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. Links 17/1/2017: GIMP Plans, New Raspberry Pi Product

    Links for the day



  2. Resumption of EPO Propaganda ('Meet the President') Officially Starts Tomorrow

    Yet another one of these foolish 'Meet the President' stunts, scheduled to take place tomorrow morning



  3. Caricature: Battistelli's New Year's Resolution (More EPO Lies)

    The latest cartoon being circulated within the European Patent Office (EPO)



  4. Donald Trump Gives New Hope to Patent Aggressors and Patent Trolls

    Pessimism about the prospects of patent progress or patent reform in an age of staunchly pro-business Conservatives and glorification of protectionism



  5. More Fake News About the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Based on Lobbying Tactics From Bristows UPC and the Preparatory Committee

    Unified Patent Court (UPC) lobbying has gotten so bad that it now infiltrates general media outlets, where people are asked to just blindly assume that the UPC is coming and is inevitable, even though it's clearly in a limbo and is unlikely to see the light of day



  6. EPO Totally Silent for a Month, But Deep Inside There Are Serious Cracks

    The situation at the EPO seems to be pretty grim, even at the top-level management, and the EPO has gone into permanent silence mode



  7. Links 16/1/2017: Linux 4.10 RC4, Linux Mint 18.1 'Serena' KDE Edition Beta

    Links for the day



  8. 'Financial Director' Publishes Fake News About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    Response to some of the latest UPC propaganda, which strives to misinform Financial Directors so as to enrich the author and his firm



  9. Independent and Untainted Web Sites About Patents Are Still Few and Rare

    Commentary about news sources that we rely on, as well as the known pitfalls or the vested interests deeply ingrained in them



  10. The 20% Rule: Patent Trolling Suffers Double-Digit Declines and Patent Troll Technicolor is Collapsing

    Significant demise or total catastrophe for the modus operandi (method) of going after companies with a pile of patents and threats of litigation



  11. US Supreme Court Did Not End Apple's Patent Disputes Over Android (Linux), More Cases Imminent

    An overview of some very recent news regarding the highest court in the United States, which has been dealing with cases that can determine the fate of Free/Open Source software in an age of patent uncertainty and patent thickets surrounding mobility



  12. Links 15/1/2017: Switching From OS X to GNU/Linux, Debian 8.7 Released

    Links for the day



  13. Number of New Patent Cases in the US Fell 25% Last Year, Thanks in Part to the Demise of Software Patent Trolls

    Litigation and prosecutions that rely on patents (failure to resolve disputes, e.g. by sharing ideas, out of court) is down very sharply, in part because firms that make nothing at all (just threaten and/or litigate) have been sinking after much-needed reform



  14. America Invents Act Improved Patent Quality, But Right Wingers Threaten to Make It Worse Again

    The past half a decade saw gradual improvement in assessment of patents in the United States, but there is a growing threat and pressure from the patent microcosm to restore patent maximalism and chaos



  15. PTAB -- Not Deterred by Courts -- Continues to Invalidate a Lot of Software Patents

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continues to make progress reforming the patent system by eliminating a lot of patents and setting an example (or new standards) for what is patent-eligible after Alice



  16. EPO Abuses Come Under Fire From Politicians in Luxembourg

    Luxembourg is the latest nation in which concerns about the EPO's serious abuses are brought up not only by the media but also by politicians



  17. Constitutionality as a Barrier and Brexit Barriers to UPC Keep the Whole Pipe Dream Deadlocked

    The UPC is still going nowhere fast, but the demise (or death) of the UPC as we know it must not be taken for granted



  18. Links 14/1/2017: Wine 2.0 RC5 and AryaLinux 2017 Released

    Links for the day



  19. Links 13/1/2017: Linux 4.9.3 and Linux 4.4.42

    Links for the day



  20. Brexit Means No UPC (Unified Patent Court)

    Now that Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson's brother, is officially declared the new minister for intellectual property in the UK everything that Lucy Neville-Rolfe wrote is as solid as paper bag on a rainy London day



  21. Patent Trolls and Software Patents: CloudTrade, Patent Practitioners Density, and Via Licensing

    Software patents armament from a British company, charted concentration of the patent microcosm in the United States, and US-leaning patent trolls that prey on China



  22. Patent Maximalism -- Like Copyright Maximalism -- Relies on Misconceptions and Mass Deception

    The latest examples of discussions about patent scope, courtesy of those looking to benefit financially by pushing such monopolies to the max



  23. Software Patents Still Promoted by IBM and Its Lobbyist (and Former Employee) David Kappos, in Defiance of Much-Needed US Patent Reform

    While the corporate media celebrates IBM as though it's some kind of 'champion' for hoarding patents that it then uses to attack companies which actually grow



  24. Brexit/Trump Effect: Patent Systems With Institutional Corruption and Nepotism

    Rumours about Britain's head of patents (and copyrights etc.) being the brother of the Brexit campaigner and Foreign Minister; meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, rumours suggest that the corrupt judge Rader might be the next head of patents in the United States



  25. Links 11/1/2017: X.Org Server 1.19.1, GitHub's Atom 1.13

    Links for the day



  26. The Patent Microcosm is Already Sucking up to Donald Trump in an Effort to Enrich Itself at Everyone's Expense

    Four new examples of patent maximalists embracing/adopting the pseudo-populist slogan to advance their goals of increasing litigation (which they profit from) and undermining PTAB (which made patents great in the quality sense)



  27. Patent Quality in the United States Can Only be Assessed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Courts

    The travesty of patent offices in the US and China, where the goal or the accomplishment is measured in terms of the number of patents rather than their quality



  28. Gradual Collapse of Microsoft's Extensive (and External) Patent Trolling Operations

    The President of Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC (patent troll) leaves and the founder of Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's largest peripheral patent troll, joins Sherpa Technology



  29. No End to Battistelli's Witch-hunts Against the Media, Against Staff, and Against Politicians

    Rumours about the fate of people who are (or have been) criticising Battistelli's reign of terror at the EPO



  30. Links 10/1/2017: Synfig 1.2, Kodachi Linux 3.7

    Links for the day


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