EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

01.09.08

Novell’s Privilege Escalation Vulnerability and the Microsoft Software Police

Posted in Asia, Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, Novell, Security, Windows at 11:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Admittedly, there is little or no news to see here. However, a few new articles do raise a point that leads to further discussion.

The number of vulnerabilities in Novell’s products gives cause for concern, but then again, no software is intrusion-proof. Here is one of the latest examples:

A vulnerability has been reported in Novell ZENworks Endpoint Security Management, which can be exploited by malicious, local users to gain escalated privileges.

There are some other recent examples such as this one.

On the following day, some reports appeared which reaffirm the fact that (free) open source software is indeed secure.

11 open-source projects certified as secure

[...]

Eleven projects made the list: Amanda, NTP, OpenPAM, OpenVPN, Overdose, Perl, PHP, Postfix, Python, Samba, and TCL.

It’s truly reassuring, but watch this (published yesterday):

Sounds familiar?

Question: When I tried to download OpenOffice, I got a warning from Windows that it was a security risk because it had no known publisher. Can you help? – H.N., Swansboro, N.C.

As you can see, there is discrimination, some of which may be deliberate. Less knowledgeable users can be intimidated by the warning and then back away. Similar accusations were made in the past by Firefox users who had been blocked in a variety of ways under the Windows platform.

It was only a week ago that we saw Microsoft using "security" as an excuse for disablement of important features. It once again used the security wand to support an anti-competitive agenda and later tried to deny this. There some good background reading to all of this. Consider the references below to be decent accompanying literature. Highlighted using bold fonts are fragments of interest.

Software Police

Have a look at this recent incident where Microsoft was accused of of becoming the “software police”.

Microsoft Corp. last week slammed the door on a free utility out of Australia that outflanked one of the company’s touted security features in Windows Vista, by having the program’s digital certificate revoked….

Linchpin Labs’ Atsiv utility, released July 20, used a signed driver to load other, unsigned code into the Vista kernel, according to U.S.- based Symantec Corp. researcher Ollie Whitehouse. Atsiv, said
Whitehouse, thus let users circumvent a feature of the 64-bit version of Vista that allows only digitally signed code to be loaded into the operating system’s kernel. The digital signing requirement is one way Vista tries to stymie hackers from infiltrating the kernel — the heart of the operating system — with, among other things, rootkit cloaking technologies that hide malware from security software.

Patents Authorities

Now, consider the BSA as well. It is another form of proxy for Microsoft, as it has always been. It absorb people’s hate while making Microsoft seem like the ‘good cop’ among the pair. Watch how they lobby for patents.

A report published by an EU task force on intellectual property claims that small businesses benefit from a patent system, despite lacking almost any participation by the small business community.

Instead, the report, titled IPR (intellectual property rights) for competitiveness and innovation, was written up almost entirely by large corporations and the patent industry.

[...]

The report does note objections from the likes of patentfrei.de and Sun Microsystems, which were recorded at some length in the report. But this does not appear to have impacted the conclusion of the report in any way

[...]

Jean-Pierre Laisne, of ObjectWeb, an open source software community, said that he found the report useless: participants were told that all their contributions would be recorded but at the end only those of Business Software Alliance and Microsoft were used.

Here is another good (and recent) item about this pairing.

While there may have been the Enrons, Haliburtons, and other companies that members of We Are Change have to deal with, there are two main companies/groups that we have to deal with:

* Microsoft
* The Business Software Alliance

It’s a symbiotic relationship of sorts between the two. One is supposed to make sure that users have shelled out an arm and a leg for their copies of software, yet it is used by the other to blackmail these same users. For now though, let us focus on the Redmond, Washington software company. In Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, there was a brief clip that allegedly showed a meeting of many companies who were talking about Iraq (second invasion of… at least it was implied to me anyway), and one of the names dropped: Microsoft.

Inflating Figures

Criminologists are notorious because of their affinity for practices where certain figures get overinflated. They use fear and exaggeration to change laws and call for radical action. In some cases, criminologists who speak on behalf for the software and music industry were forced to admit that they made up their figures. Case of point:

The figure represents 10 percent of software piracy losses in China in 2006, according to the Business Software Alliance.

Making Free Software ‘Illegal’

Watch some examples where bodies such as the BSA (it has equivalents with similar names in other countries) hurt Free software.

Example #1: Why open source has always deserved a census

Ever since we learned that the Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft doesn’t take into account open source software when it comes up with its annual piracy statistics, we stopped reporting their numbers. When you only look at proprietary shipments, you miss a great piece of the puzzle. We just don’t know how big a piece it is.

Example #2: Hypocrisy off the port bow!

Admiral Holleyman of the Bull Shit Association dares claim that our craft makes his skainsmates lose (that’s the opposite o’ win, for all ye spelling-retarded coppocias) $11 billion US dollars every year. Hoy-day! A flight of fancy I’ve ne’er seen before such bardleture came before me! Such presumptuous posy overflows my yellow bile. As if every man of the brotherhood would actually buy the programs he pirates! Bah! Next, I wager he’ll be so bloody daft to presume that blokes should actually read a license agreement, the likes o’ which have never been, and may yet never be enforced in full.

Example #3: Get free software and save a fortune

The report, South African Open Source Market, said allegations by large developers, led by Microsoft, and the Business Software Alliance, of piracy and copyright violations have cast a shadow over the legitimacy of free software.

Example #4: Legality of Fedora in production environment

Recently the appropriate laws in my country (Russia) have beens ignificantly toughened. Now the police can check for illegal software usage by their own initiative (without request from the owner). The tax inspection demands that software should be registered at accounts departments.

During such a checking, the user is obliged now to show all hardcopy license documents (with original signatures and stamps).

Example #5: What about selling free software

Gervase Markham, the Mozilla Foundation’s licensing officer, in an article in the Times Online, talks about being questioned by a northern UK Trading License Officer about giving away software.

The trading officer was concerned by a group that was burning the free Mozilla Browser on CDs and selling it.

Seen enough yet? It’s not a matter of incompatibility with the law; it’s a case of FUD, bullying, discrimination, and scare tactics. A lot of this is traced back to the BSA, whose chief funding source is Microsoft.

Crocodile Tears

Ironically, despite all these complaints about copyright infringement (they call it “piracy”, which Stallman would consider a propaganda term), Microsoft actually thrives thanks to non-paying users.

But the truth is that Microsoft is happy with the way Windows Vista piracy is evolving. Is there a catch to this? No. The fact of the matter is that Windows Vista has delivered a heavy blow to software counterfeiters. The reason for this is the new Windows Genuine Advantage security mechanism integrated into the operating system.

You may not notice this on the surface. On the surface, the Internet is crawling with Windows Vista cracks, hacks and workarounds. On the surface, every Windows Vista edition has been cracked and is available for download via peer-to-peer networks. But this is not the true extent of Windows Vista piracy.

At one stage, even a top Microsoft executive admitted this. The press caught a slip of the tongue last year.

Let us never forget the the ultimate aim is to have people dependent (or “addicted” to Windows, as Bill Gates himself would put it himself).

“Microsoft’s strategy of getting developing nations hooked on its software was clearly outlined by Bill Gates almost a decade ago,” said Con Zymaris, CEO of long-standing open source firm Cybersource.

Specifically, Bill Gates, citing China as an example, said:

“Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don’t pay for the software,” he said. “Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”[1]

One important reason for Microsoft’s great fear of GNU/Linux (Linux is among Microsoft’s #1 threats, if not the only #1 threat) is its effect on Microsoft’s pricing (tariff). From the Observer:

Microsoft seals its Windows and opens the door to Linux

Now comes the really interesting question. With Vista’s activation technology, Microsoft has the power to stamp out piracy everywhere. But will it choose to do so everywhere? After all, if folks in China or Thailand or Ethiopia have to pay for Vista, they won’t be able to run it because they won’t be able to afford the licence fee. In which case they may finally wake up to the attractions of free software such as Linux – and it’s easy to imagine what that will do to Microsoft’s plans for world domination.

It’s a delicious prospect: Microsoft impaling itself on the horns of a dilemma it has created for itself. Roll on Thursday.

Lobbying in the Philippines Again

Last month we gave some examples of Microsoft lobbying in the Philippines. Only days ago we wrote about OOXML lobbying in the country and subversion of the “Open Source” definition.

It would quite timely to point out that the BSA is hard at work in the Philippines where there’s great pressure on the government, whose citizens are urged to embrace Free software.

A FOSS Bill was seemingly intercepted by the BSA and its allies/funding entities last year. Here is a report about the hearing.

Listed for November 15th, the hearing by The Committee on Information and Communications Technology has invited comment from various stakeholders potentially affected by the bill, including community representatives as well as industry giants Microsoft and Oracle.

Here is another.

In his Nov. 21 column, Conrado Banal said I did not really author the bill “Free/Open Source Act of 2006″ now pending in Congress. And quoting the Business Software Alliance (BSA), he also derided the bill as a “prime model of confusion.”

Let me assure him that I authored the bill. My office worked on it for four months. It started with a suggestion from FOSS (free/open source software) advocates in the Computer Professionals Union (CPU). Modeled after the Brazil and Peru FOSS policies, it is the result of inputs from various geeks, techies and FOSS practitioners–from my two staff who happen to be competent IT professionals, IT lawyers in the UP College of Law, members of the Philippine Linux Users Group (PLUG), GNU/Linux guru and prime advocate Richard Stallman of the MIT-based Free Software Foundation, who personally e-mailed his very valuable comments. It also contains inputs from the government’s Commission on Information and Communications Technology and the International Open Source Network of the UNDP.

People are encouraged to remember what role the BSA serves. It doesn’t serve a role as much it is serves a company.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. They Always Worked for Microsoft (Directly and Indirectly) and Were Financially Rewarded for That

    Nat and Miguel, now put in charge of new weapons against software freedom (e.g. GitHub and NPM), have long worked for Microsoft (Nat was also an intern there); Techrights was right all along about this pair



  2. Red Hat Betrayed the Free Software Community With Its Software Patents' Stockpiling Drive and Then a Sale to the Biggest Software Patents Lobbyist

    In 2020 Red Hat is little but a shadow of IBM, whose patent policy continues to threaten software freedom and whose lobbying for software patents (under the guise of "HEY HI") persists uninterrupted; this growing problem oughtn't be unspeakable



  3. Politically Correct Tech

    This new video entitled “Politically Correct Tech” covers a topic we’ve spoken a great deal about



  4. [Humour/Meme] High on Production, Stoned on Pseudoscience

    All-time high ‘production’ levels at the European Patent Office (EPO) do not mean what they want people to think and what they try hard to hide



  5. Missing From EPO Management: Actual Scientists

    Political figures and opportunists with connections occupy top positions at top European agencies; this assures self-destructive policies that diminish progress and cushion corruption



  6. All Software Should Come With a Cheat Mode

    Cheat modes are useful for developers because they enable debugging, and are sometimes called "Debug mode"



  7. Linus Torvalds Checks If It's Still Inclusive Enough to 'Bash' Bad Technology (of the Company Whose TPM Pusher Has Just Successfully Pushed to Remove Many Words)

    In the age of endless control of language (e.g. large corporations pushing for "inclusive" language whilst earning billions from bombing of 'inferior' countries) we see that it is still possible to condemn corporations on technical grounds (at least if you’re Linus Torvalds)



  8. Even Before Microsoft Paid ('Joined') the Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin Had a Preference for Microsofters

    Even years before the Linux Foundation was receiving money from Microsoft it had a tendency to hire Microsoft’s people for key positions (a lot of people no longer remember that, but it’s still in the public record; it was Jim Zemlin who approached if not chased Mr. Ramji to offer him the job and the colleagues saw no problem with that)



  9. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 11, 2020

    IRC logs for Saturday, July 11, 2020



  10. Links 12/7/2020: KDE Plasma 5.20 Preview and Elive 3.8.14 Beta

    Links for the day



  11. [Humour] The 'Orange One' Does Not Respect Judges Either

    More than two years after taking over the European Patent Office (EPO) António Campinos has done absolutely nothing to restore judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO



  12. The Systemd Song

    Speak out about IBM's strategy before we're all using GNU/Linux distros 'barcoded' with systemd



  13. Monopoly (or Vendor Lock-in) is Not Modularity

    IBM cannot totally control the kernel, Linux; IBM's control over GNU/Linux may be worth even more than what it paid for Red Hat as that's the key to overpriced support contracts and the general direction of development (important trends such as file systems and various low-level stacks)



  14. The Internet Archive Doesn't Forget, Whereas the Internet and the Web Forget Very Fast

    World Wide Web history is grossly undervalued and preservation of such history (e.g. by the Wayback Machine) is taken for granted by far too many people; the robber barons of today benefit the most from erosion of collective memory as they get to rewrite the past to suit their present and future interests



  15. Environmentalism and Free Software Can be Viewed as Closely Connected and Help One Another

    Modest lifestyles are an overlapping pattern in the Free software community and green activists; there's room for alliances and collaboration, bettering society by reducing consumption and discouraging voyeurism



  16. Free (as in Freedom) Software + Social Control Media ≠ Free Speech

    Speaking through middlemen and private platforms is bad enough (that gives others unjust power over speech); to claim that because the underlying platform is free/libre software it therefore becomes a non-issue is also dishonest



  17. António Campinos: President or Quasi-Autocratic Corporate Puppet?

    The culture of oppression — and censorship of evidence of oppression — is what today’s EPO is all about; the EPO learned how to better avoid (or block) negative publicity without actually changing its ways; and due to unprecedented speech restrictions you won’t hear that from SUEPO



  18. The Media Continues to Ignore Corruption of António Campinos

    António Campinos has Croatian scandals on his lap; the obedient media, however, refuses to even talk about it (or uses COVID as an excuse to write nothing on the subject, as some journalists have told us)



  19. A Call for Patent Sanity

    The public's call for reform is motivated by improved understanding of today's debased patent system and how out-of-order (detached from its original mission statement) it has gotten; patent maximalism, if it does not completely unravel this whole system, severely discredits it



  20. Declassified US Army Field Manuals Explain Microsoft's Public Relations Strategy (Similar to Selling Imperialism to the Occupied)

    The misuse of public broadcast to brainwash the public is well understood and thoroughly exploited by both Microsoft and the Gates Foundation (which sells this ridiculous lie that the world’s richest people speak for and fight for the poorest, i.e. those impoverished by endless greed)



  21. IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 10, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, July 10, 2020



  22. Links 11/7/2020: Slackel 7.3 Openbox, Kiwi TCMS 8.5, Librem 5 Dogwood Update 3

    Links for the day



  23. Education Without Free Software is Training or Indoctrination

    Kids need to decide for themselves what they want to do and what they wish to use when they grow up; schools need to provide general tools and the mental capacity to make good decisions (rather than make these decisions for the kids, sometimes at the behest of foreign monopolists)



  24. Links 10/7/2020: Wayland-Info, diffoscope 151 and Tor 0.4.4.2-alpha

    Links for the day



  25. European FRAND (Related to SEP) Proponent and Famed Programmer Comes to Realise That It's Actually a “Scam”

    Even people who have long promoted the practice of mandatory "licensing" (in effect patent tax one is unable to work around) are apparently changing their minds and their tune



  26. Not Even a Single Corporate Journalist Has Written Anything About These Very Important Bits of News (Updated)

    Constant propaganda from patent maximalists has long infested the media, which is sometimes controlled and even bribed to set the tone and the agenda; important developments are being tucked away and require very deep digging for ordinary citizens to find



  27. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 09, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, July 09, 2020



  28. Racism in Technology (and Who Typically Lectures Us About the Subject)

    Racism is a real problem; some approaches to tackling racism, however, can also be problematic and those who take the lead 'on behalf' of victims tend to be opportunistic and privileged few (piggybacking others' grievances to further advance their financial agenda)



  29. Links 10/7/2020: Debian 8 Long Term Support EOL, Mobian Project, Mesa 20.1.3

    Links for the day



  30. [Humour] COVID-19 is Very, Very Afraid of Human Beings Making More Monopolies Instead of Fighting Together

    The European Patent Office (EPO) to the rescue! Fighting a dangerous pandemic one profitable monopoly at a time!


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts