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12.22.13

More Details Revealed About How the NSA Infiltrates Windows and Other Proprietary Software, Governments Should Now Ban Microsoft

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 2:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

RSA Conference

Summary: RSA is the latest (known) entity to have received bribes from the NSA in exchange for back doors; Germany may move towards banning software from companies that share data with the NSA

A COUPLE of nights ago Reuters published an explosive report about RSA, basically showing that Windows does not have back doors, it is a back door and so is a lot of the software that’s proprietary. Free/libre software does not suffer from the trap [1]. This is a serious wakeup call to any government that still relies on proprietary software and US companies that collect data.

Munich moved to GNU/Linux owing to political determination to do so [2], but what about other cities? Their politicians are in serious trouble and a constant threat of espionage.

“This is a serious wakeup call to any government that still relies on proprietary software and US companies that collect data.”As the Reuters report revealed [3] (and there was a lot of journalism linking to it [4,5]), “RSA Weakened Encryption For $10M From NSA,” to quote Slashdot, which consequently also published the item “Microsoft Security Essentials Misses 39% of Malware” (especially NSA malware that enables system compromise). Remember that Windows XP will soon receive no patches, so not just the NSA will get easy access through back doors. IDG’s advice on this matter is misguided as it basically offers continued use of Windows XP rather than runaway to a secure platform like GNU/Linux. As the author put it, “Microsoft’s support for Windows XP ends in less than four months, and the company has warned users repeatedly that it’s time to move on. But a lot of them are sticking with the aged OS. And for Microsoft, that’s a problem.”

Security is not really a problem here because there was never really any security to begin with. As we showed in our articles about the NSA, Windows is just a Trojan horse. It is obviously not secure and the only variable is, how many people can seize control of it?

The latest news makes almost all proprietary software suspect, even fake ‘open source’ like TrueCrypt (it is proprietary). As one tweet put it, “Check all on this list who use Dual_EC_DRBG as possible recipients of NSA bribes [...] Note Blackberry, Cisco, Juniper [...] Blast from the past: Call tracking Dual_EC_DRBG “Bribe Finder”: Any use by default post 2007 required either an implicit or explicit bribe.”

This is another good reason to avoid all proprietary software, including widely-used GNU/Linux programs like Skype. One tweet said that “Dual EC_DRBG was suspiciously absent from Wednesday’s report by President Obama’s NSA advisory panel.”

Going back to Microsoft’s flawed detection of malware, MinceR wrote that “their alleged “anti-malware” efforts started with stopping detecting claria as malware just as they were about to buy it, so i don’t know why anyone trusts them with such … [it] manages to out-sleaze even the other “antivirus” companies.”

” With Microsoft, NSA gets video/audio surveillance, not just through Skype but also through people’s webcams on computers that have Windows installed (and are idle).”Sosumi said that “they don’t detect NSA backdoors as malware, so why trust them?”

Nobody can trust Microsoft. The above report says that “latest tests from Dennis Publishing’s security labs saw Microsoft Security Essentials fail to detect 39% of the real-world malware thrown at it.”

It’s not just a case of access to one’s files by the way. See the new post titled “Windows users: Your webcam lights aren’t safe from the FBI either” (we wrote about CIPAV almost 5 years ago).

“In recent news,” says the post, “it was revealed the FBI has a “virus” that will record a suspect through the webcam secretly, without turning on the LED light. Some researchers showed this working on an older Macbook. In this post, we do it on Windows.”

“The more you know about how the NSA gets along with RSA & Microsoft,” writes one Twitter user, “the more perspective you have on their handling of Lavabit.” With Microsoft, NSA gets video/audio surveillance, not just through Skype but also through people’s webcams on computers that have Windows installed (and are idle). This is a good enough reason to immediately abandon Microsoft and some politicians in Germany already think about moving in this direction. See [6,7] below for details of the latest news and pay attention to the explosive new article “Snowden ally Appelbaum claims his Berlin apartment was invaded” [8]; clearly it’s not about terrorism but about cracking down on activists [9].

Following the revelations above there is some new effort [10] — including from GNU/Linux developers [11] — to sack with prejudice potential NSA moles.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Worried OpenSSL uses NSA-tainted crypto? This BUG has got your back

    As fears grow that US and UK spies have deliberately hamstrung key components in today’s encryption systems, users of OpenSSL can certainly relax about one thing.

    It has been revealed that the cryptography toolkit – used by reams of software from web browsers for HTTPS to SSH for secure terminals – is not using the discredited random number generator Dual EC DRBG.

    And that’s due to a bug that’s now firmly a WONTFIX.

    A coding flaw uncovered in the library prevents “all use” of the dual elliptic curve (Dual EC) deterministic random bit generator (DRBG) algorithm, a cryptographically weak algorithm championed by none other than the NSA.

    No other DRBGs used by OpenSSL are affected, we’re told.

  2. Moving a city to Linux needs political backing, says Munich project leader

    This year saw the completion of the city of Munich’s switch to Linux, a move that began about ten years ago. “One of the biggest lessons learned was that you can’t do such a project without continued political backing,” said Peter Hofmann, the leader of the LiMux project, summing up the experience.

    The Munich city authority migrated around 14,800 of the 15,000 or so PCs on its network to LiMux, its own Linux distribution based on Ubuntu, exceeding its initial goal of migrating 12,000 desktops.

  3. Exclusive: Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer

    As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned.

  4. NSA Gave RSA $10 Million To Promote Crypto It Had Purposely Weakened

    Earlier this year, the Snowden leaks revealed how the NSA was effectively infiltrating crypto standards efforts to take control of them and make sure that backdoors or other weaknesses were installed. Many in the crypto community reacted angrily to this, and began to rethink how they interact with the feds. However, Reuters has just dropped a bombshell into all of this, as it has revealed that not only did the NSA purposefully weaken crypto, it then paid famed crypto provider RSA $10 million to push the weakened crypto, making it a de facto standard.

  5. How much did NSA pay to put a backdoor in RSA crypto? Try $10m – report

    Latest Snowden claims: Flawed encryption tech switched on by default in exchange for cash

  6. Germany should ban U.S. contracting companies passing data to NSA – report

    U.S. contracting companies such as Cisco, which manages much of the German armed forces’ data, should be contractually barred from passing sensitive information to the U.S. security services, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives was quoted saying.

  7. German government buildings and charities were targets of GCHQ and NSA, says Edward Snowden

    Humanitarian organisations and German government buildings are among the targets of UK and US surveillance agencies, documents leaked by Edward Snowden are said to show.

    The latest disclosures from the Snowden archive also highlight the key role in national security played by the small Cornish holiday resort town of Bude.

    A government listening facility on the Cornish coast had a unit that was used to analyse samples of electronic date to assess whether surveillance targets were worth the effort of listening in on their communications more frequently.

    A significant amount of the Bude listening post’s funding comes from the National Security Agency (NSA), the US surveillance body, because of shared operational projects.

  8. Snowden ally Appelbaum claims his Berlin apartment was invaded

    Jacob Appelbaum, a US Internet activist and one of the people with access to Edward Snowden’s documents, has told a Berlin paper that his apartment was broken into, saying he suspected US involvement.

  9. The Real Purpose of Oakland’s Surveillance Center

    City leaders have argued that Oakland needs a massive surveillance system to combat violent crime, but internal documents reveal that city staffers are also focused on tracking political protesters.

  10. Critics: NSA agent co-chairing key crypto standards body should be removed (updated)

    Security experts are calling for the removal of a National Security Agency employee who co-chairs an influential cryptography panel, which advises a host of groups that forge widely used standards for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

    Kevin Igoe, who in a 2011 e-mail announcing his appointment was listed as a senior cryptographer with the NSA’s Commercial Solutions Center, is one of two co-chairs of the IETF’s Crypto Forum Research Group (CFRG). The CFRG provides cryptographic guidance to IETF working groups that develop standards for a variety of crucial technologies that run and help secure the Internet. The transport layer security (TLS) protocol that underpins Web encryption and standards for secure shell connections used to securely access servers are two examples. Igoe has been CFRG co-chair for about two years, along with David A. McGrew of Cisco Systems.

  11. Kevin M. Igoe should step down from CFRG Co-chair

    I’ve said recently that pervasive surveillance is wrong. I don’t think anyone from the NSA should have a leadership position in the development or deployment of Internet communications, because their interests are at odds with the interest of the rest of the Internet. But someone at the NSA is in exactly such a position. They ought to step down.

Theory: What If Search Engines Too Are Partly Subsidised by NSA to Mine Our Minds?

Posted in Microsoft at 2:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bing

Summary: Bing’s losses are still massive, but it sure serves the agenda of Microsoft allies that easily extract personal information from it

SEVERAL weeks ago it was revealed that the CIA pays AT&T $10 million-plus to spy on call data. This is not a theory but a fact. NSA built a special relationship with Microsoft over a decade ago (before 9/11) and as we have shown repeatedly, Microsoft is willing to tolerate billions in losses running a service that asks people to type out their mind into a box (for Microsoft to mine, add to an artifically-intelligent profile, and then pass to the NSA). Given Microsoft’s losses as a business (since 1998 at the very least, back when it lost $18 billion a year and also got caught engaging in financial fraud) one has to wonder what keeps the company going.

“Without Windows, espionage is harder.”Over at CBS, Mary Jo Foley (Microsoft's Mouth) says that “Microsoft swears that Bing’s no money pit,” arguing that “under Microsoft’s new reporting structure, the company isn’t breaking out its Online Services profits and losses.” As iophk put it, “a lot of things could really be hemorrhaging money, unseen below the surface.”

European regulators have long observed the worrisome absence of search engine contenders in Europe. Making a profitable business that scans the entire Web is hard because the process is expensive and often it requires heavy subsidies — a practice which is widely popular in the United States (a lot of profitable companies there are actually funded by taxpayers and are otherwise not viable). It is therefore not too far-fetched and it is definitely worth entertaining the possibility that unlawful and unconstitutional surveillance (for espionage, i.e. unfair advantage) is a ‘necessary’ crime which the NSA has been helping — behind the scenes — to keep afloat. Besides that, Microsoft Windows is a Trojan horse for the NSA. Without Windows, espionage is harder.

USPTO to be Partly Headed by Google Executive

Posted in Google, IBM, Patents at 1:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michelle Lee
Photo from Asian Pacific Fund

Summary: The USPTO gets leadership from a company that’s less known for advocacy of software patents and more to do with opposing them

THE USPTO is typically run by people from companies which it serves. Google is not exactly known as a big fan of software patents (not compared to IBM and Microsoft), so this new appointment gives some hope. As FOSS Force put it, “Reuters reported last week that former Google executive Michelle Lee will take over as deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on January 13.”

Google, which probably sells the most Linux devices (or devices that have an operating system from Google), is currently facing patent aggression from Microsoft and Apple, which exploits pro-software patents policies at the USPTO to get patent monopolies on Android implementations. If Michelle Lee is loyal to her previous employer, then she will consider tackling software patents as a whole. David Kappos, who came from IBM (big promoter of software patents) sure defended — even publicly — software patents.

Links 22/12/2013: Applications and Instructionals

Posted in News Roundup at 1:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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