Because both the system's privacy and the security of digital money depend on encryption, a breakthrough in mathematics or computer science that defeats the cryptographic system could be a disaster. The obvious mathematical breakthrough would be the development of an easy way to factor large prime numbers# (Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, 1995)
Actually, there is no need for breakthroughs; Bill Gates/Microsoft can “defeat the cryptographic system” by themselves with the simple formula:
Windows + Distributed computing = No cryptographic system##
Almost 90% of the world’s computers have a Windows version installed (which is more than ONE BILLION computers). All of these individual machines can be guided to a common goal by distributed computing implemented in Windows (which isn’t a hard thing to do).
And this can actually be done without you knowing. Because Windows is not a common application, it is an Operating System (a closed source operating system). And what it does inside it’s out of your reach.
Moreover this extends to updates also; 99.99% of Windows users have no idea what every update is supposed to do; and those who have, have no certainty that the update is exactly what Microsoft says it is.
So, Microsoft has the possibility to harness the power of almost all the computers in the world.
Does it do it? And if it does, what for?
# To factor prime numbers is trivial (no matter how small or large they are). Gates probably meant to factor the product of large prime numbers (which is used in asymmetric cryptographic algorithms).
## I expressed the same idea more than five years ago on my previous blog in a post called “The” Code Breaker. I considered to be the time to reiterate the idea after reading this article: Debate Over Internet Backdoors Heats Up in Congress and in Court.