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12.10.13

FreeBSD Lost Trust in Hardware Makers, Alleging NSA Tampering

Posted in BSD, UNIX at 3:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FreeBSD

Summary: FreeBSD believes that the NSA tampered with hardware-level random number generators

LINUX may have been made vulnerable by the NSA et al. [1, 2, 3, 4]. There are a lot of speculations and even active discussions about random number generation in Linux, especially as implemented in hardware (e.g. by Intel). Without sufficiently high entropy in random number generators, not only would Linux as a kernel be vulnerable; SSL and SSH too would suffer.

Some of these issues we have covered here before, noting that Red Hat works a little too closely with the NSA. Right now we are quite fascinated by the news [1,2] that FreeBSD won’t use Intel’s and Via’s hardware random number generators. Why? NSA.

In other news about FreeBSD, version 10 is approaching [3,4] after 20 years of development and it should have better graphics support [5]. Marking yet more milestones, the operating system “Is Getting Into The Magazine Business” [6], it runs in the record-breaking [7] PS4 (in some sense [8]). and it should be released some time this month [9]. FreeBSD is not the only BSD game in town (DragonFlyBSD gets some attention [10,11]), but it it the leading among the BSDs, so its voice when it comes to privacy and security issues sure counts.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. FreeBSD won’t use Intel & Via’s hardware random number generators, believes NSA has compromised them
  2. “We cannot trust” Intel and Via’s chip-based crypto, FreeBSD developers say

    Developers of the FreeBSD operating system will no longer allow users to trust processors manufactured by Intel and Via Technologies as the sole source of random numbers needed to generate cryptographic keys that can’t easily be cracked by government spies and other adversaries.

    The change, which will be effective in the upcoming FreeBSD version 10.0, comes three months after secret documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor Edward Snowden said the US spy agency was able to decode vast swaths of the Internet’s encrypted traffic. Among other ways, The New York Times, Pro Publica, and The Guardian reported in September, the NSA and its British counterpart defeat encryption technologies by working with chipmakers to insert backdoors, or cryptographic weaknesses, in their products.

  3. FreeBSD 10.0 Beta 4 Has Surfaced

    The final beta build ahead of the long-awaited and delayed FreeBSD 10.0 has now been made available.

  4. It Doesn’t Look Like FreeBSD 10 Will Ship This Year
  5. A Roadmap For FreeBSD Graphics Support

    The latest FreeBSD code (for 10.0) supports not only Intel KMS but also the open-source AMD Radeon driver ported from the Linux kernel. This Intel/Radeon KMS support has since trickled into DragonFlyBSD and other BSD platforms. However, not all is up to par when it comes to graphics support on FreeBSD. Here’a a road-map and test matrix with some other items still on the BSD developers’ agenda.

  6. FreeBSD Is Getting Into The Magazine Business
  7. Record Breaking Launch For PS4

    Sony’s PS4 has well and truly landed, becoming the fastest selling video game console in UK history. It overturns the 8 year record held by the original PSP and eclipses the launch week sales of both PS3 and Xbox One.

  8. It’s Official, Playstation 4 Runs FreeBSD Kernel

    Sony has just launched its PlayStation 4 console, and it seems that the rumors about being based on FreeBSD are actually true.

  9. FreeBSD 10.0 Is Still Running Behind Schedule

    There were plans originally to ship FreeBSD 10.0 as stable in November, but that isn’t going to happen. It’s not even clear if FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE will be ready to ship before the end of the calendar year, but at least progress is being made and when the release does happen there’s a great number of new features.

  10. HAMMER2 File-System Gets Stabilization Improvements

    HAMMER2 file-system improvements have landed hot on the heels of the exciting DragonFlyBSD 3.6 release.

  11. DragonFlyBSD 3.6 Does Intel/AMD KMS, DPorts, Better SMP
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