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09.25.13

Linux Back Door Question Revisited in the Age of Government Surveillance Crimes

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Security at 7:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Parliament

Summary: In the age of government lawlessness regarding privacy we recall Torvalds’ sarcastic remarks

LINUX is commonly being run with many blobs in it. Some are very large, especially graphics drivers. Recently, Linus Torvalds was dodging a question regarding a backdoor in Linux and this was covered by the British press.

“The lust for surveillance is a national thing and the bigger the nation is, the more capable it is of carrying out surveillance at a massive scale.”Now that “The UN High Commissioner Says Privacy Is a Human Right” [1] we should take this matter seriously knowing that cross-national bodies stand not for surveillance. The UN, reveal recent leaks, was itself a victim of US/NSA espionage. The lust for surveillance is a national thing and the bigger the nation is, the more capable it is of carrying out surveillance at a massive scale. It’s not just a US thing. The NSA is probably interested in putting back doors in Linux [2] and now that complicity turns out to be behind some NSA back doors [3] Free software leaves more hope for some who appreciate privacy [4], not those who use social networks in an irresponsible way [5-8] or those who trust the keepers of medical records [9,10] (here in the UK there is currently a push to share more such data, with opt-out being an option, for now). The Brazilian president says US surveillance a “breach of international law” [11] and there is some talk about building a new ‘Internet’ alternative [12] as backlash increases [13] over the Pentagon-built Internet. Irrespective of the location of an Internet company, surveillance is unstoppable [14] on the Internet. The UK is part of the problem [15] because it’s part of the empire. Concerns are being raised here [16] because our government is breaking European laws and cracks systems in ally nations [17], showing just how corrupt a government can be when given the power to carry out surveillance [18]. Don’t buy this whole ‘metadata’ excuse. It’s essentially what makes a concise profile of all of us. A lot can be derived from metadata, which BT’s Bruce Schneier (BT is a massive surveillance entity) says “Equals Surveillance” [19].

Some graphics drivers for Linux were previously found to be severely flawed (even enabling remote access through compromise). If one looks for a Linux back door, that’s a good place to start. What’s reassuring, however, is the news that NVIDIA will begin publishing open GPU documentation [20], much like ATI/AMD. If underlying code is being released, then it gets harder to conceal back doors.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The UN High Commissioner Says Privacy Is a Human Right
  2. NSA: GNU/Linux TOO SECURE

    When did the role of the National Security agency change from keeping USA safe to sabotaging the world’s IT? From the beginning…

  3. Major US security company warns over NSA link to encryption formula
  4. Goodbye, Encryption; Hello, FOSS

    Indeed, the NSA has not cracked good crypto; what it has done is inserted backdoors and such in closed software,” Google+ blogger Kevin O’Brien pointed out. “The key word here is ‘closed.’ That makes Linux even more important since anyone can view the code.

  5. Redmond’s Used iPads, Spy Wars Escalate & More…

    If an employee makes a post on Facebook using a privacy setting that excludes the boss from seeing it, that post is off limits to the employer. Unless, that is, the poster has a turncoat friend who willingly supplies the post to the employer with no prodding to do so. That’s evidently the gist of a ruling handed down in August, as reported by PCWorld on Sunday.

  6. LinkedIn Accused of Hacking Customers’ E-Mails to Get Contacts
  7. ‘I only shared it with eight friends’ says Emily Sheffield after posting picture of napping PM

    Emily Sheffield uploaded the image of her sister Alice smiling for the camera and holding a glass of champagne ahead of her wedding two weeks ago.

  8. Viral pictures of politicians highlight dangers of revealing more than intended online

    On her wedding day, Alice Sheffield would have been entirely within her rights to expect to be the centre of attention.

    But a family photo of the bride-to-be smiling with a glass of champagne just hours before the ceremony ended up going viral due to her brother-in-law being pictured in the background, taking a nap on a four-poster hotel bed.

    While this may not sound to be too interesting in its own right, users of photo-sharing app Instagram who viewed the image were shocked to spot that the sleeping guest was none other than David Cameron. The British Prime Minister could clearly be seen dozing barefoot on the bed, curled up next to a red box of ministerial paperwork.

  9. NHS 111 workers may get access to private medical records

    The government has announced proposals that would provide thousands of unqualified NHS 111 workers access to our private medical records, posing a massive risk to patient privacy.

  10. GPs threaten to boycott NHS database

    Their concerns are entirely reasonable. Patients have had zero direct communication from the NHS about the program, patient information posters are wholly uninformative and have only been displayed in GP surgeries, rather than being sent to patients. If you don’t visit your GP every few weeks then it’s likely you wouldn’t see the poster before it was too late (and even if you did read the poster, it’s likely you’ll have no idea what it’s talking about.)

  11. Brazilian president: US surveillance a ‘breach of international law’
  12. The BRICS “Independent Internet” Cable. In Defiance of the “US-Centric Internet”

    Brazil plans to divorce itself from the U.S.-centric Internet over Washington’s widespread online spying, a move that many experts fear will be a potentially dangerous first step toward politically fracturing a global network built with minimal interference by governments.

    President Dilma Rousseff has ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to U.S. tech companies such as Facebook and Google.

  13. International Day of Privacy, Berlin Demo

    The Inter­na­tional Day of Pri­vacy was cel­eb­rated glob­ally on 31 August, with the cases of Chelsea Man­ning and Edward Snowden bring­ing extra energy and res­on­ance to the subject.

  14. The lunacy of trying to avoid NSA spying by moving e-mail and cloud out of the US

    Some people are ao much in a panic about the NSA spying on them that they’re going to move their e-mail and cloud services out of the US entirely to “safer” foreign companies.

  15. Yahoo! joins transparency club as more UK requests refused

    Yahoo! has just added its own statistics to those of Facebook, Microsoft, Google and others. We blogged last week on Facebook’s new data and the questions that now urgently need answering about how powers to access data are being used and the oversight of surveillance powers.

  16. Edward Snowden has raised ‘real issues’, says head of UK spy watchdog

    Sir Malcolm Rifkind defends UK intelligence agencies’ techniques but appears to concede laws may need review

  17. State sponsored cyber attack: Will we practice what we preach?

    GCHQ is responsible for a cyber attack on Belgacom.

    [...]

    It appears then that this message is only relevant to the countries that we seek, quite rightly, to condemn rather than to ourselves and our allies. The information leaked by Edward Snowden, and reported on by Der Spiegel, indicates that the goal of “Operation Socialist” was “to enable better exploitation of Belagcom” and to improve understanding of the provider’s infrastructure. It also appears that GCHQ used spying technology that had been developed by the NSA.

  18. Spy Agencies Are Doing WHAT?

    The government is spying on essentially everything we do.

  19. Metadata Equals Surveillance

    Back in June, when the contents of Edward Snowden’s cache of NSA documents were just starting to be revealed and we learned about the NSA collecting phone metadata of every American, many people — including President Obama — discounted the seriousness of the NSA’s actions by saying that it’s just metadata.

  20. NVIDIA To Begin Publishing Open GPU Documentation

    This week at XDC2013 NVIDIA made one of the biggest surprise announcements… NVIDIA will begin publishing NDA-free GPU programming documentation. They already have released some documentation and more is on the way as they seek to assist the Nouveau graphics driver developers in writing a full open-source 3D Linux graphics driver for GeForce GPUs.

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