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

11.24.13

Trusting Trust and Trusting Red Hat et al.

Posted in Microsoft, Red Hat, Servers at 5:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even Red Hat’s logo does not inspire confidence

Red Hat logo

Summary: Why companies which are based on the United States cannot be trusted as US law requires them to provide access to personal information (or even back doors) without ever disclosing this

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 has just come out [1,2,3]. Red Hat targets the so-called 'cloud' (surveillance-friendly) market with it, quite frankly as usual [4]. Cutting-edge RHEL prototypes like Fedora 20 are to be released soon, and Scientific Linux (not just CentOS) will need to catch up by rebranding RHEL (they are being compared in terms of performance in [5]). Some people are remixing [6] Red Hat’s distributions, not rebranding them. But few people actually audit RHEL code line by line. Disassembling RHEL binaries is an even greater challenge, so nobody knows for sure what RHEL does. It’s a vast body of software and it is deployed in many mission-critical operations, not just in the United States.

“Trusting Trust” is an old concept, coined by some of the earlier UNIX folks. This subject happened to have been raised during business lunch earlier this week and it speaks on the degree of trust we must place on compiler developers, chipmakers, high-level software companies, and even Free software developers whose code we never personally audited (or continue to audit every time a new release is made available). Verifying the security of a small piece of software like a CMS (as Germany currently does) is feasible, but for entire operating systems it is virtually impossible and then there’s the peril of checking chip designs, their fabrication process, and the same for software (compilers). IBM et al., those who infect computers with TPM (NSA connections) only lead to mistrust. We are talking about a “special surveillance chip” here. And yes, there is history to it. Slashdot published this bit of analysis a few months ago. Read the comments too. One says: “I work for Red Hat…. The NSA asks me to put code in the Linux kernel and I pass it to Linus.” (see the context for more interesting information of this kind).

There is currently a discussion in Diaspora about this. It is argued that Red Hat will need to appease the government — especially the Pentagon/DOD — in order to keep winning major contracts that are derived from black budgets sometimes. There are stories I am aware of (but cannot share) about the role spies play in procurement for government. They can veto and influence decisions. This is a very ugly side of procurement which many people are simply not aware of. It only makes sense for Red Hat to try to appease the NSA and perhaps attach code from the NSA, with or without sufficient scrutiny (it goes well beyond involvement in SELinux, which is not the NSA’s only role in Linux). Well, some in Twitter wanted more information about this, so I reminded them that several years ago I wrote about how RHEL goes through the NSA before release; the same is true for SUSE. Now we know for sure that Linux was the target of NSA back doors [1, 2, 3, 4]; more new reporting on this [7-10] is starting to appear (people are catching up) and a new report tells us that “NSA infected 50,000 computer networks with malicious software” [11].

“he law in the US has become somewhat incompatible with freedom-respecting software.”We already know that the NSA worked closely with Microsoft and got a widely-used platform (internationally) with back doors it has exclusive access to, which basically means that Microsoft Windows is a Trojan horse for the NSA. Just remember where Linux is being developed. It’s the same country as Microsoft and Apple. Projects like Debian inherit some code from Red Hat, which complicates things further. The chain of trust is undone.

After the new report from the New York Times [12,13] (published to make huge impact this weekend) perhaps it’s time for Torvalds to withdraw his newly-acquired US citizenship and move back Linux development to Finland. With all sorts of National Security Letters, gag orders, oppressive laws like PATRIOT Act etc. we just know that those based in the US can be forced to facilitate surveillance (without ever speaking about it publicly). This may sound like a radical solution, but when companies like Red Hat and the Linux Foundation need to comply with US laws we just simply cannot have any trust. Torvalds pretty much lied to us (in a clever way) about NSA request for back doors in Linux, but his father, who is a European politician based in Europe, told us the truth.

In the past we argued that Red Hat should move to Europe because of software patents (I asked Red Hat’s CEO about it and he dismissed the possibility). Now we have another reason to suggest relocation. The law in the US has become somewhat incompatible with freedom-respecting software.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 Delivers Precision Timing
  2. Red Hat Launches Latest Version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6
  3. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 arrives
  4. Red Hat and eNovance to accelerate adoption of Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack platform

    Red Hat Inc. and eNovance, an emerging European leader in the open source cloud computing market, are collaborating to deliver OpenStack implementation and integration services to joint customers. The companies made the announcement at the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong.

    The collaboration between Red Hat and eNovance is aimed at accelerating enterprise adoption of OpenStack globally. According to a new report from 451 Research, OpenStack-related business revenue is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2015 as the enterprise market for OpenStack evolves.

  5. Fedora 20 Beta vs. Ubuntu 13.10 vs. Scientific Linux 6.4
  6. Update on x2go

    I’ve been playing with / using x2go more lately and I sure do like it. I originally learned about it by reading the Fedora 20 ChangeSet and saw that it will be a new feature in the upcoming Fedora 20. I started using Fedora 20 shortly before the alpha release came out. Fedora 20 Beta was released on 2013-11-12… and I’ve been building my MontanaLinux remix about once a week.

  7. NSA wanted a backdoor in Linux, confirms Linus’ father
  8. Did NSA contact Linus for a backdoor in Linux? [updated]
  9. Linus’ father confirms NSA attempt at backdoor in Linux
  10. Mastering Linux, Backdoor’d, & openSUSE 13.1
  11. NSA infected 50,000 computer networks with malicious software
  12. N.S.A. Report Outlined Goals for More Power

    In a February 2012 paper laying out the four-year strategy for the N.S.A.’s signals intelligence operations, which include the agency’s eavesdropping and communications data collection around the world, agency officials set an objective to “aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age.”

    Written as an agency mission statement with broad goals, the five-page document said that existing American laws were not adequate to meet the needs of the N.S.A. to conduct broad surveillance in what it cited as “the golden age of Sigint,” or signals intelligence. “The interpretation and guidelines for applying our authorities, and in some cases the authorities themselves, have not kept pace with the complexity of the technology and target environments, or the operational expectations levied on N.S.A.’s mission,” the document concluded.

    Using sweeping language, the paper also outlined some of the agency’s other ambitions. They included defeating the cybersecurity practices of adversaries in order to acquire the data the agency needs from “anyone, anytime, anywhere.” The agency also said it would try to decrypt or bypass codes that keep communications secret by influencing “the global commercial encryption market through commercial relationships,” human spies and intelligence partners in other countries. It also talked of the need to “revolutionize” analysis of its vast collections of data to “radically increase operational impact.”

  13. Latest Snowden leak reveals NSA’s goal to continually expand surveillance abilities

    In a mission statement last year the US National Security Agency described how it would continue to expand its power and assert itself as the global leader in clandestine surveillance, according to a new report based on the Edward Snowden leaks.

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. Ruling Against 'Abstract' Software Patents is Already Derailing Patent Attacks on Linux and Free Software

    Patent litigation against Android/Linux impeded by the introduction of arguments that cite the Supreme Court



  2. Links 30/7/2014: Chris Beard as CEO of Mozilla

    Links for the day



  3. New Optimism in the Age of Doubt Over Software Patents

    As the tide turns against software patents, even in their country of origin, their opponents come out of the woodwork to celebrate



  4. Links 28/7/2014: New Linux RC, Plasma 5 Live in Kubuntu

    Links for the day



  5. Links 27/7/2014: KDE 4.14 Beta 3, KDE 4.14 Beta 3 Released

    Links for the day



  6. Apple and Microsoft Are Proprietary Software Companies and the Media Should Stop Openwashing Them

    New examples where proprietary software giants are characterised as FOSS-embracing and FOSS-friendly by gullible or dishonest 'journalists'



  7. Bloomberg's Microsoft Propaganda

    Bloomberg delivers 'damage control' and PR ahead of the layoffs announcement; Microsoft uses Nokia to hide it and Bloomberg helps Microsoft by radically modifying headlines



  8. Frequency of Browser Back Doors in Microsoft Windows is Doubling

    The vulnerabilities which Microsoft tells the NSA about (before these are patched) are significantly growing in terms of their numbers



  9. FUD Entities Entering the FOSS World

    Symantec enters the AllSeen Alliance and Sonatype is once again trying to claim great insecurity in FOSS due to software licensing



  10. Groklaw Back in the Wake of ODF in the UK?





  11. Links 26/7/2014: New Wine, Chromebooks Strong Sales

    Links for the day



  12. Links 25/7/2014: GOG With GNU/Linux, Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS

    Links for the day



  13. Links 24/7/2014: Oracle Linux 7; Fedora Delays

    Links for the day



  14. Valerie Strauss Explains Why Gates Foundation's Lobbying for 'Common Core' (Privatisation) is a Swindle That Makes Microsoft Richer

    Continued criticism of the Gates Foundation's lobbying and masquerading, with more journalists brave enough to highlight the corruption



  15. USPTO Officially Sets New Guidelines to Limit Scope of Software Patents in the United States

    Even patent lawyers finally acknowledge that the incentive to file software patent applications has been reduced, as the scope of patents on software has been noticeably narrowed and they are harder to acquire, let alone enforce in a courtroom



  16. UK Government Adopts OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft Already Attacks the Government Over It, Showing Absolutely No Commitment to Open Standards

    Only "Microsoft as the standard" is the 'standard' Microsoft is willing to accept, as its response to the Cabinet Office's judgment reveals



  17. Microsoft Layoffs of 2014

    Another quick look at Microsoft's horrible state of affairs and why it has virtually nothing to do with Nokia



  18. Links 22/7/2014: Linux 3.16 RC 6, New UberStudent

    Links for the day



  19. Links 20/7/2014: Jolla in India, Mega Censored in Italy

    Links for the day



  20. Longtime Mono Booster Joins Microsoft-linked Xamarin

    Jo Shields almost joins Microsoft, settling instead for its proxy, Xamarin



  21. Linux Foundation Welcomes Patent Aggressor Red Bend Software

    The Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance welcomes as a member a company that uses software patents to sue Free/Open Source software



  22. Matt Levy From Patent Progress (and CCIA) Does Not Really Want Patent Progress

    Matthew ('Matt') Levy moved into a foe of patent progress last year, but he still runs a site calls Patent Progress, in which he diverts all attention to patent trolls (as large corporations such as Microsoft like to do)



  23. Attacking FOSS by Ignoring/Overlooking Issues With Proprietary Software

    The biasing strategy which continues to be used to demonise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) along with some new examples



  24. Links 19/7/2014: CRUX 3.1 is Out, CyanogenMod Competes With Google Now

    Links for the day



  25. Microsoft's Massive Layoffs Go Far Beyond Nokia; Nokia's Android Phones Axed by Microsoft's Elop

    Microsoft's rapid demise and permanent exit from Nokia's last remaining Linux platform (after Microsoft had killed two more)



  26. Patents on Software Already Being Invalidated in Courts Owing to SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Patents

    The Federal Circuit Appeals Court has just "invalidated a software patent for being overly abstract," says a patents expert



  27. OpenSUSE 'Community' is Crumbling, AttachMSFT Killed SUSE's Potential (Except as Microsoft Tax)

    Not much too see in the land of SUSE and Attachmate, or formerly the company known as Novell



  28. Links 18/7/2014: Slackware Turns 21, Spotify Switches to Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  29. Links 16/7/2014: Manjaro 0.8.10 Third Update, SIA Migrates to Red Hat

    Links for the day



  30. Microsoft's Latest Round of Massive/Bulk/Large-scale Layoffs

    Microsoft boosters are preparing 'damage control' pieces ahead of massive layoffs at Microsoft


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