Microsoft, Other Companies have Remote Kill Switch in Devices
It is one thing when a member of a hacker group finds manages to hack your personal information and steal it. But what happens when the hacking or accessing comes from someone you trust, such as a software provider or other company? It sets a dangerous precedent when companies and corporations use digital back doors to monitor activity. Your information could potentially be at risk, so make sure you have a way to protect yourself from people who may be trying to access your information.
Last year, a software developer in Finland was looking at the Android Market searching for apps he may want for his smart phone. The Android Market is owned and operated by Google. It was at this time that he noticed something strange about some of the apps on the market. Several of the most popular apps available on the market all had the same publisher, all of which were incorrect. Why was this happening? In response, Google used a little known kill switch to remove the wrong coding from over 250,000 Android phones. Using a kill switch such as the one Google used is a good idea that can help combat threats quickly, but it is also very threatening to users.
When Windows 8 premiers, millions of computers will have this kill switch imbedded into them by the time users purchase them and set them up. Microsoft has confirmed that they have also imbedded a kill switch into their apps. With this remote access and kill switch program, Microsoft has the power to change or even completely remove an app from a user’s computer or phone. This piece of information was released along with other details of the upcoming Windows Store for Windows 8.
Anyone worried about Microsoft having complete access to your computer can rest easy for now. The company has stated that they can only “kill” programs downloaded from its new Microsoft App Store. This is what the company has to say about it in official terms: -“In cases where your security is at risk, or where we’re required to do so for legal reasons, you may not be able to run apps or access content that you previously acquired or purchased a license for,”.
Any software loaded from a flash drive, DVD, or directly from the Web will remain outside Microsoft’s control. Still, the kill switch is a tool that could help Microsoft prevent mass malware infections. “For most users, the ability to remotely remove apps is a good thing,” says Charlie Miller, a researcher with the security company Accuvant.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s vice president of Android engineering, says the search company reserves the use of the kill switch for “really egregious, really obvious cases” of harmful content. Microsoft’s Biggs says the company has used the functionality in its smart phones only for “technical issues and content issues.” Apple declined to comment. Amazon did not respond to several messages.
Nonetheless, a “kill switch” for curators of online applications marketplace is common as companies try to protect users of the platforms they develop from malware or hacking attempts implemented through applications. Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system is expected to be launched by the middle of next year.