Microsoft debug policy leak could make windows phone useful again
Microsoft inadvertently made some of their orphaned devices useful again by leaking a debug policy that can potentially allow windows hardware users such as some of the earlier windows phone users and ARM powered windows RT tablets to install custom OS including the non windows OS such as android and linux.
The debug policy was originally created by microsoft as a internal workaround for the their secre boot feature for in-house developers to test the latest windows builds without any hassle. Unfortunately this “accidentally” slipped out on retail devices and was unveiled by researchers.
Two researchers going by the name of MY123 and Slipstream have a write up of the issue here. The pair say they managed to activate and install the debug policy in firmware, disabling the Windows boot manager by switching off signature checks loading non-Windows OSes onto the devices. The policy is apparently universal — working on x86 and ARM devices, and on anything that uses the Windows boot manager.
This workaround could mean a user can potentially flash a non windows phone OS in a old lumia device including the old Nokia branded devices. That potentially could mean the old Nokia devices running android earlier than Nokia releasing their own brand of android devices. Looks like android is coming to Nokia whether they like it or not.
The issue also unveils a potential threat to all the windows device users. This potentially could help hackers gain access of your personal device to snoop out the data. This also reminds us of the earlier case where the FBI asked Apple to create a security weakened version of iOS to hacking into one of a terrorists iPhone.
The Apple asserted at the time:
The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.
The main concern back then was if the security weakened version of iOS leaks outside cupertino could cause a major security threat to the general public, specially the Apple users. The issue here is the same. The ability to install a custom OS could lead to a installing a security weakened OS leading to security concerns. However the company’s security researchers said they are trying to patch the issue out of the system and not have been able to yet effectively made the leak worthless but they are trying with another patch coming around next month.
The question here lies was it really a blunder of some cheap marketing trick by microsoft to make their boot-locked windows phones useful again? Comment and let us know your views.