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

02.24.14

The Increasing Danger of Back Doors in Standards and Binary Blobs

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security at 9:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The risk of back doors in GNU/Linux comes not from source code but from blobs, back room deals, the build process, and bogus standards with weaknesses cleverly shoehorned into them

IT HAS BEEN a while since we last wrote about Mr. Srinivasan from Microsoft-Novell. Suffice to say, Novell did a lot for Microsoft and some former staff of Novell continues to work for Microsoft (either directly or indirectly). One gift from Novell to Microsoft was OOXML inside FOSS/OOo. Another was Mono and let’s not forget intrusion into Linux itself. Robert Pogson goes as far as saying that Microsoft “Hacked Linux!”

“My configuration,” Pogson argues, “has CONFIG_HYPERV not set. The code in question is Copyright 2010, Novell (mshyperv.c), and Copyright 2009, M$ (vmbus_drv.c). K. Y. Srinivasan is listed as one of the authours on both. I’m not about to run that other OS on Beast, but thank you, Thomas Gleixner, for fixing things.” (see this link)

Performance issues overlook the much bigger problem — a problem which we addressed several times before. We already know that the NSA is pursuing back doors in Linux [1, 2, 3, 4] and as we pointed out before, the NSA might already have some.

incidentally, as we have shown before, Yahoo was fighting against NSA surveillance in court. When Microsoft took over Yahoo it became apparent that Yahoo stopped fighting and soon became part of PRISM. While some new reports suggest that Yahoo might be ready to escape Microsoft “Yahoo is still in NSA’s pocket though even if they break free of Microsoft,” explains iophk.

Likewise, even if Linux does not engage with Microsoft, the code from Microsoft remains stuck inside Linux and even if there are no back doors in the code itself, this connects to a system, Hyper-V, which is developed by a back doors specialist (Microsoft). There are binary-level back doors from which to access GNU/Linux systems because if the host machine runs Windows, then we already know that the NSA has access. A nearby company that I once visited, UKFast (the UK’s largest ‘cloud’ provider), runs GNU/Linux servers under HyperV, based on what they told me. How insane is that?! GCHO must love it!

Adding to some concerns about back doors, NSA ally and PRISM partner Apple turns out to have hidden a back door. As Think Progress puts it, “Apple quietly released a major update Friday to fix a security glitch in its iOS 7 systems. But independent security experts say the seemingly routine update covers up what arguably could be Apple’s biggest security lapse, exposing iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users to hackers.”

Whether it’s a back door or just direct access does not matter, but it enables Apple to dance around important questions. It works across several Apple platforms, even desktop platforms [1].

As iophk put it, in relation to this other new article [2] “Potential problems with an official back door in HTTP 2.0, though only in a proposed draft so far. But because of the ways certificates are currently (mis-)managed, this kind of interception of HTTPS is already easy.”

“See one example with four steps,” he added, pointing to [3] from the OpenBSD mailing lists.

It’s not as though GNU/Linux is immune to back doors (Debian has some new security advisories [4,5]), but at least with access to source code the back doors remain very shallow and too risky/difficult for malicious/covert entities to hide. It’s when proprietary software gets added that we lose the ability to ascertain security and privacy.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Apple SSL Vulnerability Affects OSX Too
  2. No, I Don’t Trust You! — One of the Most Alarming Internet Proposals I’ve Ever Seen

    If you care about Internet security, especially what we call “end-to-end” security free from easy snooping by ISPs, carriers, or other intermediaries, heads up! You’ll want to pay attention to this.

    You’d think that with so many concerns these days about whether the likes of AT&T, Verizon, and other telecom companies can be trusted not to turn our data over to third parties whom we haven’t authorized, that a plan to formalize a mechanism for ISP and other “man-in-the-middle” snooping would be laughed off the Net.

    But apparently the authors of IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) Internet-Draft “Explicit Trusted Proxy in HTTP/2.0″ (14 Feb 2014) haven’t gotten the message.

    What they propose for the new HTTP/2.0 protocol is nothing short of officially sanctioned snooping.

  3. relayd SSL interception

    This mail includes a quite detailed explanation of the attached diff that adds support for SSL Interception (“SSL-MITM”) to relayd. If you don’t want to read the story, just skip to the configuration example and diff below.

  4. Debian: 2862-1: chromium-browser: Multiple vulnerabilities
  5. Debian: 2861-1: file: denial of service
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. Twitter Shadowbans Critics of the EPO Now?

    Criticise the EPO's European Inventor Award 2017 (in a way that becomes visible), get shadowbanned by Twitter (rendering this criticism invisible)



  2. RecogniCorp v Nintendo is Another Nail in the Coffin of Software Patents in the United States

    A precedential new decision against software patents is terrible news for the patent microcosm -- something for them to spin or moan about for a long time to come



  3. Battistelli is Busy Securing the Vote of Countries Whose Support and Tickets Are Easy to 'Buy'

    Battistelli’s banana republic politics and tricks are viewed as his ticket to endless ‘leadership’ (domination by sheer force) of a sinking patent office, whose rules he repeatedly breaks (including lack of eligibility to run it, for multiple reasons)



  4. Patent Snake Oil From Brunel University London and PatentDive

    The ludicrous notion of replacing patent examiners (or searches by humans) with machines is seriously considered by some who should know better... but don't



  5. This is How 'Independent' the Boards of Appeal Are Under Battistelli

    A rather revealing new factoid about the interview that never happened (potentially contradicting a previous one with Battistelli), or why it did not happen



  6. Links 29/4/2017: Endless OS, Pinebook, and New Mozilla Foundation Board Members

    Links for the day



  7. Links 28/4/2017: Subsurface 4.6.4, GNOME Shell & Mutter 3.25.1

    Links for the day



  8. Kather Augenstein and Bristows Shift Attention to Germany in an Effort to Ram the Dying UPC Down Everyone's Throats

    Down the throat, hopes Team UPC, the Unitary Patent system will go, even though Britain cannot ratify, throwing the whole thing into grave uncertainty



  9. United for Patent Reform Defends USPTO Director Michelle Lee From Attacks by the Patent Microcosm

    Michelle Lee is finally (if not belatedly) shielded by a bunch of large technology companies; The deep-pocketed industry finally steps in line with our position, which is usually when things turn out the way we advocate for



  10. Team UPC and CIPA Are Lobbying, Publishing Puff Pieces, and Rewriting the Law for Unitary Patent (UPC) Behind Closed Doors

    A collection of the latest news and views on the UPC, which is being lied about by those who stand to benefit from it and is probably going nowhere because Brexit means that the UK stays out, in which case it must be reset and pertinent ratifications done all over again



  11. China's Suffering From Patent Maximalism Has Europe Forewarned

    The parasitic elements inside China -- those that just want lots of litigation (even if from patent trolls) -- are winning over, much to the detriment of the Chinese economy, and Team UPC threatens to do the same in Europe with help from Battistelli



  12. Links 27/4/2017: Mesa 17.0.5 RC1, Git 2.13.0 RC1, and Linkerd 1.0

    Links for the day



  13. The Latest Expensive PR Blitz of the EPO, Led by Jana Mittermaier and Rainer Osterwalder Under the 'European Inventor Award' Banner

    The PR agencies of the Corsican in Chief, who appears to be buying political support rather than earning any, are very busy this week, as yet another reputation laundering campaign kicks off



  14. Links 26/4/2017: SMPlayer 17.4.2, Libreboot Wants to Rejoin GNU

    Links for the day



  15. PatentShield is Not the Solution and It Won't Protect Google/Android From Patent Trolls Like Microsoft's

    A new initiative called "PatentShield" is launched, but it's yet another one of those many initiatives (Peer-to-Patent and the likes of it, LOT Network, OIN, PAX etc.) that serve to distract from the real and much simpler solutions



  16. Patent Quality Crisis and Unprecedented Trouble at the European Patent Office (EPO) Negatively Affect Legitimate Companies in the US As Well

    The granting en masse of questionable patents by the EPO (patent maximalism) is becoming a liability and growing risk to companies which operate not only in Europe but also elsewhere



  17. Blog 'Takeovers' by Bristows and Then Censorship: Now This Firm Lies About the Unitary Patent (UPC) and Then Deletes Comments That Point Out the Errors

    Not only are Bristows employees grabbing the mic in various high-profile IP blogs for the purpose of UPC promotion (by distortion of facts); they also actively suppress critics of the UPC



  18. Links 25/4/2017: Kali Linux 2017.1 Released, NSA Back Doors in Windows Cause Chaos

    Links for the day



  19. Astoundingly, IP Kat Has Become a Leading Source of UPC and Battistelli Propaganda

    The pro-UPC outlets, which enjoy EPO budget (i.e. stakeholders' money), are becoming mere amplifiers of Benoît Battistelli and his right-hand UPC woman Margot Fröhlinger, irrespective of actual facts



  20. EPO Fiasco to be Discussed in German Local Authority (Bavarian Parliament) Some Time Today as the Institution Continues Its Avoidable Collapse

    Conflict between management and staff -- a result of truly destructive strategies and violations of the law by Benoît Battistelli -- continues to escalate and threatens to altogether dismantle the European Patent Office (EPO)



  21. In the US and Elsewhere, Qualcomm's Software Patents Are a Significant Tax Everyone Must Pay

    The state of the mobile market when companies such as Qualcomm, which don't really produce anything, take a large piece of the revenue pie



  22. In South Asia, Old Myths to Promote Patent Maximalism, Courtesy of the Patent Microcosm

    The latest example of software patents advocacy and patent 'parades' in India, as well as something from IPOS in Singapore



  23. Links 24/4/2017: Linux 4.11 RC8, MPV 0.25

    Links for the day



  24. Why Authorities in the Netherlands Need to Strip the EPO of Immunity and Investigate Fire Safety Violations

    How intimidation and crackdown on the staff representatives at the EPO may have led to lack of awareness (and action) about lack of compliance with fire safety standards



  25. Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part IX: Testament to the Fear of an Autocratic Regime

    A return to the crucial observation and a reminder of the fact that at the EPO it takes great courage to say the truth nowadays



  26. For the Fordham Echo Chamber (Patent Maximalism), Judges From the EPO Boards of Appeal Are Not Worth Entertaining

    In an event steered if not stuffed by patent radicals such as Bristows and Microsoft (abusive, serial litigators) there are no balanced panels or even reasonable discussions



  27. EPO Staff Representatives Fired Using “Disciplinary Committee That Was Improperly Composed” as Per ILO's Decision

    The Board of the Administrative Council at European Patent Organisation is being informed of the union-busting activities of Battistelli -- activities that are both illegal (as per national and international standards) and are detrimental to the Organisation



  28. Links 23/4/2017: End of arkOS, Collabora Office 5.3 Released

    Links for the day



  29. Intellectual Discovery and Microsoft Feed Patent Trolls Like Intellectual Ventures Which Then Strategically Attack Rivals

    Like a swarm of blood-sucking bats, patent trolls prey on affluent companies that derive their wealth from GNU/Linux and freedom-respecting software (Free/libre software)



  30. The European Patent Office Has Just Killed a Cat (or Skinned a 'Kat')

    The EPO’s attack on the media, including us, resulted in a stream of misinformation and puff pieces about the EPO and UPC, putting at risk not just European democracy but also corrupting the European press


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