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And here's where I flash pocket aces: I sat in a room with no windows and no computers, across from men with strong chins and short haircuts, reviewing Windows NT source code line by line. On friggin' paper.

Never heard of this guy. Never heard this story. It makes no sense, and I cannot even imagine what "automatically open the processor up to accept commands on start-up" means.

Mr. Curry eventually met with senior NSA/DoD officials, aired what he had -- while a major government lawsuit against Microsoft played out -- and nothing.

Also, Windows NT 4.0 very much did get C2 certification and had E3 (equivalent but not transferable) at the time. Which again doesn't help the story in hindsight.

I mean, seriously... read this nonsense (gcn.com). This stuff doesn't even qualify him for a Wikipedia entry. It's just the story of someone who cracked under the pressure of releasing a version of NT every year for four years straight. He certainly wasn't the only one.


Curry also gave Schaeffer an updated document pulled from Microsoft’s Web site. Under a section of frequently asked questions on security, the site answered the question: “Is Windows NT a secure enough platform for enterprise applications?” by stating that the company recently enhanced the security of NT Server 4.0 through a service pack.

“Windows NT Server was designed from the ground up with a sound, integrated and extensible security model,” the Microsoft Web site said as late as last week. “It has been certified at the C2 level by the U.S. government and the E3 level by the U.K. government.”

Hodson said the passage claiming C2 certification cited by Curry refers to NT 3.5 with Service Pack 3, which is the only version of NT to meet the NSA’s C2 level requirements to date. But because the passage earlier mentions NT 4.0, Hodson said, the meaning could be misconstrued.

Interesting. On Microsoft's own site they have http://support.microsoft.com/kb/93362 which does not list 4.0. But I found several references claiming that they did achieve C2 certification with service pack 6 in early 2000. My memory had that as a British certification that they claimed was equivalent, but Google is not turning up anything that supports my memory.

However that said, by the time they got that many service packs out, it was clearly no longer the same operating system that they were pushing in 1995. There will never be proof either way, but my belief is that the reason that it took 6 service packs before that certification happened is that there were real security flaws in early NT 4.0.

As articles like http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/1998/05/12121 make clear, Ed Curry's claims were serious enough to be reported in the press at the time. And governments are large and diverse enough that there is no reason to believe that the opinions of people pursuing an anti-trust case about browsers would have much impact on people. This qualifies as a lot more than "nonsense".

As for your "pocket aces", I have absolutely zero clue who you are or whether you're telling the truth. I have no reason to doubt that people who would have been reviewing that code would find themselves on Hacker News. Obviously if you were working for the NSA, you wouldn't be likely to be inclined to leave a traceable trail all over the internet demonstrating that fact. However you wouldn't necessarily know everyone else involved. Nor after 17+ years can any of us claim perfect memory of everyone we might have worked with.

But I did know Ed somewhat. My impression of Ed, and the impression of many others we both interacted with, is that he was a credible witness. I never encountered any evidence that indicates that he was lying.

Interesting. On Microsoft's own site they have http://support.microsoft.com/kb/93362 which does not list 4.0.

I see 4.0 listed on the page. It's right at the bottom -- twice.

Yes, they list the advice in the article as applying to NT 4.0. And the advice on access controls does apply there.

But the only sentences stating that specific versions have actually received C2 type certifications are in the summary. And the statement there is that 3.5 was certified as of 1995 in the USA, and 3.5.1 was given a E3/F-C2 rating in the UK. Nowhere in that article does it say that any version of 4.0 ever received C2 certification.

If you think I'm missing something, please quote directly from the relevant section of the article.

There's no need to guess about any of this:

"SAIC's Center for Information Security Technology, an authorized TTAP Evaluation Facility, has performed the evaluation of Microsoft's claim that the security features and assurances provided by Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 6a and the C2 Update with networking meet the C2 requirements of the Department of Defense Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria (TCSEC) dated December 1985." [1]

Anyway isn't all of this missing the point that the TCSEC C* requirements didn't really amount to much anyway? It's a pity no general purpose operating systems were ever evaluated to A1 criteria, and that that the Common Criteria haven't lead to systems like EROS/Coyotos/Capros receiving more development attention.

[1] http://web.archive.org/web/20060503192159/http://www.radium....

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