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07.01.15

Links 1/7/2015: OpenDaylight Lithium, OpenMandriva Lx 2014.2

Posted in News Roundup at 2:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 6 things technical leaders should consider around open-source software

    Many organisations have a wide array of open-source applications and code in use today – whether it be at the infrastructure and application layers, or in development frameworks and GitHub repositories.

    However, the applications developer and infrastructure teams come under increasing pressure as organisations rush to develop new services for customers, comply with growing amounts of industry regulation, or simply strive to meet the needs of the information generation.

  • Navigating through an open-source world
  • Open Source to power financial services innovations
  • AWS security looks to avoid cloud reboots with s2n
  • ​Amazon introduces new open-source TLS implementation ‘s2n’
  • Amazon Web Services Delivers Open Source Cryptographic Tool
  • Amazon Releases S2N TLS Crypto Implementation to Open Source
  • Amazon releases open source cryptographic module

    The software, s2n, is a new implementation of Transport Layer Security (TLS), a protocol for encrypting data. TLS is the successor of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), both of which AWS uses to secure most of its services.

  • Engineers at Etsy play by their own rules

    Etsy, the leading marketplace for handmade goods, has grown by leaps and bounds over the past five years. During that time they’ve iterated on their model, their strategy, and their mission. One thing that’s driven the success of those changes is their open workplace culture.

    I talked to senior engineering manager John Goulah about what it means to fail faster at Etsy, and he shared with me some interesting insights into the communication techniques Etsy uses to empower their associates and improve the experience of buyers and sellers on the site.

  • Altera, Brain4Net and CertusNet Join the OPNFV Project to Accelerate Open Source NFV
  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • NoSQL and the next generation of big data

      Ingo is a senior solutions architect at MongoDB. He is active in many open source projects, and is the author of Open Life: The Philosophy of Open Source, a book on open source community ethics and business models.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 4.4.4 Released

      The Document Foundation today announced LibreOffice 4.4.4, the latest update to the 4.4 branch. Today’s release brings 74 bug fixes including several crashes and import/export bugs. The announcement today also brought news of version 5.0 as well as reminders for the LibreOffice Conference in September.

  • BSD

    • PC-BSD 10.2 Gets Ready For Release, 11.0-CURRENT For Testing

      The PC-BSD development team today announced their 10.2 pre-release, which continues to be derived from FreeBSD. Additionally they’ve also announced new 11.0-CURRENT images for those wishing to get a look ahead at FreeBSD/PC-BSD 11.0.

      The PC-BSD 10.2 pre-release / 11.0 current announcement didn’t offer many details about all of the changes in store, but once PC-BSD 10.2 and PC-BSD/FreeBSD 11.0 are officially out, you can expect lengthy write-ups on Phoronix.

      More details via the PCBSD.org blog.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • It’s 2015 And Congress Is Now, Finally, Allowed To Use Open Source Technologies

      First, the good news: members of the House of Representatives in the US Congress are now allowed to use open source technology in their offices, rather than the very limited list of proprietary offerings they were given in the past. Second, the bad news: how the hell is it 2015 and this is only becoming an option now? I guess we can’t change the past, and so let’s celebrate the House of Reps finally getting to this point — which just happens to coincide with the upcoming launch of the House Open Source Caucus (led by Reps. Blake Farenthold and Jared Polis).

    • The House opens up to open source

      Traditionally, members of the House of Representatives have been presented with a limited plate of options when choosing technology to run their offices and manage their web presences. Members that wanted to take advantage of open source solutions — which are restriction-free, reusable and frequently more cost-effective — faced significant uncertainty and were pushed towards a small selection of proprietary options.

    • Extremadura schoolboard’s software deal protested

      Advocates of free software are protesting a tender by the school board of the Spanish region of Extremadura requesting proprietary software licences. The advocacy group, Extremadura Focus Initiative, is supported by the new, incoming government of the region and by several of Extremadura’s school teachers.

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • The Problem With Putting All the World’s Code in GitHub

      The ancient Library of Alexandria may have been the largest collection of human knowledge in its time, and scholars still mourn its destruction. The risk of so devastating a loss diminished somewhat with the advent of the printing press and further still with the rise of the Internet. Yet centralized repositories of specialized information remain, as does the threat of a catastrophic loss.

    • R, Matey: Hoisting the Sails for a Programming Language

      So what is R? The R programming language is a free and open source programming language for statistical computing and provides an interactive environment for data analysis, modeling and visualization. The language is used by statisticians, analysts and data scientists to unlock value from data.

    • A Code Boot Camp for Underprivileged Kids

      A science center in Johannesburg, South Africa, has opened the doors to a five-month course in Linux-based Web apps and entrepreneurial skills. The training is available free of charge to underprivileged students from nearby townships; if it’s successful, it will be rolled out nationwide.

    • MIT develops donor ‘transplants’ for buggy code without access to the source

      A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have come up with a way to use ‘donor’ programs to improve the functionality and reduce system errors and flaws in open-source programs.

      Outlined in a paper dubbed “Automatic error elimination by horizontal code transfer across multiple applications,” MIT researchers describe the Code Phage system, which automatically transfers code from donor programs to other applications which have buggy code and errors.

    • PHP for Non-Developers
    • PHP SIG – Autoloader

      The Fedora PHP SIG (Special Interest Group) is back / working.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Op-ed: Safari is the new Internet Explorer

      Last weekend I attended EdgeConf, a conference populated by many of the leading lights in the Web industry. It featured panel talks and breakout sessions with a focus on technologies that are just now starting to emerge in browsers, so there was a lot of lively discussion around Service Worker, Web Components, Shadow DOM, Web Manifests, and more.

      EdgeConf’s hundred-odd attendees were truly the heavy hitters of the Web community. The average Twitter follower count in any given room was probably in the thousands, and all the major browser vendors were represented—Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, Opera. We had lots of fun peppering them with questions about when they might release such-and-such API.

Leftovers

  • Walmart Apologizes for Making ISIS Cake for Man Denied Confederate Flag Design

    A man in Louisiana is asking for an explanation from Walmart after his request for a Confederate flag cake at one of its bakeries was rejected, but a design with the ISIS flag was accepted.

    Chuck Netzhammer said he ordered the image of the Confederate flag on a cake with the words, “Heritage Not Hate,” on Thursday at a Walmart in Slidell, Louisiana. But the bakery denied his request, he said. At some point later, he ordered the image of the ISIS flag that represents the terrorist group.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Everyone Gets Cosmetic Procedures, Says Time–and by ‘Everyone,’ They Mean Almost No One

      Even by the standards of newsweekly hyperbole, this is ridiculous. In the piece, Stein writes that “in the US, doctors performed over 15 million cosmetic procedures in 2014, a 13 percent increase from 2011 and more than twice as many as in 2000.”

      The population of the United States is now 319 million, so 15 million is about 5 percent per capita.

      Even that overstates how big “everyone” is, since most of those procedures are injections like Botox–a muscle relaxant that has to be readministered as often as four times a year. Coupled with the fact that Botox can be used on multiple parts of the body—each of which may be considered a different “procedure”—the “everyone” who “gets work done” turns out to be a tiny fraction of the population.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Kirsty’s Story

      I knew with certainty that the BBC and official line of a lone gunman being responsible for the Tunisian attacks was a lie, because one of the victims of one of the “other” gunmen was my dear niece Kirsty.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Greeks are rushing to Bitcoin

      With bank doors slammed shut, frantic Greeks are turning to online trading platforms to see if the digital money Bitcoin is a better bet than the euro.

    • Confusing Lending and Spending at the New York Times

      In fact, central banks have not spent this money, they have lent this money, mostly by buying government bonds. This matters hugely, because lending is a much more indirect way to boost the economy than spending.

      Lending by central banks is supposed to boost growth by lowering interest rates. This encourages borrowing in the public and private sectors. This helps to explain the growth in debt in recent years: Rather than indicating a troubling situation, this was actually the point of the policy.

      Rather than focus on the amount of debt countries, companies and individuals have incurred, it would be more reasonable to examine their interest burdens. These are mostly quite low.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Feds Awarded Colorado Charter Schools $46 Million because of “Hiring and Firing” Rules

      Between 2010 and 2015, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) awarded Colorado $46 million under the Charter Schools Program. Part of the reason the state landed the competitive grant was that charters are free to hire unlicensed teachers and then fire them at will, documents reviewed by CMD show.

      Designed to create and expand “high-quality” charter schools, the quarter-billion-dollar-a-year program has been repeatedly criticized by the watchdogs at the department’s Office of the Inspector General watchdog for suspected waste and poor financial controls.

    • Jeb Bush dogged by decades of questions about business deals

      In early 1989, seven weeks after his father moved into the White House, Jeb Bush took a trip to Nigeria.

      Nearly 100,000 Nigerians turned out to see him over four days as he accompanied the executives of a Florida company called Moving Water Industries, which had just retained Bush to market the firm’s pumps. Escorted by the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Bush met with the nation’s political and religious leaders as part of an MWI effort to land a deal that would be worth $80 million.

    • STUDY: How The Media Is Covering Presidential Candidates’ Climate Science Denial

      43 Percent Of Newspaper Coverage Failed To Note That Candidates’ Climate Statements Conflict With Scientific Consensus. From March 23 — when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) became the first candidate to announce his presidential bid — to June 22 of this year, newspapers and wire services surveyed by Media Matters published 54 news stories (in print and online) that included a presidential candidate denying either that climate change is occurring or that human activity is largely responsible for it. But the newspapers and wires failed to indicate that the candidate’s position conflicts with the scientific consensus in 23 of those stories, or 43 percent of the coverage.

  • Censorship

    • Banned Books Week Celebrates Young Adult Books in 2015

      Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read by encouraging read-outs, displays, and community activities that raise awareness of the ongoing threat of censorship. Last year, tens of thousands of people participated in Banned Books Week online. More than 500 videos were posted in a virtual read-out, and thousands participated in hundreds of events in bookstores, libraries, and schools and universities across the country.

  • Privacy

    • If You Can’t Beat ’Em: France, Up In Arms Over NSA Spying, Passes New Surveillance Law

      Yet also today, the lower house of France’s legislature, the National Assembly, passed a sweeping surveillance law. The law provides a new framework for the country’s intelligence agencies to expand their surveillance activities. Opponents of the law were quick to mock the government for vigorously protesting being surveilled by one of the country’s closest allies while passing a law that gives its own intelligence services vast powers with what its opponents regard as little oversight. But for those who support the new law, the new revelations of NSA spying showed the urgent need to update the tools available to France’s spies.

    • Surveillance Court Rules That N.S.A. Can Resume Bulk Data Collection

      The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled late Monday that the National Security Agency may temporarily resume its once-secret program that systematically collects records of Americans’ domestic phone calls in bulk.

    • Secret US court allows resumption of bulk phone metadata spying

      A secret US tribunal ruled late Monday that the National Security Agency is free to continue its bulk telephone metadata surveillance program—the same spying that Congress voted to terminate weeks ago.

      Congress disavowed the program NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed when passing the USA Freedom Act, which President Barack Obama signed June 2. The act, however, allowed for the program to be extended for six months to allow “for an orderly transition” to a less-invasive telephone metadata spying program.

    • Cloudflare Reveals Pirate Site Locations in an Instant

      According to an announcement from the site, Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén recently approached Cloudflare in an effort to uncover Sparvar’s email address and the true location of its servers. The discussions between Rights Alliance and Cloudflare were seen by Sparvar, which set alarm bells ringing.

    • Snoopers’ Charter: Lobby your MP in Parliament

      The Government’s planning to publish a draft of a new law that’s likely to extend the surveillance powers of the police and GCHQ in early autumn.

  • Civil Rights

    • Fox News vs. Fox News Latino: NBC Dumps Trump Edition

      Fox News Latino’s coverage of NBC’s decision to sever ties with Donald Trump differed dramatically from Fox News’ rush to defend the presidential candidate’s incendiary remarks about Mexican immigrants. While Fox hosts praised Trump’s stance and reticence to apologize, Fox News Latino characterized NBC’s move as a victory for Latino media advocacy leaders.

      NBCUniversal announced Monday that it would sever ties with Trump after he characterized Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists,” explaining in a statement: “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values. Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”

    • O’Reilly Gives Donald Trump A Platform To Continue Calling Latin American Immigrants Rapists And Criminals
    • Judge Orders Lying, Cheating Government To Return $167,000 To The Man They Stole It From

      A federal judge has just ordered the government to return $167,000 it took from a man passing through Nevada on his way to visit his girlfriend in California. The officers really wanted that money, too. They used two consecutive stops to jerry-rig some probable cause… even though at that point they thought they were only dealing with $2000. From the original stop forward, the entire situation was deplorable, indisputably showing that everyone involved was more interested in taking (and keeping) a bunch of cash than enforcing laws or pursuing justice.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Cisco to buy cybersecurity firm OpenDNS in $635m deal

      Announced on Tuesday, the tech giant said the move will accelerate the development of the Cisco Cloud Delivered Security Portfolio, and OpenDNS will prove a boost to advanced threat protection services for Cisco clients.

    • EU plans to destroy net neutrality by allowing Internet fast lanes

      A two-tier Internet will be created in Europe as the result of a late-night “compromise” between the European Commission, European Parliament and the EU Council. The so-called “trilogue” meeting to reconcile the different positions of the three main EU institutions saw telecom companies gaining the right to offer “specialised services” on the Internet. These premium services will create a fast lane on the Internet and thus destroy net neutrality, which requires that equivalent traffic is treated in the same way.

    • Net Neutrality: Trialogue betrayed European Parliament’s vote

      After months of negotiations behind closed doors between the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the European Parliament (trialogue), the very positive text on Net Neutrality adopted by the European Parliament in April 2014 has become more ambiguous and weaker. Net Neutrality deserves more guarantees and La Quadrature du Net is regretting a third-rate agreement.

    • Court sets schedule for net neutrality case

      A federal court has set a schedule for the legal case over the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial net neutrality rules.

      The telecom companies, trade groups and individuals suing the FCC must submit briefs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by July 30. Their supporters have until August 6 to submit their own filings.

    • Net Neutrality: Europe Slips Into Reverse

      Following a mammoth negotiating session that ended in the early hours of this morning, the European Union (EU) has released their long awaited rules on Net Neutrality.

      The EU Commissioner’s tweet and an accompanying press release proclaimed the rules as strong protection for net neutrality, but we’re not so sure. In fact, our initial response is one of disappointment. As others have pointed out, the proposals are unclear. At best they will lead to disputes and confusion, and at worst they could see the creation of a two-tier Internet. If enacted, these rules would place European companies and citizens at a disadvantage when compared to countries such as Chile and the USA.

    • The EU Could Kill Net Neutrality With a Loophole

      It seems the European Union has learned little from the hard-won fight in the United States to preserve net neutrality. Today, the European Commission announced an agreement between the European Parliament and EU Council that—on the surface—claims to promise to protect net neutrality, while simultaneously allowing for exceptions that would threaten its very existence.

    • Data roaming charges to be phased out within EU by 2017

      Data roaming charges associated with using your mobile phone while travelling abroad within the 28 member countries of the European Union will be a thing of the past as soon as June 2017. After that, consumers will pay the same price for calls, text messages and internet surfing throughout the EU.

      [...]

      The commission said it would also reserve the right to control traffic if it was in the public interest, for example, to combat child pornography or a terrorist attack.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Munich Press, Münchner Merkur, Slams the Munich-based EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Münchner Merkur

Summary: Pressure on Benoît Battistelli to leave (or be fired) grows as the cronies whom he filled his office with have become a huge public embarrassment to the decades-old European Patent Office

According to the SUEPO Web site, political pressure grows following pressure from the media. Pierre Yves Le Borgn’ takes his action against the EPO‘s management further. “In his blog [in French],” writes SUEPO, “Pierre Yves Le Borgn’ announces his intention to subject the deficient governance of the EPO to a review by the Venice Commission (The European Commission for Democracy through Law) which could make suitable recommendations to find a solution.”

Things are heating up right now and there are more press articles about it [PDF], complete with an opportunity for rebuttal from the EPO’s management. The Münchner Merkur published the following piece on the 26th of June, 2015. Here is the English translation of it:

Münchner Merkur, Nr. 144, Friday 26 June 2015

European Patent Office

“His Domination has got to Stop”

The fight goes into the next round: The staff at the European Patent Office are demanding that Office President Benoît Battistelli be forced to quit. He can’t see how badly he’s performing.

BY THOMAS MAGENHEIM-HÖRMANN

Munich – They’re demonstrating again. For one and a half years, it’s been the same, every month. The regularity of the protests by the staff at the European Patent Office brings back memories of the Leipzig Monday demonstrations in the days of East Germany, and, like them, this is a matter of basic rights. Large sections of the 7000 employees accuse their most senior executive, Office President Benoît Battistelli, of continuing abuse of power and of using East German methods – accusations he strenuously denies.

When it comes to legal matters, the European Patent Office paints a complex picture. The Office is supported by 38 European states, not all of which belong to the EU. This means that the Office is not an EU authority. And as an inter-state organization, it is also not subject to the law of its host country, Germany, even though German citizens count for a quarter of the personnel.

The placards being waived by the several hundred demonstrators in front of the Office headquarters in Munich speak for themselves. Security cameras zoom in on them. “We’re being watched”, is how the first speaker accounts for the demonstration. It needs to be made clear to the management that spying on social partners is not the way to restoring social peace and tranquility, says the Patent Office staff union, SUEPO. That requires some explanation.

For weeks, a publicly accessible computer in the Office has been hacked, and monitored with a camera. The Office itself makes no comment, but several sources, among them the Federal Ministry of Justice, have confirmed this. The aim is said to be to spy on the staff, whom the managers at the Patent Office accuse of defamation. The possibility is that patent attorneys and Administrative Council members may also have got caught in the net of the Office’s internal sweep, prompting Bavaria’s Data Protection Executive Thomas Petri to call for an external data protection officer to be assigned to the Office.

All this is now high on the agenda of the Administrative Council, who are convening at the time of the demonstration. The Council is the controlling body of the Office, made up of representatives from 38 contracting states. The Federal Ministry of Justice is there on behalf of Germany, and they have made it very clear that the issue of internal data protection at the Patent Office is high on the political agenda too.

The snooping is not an isolated incident. Among other things, Battistelli has banned a demonstration and claimed the right to determine the nature and length of labour disputes. A Dutch court has ruled that the Office is in breach of employment legislation as well as basic rights. The President is not bothering to contest the issue. He is in the process of reforming the institution, and all he is doing in the process is carrying out the instructions of the management.

But some of his reforms, and particularly the methods used, are causing unease. According to SUEPO, the Office has engaged the outside investigation company Control Risks to spy on members of the staff representation body. A dozen or so union members are said to be the focus of attention for the outside investigators. The Dutch newspaper “Volkskrant” has just recently disclosed that the Office has also arranged for staff to be scrutinised by a detective agency. This has left its mark on the workforce. Even the personnel who are demonstrating dare not talk to journalists. “There are people from the Office here, and I don’t want to be seen with you”, said one, and turned away. Another simply tapped a button he was wearing: “BB is watching you”. The Office itself is stonewalling. Disciplinary matters are strictly confidential, and that means strictly no comment as to whether and how monitoring is currently being carried out. Insiders have reason to believe that a new guideline regarding video surveillance is in the making.

Staff representatives maintain that Battistelli’s talk of open dialogue with the staff is pure window dressing. Word has it that he is no longer able to control the chaos he has created, let alone restore some kind of order. “His domination has got to stop”, demands one SUEPO speaker on the demonstration, and wins loud applause.

Battistelli has been at the top of the Office since 2010, and has been elected to remain until 2018. Up to now, the Administrative Council has shown no inclination to see him go. SUEPO has announced that it will be calling demonstrations until the Patent Office is “back on track”. Something has gone off the rails.

Staff of the European Patent Office demonstrate regularly in front of the headquarters in Munich

Things are getting worse for Benoît Battistelli, not better. The longer this goes on for, the bigger and broader the scandals become. Battistelli is in a downward spiral; the question is, will he take the EPO down with him or can the EPO repel and expel him and his cronies (whom he added to protect himself)? The latter would of course be preferable. Britain has had similar issues; tackling them is imperative.

The Shameless Campaign to Paint/Portray Free Software as Inherently Insecure, Using Brands, Logos, and Excessive, Selective Press Coverage

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Security at 5:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bugs
Image courtesy of Red Hat, demonstrating lack of correlation between severity and logos/brands

Summary: Some more FUD from firms such as Sonatype, which hope to make money by making people scared of Free/libre software

The corporate media is in the business of selling (for corporations), not informing. Advertising is the business model, as well as media ‘partnerships’ (euphemism for PR). Security firms too are in the business of selling, not informing. Misinformation often helps improve sales. We have already ranted quite a lot about media misdirection, designed to sell products or malign the competitors of those who try to sell unnecessary products. We must assume that this is happening because it has always been happening; it’s just that it got a lot more frequent now that Free/libre is more widely used.

The other day IDG published some promotion of Veracode. To quote one paragraph: “The scale of the problem is significant. Cryptographic issues are the second most common type of flaws affecting applications across all industries, according to a report this week by application security firm Veracode.”

This is not an independent security researcher; it is the Black Duck-connected Veracode (Black Duck came from Microsoft and VeraCode’s co-founder recently joined Black Duck), which overlooks security issues with proprietary software. Veracode is not an objective observer; it is trying to sell something. Sonatype too, a nasty company which we wrote about before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], rears its ugly head in the media, in an article provocatively titled “Open-Source Code Can Be More Dangerous Than Useful”.

So Sonatype has launched yet another FUD attack on Free software, using myths and rhetoric, capitalising on gullible ‘journalists’ who would print just about anything, along with clueless pasting of bugs with logos (for extra fear), no discussion about severe bugs in proprietary software, and many other issues. This article is relaying marketing from Sonatype and dramatises it even further. “It gets worse,” says the writer, “according to Sonatype: Many of the software companies that have built insecurities right into their products wouldn’t be able to tell which of their applications are affected by a known component flaw because of poor inventory practices.”

Well, proprietary software deliberately adds flaws to act as secret back doors. How about that in the discussion? The article totally omits that. The article then adds some talking points from the FOSS-hostile Symantec, another company which tries to sell its proprietary software based on perceptions of insecurity.

Thankfully, there are a couple of comments there (below the article) that highlight the issues with the article; both are titled “Not only open source…”

As Free/libre software becomes more mainstream we should expect more parasites like Sonatype to look out for fools who are willing to do their marketing, monetising trash-talk.

National Insecurity and Blackmail, Courtesy of Microsoft

Posted in America, Europe, Microsoft at 5:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Big Ben Brother

Big Ben

Summary: British members of parliament (MPs) outsourced their communication to the number one PRISM company and they are paying the price for it; The US Navy’s systems continue to be unbelievably insecure (Windows XP), despite access to the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal

ONLY months after Microsoft blackmailed British MPs [1, 2, 3] we learn that “Microsoft disrupted British MPs’ parliamentary email system”. According to Linux Veda, “a third of MPs in the UK lost access to their email, hosted by Microsoft. The downtime occurred between Monday and Wednesday last week.” Why on Earth has our government put sensitive mails about the public and from the public in Microsoft’s hands? Are we giving up our digital sovereignty altogether? This is an espionage heaven as Microsoft works very closely with espionage agencies that even blackmail politicians (just like Microsoft does). Some folks have pointed this out to us as there is more coverage of this right now in the British press. Will they finally dump Microsoft and securely self-host their E-mail using Free/libre software, as any technically-proficient person would? Who decides on IT for Parliament anyway? Microsoft lobbyists? Moles? Bribed staff? We previously named such people who were deep in Microsoft’s pocket. These decisions are usually political rather than technical.

“These decisions are usually political rather than technical.”In the US, the nuclear arsenal and those who can physically access it are still using Microsoft's Swiss cheese OS, Windows XP. This shocked a lot of people and hacked.com wrote: “Windows XP was notoriously insecure even when it was in normal usage, but now that it’s ancient, the details on how to hack into an XP network are easy to get. Worse, the Navy insists on keeping this system even as this is public knowledge. It would take time and money, but an upgrade to either a newer version of Windows or to some Linux or other open-source option would make things vastly more secure for the sections of the Navy that are subjected to this policy.

“Now, there will always be those who argue that it’s mostly the behavior of users that influences the security of a given network. This could be true, but there are exploits on XP systems which just aren’t possible on newer systems, or on Linux.”

Anything other than Free/libre software should be assumed not secure. It cannot be proven otherwise.

Microsoft Keeps Shrinking

Posted in Microsoft at 4:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But the corporate media won’t tell you that

Water bottles

Summary: As the era of shrink-wrapped software comes to an end so does Microsoft, whose effort to become a ‘cloud’ company with online operations has been miserable at best

Microsoft “slims down money-losing online operations,” says a Bill Gates-funded paper. That is a gross understatement. There are massive layoffs inside the company and people whom I know from the inside are being shuffled around this summer. Microsoft is not doing so well, so it uses corporate media to plant talking points and pretend that business operating at a loss are “self-sustaining”. Don’t believe any of that nonsense. Based on what I’ve heard from insiders, Microsoft is in a chaotic state. It merely distorts the media to pretend otherwise. Nadella may be more successful a mole than Ballmer (whom outsiders don’t trust) and being a mole, i.e. infiltrating those who are winning (e.g. Red Hat, Android), is Microsoft’s last chance. Look what it does to the Linux Foundation. How long before it can be labelled the Windows-Linux Foundation?

They ‘R’ Coming: More Microsoft Money for the Linux Foundation

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 4:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chamberlain

Summary: The problem with having Microsoft in a Linux Foundation initiative, the R Consortium

THE corrupting influence of money must never be downplayed. Over the past couple of years we have written about many examples where Microsoft injected its influence into the Linux Foundation, both in terms of staff and in terms of money. It had done so for much longer than a couple of years, sometimes through Novell, Nokia, and others. There are famous historical lessons about liaising with ruthless aggressors that want you killed, but the Linux Foundation is willing to ignore these lessons.

Another reason why the Linux Foundation cannot criticise Microsoft is money flow associated with this latest transaction (article promoted by the Linux Foundation’s own Web site). To quote: “The nonprofit Linux Foundation today announced a new initiative called the R Consortium, a new group to unite the users of the open-source R programming language, which is widely used among data scientists and statisticians.

“Microsoft, Oracle, HP, Tibco, Rstudio, and Alteryx, among others, are all sponsoring the new industry consortium. The R Foundation, a separate nonprofit dedicated to maintaining R, is a founding organization for the new consortium, which will in turn provide support to the R Foundation.”

IDG has this new R primer, composed a short while ago by a Microsoft booster. Microsoft sought to openwash itself last year by essentially buying an R company. It is beginning to look more like “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” — a tactic which Microsoft is still very much into.

Speculations About the EPO’s Possible Role in DDOS Attacks

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Readers’ views on who might be behind the attacks on this site amid confirmation that it’s on the ‘targets’ list of the EPO

YESTERDAY we mentioned EPO spying on this site and the day before that we wrote about DDOS attacks against this site. We are still eager to get to the bottom of who’s behind the very latest attacks (different from previous attacks) and some people wrote to us with additional information.

“You should perhaps take your case with US authorities,” one person said, “i.e. the FBI, as the AWS server is located in the US, according to ping timings and traceroute performed [...] The EPO uses AWS on Amazon’s servers in Ireland to host their Open Patent Services, so they would have the technical knowledge to write a stupid stunt like that.

“But it would be amazingly daft to launch an attack from an account clearly connected to the EPO. I would imagine some shady operation running on stolen or prepaid credit cards, so you might not get very far anyway. The code needn’t be very sophisticated, and wouldn’t cost much to run.

“The FBI has acted in such cases in the past: http://www.securityfocus.com/news/9411

“but their own reputation isn’t quite sterling: http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/05/ddos-for-hire-service-works-with-blessing-of-fbi-operator-says/

Others have pointed out that, despite the patterns of attacks showing no signs of it, scrapers of the EPO or the external spies it hired could play a role. “Concerning the monitoring of IRC logs,” said one person, I “have reason to inspect that “bots” have been employed for monitoring the IRC channels which might go some way to explaining those DDOS attacks that you reported some time ago.”

The problem is, it wasn’t IRC pages that were being hammered. I “don’t have any detailed technical information about this,” the person continues, “or who exactly was involved (i.e. whether it was EPO internal or some outside “agents”). [...] just passing on what I have heard so that you are aware that you are somehow “under observation” (or at least your IRC logs are)” (we have strong evidence of that, but it is definitely not the cause of the server stress).

We are going to continue pressuring Amazon for the identity of the attacker (Amazon is still stonewalling) and maybe report abuse to the EPO’s network administrators some time quite soon.

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