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06.07.14

Lots of Coverage About FOSS Bugs, No Coverage About Intentional ‘Bugs’ (Back Doors) in Proprietary Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security at 7:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bugs inside blobs are also serious bugs, and sometimes there by design

Bug

Summary: The increased media coverage of bugs in security-sensitive FOSS projects reveals lack of desire to cover much bigger threats, including back doors in proprietary software such as Windows

OpenSSL has been somewhat of a whipping boy of the technology press. One reason is, OpenSSL is widely used, but another is that it’s known what the issues are (transparency) and the corporate media sure has agenda. We already gave the example of Dan Goodin, to whom security bugs are only news is they affect FOSS (here is his latest go at it) and now that GnuTLS bugs become public knowledge (after a public release with full source code) there is some more coverage that resembles what we found amid “Heartbleed” hype [1, 2, 3] (in both cases a firm with Microsoft connections claimed credit for other people’s discoveries and trumpeted FUD in the press). One can expect the same from Microsoft-funded ‘news’ networks like IDG and ZDNet, which merely covers an already fixed bug. To quote the summary:

The security team behind the Debian distro are urging users to upgrade their Linux packages after patching a newly-found flaw in the Linux kernel.

This is not an unusual thing. Why it this suddenly front page news?

Notice the pattern. In all cases the bugs are already fixed (users just need to apply updates, unless they have already been applied automatically). This shows a strength of FOSS, not a weakness. The latest OpenSSL patches that we covered a couple of days ago (in daily links) don’t relate to or amount to huge risk [1] and these are already patched [2]. The same goes for kernel bugs [3].

What we found highly disturbing here is that despite discoveries that companies like Apple and Microsoft facilitate the NSA with back doors (in secret code) we see an improportionate focus on every small bugfix in projects such as GnuTLS, OpenSSL, and Linux. Someone might be trying very hard to make the point that FOSS is the issue, not back doors which are very much included by design (and hidden in blobs). Reporters who cover bugs in FOSS but are never covering back doors in proprietary software ought to be challenged. Their bias (by omission) should be pointed out to them.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. New OpenSSL breech is no Heartbleed, but needs to be taken seriously
  2. OpenSSL Security Update now available for Fedora
  3. Canonical Closes Linux Kernel Vulnerabilities in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
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