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

11.18.13

NSA-Created Malware Used Politically and Relied on Microsoft-Provided Back Doors/Weak Encryption

Posted in Action, Microsoft at 5:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hardware

Summary: A roundup of privacy-related news, with special focus on the role played by proprietary software in political espionage

SINCE Microsoft and the NSA are so close and we already know about NSA attempts to put back doors in operating systems, it should not be surprising that Microsoft Windows has a back door (more likely sevral) and Stuxnet was made possible to devise/deploy on Windows. Based on some news from Ars Technica [1], now that a lot of this shocking information is out there, Microsoft is trying to shift away from weak encryption (or breakable encryption), but it’s likely to be too late because Microsoft made such weakness a standard. “Microsoft is retiring two widely used cryptographic technologies that are growing increasingly vulnerable to attacks,” the article says. Further down the article notes: “The state-sponsored Flame malware that targeted Iran pulled off the only known in-the-wild collision attack earlier this decade. Using a never-before seen technique to subvert the MD5 algorithm, Flame-infected computers were able to pose as official servers belonging to Microsoft. By forging Microsoft’s digital signatures, the infected machines were able to trick uninfected computers into installing highly malicious software they otherwise would have refused. Microsoft has since decommissioned MD5 in its update system. Tuesday’s advisory indicates that the company is aiming to learn from that past incident by retiring SHA1 before it falls to the same type of attack.”

But why not assume that this weakness was the result of complicity (with the NSA) rather than an “incident” or some kind of accident? There are other bits of Microsoft software which gleefully invite the NSA in, e.g. Skype (incidentally, the researcher who showed it could be maliciously exploited has just died in an accident [2]).

We need to accept the fact that a lot of software is insecure by design. It’s designed to give power to particular parties, not the users. It’s an important distinction which helps show why proprietary software oughtn’t be trusted.

In other news, the United States’ “Internet Kill Switch” is back in the headlines [3] and countries like Germany are expected to have something to say [4]. Snowden’s E-mail provider is taking privacy up a notch [5] and Snowden’s leaks are said to be having an impact on privacy perceptions [6] because companies like Facebook [7], Google [8], and of course Microsoft do not protect users’ privacy at all. Facebook is notably worse because it helps the government train face recognition classifiers for people whose friends tag them [9]. In case of protests, for example, activists can be identified and named (which helps those who crush protests or intimidate protesters [10]).

There seems to be a shift motivating encryption of the Web [11] and rejection of proprietary software [12] because privacy rights are being misused [13-16], only making privacy advocates stronger and more popular [17]. In the UK, privacy abuses against foreign leaders [18] have been damaging, but not as damaging as the Streisand Effect caused by the attack on the press and on privacy advocates [19].

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Hoping to avert “collision” with disaster, Microsoft retires SHA1
  2. Security researcher Cédric ‘Sid’ Blancher dead at 37

    In 2006, while working for the EADS Corporate Research centre, he also put together a paper on how to exploit Skype to act as a botnet.

  3. EPIC Prevails in FOIA Case About “Internet Kill Switch”

    In a Freedom of Information Act case brought by EPIC against the Department of Homeland Security, a federal court has ruled that the DHS may not withhold the agency’s plan to deactivate wireless communications networks in a crisis. EPIC had sought “Standard Operating Procedure 303,” also known as the “internet Kill Switch,” to determine whether the agency’s plan could adversely impact free speech or public safety.

  4. Germany struggling to respond to NSA revelations
  5. DarkMail Alliance Wants To Upgrade Gmail’s Security
  6. Snowden effect: young people now care about privacy
  7. Friday Shame: Facebook reminds you that your posts are also its ads

    “Ads work the same way and just as with all of the content on Facebook, we show you which of your friends have interacted with something to make it more relevant to you,” Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan write in a post posted at 12:05PM ET on Friday

    While Facebook made a point to clarify the new privacy policy, it’s actually changing very little about it — despite all the backlash the changes caused when they were initially introduced.

  8. Google will soon display your Google+ photo when you call an Android phone
  9. US intelligence wants to radically advance facial recognition software

    Identifying people from video streams or boatloads of images can be a daunting task for humans and computers.

  10. EFF Appeals Chevron’s Speech-Chilling Subpoena

    On Halloween of this year, EFF and EarthRights International (ERI) filed an appeal in the Second Circuit (PDF) to protect the rights of dozens of environmental activists, journalists, and attorneys from a sweeping subpoena issued by the Chevron Corporation. And just last week, both the Republic of Ecuador (PDF) and a group consisting of Human Rights Watch, Automattic, a pair of anonymous bloggers, and academics Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca McKinnon (PDF) filed amicus briefs in support of our appeal.

  11. Internet architects propose encrypting all the world’s web traffic

    A vastly larger percentage of the world’s web traffic will be encrypted under a near-final recommendation to revise the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that serves as the foundation for all communications between websites and end users.

  12. Revenge of the Dragon

    This could spawn migration to GNU/Linux on client and server in governments globally not just a few early adopters like Europe, China, India, Brazil and Russia. By next year there could be dozens of governments making the move. I advised Canada to do that years ago. They might have another idea now that USA is the biggest threat in the world to cybersecurity with documented attacks.

  13. Government Refusing To Say Whether Phone Tracking Evidence Came From Mass Surveillance

    In criminal cases, defendants have a right to know what evidence the government plans to use against them and how the government gathered that evidence. This basic due process principle is essential: it allows defendants to test in court whether law enforcement officers obtained evidence in violation of the Fourth Amendment. But in a new legal brief, the government has refused to confirm or deny whether it relied on constitutionally questionable mass surveillance programs to gather evidence for a criminal prosecution.

  14. Watch live: “They’re watching us: So what?” featuring Greenwald, Schneier, Bamford, Dorfman

    From Pen America, cosponsored by the ACLU and the Fordham Law School Center on National Security, a talk on surveillance with James Bamford, Ariel Dorfman, Glenn Greenwald, and Bruce Schneier.

  15. The Biggest Little CIA Shop You’ve Never Heard Of

    The CIA’s main business is sending operatives abroad to recruit spies and, especially since 9/11, chasing down terrorists for its target-hungry drone pilots. But NR, as it’s known, is the agency’s stay-at-home division. It’s nothing like Homeland, however, with operatives running about with guns in the D.C. suburbs (though its 1960s-era predecessors once spied on antiwar and civil rights activists and recruited Cuban exiles to harass Fidel Castro). It also works with the FBI and NSA in bugging foreign diplomatic missions there.

  16. The Importance of Free Websites

    For me, this has been a perfect illustration of the positive aspects of the web. With the rampart commercialization of the Internet and issues such as advertisers tracking users surfing habits, the NSA’s gathering data on nearly everything that happens online and crackers trying to break into computers at every turn, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the public network is nothing but a virtual space fraught with danger. But it’s also a place of great promise, as Charlie’s story so aptly demonstrates.

    Twenty years ago, my roommate and her family would not be able to follow the progress being made by Charlie nearly so closely. They would’ve had to rely on bits and pieces of often unreliable, certainly incomplete, information picked up by word of mouth through phone calls. They would not have felt as involved with the situation as they now do either, which is also important.

  17. Silent Mail, FreedomMail or Lavamail. Whatever it’s called, it will offer the same benefits

    Dark Mail alliance is the non-profit group formed by the leaders of Silent Circle and Lavabit.

    Silent Circle offers a suite of secure, communication services, while Lavabit is the secure email provider used by Edward Snowden, the ex-CIA contractor now living in Russia.

  18. GCHQ Monitors Hotel Reservations to Track Diplomats

    Britain’s GCHQ intelligence service monitors diplomats’ travels using a sophisticated automated system that tracks hotel bookings. Once a room has been identified, it opens the door to a variety of spying options.

  19. UK’s reputation is damaged by reaction to Edward Snowden, says UN official
Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

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. Great News: While IBM et al Try to Undermine Patent Reform the Supreme Court Deepens the Reform in TC Heartland Case

    In a unanimous decision, with the court ruling 8-0 against TC Heartland, the monkey business in East Texas (beneficial to patent trolls and large businesses that leverage software patents) may have just come to an end



  2. Speculations About Battistelli's End of Term, Campinos at EUIPO, and Failed UPC Ambitions

    Rumours and speculations surrounding the fate of the EPO's leadership now that the UPC gravy train is stuck again and Battistelli's protector, Jesper Kongstad, is about to leave



  3. Martijn van Dam is Wrong to Believe That Battistelli's Abuses Are Somehow Acceptable or Tolerable Because His Term is Possibly Ending

    Coverage of Martijn van Dam’s stance (he is the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs) reveals that economic gain trumps ethics and justice, irrespective of what the law says



  4. Media and Staff Association Elections at EPO and WIPO Are Compromised

    A campaign of abuse (legal bullying) and gifting to the media, combined with a wide-ranging assault on critics who represent the interests of staff, have led WIPO and EPO down the route to totality



  5. New Documents Help Demonstrate That ILO Delivers Institutional Injustice to EPO Employees and Cushions Team Battistelli

    The International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) delivers not justice but merely the illusion of justice, probably in defiance of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)



  6. Leaked: 2017 European Inventor Award Finalists, or Stooges Whom the Tyrant Battistelli Exploits for PR Purposes and Media Manipulation

    The stupidest ceremony in Europe (turning serious science into something sketchy such as Eurovision) is disliked among EPO staff and is exploited by the person who destroys the EPO (Benoît Battistelli) to pretend all is fine and dandy, at huge expense to the Office (as extraordinary as about 5 million Euros for a ~2-hour show)



  7. EPO: Can the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) Still Save It?

    Genuine concerns about the slow process at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the lack of progress at ILO, which coincide with weakening of the unions and threat to jobs of patent examiners (leaving ordinary Europeans more vulnerable to meritless patent lawsuits)



  8. Links 21/5/2017: Linux 3.18.53, Tizen 4.0

    Links for the day



  9. Cloudflare's Enemy is Software Patents, Not Just One Software Patent or One Patent Troll

    With a bounty of $50,000, which is likely less than the cost of legal defense, Cloudflare looks for help with its own case rather than the underlying issues that need tackling worldwide



  10. Patent Laws -- and Especially Eligibility of Software Patents -- Are Being Hijacked by Large Corporations and Their Front Groups

    Intervention by large multinational corporations and their lawyers, front groups, etc. (like the classic lobbying model) gives room for concern in multiple continents where most software development is done



  11. Links 18/5/2017: Catching Up With the Past Three Days

    Links for the day



  12. The US Supreme Court Consults USPTO Director Michelle Lee Regarding the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Which is Invalidating Software Patents With CAFC's Approval

    Software patents continue to get knocked out by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) whose introduction of PTAB gave a helping hand to companies that are susceptible to abusive litigation (with bogus patents)



  13. IBM and Its Revolving Doors Lobby Are Plotting to Undermine Supreme Court Rulings to Restore Patentability of Software

    IBM has become so evil that it is now trying to steal democracy, label programmers "thieves", and basically attack the rule of law by extra-judicially overturning a Supreme Court decision



  14. 3 Years After the Alice Case at the Supreme Court the Plague of Software Patents is Easier to Cope With

    Litigation figures are down, rejection rates of software patents remain high, and only spin (e.g. cherry-picking) or constant lobbying can save those who used to profit from software patents



  15. The Attacks of Patent Trolls as Outlined in the Media This Past Week

    An outline of some of the latest troll cases to be aware of and their consequences too (e.g. software patents being used to literally shut down entire programs)



  16. Links 14/5/2017: Linux 4.12 RC1 and KDE Frameworks 5.34.0

    Links for the day



  17. Industry Giants Challenge Qualcomm's Patent Practices While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Closely Examines Such Behavior

    Scrutiny of Qualcomm's patent aggression and coercion -- scrutiny that can profoundly change the way software patents, SEPs and FRAND are viewed -- as seen in various amicus briefs (amici) from industry giants that are affected



  18. Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette Questions Whether Patents Work When Patent Scope is Too Broad

    Citing MIT economist (and MacArthur “genius”) Heidi Williams, Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette from Stanford challenges old myths and quotes: “we still have essentially no credible empirical evidence on the seemingly simple question of whether stronger patent rights—either longer patent terms or broader patent rights—encourage research investments.”



  19. OIN is Still a Distraction Unless We Want GNU/Linux to Coexist With Software Patents (Rather Than Eliminate Those)

    Another wave of media coverage by/for the Open Invention Network (OIN) necessitates a reminder of what OIN stands for and why it is not tackling the biggest problems which Free/Open Source software (FOSS) faces



  20. Links 13/5/2017: Neptune Plasma 5 ISO, a Shift to Free (FOSS) Databases

    Links for the day



  21. Countries With a Dozen European Patents Are an Easy Photo-Op 'Sell' for Battistelli While the EPO's Demise is Largely Ignored by the Patent Microcosm

    Behind the façade of legitimacy, the EPO suffers from an incompetent, insecure and delusional boss, whose actions will almost certainly lead to the collapse of both the Office and the entire Organisation (whose founding document he routinely shreds to pieces)



  22. Our Assessment: Unitary Patent (UPC) Will Crumble Along With Battistelli's Regime at the EPO

    A reflection and an opinion on where the EPO stands and what it means for the UPC, which doesn't seem to be going anywhere (it's all talk and lobbying)



  23. The European Patent Office Has a Long History/Track Record of 'Screwing' Contractors

    The European Patent Office (EPO) appears to have quite an extensive track record/reputation for ‘screwing’ contractors and then misusing immunity to get away with it



  24. Links 12/5/2017: Wine 2.8, Kdenlive 17.04.1, NHS Windows Syndrome

    Links for the day



  25. Links 11/5/2017: New OpenShot, GIMP, and GNOME (3.24.2)

    Links for the day



  26. The Sickness of the EPO – Part IX: Using Confidential Medical Records as a Weapon Against Staff

    In defiance/violation of labour laws and medical oaths etc. the EPO is passing around medical information, either for dismissal pretexts or a sort of blackmail -- a serious abuse in its own right



  27. The EPO is in Disarray and Additional Complaints to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) May Be Imminent

    Team Battistelli reaps what it has sown, as complaints are being made to a court with “47 member states [that] are contracting parties to the Convention,” (European Convention on Human Rights) according to Wikipedia



  28. By Promoting the UPC, in Defiance of Public Will, the EPO Has Become Patent Trolls' Best Friend

    The patent–industrial complex, aided by the EPO under Battistelli's iron-fisted reign, is trying to convince us that the UPC is coming soon and that it is desirable (it's neither of those things)



  29. Links 10/5/2017: Mesa 17.1, Git 2.13, Qt Creator 4.3 RC1, MINIX 3.4 RC6

    Links for the day



  30. Team UPC Still Twists and Fabricates Statements to Make It Seem Like Unitary Patent is Happening Soon

    The Unified Patent Court (UPC), a terrible system which was envisioned and covertly constructed by those who stand to benefit/profit from injunctions and trolling, is not going anywhere, but media which is dominated by Team UPC would have us believe otherwise


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts