Microsoft Reveals Source Code To Russia

Government Security Program allows access to software code to facilitate development of secure national computing infrastructures.

Mathew Schwartz

July 12, 2010

2 Min Read
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Microsoft has signed an agreement with Russia to share the source code of multiple products.

The deal expands on an initial agreement signed eight years ago, which gave Russia, and in particular the country's Atlas center serving the Federal Agency for Governmental Communication and Information (Russia's version of the National Security Agency) access to the source code for Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2000.

Under the new agreement, Russia will now gain access to the source code for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server, and Office 2010.

According to Vedomosti, the Russian newspaper which first broke the story, "Atlas will use the information to create cryptographic defenses for Microsoft's latest line of products, which will open them up for use by state agencies and services."

Atlas and the Federal Security Service -- Russia's main domestic security agency and successor to the KGB -- will also be able to share their conclusions and recommendations, based on studying the source code, for adoption and uses by other government agencies, as well as for an ongoing e-government project.

Russia is not the only government with which Microsoft shares its source code. Indeed, under its Government Security Program, Microsoft works with numerous governments, including Australia, Britain, China, Norway, and Spain, as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

According to Microsoft, its Government Security Program "offers eligible, participating national governments no-cost, online smart-card access to source code for the most current versions and service packs of Windows Client, Windows Server, Windows Embedded CE, and Office," as well as cryptographic code and development tools, U.S. export restrictions permitting. Microsoft says more than 60 governments are eligible for the program.

According to Microsoft, sharing technical information "provides greater insight regarding the platform's integrity and enhances national governments' ability to design and build more secure computing infrastructures."

Sharing the source code can also help Microsoft make greater inroads with government clients. Microsoft's president for Russia, Nikolai Pryanishnikov, told Vedomosti that state contracts accounted for 10% of Microsoft's revenue in Russia.

While Microsoft doesn't divulge its revenue in Russian, Vedomosti cites an IDC estimate that the firm earns $1 billion there annually.

"The signing of this expansion of the agreement means to us that we are entering a qualitatively new level of cooperation with the Russian Federation's government authorities," said Pryanishnikov in a statement. "We expect that the adopted changes will not only lead to higher trust to Microsoft's software products, but will also become an additional catalyst for the development of high-end technologies in the country."

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