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04.01.14

UEFI is Bricking Computers When One Removes Spyware With Back Doors (Microsoft Windows)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UEFI logo with monopoly

Summary: UEFI ‘secure’ boot is bricking laptops again, showing that there are worse aspects to UEFI than the anti-competitive (anti-GNU/Linux) nature of it

THERE IS a new UEFI nightmare scenario, which relates somewhat to the fact that the NSA can remotely destroy (as in brick) computers with UEFI, provided they use a ‘faulty’ implementation of UEFI [1] (UEFI ‘secure’ boot is faulty by design). “”Beware Samsung laptops” is a lesson the Linux community has already learned,” says the author of the article, but why not name UEFI also? “For Swedish Linux users,” he says, “the main lesson seems to be “Ask your big-box store salesperson to certify in writing that the machine she sells you is capable of running Linux equally well as it runs Windows”.”

This is becoming a serious issue. Germany has already pretty much banned machines with UEFI ‘secure’ boot, perhaps realising the potential hazards. Here in the UK there is concern about Windows in general, even among CESG staff (the CESG’s Web site has been down for half a day now, seemingly after getting cracked, following a migration to Windows 2 years ago). To quote CESG: “Local authorities connect to central government systems through a Public Services Network (PSN), via which they can share essential services in an effort to drive efficiency. GCHQ IT security arm CESG provides advice and certification for councils using the PSN.

“According to Gartner’s public sector research director Neville Cannon, CESG rules state that in order to connect to the PSN, authorities must run “patchable” software, which means those running XP after D-day could be in serious trouble.”

This again is an NSA back door. The security panic leads some major entities to migrating to Linux [2,3] and Microsoft’s UEFI-equipped (and Linux-hostile) hardware is now declared dead, perhaps because nobody really wanted it and it self-bricked, due to UEFI 'secure' boot'. This is a “so-so article but points to an interesting attitude,” iophk said, but it basically shows that the ‘new’ “Surface” is a failure as big as the ‘old’ and clumsy “Surface”, which was dubbed a “big ass table” and vanished quietly about half a decade ago.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Swedish Linux Users: Avoid Elgiganten

    As detailed here before, a few Samsung laptop models have a firmware bug that makes them liable to becoming inert bricks if you install Linux. It’s a one-way process. This happened to me when I bought an ultrabook from the Elgiganten big-box store last summer. Both Samsung and the store refused to reimburse me for the loss of my machine’s use. At the suggestion of my home municipality’s consumer advisor (konsumentrådgivare), I took the matter to Allmänna reklamationsnämnden, the National Board for Consumer Disputes (complaint no 2013-10081).

  2. The Death of Windows XP Won’t Kill the ATM Industry, or Help Bitcoin

    The second alternative is to go for an alternative OS altogether.

    This is not as farfetched as it sounds: Linux has a much smaller footprint than Windows 7 and, as a result, some ATM operators are considering a switch to Linux rather than the Microsoft product.

    This would not be the first time ATMs have transitioned to a different OS. Before the industry moved to XP, most ATM’s were running IBM’s OS/2 operating system.

  3. Banks turning to Linux to replace Windows XP on their ATMs
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