In May 2017, hundreds of thousands of computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems were disabled by the WannaCry cyber attack.
How could a single malware program simultaneously cripple companies, hospitals and even government intelligence services all around the globe? Microsoft Windows software programs proved to be their common Achilles heel. Companies and private individuals use software from Microsoft. Government and public administrations from Helsinki to Lisbon run it, too. That makes all of them vulnerable to attacks from hackers and spies. Microsoft Window’s dominance also undermines European procurement legislation, impedes technological progress and costs Europe a bundle. Journalist Harald Schumann and his team of Investigate Europe researchers have spoken with insiders and administrators from all across the continent. The German government’s former IT director, Martin Schallbruch, tells us how countries are becoming increasingly dependent on Microsoft. A legal expert from the Netherlands describes how the European Commission and governments are breaking European laws regulating public tenders. Hamburg’s data protection commissioner, Johannes Caspar, warns that Microsoft Windows systems expose individuals’ private data to the prying eyes of US intelligence services. Internal documents show that Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) suspects this, too. The European Parliament and the German parliament have responded by repeatedly demanding that government IT systems be converted to open source software. Their source codes can be accessed freely and copied at will, which would enable European security services to use, alter and monitor them. Italy’s army is going open source, as have police in France, Lithuania, and in the cities of Rome and Barcelona. Why do most governments resist the alternatives, or fall back into Microsoft’s clutches, as Munich city authorities did. The EU’s Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, and other key players have the answers.
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