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. The United States Has Gotten Over Software Patents

    A roundup of new articles about software patents in the United States, 2 years into the post-Alice era (the US Supreme Court deeming patents on software too abstract to have merit)



  2. More Lies From President Benoît Battistelli and the EPO Crisis Which Continues to Deepen

    The European Patent Office (EPO), collectively speaking, is still wrestling with a Battistelli infiltration (a circle of high-level managers) which habitually lies and viciously attacks those who dare counter these lies



  3. Links 27/8/2016: Torvalds and GPL, “DOD Must Embrace Open-Source Software”

    Links for the day



  4. Links 26/8/2016: Maru OS Resurfaces, Android More Reliable Than 'i' Things, PC-BSD Becomes TrueOS

    Links for the day



  5. Good Job, David Kappos, Says the 'Boss' (IBM)

    Responses to the latest call against Alice (eliminator of many software patents), courtesy of the man from IBM (still paid by IBM) who was responsible for the policy that blindly approved a lot of software patents in the US



  6. Being for Patent Quality or Against Patenting Excess Does Not Make You Anti-Patents

    Like IAM, which tries to portray sceptics and critics of software patents as "anti-patents", IP Watchdog (or Watchtroll as we call it) is 'trolling' the Electronic Frontier Foundation, simply because it expressed an opinion that patent maximalists cannot tolerate



  7. Erosion of Patent Quality Enables Patent Extortion With Large Portfolios of Low Validity Rate

    Revisiting the EPO's vision of poor patent examination and the effect of discriminatory granting practices, favouring patent bullies such as Microsoft (which actively attacks Linux using low-quality and usually pure software patents)



  8. The EPO's Francesco Zaccà Presenting in Turin Alongside Patent Trolls (Like the Patent Mafia Sisvel) and Lobbyists/Front Groups for Software Patents, UPC

    Benjamin Henrion (FFII) on seeing the EPO alongside patent trolls and other nefarious actors, doing what they do best, which is undermining public interests and harming patent quality



  9. The EPO, USPTO, and Patent Microcosm Peddle Myths About Patents in Public Universities and Research

    Tackling some of the commonly-spread myths about patents as "saving lives" and "promoting research" (in practice leading to the death of poor people and promoting trolls)



  10. Large Corporations' Lobbyist David Kappos Disgraces Former Employer USPTO by Meddling in Their Affairs on Software Patents, Downplaying the Supreme Court

    The latest lobbying from David Kappos, who blatantly exploits his connections in patent circles to promote software patents and work towards their resurgence after Alice v CLS Bank



  11. Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice Calls the European Patent Office “Rotten”, Other Sources Scrutinise Recent Moves

    The patent office which was once known for being the best bar none is rotting under the Frenchman Benoît Battistelli, who made himself and his friends the main clients of the Office



  12. PTAB Emerges as Hero of USPTO Because Quality of Patents Improves, Software Patents Are Effectively Dead (or Dying Once Reassessed)

    With help from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) -- not just patent courts -- software patents drop like flies by the thousands



  13. Creative Technology, Now Operating in 'Patent Troll' Mode, Shot Down by the ITC; Jawbone Too Shot Down

    Some good news from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which may have put an end to Creative's new war on Android (using old patents)



  14. Corporate Media in India Misrepresents Startups to Push for Software Patents

    A parade of misinformation as seen in Indian (but English-speaking) press this week as questions about patentability of software resurface



  15. Links 25/8/2016: Linux Turns 25, NetworkManager Turns 1.4

    Links for the day



  16. Links 24/8/2016: More From LinuxCon, Uganda Wants FOSS

    Links for the day



  17. Links 23/8/2016: GNOME 3.22 Beta, Android 7.0 Nougat

    Links for the day



  18. The Linux Foundation Gives Microsoft (Paid-for) Keynote Position While Microsoft Extorts (With Patents) Lenovo and Motorola Over Linux Use

    This morning's reminder that Nadella is just another Ballmer (with a different face); Motorola and Lenovo surrender to Microsoft's patent demands and will soon put Microsoft spyware/malware on their Linux-powered products to avert costly legal battles



  19. Not Just President Battistelli: EPO Vice-Presidents Are Still Intentionally Misrepresenting EPO Staff

    Evidence serving to show that EPO Vice-Presidents are still intentionally misrepresenting EPO staff representatives and misleading everyone in order to defend Battistelli



  20. Battistelli the Liar Causes a Climate of Confrontation in French Politics, Lies About Patent Quality (Among Many Other Things)

    Battistelli's lies are coming under increased scrutiny inside and outside the European Patent Office (EPO), where patent quality has been abandoned in order to artificially elevate figures



  21. The Collapse of Software Patents and Patent Law Firms Trying to “Overcome” Alice

    The United States continues its gradual crackdown on software patents (which are viewed as abstract and thus unpatentable), whereas in Europe things are murkier than ever



  22. Apple's Patent Wars Against Android/Linux Make Patent Trolls Stronger

    Apple's insistence that designs should be patentable could prove to be collectively expensive, as patent trolls would then use a possible SCOTUS nod to launch litigation campaigns



  23. Links 22/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC3, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” KDE Beta

    Links for the day



  24. Links 21/8/2016: Apple and Microsoft Down, Systemd Spreading to Mount

    Links for the day



  25. Links 20/8/2016: Android Domination, FSFE summit 2016

    Links for the day



  26. Patents Roundup: Trolls Dominate Litigation, PTAB Crushes Patents, Patent Box Regime Persists, and OIN Explains Itself

    Another roundup of patent news from around the Web with special focus on software patenting



  27. The Cost/Toll of the 'New' EPO and Where All That Money Goes or Comes From

    The European Patent Office has become a servant of the rich and powerful (including large foreign corporations) and even its own employees now pay the price associated with misguided new policies (or 'reforms' as Battistelli habitually refers to these)



  28. Links 19/8/2016: Linux Mint With KDE, Linux Foundation's PNDA

    Links for the day



  29. The End of an Era at the USPTO as Battistelli-Like (EPO) Granting Policies Are Over

    The United States is seeing the potency of patents -- especially software patents (which make up much of the country's troll cases) -- challenged by courts and by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)



  30. Battistelli's European Patent Office Goes to the United States to Speak About the UPC and Software Patents

    The European Patent Office is showing its utter contempt -- not just disregard -- for the very fundamental rules that put it in its place and brought it into existence


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