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. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  2. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  3. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day



  4. Links 10/9/2014: Brian Stevens in Google, Ubuntu 14.10 Expectations

    Links for the day



  5. Links 9/9/2014: Hating/Loving Linux, Android Aplenty

    Links for the day



  6. Links 8/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC 4, Switzerland Welcoming Snowden

    Links for the day



  7. Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO): Part I

    The European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President has a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption



  8. Links 6/9/2014: Core OS at DigitalOcean, Women in Xorg

    Links for the day



  9. Software Patents 'Quality' Debated in Courts, Microsoft's Biggest Patent Troll Still a Chronic Liar

    Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' largest patent proxy, continues to spread lies about its motivations, claiming that patent assessment is among the goals when in fact only the courts and patent offices do this



  10. New Article Explains How Bill Gates Prevents Schools From Moving to GNU/Linux and Free Software

    A new article from Al Jazeera provides details about the role of so-called 'charities' of billionaires inside school systems



  11. Microsoft Sued for Large-scale Copyright Abuses

    Microsoft reveals its disregard for copyright law which it loves so much to wield as a weapon against its competition and clients



  12. Links 5/9/2014: New WordPress, Systemd Debate Continues

    Links for the day



  13. 'Embrace and Extend' at Microsoft: The New Generation

    Some of the latest examples of Microsoft's predatory acts against Free software and against competition in general, disguised as acts of friendliness



  14. Bill Gates' God Complex: Common Core a One-Man Campaign of Greed and Control

    The push for Common Core is overwhelmingly dominated by Bill Gates, who intimidates and even resorts to retribution against critics while bribing those who help him accomplish the goal of privatised (for his private profit) indoctrination in US schools



  15. Bill Gates Investments Harm the World, Not Improve the World, Based on New Exclusive Piece of Investigative Journalism at The Nation

    The Gates Foundation's profiteering efforts and lack of ethics outlined in a new report that many sites around the Web find fascinating and mostly irrefutable



  16. Links 3/9/2014: Android Gadgets, New Tails OS

    Links for the day



  17. Linus Torvalds DebConf Talk

    Torvalds' latest talk which got media attention earlier this month



  18. Microsoft Should Not be Considered Too Big to Jail

    Microsoft continues to use dumping as a strategy which revolves around starving the competition, not beating the competition



  19. Pro-Software Patents Voices Finally Acknowledge the Demise of Software Patents in the United States

    A milestone is reached as even the most zealous supporters of patents on algorithms (or computer-implemented inventions, or software patents) are admitting that the era of software patents may be over



  20. New Lies About Microsoft 'Privacy' and New FUD Against the GPL Comes From 'Former' Microsoft Staff at Black Duck

    More AstroTurfing by sites that are run by Microsoft MVPs and firms which were created by people from Microsoft



  21. Links 2/9/2014: GNU/Linux in BBC, Calls Against systemd

    Links for the day



  22. Links 1/9/2014: Poettering on systemd, ITNews on DBMSs

    Links for the day



  23. Moving Away From Windows to GNU/Linux and the Abandonment of Windows as the Modest Proposal These Days

    Morale of GNU/Linux and an embrace of GNU/Linux is very high, despite recent propaganda from Microsoft MVPs and boosters (primarily security-themed and Munich-themed FUD)



  24. Korean Press Slams Microsoft Over Patent Extortion Against Linux/Android as New Abuses Resurface

    Harsh words from the national press of South Korea as Nokia's role in Microsoft's anti-Linux tactics becomes more apparent



  25. More Good News About Patents and Their Demise in the United States

    A roundup of news about software patents and patent trolls in the land where these thrive



  26. Links 31/8/2014: Linux 3.12.27, Akademy 2014

    Links for the day



  27. Links 30/8/2014: Jailhouse 0.1, *buntu 14.10 Beta

    Links for the day



  28. Links 28/8/2014: Many New Games, CTO of Red Hat Steps Down

    Links for the day



  29. We Are Gradually Winning the Battle Against Software Patents

    The once-elusive war on software patents is finally leading to some breakthrough and even the Federal Circuit reinforces the trend of software patents' demise



  30. Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) Companies Versus FOSS Moles (VMware, Sonatype, Xamarin)

    A look at three entities which pretend to be pro-FOSS but are actually FOSS-hostile and very much determined to replace FOSS with proprietary software


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