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02.06.14

Poll: Only 39% Trust Red Hat Over Back Doors

Posted in Red Hat, Security at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red Hat poll

Summary: News about Red Hat, including renewed suspicions that the company is too close to the NSA, not merely a business partner

wE BEGAN writing about Red Hat and NSA as its major client only a few months ago [1,2], mainly because we had found a claim by Red Hat staff that patches from the NSA were being passed to Torvalds via Red Hat. We later had that confirmed by Red Hat staff. This definitely does not inspire confidence because we already know that the NSA wanted to put back doors in Linux.

The latest such post about Red Hat and the NSA comes from FOSS Force, where Christine concludes: “If Red Hat isn’t working hand-in-hand with the NSA in its efforts to spy on us, then this poll obviously represents a public relations problem for the Raleigh, North Carolina based company. Although it’s doubtful that many, if any, of those taking this poll are Red Hat customers, we can only assume that results such as we’re seeing here indicate a potential problem of perception even outside the free software community. It wouldn’t bode well for Red Hat if these sentiments were to spread to include it’s user base.”

Christine is being very kind to Red Hat. She may be right, but many of her readers seem to agree that Red Hat could have been used by the NSA for back doors. Less than 40% trust Red Hat.

In other news about Red Hat (more positive news), here are the latest press releases, which barely received any press coverage:

News about Red Hat also still revolves around CentOS (the CentOS news is old, but it’s still abound [1]), OpenStack [2,3,4], or ‘cloud’, which usually means surveillance-friendly setups, sometimes with CIA in the loop [5]. Virtualisation too is in Red Hat’s pitch [6,7,8], not to mention Red Hat staff [9]. There seems to be a recruitment drive in Red Hat’s OpenSource.com, with emphasis on women this month [10-17]. Only one other site [18] seems to have dedicated an article to women in FOSS/software in the same period of time. There is nothing wrong with that, it’s just an observation.

The bottom line is this: we need clarifications from Red Hat where it matters. The silence on this matter has been deafening and if Red Hat says nothing to alleviate these worries, then this may actually contribute further to distrust. Red Hat is developing many core components in GNU/Linux systems and when NSA is using Red Hat to submit patches (created by the NSA) we do need some reassurances. It’s not just SELinux. Red Hat should identify very clearly which patches have come from the NSA so that extra scrutiny can be applied. Knowing what the NSA has done to NIST, RSA etc. it would also be wise to ostracise the NSA when it comes to patches.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Linux Top 3: CentOS Dons a Red Hat, SteamOS Gets Hardware, Kali Linux Nukes Security
  2. Red Hat’s Love-Hate Affair With The Cloud

    Among the several reasons for Red Hat to embrace CentOS, its erstwhile copycatting nemesis, one explanation has largely been overlooked: The cloud made them do it. More specifically, OpenStack made them do it.

    Red Hat had all but sewn up the market for Linux in the data center. But in the cloud, the market for Linux is both wide open—and perhaps nonexistent.

  3. Red Hat Upgrades OpenStack Cloud Infrastructure Platform
  4. Red Hat Promotes Open Source Software-Defined Storage

    If the advent of object-based storage à la OpenStack Swift is one sign of the decline of traditional storage technologies, the momentum of software-defined storage is yet more evidence that the future of data storage for the cloud and the enterprise is changing. And open source giant Red Hat (RHT) is the latest vendor to jump on board, with the announcement of new software-defined storage options for Red Hat partners that could have a wide impact across the channel.

  5. Red Hat, Partners Collaborate on AWS New Test Drive Demos
  6. Red Hat ups its virtualization and cloud game
  7. Red Hat shops get KVM updates, scalability in RHEL 6.5
  8. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.3 Gets Real

    The RHEV 3.3 release is built on top of the open-source oVirt project, which is led by Red Hat. The new release adds support for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 platform, improves performance and supports a wider array of systems.

  9. Findings from working on Red Hat’s installer

    I believe that the open source community as a whole would benefit if more open source developers considered the API and associated bindings as primary and the CLI as of secondary importance. Ideally, applications would be designed from the start with a well-defined API, a set of bindings that evolved with the API, and a CLI (if one was necessary) that was defined in a scripting language that made use of the bindings. Not only would this make the application ripe for automation, but it would likely have the added benefit of making the API better defined and more robust.

  10. Engage women, have fun, get more out of your open source project

    There are few women developers and even proportionately less working in open source communities. However, a career in OSS is ideal for women who are seeking balance in their lives whether the balance is starting a family or maintaining balance with friends and a strenuous and engaging hobby. It’s well established that there’s a shortage of women pursuing careers in computer science. UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that just 0.3% of students majoring in technology-related fields are female, despite the high demand for those skills. As few as 1.5% of open source contributors are women.

  11. Heard of the GNOME Outreach Program for Women? Learn more today.

    Marie Nordin is one of the OPW interns for the Fedora Project. She is the visual designer currently in charge of badge design for Fedora Badges, an open badges based web application that helps to encourage contributors in the Fedora community by awarding them with badges for their efforts. (For example, Marie is the proud recipient of the “Pixel Ninja” badge for her work on the Fedora Design team.) I interviewed Marie, and she shared how she came to open source, what open source projects she’s currently involved with, and her advice for other young women interested in getting involved.

  12. The Women of OpenStack talk outreach, education, and mentoring

    In the open source world, a women-only event seems counter-intuitive. Yet I am finding reasons for such events the more I attend them.

    At the OpenStack Summit, a twice-a-year event where OpenStack contributors get together to plan the next release, the Women of OpenStack group has set up events where we invite the women first. Men aren’t excluded, but our hope is to get more OpenStack women together. I can hardly capture the value of getting together with other women in OpenStack at the Summit, but here goes.

  13. Make money and have fun in open source

    We’re familiar with the statistics, and we’ve seen the photos from the tech conferences. Seas full of men. It requires patience to scan for the odd female in those auditoriums. It’s a popular topic, this scarcity of women in technology, one of the hip things to whine about these days. It’s politically correct to blame the male “priesthood” in Silicon Valley. Ask Paul Graham. He took it in the ribs after a few reckless comments about the funding practices of his startup seed accelerator, Y Combinator. He was quoted as saying, “God knows what you would do to get 13 year old girls interested in computers. I would have to stop and think about that,” in a recent article. Ouch. But, really, is he so wrong?

  14. Advice from 5 Joomla! project leaders: Part 1

    The Joomla! community, inside and outside the company, is diverse and multi-cultural. It is made up of all sorts of people with two things in common: a love for Joomla! and a willingness to reach out and help others on the other side of the keyboard.

  15. Advice from 5 Joomla! project leaders: Part 2
  16. The participatory nature of the Internet strengthens fan communities

    Whether the big media producers like it or not, digital technologies have made it easier than ever for popular culture fans to create remixes or derivative works from their favorite movies, TV shows, books, and other media. And the participatory nature of the Internet has arguably helped broaden the popular definition of a “fan community” from something exclusive to comic and sci-fi fans to being inclusive of many genres and people. This includes giving wider exposure to a vast and yet often overlooked demographic in pop fandom—women—and their influence on mainstream media stories.

  17. Golden opportunity for public libraries to meet digital needs of women

    Women use the Internet 17% more than their male counterparts yet are underrepresented in programming and open source. Public libraries (and public schools) have a critical role to play with improving the dearth of diversity in coding and open source.

  18. Girls and Software

    December 2013′s EOF, titled “Mars Needs Women”, visited an interesting fact: that the male/female ratio among Linux Journal readers, and Linux kernel developers, is so lopsided (male high, female low) that graphing it would produce a near-vertical line. I was hoping the piece would invite a Linux hacker on the female side of that graph to step up and move the conversation forward. And sure enough, here we have Susan Sons aka @HedgeMage.

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