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 23/5/2016: GNOME 3.22, Calculate Linux 15.17

    Links for the day



  2. 'Celebrity' Patent Trolls and the Elusive Battle Against Patent Trolls (or Eastern District of Texas Courts) Rather Than Software Patents

    Some of last week's more important reports, which serve to demonstrate how the system is attempting to tackle a side-effect of software patents rather than the patents themselves (their irrational scope)



  3. The Circus of Patent 'Reporting' (by Omission) on the Subject of Software Patents in the US and USPTO Bias

    look at some of the latest oddities in the US patent system and much of the reporting about software patenting (more or less monopolised by those who profit from it, not harmed by it)



  4. IP3 Demonstrates That Today's Patent Systems Devolve Into a Conglomerates' Game, Won't Protect the Mythical Small Inventor

    Multinational corporations bring together their shared interests and steer the increasingly-inseparable patent systems according to their needs and goals, but has anyone even noticed?



  5. Disrupting Battistelli's Distracting Propaganda: EPO Staff to Protest Again in About a Fortnight

    The overly extravagant (waste of money) EPO European Inventor Award will have to compete for media attention with thousands of EPO staff (in all EPO sites) marching in the streets to protest against the EPO's abuses



  6. Corrupting Democracy? Growing Frequency of Rumours That the EPO's President Battistelli is 'Buying' Votes of Small Member States

    Several sources suggest that rather than appease the Administrative Council by taking corrective action Battistelli and his notorious 'circle' now work hard to remove opposition from the Administrative Council, especially where this is easier a task to accomplish (politically or economically)



  7. [ES] Los Mitos de la EPO ‘Calidad’ de Patentes y de ‘Creación’ de Patentes: Basados en Ventas de Cafe y Trauma

    La carrera hacia el fondo, o la ridícula asumpción de Battistelli de que otorgar más y más patentenes más rápidamente (e.g. usando PACE) sería beneficióso a largo término, puede guíar al final colapse del valor de la EPO y la pérdida de su lárgamente ganada reputación a nivel mundial



  8. Links 22/5/2016: Systemd 230, Debian Installer Alpha 6

    Links for the day



  9. EPO Patent 'Quality' and 'Patent Creation' Myth: Capsule-Based Coffee Sales and Trauma

    The race to the bottom, or Battistelli's ludicrous assumption that granting more and more patents faster (e.g. using PACE) would be beneficial in the long run, may lead to the ultimate collapse of the EPO's value and demise of its long-earned reputation worldwide



  10. Guest Post: How Vista 10 Imposes Itself on Users of Windows

    A reader's experience being nagged by Microsoft, as documented and explained by this reader



  11. [ES] El Notorio Tirano de la EPO, Benoît Battistelli, Se Reune Con Otros Tiranos, Reportes de Que ‘Limpia’ el Consejo Administrativo

    El régimen de Battistelli, talvez la fuente de verguénza más grande, alegadamente está “cortejándo países pequeños/corruptos para asegurárse de que los delegados que votarón contra él serán remplazados”



  12. [ES] Comentadores Anónimos Debaten Si la EPO de Battistelli Puede Revocar las Pensiones de Empleados Que Se Atreveen — GASP — a Buscar Empleo Alternativo

    Una mirada a las causas de desesperación e imensa presión en la EPO, donde las pensiónes pueden ser cortadas como medio de represália y la gente puede ser negada empleo aún después de dejar la Oficina Europea de Patentes (EPO)



  13. [ES] Otra Casi Vacía Presentación de la EPO en La Hague

    El propagandístico “estudio social” de Battistelli (básicamente un montón de engañosas afirmacionesdisfrazadas como ‘investigación’) ayuda a demostrar que los empleados de la EPO no tiene absolutamente fe en la gerencia



  14. Links 21/5/2016: Manjaro Linux RC, Flock 2016 Schedule

    Links for the day



  15. USPTO Ignores a Lot of Cases Against Software Patents to Justify Resumption of More Software Patenting

    The US patent system (USPTO) is so obsessed with granting as many patents as possible -- even bogus patents in areas that are no longer patent-eligible -- that its guidelines are further perturbed and whose appeals board is massively overwhelmed/overworked/understaffed



  16. Notorious EPO Tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, Meets Other Tyrants, Reportedly 'Cleanses' the Administrative Council

    The Battistelli regime, perhaps the biggest embarrassment of Europe right now, is allegedly "courting smaller countries to make sure the delegates who voted against him will be replaced"



  17. Links 20/5/2016: Purism Tablet, ChromeOS PCs Outsell 'Mac'-Branded PCs

    Links for the day



  18. CAFC Rules Against Software Patents But Witness With Horror the Silence From Patent Lawyers (Bias by Omission)

    In an effort to protect software patents in the United States, where these patents came from in the first place (and continue to spread from), patent lawyers pretend not to see cases where software patents get invalidated and instead focus on the rare exception



  19. It's All Just Artificial Distractions From EPO Management, 'Yellow' Union Comes Under Scrutiny Again

    What's happening inside the EPO these days and what meaningless rubbish the management of the EPO would rather have the media obsessed with



  20. Anonymous Commenters Debate Whether Battistelli's EPO Can Revoke Pensions of Dismissed Employees Who Dare -- GASP -- Find Alternative Employment

    A look at causes for desperation and immense pressure at the EPO, where pensions can be cut as means of reprisal and people can be denied employment even after they leave the European Patent Office (EPO)



  21. Australian Productivity Commission's Research Calls for Ban on Software Patents, Davies Collison Cave Calls for Complaints Against This Finding

    As the push against software patents grows in Australia, much to the chagrin of Australian software developers, Davies Collison Cave (patent law firm) publicly calls for opposition, calling its side "the truth" and pretending it represents "Australian innovators."



  22. Links 19/5/2016: Wine-Staging 1.9.10, Android N

    Links for the day



  23. Another Almost Empty EPO Presentation at The Hague

    The propagandistic "social study" of Battistelli (basically a lot of misleading claims disguised as 'research') helps demonstrate that EPO staff has absolutely no faith in the management



  24. [ES] La UPC un Ataque No Sólo Contra el Público Europeo Pero También Contra los Empleados de la EPO

    El despido de los empleados actuales de la EPO y el remplazo del interés público por intereses corpórativos (intereses de grandes compañíás del otro lado del charco) es todo lo que la UPC realmente es



  25. Links 18/5/2016: ReactOS 0.4.1, KWayland in KDE Frameworks

    Links for the day



  26. Endless Harmonious Self-Congratulatory Praises From Self-Serving Law Firms in the Wake of Just One Pro-Software Patents Decision From CAFC

    The court that brought software patents to the United States has defended a software patent and patent lawyers want us to believe that this is an historic game-changing decision (potentially to be appealed by Microsoft, if Microsoft actually wanted to fight software patents)



  27. If Battistelli Stayed and UPC Became a Reality, Patent Quality at the EPO Would Get a Lot Worse

    The vision that Team Battistelli has for the EPO is an ENA-inspired neoliberal and corporatist vision that would bring the legitimacy of the system down to zero and the European economy to the brink of collapse



  28. Two Months Down the Line, Battistelli Has Done None of What the Administrative Council Told Him to Do; He Should be Sacked Next Month

    An informal but timely progress report shows that Battistelli has made no progress whatsoever and all the injustices remain in tact, in spite of the warnings from the Administrative Council (mid March)



  29. [ES] Al Abundar Patentes de Sofware, Free/Open Source Software Pierde, Mientras que los Abogados de Patentes Ganan Más que Nadie

    Impuestos al desarrollo — o el costo relaciónado con el caos de patentes — rápidamente creciéndo cada vez mas y en el caso del Free software rápidamente excede las ganancias por distribución, que usualmente es $0



  30. [ES] La UPC es Guerra de Classes (los Ricos contra Todo el Mundo), He Aqu el Porque de la Militarización de la Oficina Europea de Patentes

    En cara a la resistencia a contróversiales y frecuéntemente antidemocráticas, ilegales y posiblemente actos críminales o felonías, los chácales de Battistelli recurren a ataques de decapitación (atacando o torturando figuras claves) y armándose alrededor de sí misma — todo esto mientras falsamente acusando otros de portar armas o recurrir a la agresión


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