Rather than risk getting caught messing with everyone’s updates, my bet is that the NSA has compromised the microcode update signing keys giving the NSA the ability to selectively target specific computers. (Your operating system ensures security of updates by checking downloaded update packages against the signing key.) The NSA then can send out backdoors disguised as a Windows update for “security.” (Ironic but possible.)
That means you don’t need backdoors baked in the hardware, don’t need Intel’s buy-in, don’t have discoverable rootkits, and you can target specific systems without impacting the public at large.
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