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 22/10/2014: Chromebooks Surge, NSA Android Endorsement

    Links for the day



  2. Links 21/10/2014: Debian Fork Debate, New GNU IceCat

    Links for the day



  3. Criminal Microsoft is Censoring the Web and Breaks Laws to Do So; the Web Should Censor (Remove) Microsoft

    Microsoft is still breaking the Internet using completely bogus takedown requests (an abuse of DMCA) and why Microsoft Windows, which contains weaponised back doors (shared with the NSA), should be banned from the Internet, not just from the Web



  4. Microsoft 'Loving' GNU/Linux and Other Corporate Media Fiction

    Microsoft has bullied or cleverly bribed enough technology-centric media sites to have them characterise Microsoft as a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) that also "loves Linux"



  5. India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called 'Charity' to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

    Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not "charity")



  6. The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

    Patent trolls are in the news again and it's rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past



  7. Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

    Links for the day



  8. Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

    Links for the day



  9. How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

    Breaking down a patent lawyer's analysis of a Supreme Court's decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents



  10. Is It Google's Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

    The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests



  11. The EPO's Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

    Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO's management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO's management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time



  12. Links 18/10/2014: Debian Plans for Init Systems, Tails 1.2

    Links for the day



  13. Links 18/10/2014: New ELive, Android Expansion

    Links for the day



  14. Another Fresh Blow to Software Patents (and With Them Patent Trolls)

    Another new development shows that more burden of proof is to be put on the litigant, thus discouraging the most infamous serial patent aggressors and reducing the incentive to settle with a payment out of court



  15. Links 16/10/2014: New Android, SSL 3.0 Flaw

    Links for the day



  16. How the Corporate Press Deceives and Sells Microsoft Agenda

    Various new examples of media propaganda that distorts or makes up the facts (bias/lies by omission/selection) and where this is all coming from



  17. Vista 10 is Still Vapourware, But We Already Know It Will Increase Surveillance on Its Users and Contain Malicious Back Doors

    The villainous company which makes insecure-by-design operating systems will continue to do so, but in the mean time the corporate press covers only bugs in FOSS, not back doors in proprietary software



  18. Links 15/10/2014: KDE Plasma 5.1 is Out, GOG Reaches 100-Title Mark

    Links for the day



  19. With .NET Foundation Affiliation Xamarin is Another Step Closer to Being Absorbed by Microsoft

    Xamarin is not even trying to pretend that separation exists between Microsoft and its work; yet another collaboration is announced



  20. The EPO's Protection Triangle of Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić: Part VI

    Jesper Kongstad, Benoît Battistelli, and Zeljko Topić are uncomfortably close personally and professionally, so suspicions arise that nepotism and protectionism play a negative role that negatively affects the European public



  21. Corporate Media Confirms the Demise of Software Patents in the United States; Will India and Europe Follow?

    It has become increasingly official that software patents are being weakened in the United States' USPTO as well as the courts; will software leaders such as India and Europe stop trying to imitate the old USPTO?



  22. Links 14/10/2014: CAINE 6, New RHEL, Dronecode

    Links for the day



  23. Microsoft's Disdain for Women Steals the Show at a Women's Event

    Steve Ballmer's successor, Satya Nadella, is still too tactless to lie to the audience, having been given --through subversive means -- a platform at a conference that should have shunned Microsoft, a famously misogynistic company



  24. SCOTUS May Soon Put an End to the 'Copyrights on APIs' Question While Proprietary Giants Continue to Harass Android/Linux in Every Way Conceivable

    Google takes its fight over API freedom to the Supreme Court in the Unites States and it also takes that longstanding patent harassment from the Microsoft- and Apple-backed troll (Rockstar) out of East Texas



  25. Patent Lawsuits Almost Halved After SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Software Patents

    The barrier for acceptance of software patent applications is raised in the United States and patent lawsuits, many of which involve software these days, are down very sharply, based on new figures from Lex Machina



  26. Links 13/10/2014: ChromeOS and EXT, Debian Resists Systemd Domination

    Links for the day



  27. Links 12/10/2014: Blackphone Tablet, Sony's Firefox OS Port

    Links for the day



  28. Links 9/10/2014: Free Software in Germany, Lenovo Tablets With Android

    Links for the day



  29. Links 8/10/2014: A Lot of Linux+AMD News, New ROSA Desktop Is Out

    Links for the day



  30. Lawyers' Propaganda About Software Patents and a New AstroTurf Entity Called Innovation Alliance

    Patent propaganda and deception from patent lawyers (among other parasites such as patent trolls) continues to flood the Web, intersecting with reports that prove them totally wrong


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