Thousands of US companies—including banks, and software, internet, and telecommunications firms—are exchanging information with national security agencies, according to anonymous sources in a new Bloomberg report. Only, they aren't sharing your personal info or browsing data with the NSA, FBI, and CIA, but rather things like software vulnerabilities and equipment specifications that can help the government defend its own computers, as well as infiltrate those of its enemies. Microsoft, for instance, informs intelligence agencies about software bugs before it tells the rest of us, while data from McAfee can be used to track the location of hackers—though the company insists it does not share data on individuals.
This may all sound fairly innocuous, but there are some things in this report worth knowing. For one, often only a few people at each company know about these "sensitive" arrangements. In exchange for their help, sources say, company leaders are heaped with attention and receive classified intel, including heads ups on threats that could affect their business—and info on who is behind them. Secondly, one source says US telecommunications companies are providing agencies with access to their data and facilities overseas, something that would require a judge's OK if it were done on US soil, but can be done with no oversight offshore. Click to read the full article at Bloomberg. (Read more Microsoft stories.)