gets shady.
Alexander is part of the Enduring Security Framework (ESF), which was a branch in charge of various cyber threats related to a vulnerability they were calling BIOS. What did that entail, and how did it involve tech companies?
BIOS is the basic input/output system responsible for initializing hardware when you turn on your computer, just prior to the loading of your operating system. The NSA claims some kind of plot was hatched by China to exploit a BIOS vulnerability that would render US computers useless. A number of tech companies were involved.
“For example, over the last 18 months, we (primarily Intel, AMD [Advanced Micro Devices], HP [Hewlett-Packard], Dell and Microsoft on the industry side) completed an effort to secure the BIOS of enterprise platforms to address a threat in that area,” Alexander has explained.
Is that hard to follow? Yeah, cyber security experts thought so, too. They told Al Jazeera that essentially that kind of attack just isn’t realistic, and that the explanation was “complete jibberish.”
What that means is the NSA is (big shock) lying. And that the connection to companies like Google, of which Alexander has named a key figure in their BIOS defense efforts, may have had more to do with building a backdoor in BIOS in personal devices. That includes mobile.
It is all speculation. But given that we know by various company’s own admission that the NSA has been pressing them to add back doors to their framework, it doesn’t sound too hard to believe.
Source: Al Jazeera