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07.09.15

The Real Reason Microsoft Gives Money to OpenBSD is Not Security or Free Software But Proprietary Windows With Back Doors

Posted in BSD, Microsoft, Security at 12:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OpenSSH
Image from the OpenSSH project

Summary: Exploring the real motivations and the real implications of Microsoft giving money to the OpenBSD Foundation

MICROSOFT is in pain. The company sees its monopoly diminished due to software becoming a commodity and platforms such as BSD and GNU/Linux taking over everything, not just the back end. Microsoft can attempt to cope with this the way it typically copes with competition (including Android as of late): Embrace, Extend, Extinguish [1, 2, 3, 4].

The other day we wrote about yet another example of openwashing from Microsoft (assimilation strategy). Microsoft booster Darryl K. Taft is the latest to call a Windows-only .NET pile of Microsoft APIs “open source” and it leads us to Microsoft’s effort to characterise its involvement in OpenSSH [1, 2] as something benign or even good.

“So it’s about putting secure Free software on an insecure proprietary software platform (with back doors), in order to promote its use.”Based on an OpenBSD Foundation announcement [1] and some press coverage [2] that says Microsoft “handed a pile of money to the OpenBSD Foundation”, we are becoming a little concerned, knowing Microsoft’s history in such circumstances (creating unnecessary financial dependencies). This story is growing feet now, even in some Linux sites, so it is hard to ignore the risk of Microsoft using BSD as a front against GNU/Linux and copyleft, as it did in past years. Prudently one can say that if things are as indicated, this won’t be the first time Microsoft uses BSD as anti-Linux front.

As Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols put it (implicitly) a couple of hours ago, it’s about “help in porting OpenSSH to Windows.”

Windows is known for gaping holes (see the latest in [3]), i.e. the very opposite of OpenBSD. For these two entities to work together (NSA resistor and the NSA’s number one partner) is to have an incompatible relationship. Nothing on top of Windows can be secured and as we pointed out in our past articles about this, SSH keys will be put at risk. Microsoft’s ‘help’ to OpenBSD reminds us of Microsoft’s ‘help’ to Novell, where the goal was to use Novell to promote Windows, even inside Linux (e.g. Hyper-V).

It’s not a payment intended to help OpenSSH development. Microsoft looks to get its money’s worth (shareholders’ money). So it’s about putting secure Free software on an insecure proprietary software platform (with back doors), in order to promote and increase its use.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft Now OpenBSD Foundation Gold Contributor

    The OpenBSD Foundation is happy to announce that Microsoft has made a significant financial donation to the Foundation. This donation is in recognition of the role of the Foundation in supporting the OpenSSH project. This donation makes Microsoft the first Gold level contributor in the OpenBSD Foundation’s 2015 fundraising campaign.

  2. Microsoft rains cash on OpenBSD Foundation, becomes top 2015 donor

    Microsoft has handed a pile of money to the OpenBSD Foundation, becoming its first-ever Gold level contributor in the process.

  3. Bundestag Hack: Possible Backgrounds and Defense Methods

    Here at Univention, we are of course also concerned by the attack on the German parliament’s IT infrastructure, better known as the “Bundestag hack”. To recap: It appears that there were some bogus e-mails there including links to malware. A number of the Windows PCs in the Bundestag’s “Parlakom” network were or may still be infected with the malware, which is alleged to have searched for and copied certain confidential Word documents. According to a report in the Tagesspiegel (German) newspaper, this allowed the hackers to gain “administration rights for the infrastructure”. The attack was conducted as an “advanced persistent threat” or “APT attack” for short: in other words, a complex, multi-phase attack on the German parliament’s “Parlakom” IT network.

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