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11.28.14

Mozilla Will Relay Firefox User Input (Even Keystrokes) to Microsoft and the NSA Through Yahoo in the US

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft, Search at 7:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The fall of the Gecko (Mozilla)

Gecko

Summary: Mozilla is letting Microsoft manage users’ data in Firefox, including keystrokes in the address bar

TECHRIGHTS has published plenty of pro-Mozilla and pro-Firefox articles over the years. Speaking for myself, I have posted literally thousands of pro-Firefox links over the past decade as I viewed Firefox as the software that rescued the Web from Microsoft’s monopoly and iron grip. It was Firefox that had Web developers cease their Internet Explorer-only mentality (or dogma). It is with deep regrets that I have to revoke my support for Firefox, not just because of its treatment of Eich, the company’s pro-DRM apologists, the ads, and now the privacy compromises. This post is an accumulation of a fortnight of sad news about Mozilla. The saddest thing is that Mozilla does not view this as sad news, or at least doesn’t want the public to view it that way.

Let us agree that the relationship between surveillance and ads is a close one, but one must not be treated as interchangeable with the other. This post is not a rant about ads, which to be realistic is truly a growing business model, especially on the Web. That alone is not the problem. This post is also not provocation or trolling but the expression of genuine concern for a project and a company I have loved and wish to still love (if they rectify their act, despite the seemingly irrevocable nature of some recent moves).

The Ads

Ads are not the main problem with Mozilla, even though it sure helps discredit Free software projects like Fedora, so Fedora is planning to dump Firefox (except if one installs it from the repositories). Free software does not go well with ads (Linux Mint received flak for a controversial approach to such a business model), so it is not too shocking that Fedorans are unhappy with the move. This serves to show that Mozilla’s appeal to advertisers is in fact backfiring. They’re losing market share that way. As Internet News put it, “Fedora Linux [is] Set to Abandon Firefox over Advertising Issue”. Not everyone has a problem with ads, especially when these can be blocked. As one pro-GNU/Linux and BSD site put it: “That Sponsored Tiles program from Mozilla, which I first wrote about in Mozilla to sell ads in Firefox browser via the Directory Tiles program, has gone live.”

One might have to download a cutting-edge build to see it. Again, it’s not the ads that we’re worried about.

The NSA

Putting aside the fact that spies use ads for surveillance (a good example might be something along the lines of Angry Birds), the NSA sure works very closely with Microsoft. It’s a strong relationship that goes back to the 1990s. A lot of people, perhaps influenced by Microsoft’s massive (multi-million) anti-Google PR campaign, look the other way and accuse only Google of privacy violations in search, E-mail etc. There is news right now that says Google allows privacy for a fee (or at least removal of privacy-infringing ads). It’s a substitute for the ads business model. To quote the Romania-based SoftPedia: “Google is always looking to diversify its online advertising policy and you might think that there is little left to do in this regard. It appears that Google has found yet another way to monetize ads, both for itself and for the website, but this time the power rests in the users’ hands.”

That is actually a good thing, no matter how Microsoft’s anti-Google PR tries to spin it.

Then comes the news about Mozilla breaking up with Google despite the fact that “Mozilla gets more than 90 percent of its revenues from Google” (which was a good thing, as it helped fund Free software).

One longtime Firefox observer wrote that “Firefox maker remains ‘utterly confident’ as revenue growth sputters”. What are they so confident about? Firefox has been Google-reliant for quite some time; it’s no secret. To remove that reliance one needs to find hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue (or otherwise shrink considerably). What other than selling out to the “devil we don’t know” (or the devil we do know in the case of Microsoft) can possibly achieve that? Thunderbird already sold its users out in that horrible way by linking to Microsoft (“Bing”) just before Mozilla abandoned Thunderbird development. Firefox is now going down a similar route, putting aside attempts to raise donations (now in Bitcoin form, too). According to this article, Mozilla was really loaded with money up until now. A reader of ours asked us: “What is the money spent on? Not Thunderbird or Firefox, obviously.”

Marketing, or perhaps even face-saving projects, used up much of the budget, not important projects (with PGP support) such as Thunderbird. As Mozilla had hundreds of millions of dollars coming in, the old excuses about not maintaining Thunderbird because people use GMail (PRISM) are utter nonsense. Yes, when Mozilla stopped Thunderbird development (with easy-to-use PGP support through Enigmail) it said people were moving to to hosted mail (PRISM/NSA), naming GMail by name. Guess who bankrolled Mozilla at the time…

Either way, the problem with the move away from Google is that Mozilla now actively helps a sworn enemy of FOSS and GNU/Linux (ignore the PR nonsense about Microsoft “loving” Linux and other such self-serving lies that we debunked last month and earlier this month). In addition there’s the privacy factor, but it’s not the main point. “Why Mozilla is scared of Google” was one headline of interest and the respective article said: “For the last 10 years, Google has had that business almost entirely to itself. Every time you make a search through that bar, Google makes a little bit of money from ads and passes a piece of that money on to the browser through AdSense’s revenue sharing deal. That adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars for companies like Mozilla, but the money can produce some strange incentives. Google’s making a browser too, and it may not want to support Chrome’s competitors forever. Suddenly, the short-term money starts to look like a long-term liability.”

But Microsoft makes a Web browser too. There’s no point using “Chrome” as a reason for Mozilla to fear Google but not Microsoft, which makes the much worse and standards-hostile Internet Explorer that Windows imposes on PC buyers. Chrome is at least based on Free software (which Chormium is), whereas Internet Explorer is purely proprietary. Firefox can reuse code from Chrome.

According to this article, things are getting worse with the shift to Microsoft because Mozilla now lets Microsoft log keystrokes in the address bar (see the screenshot). How ridiculous is that (even if that behaviour can be disabled)? Very sad.

One pundit says that “despite losing Google as its cash cow, Mozilla isn’t dead yet”, noting: “Its Google advertising contract was coming to an end. With 90 percent of Mozilla’s income coming from Google, it was far from good news. With the contract ending in November, and no reason for Google to renew the deal with its Chrome Web browser success, things were looking dark as an overcast, moonless night for Mozilla.”

So what? Moving to Microsoft (through Yahoo) is not independence, it’s even worse than before. Mozilla cannot assert independence by becoming dependent on Microsoft and the NSA through Yahoo. Microsoft is not “Choice and Innovation” (as Mozilla tries to frame it), it’s espionage and blackmail (with patents). The company’s head said: “In evaluating our search partnerships, our primary consideration was to ensure our strategy aligned with our values of choice and independence”

Microsoft?

Choice?

Independence?

That’s a joke, right?

Yahoo is now just a front end of “Bing” (in the US, where the Mozilla deal was signed for), so we might as well just speak about Microsoft here, not Yahoo (the covert façade). If Mozilla continues to sell out its users, now by diverting users’ searches to Microsoft (via Yahoo) like Canonical tried several years ago, then we as users need to speak out. The boosters of the monopolist, people like Microsoft Peter, sure love this deal. It is good for Microsoft.

It’s Not About Yahoo, It’s Microsoft

Mozilla has clearly learned nothing about Ubuntu’s mistake with Yahoo — a mistake that was realised later and the plan undone. As Lirodon put it in our IRC channels, “Microsoft’s Yahoo-branded front-end of Bing is going to be Firefox’s new default search engine,” but we do not see enough people willing to chastise Mozilla over this. Microsoft only (by default) is not “multiple-search-partner” as LWN put it, and this should be rather clear. Putting aside the DRM, the ads and other controversies and scandals, this is quite serious and merely the latest step. It is just one among other misguided decisions that turned a once-awesome company into a one that compromises and even abandons principles, hopelessly thinking it would help it gain market share rather than the very opposite.

Sam Dean wrote about this deal and recalled that Mozilla “has historically gotten more than 90 percent of its revenues from Google, to the tune of $300 million recently, in exchange for search placement in the Firefox browser. That has completely changed, and now Mozilla has struck a similar five-year deal with Yahoo.”

5 years being stuck with Microsoft. And they probably cannot even revoke this deal. It’s similar to the 5-year (since 2006) Microsoft-Novell deal (also irrevocable, despite huge amounts of criticism). Some years ago Mozilla put some pressure on Google by flirting with the idea of a Microsoft deal. Can Google perhaps still save Mozilla from this horrible dependency? Press reports make that seem unlikely and few articles even point out that Yahoo is a relay for Microsoft (US searches done purely by Microsoft, meaning that Yahoo search is essentially just “Bing” in the US), after a corruptions parade and a corporate coup. Those who are implying that Google is in Yahoo because of the CEO (see the sneaky remarks about the CEO) must not have followed recent events closely enough. To quote one take on this:

It had been reported that Google and Mozilla were still negotiating on renewing their deal, but apparently that has failed (in the U.S) at least. No word (yet) on how much the Yahoo deal is worth to Mozilla, but it’s likely a good deal for Yahoo.

No, for Microsoft. Yahoo searches in the US are Microsoft’s business.

Christine Hall wrote:

There’s just one teeny-tiny little problem. For the last several years, Yahoo has been obtaining its search results from Bing, owned by Microsoft, with no indication this will change. I’m not exactly sure how the Microsoft/Yahoo deal works, but you can be sure that some money goes to Redmond each and every time a search is done via the web portal, something that many FOSS supporters might find unacceptable.

She is right. If only more people got this story right, perhaps there would be an uproar big enough and Mozilla would cancel the Microsoft (through Yahoo!) deal. Tell Mozilla what you think; get this mess undone before it’s too late and even incorporated into new stable releases.

Microsoft Found to Have Broken the Law in China (Tax Evasion), Just Like Practically Everywhere

Posted in Asia, Finance, Fraud, Microsoft at 5:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Things must be grim when China is upholding the law whereas the West refuses to

HK, China

Summary: China is reportedly taking action against Microsoft’s notorious habit of tax evasion and fining the company well over $100 million

NOW THAT Microsoft has been found to be evading tax (a crime, but not one that executives of large corporations often go to jail for) and fined for it in a nation as large as China (just like in India half a decade ago, as well as in other places) is the US going to follow suit? Last week we showed that the IRS was on this case, so Microsoft began bullying the IRS (the vanity of corporations that control their government).

“”Remember when Microsoft China offices were raided (just earlier this year on numerous occasions and its patent extortion plot was targeted by the Chinese authorities? Well, it sure seems like China enforcing the law against massive criminals like Microsoft, setting a good precedent that US and Europe should follow. To quote the new report: “Microsoft has reportedly been issued with a charge for £87 million in back-taxes following an investigation into alleged tax evasion by the Chinese authorities.”

For those who still associate Microsoft with something other than crime and corruption, the news report above can serve as a valuable wake-up call.

11.26.14

US Government Finally Probes Microsoft Over Financial Fraud, Microsoft Then Bullies the Government With a Lawsuit

Posted in Fraud, Microsoft at 3:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How DARE the government investigate us?

Law badge

Summary: Microsoft is finally being investigated — perhaps properly too — for its well-known tax abuses that have so far proved that Microsoft is “too big to jail”; Microsoft is suing the investigator, exerting its abusive power to discourage further investigation

MICROSOFT’S track record of dirty tricks [1, 2, 3, 4] is not the same as its track record of crime because one thing should have executives put in prison, whereas the other one cannot. Laws and ethics often intersect, but not always.

Microsoft with its above-the-law and criminal-minded attitude continues to surprise nobody. It turns out that it is suing the government of the US, like that banker in Spain who sued a judge for ruling against him for his crimes.

Microsoft’s tax abuses are well documented and many. Now that the IRS is finally going after a huge criminal, Microsoft, the monopolist responds with a defensive lawsuit — a strategy which often gets used to obscure the burden of guilt.

The Register deserves credit for this report that says: “The US Internal Revenue Service has been digging into Microsoft’s tax records from 2004 through 2009, and Redmond has filed a lawsuit against the government to find out why.” As Robert Pogson put it, Microsoft is “used to extorting money from users with audits [and] is now being probed by IRS for the way it shifts money around the globe to dodge taxes. It would be a big hit if IRS could prove the money was earned in Redmond, WA and they were due a decade of triple income-tax.”

It’s quite obvious why there is a probe to those of us who have watched and covered Microsoft for a number of years. We wrote dozens of articles on this very topic. IRS is merely doing its job in this case — not political witch-hunts but going after corporations with a bad track record. Microsoft was caught engaging in financial fraud, whereupon it bribed those who reported it to make the trouble go away, back in the 1990s. Nothing has changed since then, except perhaps the fact that many Microsoft executives entered the government (around the time of antitrust action).

11.23.14

Boycotting Micro Focus International

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE at 12:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” is taking over the patron of SUSE and all of Novell’s remains, except the patents (Microsoft has already grabbed those)

EIGHT YEARS AGO this site was born. This was motivated by the Microsoft-Novell deal. The deal heralded the beginning of Microsoft’s patent assault on GNU/Linux and Free software — an assault that continues unabated to this date.

Novell’s virtual assets are now being passed to a new entity called Micro Focus, which is Microsoft's "Partner of the Year". This has just been finalised [1] and there is press coverage about it [2,3], including some interviews [4,5,6,7], reviews [8,9], and analysis from the OSI’s President [10,11] amid SUSECon 2014 [12] that showcased and emitted some technical announcements [13-16] (not many, mostly one that’s actually significant).

SUSE has certainly received a lot of coverage over the past week (while my wife and I moved between homes), but one must remember that SUSE is not free from Microsoft; if anything, now it is more Microsoft-tied than before. People must continue to boycott SUSE, not just Novell (or what’s left of it). Attachmate did not give SUSE full independence, only symbolic. Just look who manages SUSE. It’s not independence. With Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” in charge of SUSE we can expect to see the same pro-Microsoft agenda and sickening relationships inside SUSE (OOXML, Hyper-V, Mono and so on). It’s about Microsoft controlling and profiting from GNU/Linux, hoping to put Red Hat or Debian at peril.

For those who are still in denial over Micro Focus’s role in SUSE, read [17]. Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” is now in charge.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Micro Focus International Completes Merger with the Attachmate Group
  2. Free as in Beer, SUSE News, and 7 Years Uptime

    The SUSE parent company Attachmate and Micro Focus merger is now complete and Sam Varghese has several interviews from SUSECon today.

  3. Wake Up Lil SUSE, Minty Goodness, and Caine Mutiny
  4. Lock-in a danger to open source, says SUSE official

    If there is one aspect in the open source world that can prove detrimental, it is companies that indulge in lock-in to the extent possible, according to Gerald Pfeifer, senior director of product management at SUSE.

    Speaking to iTWire on the sidelines of SUSECon 2014, the third annual conference of the Germany-based SUSE Linux, which is being held in Orlando, Florida this week, Pfeifer (lictured above) did not mention any companies by name, though he did make a passing reference to Oracle.

  5. Enterprise desktop has its own niche, says SUSE project head

    One aspect of GNU/Linux that does not figure much in discussion when commercial Linux is the topic, is the desktop. SUSE Linux is no exception.

  6. A brilliant mind: SUSE’s kernel guru speaks

    The man who in every sense sits at the nerve centre of SUSE Linux has no airs about him. At 38, Vojtěch Pavlík is disarmingly frank and often seems a bit embarrassed to talk about his achievements, which are many and varied.

    He is every bit a nerd, but can be candid, though precise. As director of SUSE Labs, it would be no exaggeration to call him the company’s kernel guru. Both recent innovations that have come from SUSE – patching a live kernel, technology called kGraft, and creating a means for booting openSUSE on machines locked down with secure boot, have been his babies.

  7. Chasing the Z/Linux market: A SUSECon attendee’s tale

    When Roger Williams wanted to increase the market for ShadowDisk/Z, a product made by the little Gainesville-based company he works for, he headed to meet the experts, those at SUSE Linux which has something like three-quarters of the market for all Z/Linux customers.

  8. OpenSUSE 13.2 review – Back in the game!

    Finally. After three and a half years of sucking, openSUSE is a top performance once again. This is an excellent all-around distribution, and it comes with some neat solutions both over and underneath the hood. You can’t deny its amazing looks, and with the 13.2 release, performance, functionality and stability are back.

    Now, openSUSE 13.2 has its problems. The screenshot thingie, subvolume handling, missing Samba printing option, plus that one inexplicable crash, which is probably the most serious item. And because of it, the final grade shall be lower. But all combined, the woes pale against the quality and general goodness radiating from this edition. Really, if you ignore the initial setup, and the one time freeze, there’s very little not to like about openSUSE 13.2. I’m pleased. And feeling somewhat fanboyish. But this is good.

    Anyhow, if you’re looking for a non-Ubuntu family release that can offer you a great blend and balance between looks, modernity, functionality, stability, and performance, then you have several worthy candidates to consider. CentOS is one of them, and now openSUSE has returned, mighty and strong, and sanity has been restored into the distro world, where for many years, there’s been an almost total dominance by Mint and Ubuntu, with everyone else lagging behind. OpenSUSE 13.2 is definitely worth testing and exploring. Final grade, something like 9/10, and this is with a whole 0.5 point taken off. So it’s good. Do it.

  9. Meeting the green lizard of openSUSE 13.2

    In the first week of November the openSUSE team launched the latest version of its operating system. The project’s release announcement highlights such new features as faster boot times, KDE 4.14, GNOME 3.14 and a technical preview of KDE’s Plasma 5.1 desktop. The new version of openSUSE has undergone some visual changes and presents us with new artwork and a more streamlined system installer. The distribution also offers updated versions of Linux containers and Docker. The project’s configuration panel, YaST, underwent a major re-write last year and should now be faster. The project claims better integration with systemd too. Prior to installing or upgrading to openSUSE 13.2 I recommend reading the project’s release notes where we can find a list of known problems and workarounds.

  10. Suse jumps into software-defined storage

    As its steady post-Novell recovery continues, Suse moves into enterprise software-defined storage

  11. Little Suse wakes up, Linux shakes up
  12. SUSECon 2014: Day One Highlights

    SUSECon 2014 kicked off in Orlando this week, with the company stressing an air of open communication and transparency with its partners befitting its commitment to the Linux open source platform.

  13. SUSE Linux Enterprise Live Patching Now Available

    “In addition to increasing service availability by updating critical kernel patches without rebooting, and reducing the need for planned downtime by patching frequently, SUSE Linux Enterprise Live Patching preserves security and stability by applying up-to-date patches,” said Matthias Eckermann, senior product manager for SUSE. “It’s a fully open source solution that features zero-interruption interaction with the system and a familiar deployment method. It’s ideal for mission-critical systems, in-memory databases, extended simulations or quick fixes in a large server farm.”

  14. Ceph-starter Suse to enter software-defined storage market
  15. SUSE Brings Live Patching and Ceph Storage to Its Enterprise Linux

    Enterprise Linux vendor SUSE today made a series of announcements at its annual SUSEcon event, providing users with new patching, storage and cloud capabilities.

  16. Philae Space Probe Landed on the Comet with the Help of SUSE

    The human race has sent a small probe called Philae to land on a comet and got it right the first time it tried. As expected, a Linux operating system has been involved in the success of the mission.

  17. SUSE’s new owner does not see much change ahead

    The new owner of SUSE Linux does not intend to move the company from Nuremberg or change its method of operation in any substantial way, the chief executive told iTWire on Tuesday.

    [...]

    The deal has been ratified and is expected to be sealed on Thursday, 20 November.

11.16.14

Microsoft is Going Into the Anti-Whistleblowing Business, Dodges Criticism Over 19-Year Bug Door in Windows

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Edward Snowden

Summary: With Aorato acquisition Microsoft helps protect the criminals (from whistleblowers) and with lies about .NET Microsoft distracts from a bug that has facilitated remote access into Windows (by those in the know) for nearly two decades

MICROSOFT IS A company of liars, centred around media manipulation. This is why not enough people know about the company’s sheer levels of malice, crimes, and disregard for people.

Microsoft keeps throwing money around for favourable publicity, so not enough criticism is published where it’s well overdue. Today we’ll tackle several stories that deserve more attention from an appropriate angle, not a promotional (marketing) angle.

A few days ago Microsoft decided to buy a military-connected (IDF/Israel) anti-whistleblowing ‘software’ company. What a lot of shallow coverage failed to mention was the real purpose of the software (not often marketed as such). To quote one report: ‘“Snowden reportedly used colleagues’ passwords to access sensitive docs,” he told me. “Even if the user activity seems legitimate, the same account would actually present suspicious or abnormal behavior behind the scenes which Aorato would detect.”’

Actually, to keep the facts in tact, the NSA leaks were made possible by GNU WGet on the leakers’ side (same as Bradley/Chelsea Manning) and that horrible Microsoft SharePoint on the leaked side (NSA). It means that Microsoft itself was the problem which it claims to be trying to solve. We mentioned the role of SharePoint several times before. The acquisition by Microsoft seems to be geared towards stopping whistleblowing and hence defending corruption (so that Microsoft, for instance, can defend the NSA). How ethical a move, eh? So much for a ‘champion’ of privacy as it purports to be.

Anyway, there is a 19-year bug door in Microsoft Windows (almost no version is exempted from remotely-invoked full capture), but the press hardly covers it. We must give some credit to the BBC for covering it (for a change) and "calling out Windows". Other British press covered other inherent issues in Windows (compromising Tor) [1] and it looks like Dan Goodin is finally covering some security problems in proprietary software [2] rather than always picking on FOSS, then hyping it up with ugly imagery and exaggeration.

A reader of ours suspects that the .NET announcement was designed to distract from horrible security-related news. The .NET announcement is nonsense because it’s false (we wrote two posts about the .NET PR nonsense) and it also predicts future events like Visual Studio going cross-platform although the latest version of Visual Studio (proprietary) already runs under GNU/Linux using Wine, i.e. the Windows build works under GNU/Linux as it’s fully compatible anyway, for those foolish enough to want it. This is not news and the same goes for Office and other well-known Microsoft software. Xamarin staff keeps trying hard to infect GNU/Linux with .NET (that’s what they do) and as this very stupid article about .NET shows, the .NET nonsense did indeed help bury the news about the bug door. This disgusting article even gives credit to Microsoft for having fixed massive 19-year-old bug (only after IBM had found it). When bash or openssl have a bug, then FOSS is all bad, apparently. When Microsoft has a bug door for 19 years, the media says well done to Microsoft (for fixing it after another company forced it to). One has to wonder if this flaw (voluntary or involuntary) is part of Microsoft’s collaboration with the NSA, which made Stuxnet and has made yet another piece of Windows malware together with Israel. Here is a new article from The Intercept:

The Digital Hunt for Duqu, a Dangerous and Cunning U.S.-Israeli Spy Virus

Boldizsár Bencsáth took a bite from his sandwich and stared at his computer screen. The software he was trying to install on his machine was taking forever to load, and he still had a dozen things to do before the Fall 2011 semester began at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, where he taught computer science. Despite the long to-do list, however, he was feeling happy and relaxed. It was the first day of September and was one of those perfect, late-summer afternoons when the warm air and clear skies made you forget that cold autumn weather was lurking around the corner.

Bencsáth, known to his friends as Boldi, was sitting at his desk in the university’s Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security, a.k.a. CrySyS Lab, when the telephone interrupted his lunch. It was Jóska Bartos, CEO of a company for which the lab sometimes did consulting work (“Jóska Bartos” is a pseudonym).

“Boldi, do you have time to do something for us?” Bartos asked.

“Is this related to what we talked about before?” Bencsáth said, referring to a previous discussion they’d had about testing new services the company planned to offer customers.

“No, something else,” Bartos said. “Can you come now? It’s important. But don’t tell anyone where you’re going.”

Bencsáth wolfed down the rest of his lunch and told his colleagues in the lab that he had a “red alert” and had to go. “Don’t ask,” he said as he ran out the door.

A while later, he was at Bartos’ office, where a triage team had been assembled to address the problem they wanted to discuss. “We think we’ve been hacked,” Bartos said.

They found a suspicious file on a developer’s machine that had been created late at night when no one was working. The file was encrypted and compressed so they had no idea what was inside, but they suspected it was data the attackers had copied from the machine and planned to retrieve later. A search of the company’s network found a few more machines that had been infected as well. The triage team felt confident they had contained the attack but wanted Bencsáth’s help determining how the intruders had broken in and what they were after. The company had all the right protections in place—firewalls, antivirus, intrusion-detection and -prevention systems—and still the attackers got in.

The ability to keep people’s rights away and keep the population down depends on passivity and conformity, including the use of Windows. Avoiding Microsoft Windows is imperative for those not wishing to be controlled remotely. As Microsoft’s collaborations with the NSA serve to show, mass surveillance on the whole world is practically contingent upon not just innovation but sabotage and social engineering with corporate buddies. Eradication of Microsoft software isn’t about competition only; it’s about justice.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Advanced persistent threats found in the TOR network

    There are suggestions that the malware code has been around for a while, and has predecessors, and F-Secure warned internet users, anonymous or otherwise, to tread carefully when they download.

    “However, it would seem that the OnionDuke family is much older, based on older compilation timestamps and on the fact that some of the embedded configuration data makes reference to an apparent version number of four, suggesting that at least three earlier versions of the family exist,” the firm added.

    “In any case, although much is still shrouded in mystery and speculation, one thing is certain: while using Tor may help you stay anonymous, it does at the same time paint a huge target on your back.

    “It’s never a good idea to download binaries via Tor (or anything else) without encryption.”

  2. For a year, gang operating rogue Tor node infected Windows executables

    Three weeks ago, a security researcher uncovered a Tor exit node that added malware to uncompressed Windows executables passing through it. Officials with the privacy service promptly shut down the Russia-based node, but according to new research, the group behind the node had likely been infecting files for more than a year by that time, causing careless users to install a backdoor that gave attackers full control of their systems.

Reaffirming Microsoft’s Long-Known Hostility Towards Net Neutrality, Microsoft Crashed Juniper

Posted in Microsoft at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Steve Ballmer is ranting against net neutrality and Juniper’s business is in trouble after a lot of executives from Microsoft took over most top positions there

Microsoft is once again shown publicly for what it really is; it can be easily seen as anti-net neutrality, thanks for the most part to its longtime CEO (who is now replaced for PR purposes). Microsoft’s record of hostility towards net neutrality must not to be forgotten as we covered it several times before and provided examples.

Well, speaking of networking, a reader tells us that the person who replaced the Microsoft veteran who had run Juniper for years has just resigned. “He joined from Barclays Plc,” told us this reader, “but I have yet to find out what kind of ‘technology’ he was involved with there.

“How much ongoing damage has been caused by the influx of softers like now-gone Kevin Johnson and how many people and their legacy are still there that he brought in? Softers would not be a good match for the core technologies the company brings in its money with” because it contributed to BSD.

“The incoming CEO, Rami Rahim,” adds the reader, “has been with Juniper 17 years, so that is promising since they use FOSS (OSS) in-house at least in the devices they sell. However, that is just an uniformed guess, who knows the internal politics. The CRN article (not linked to) blathers about being on-message and sales teams rather than technology and function.

“Then there’s this:

Juniper’s decline has been linked by some industry-watchers to the management changes that have taken place in recent years, including the influx of staff who previously worked at Microsoft, but Brooks – himself a former employee with the software {sic} giant

This one has a lot of links. One thing to remember is that these boxes are going to be tap points for surveillance.”

The same has been revealed to be the case last week when it comes to Cisco routers (used against anonymity). We shared links about that yesterday.

In addition, what would be the impact of having Juniper filled with executives from a net neutrality-hostile company?

The GOP’s Patent Reform Plan Not Effective Enough to Stop Massive Patent Trolls Like Microsoft/Nokia

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Patents at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GOP

Summary: The corporations-serving GOP says that it wants a patent reform, but another reminder is needed of the futility of the suggested changes

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, a GOP-leaning News Corp-owned paper, says that “Leading GOP Senator Says More Patent Reform on the Horizon”, but as we explained before, this is not an effective reform. Being on the GOP’s agenda, one can expect it to serve large corporations rather than public interests (which GOP is neither sympathetic nor apathetic towards because public interests often conflict with business/rich people’s interests). “The bill,” says the paper, “will likely add new responsibilities on plaintiffs filing patent-infringement suits. Among the possible additions: a provision requiring plaintiffs who lose their infringement lawsuits to pay the defendants’ litigation costs.”

This would be effective in preventing poor people or small businesses from suing, irrespective of their nature (e.g. trolls, startups, individuals). It hardly deters large corporations with a large budget; for them, legal costs are typically slush funds.

“It hardly deters large corporations with a large budget; for them, legal costs are typically slush funds.”This is of course better than no amendments to existing laws, but does it go far enough? It might not be enough to discourage big trolls like Nokia, which the paper above indicates is likely to use software patents for profit (article behind paywall). Nokia is already patent-trolling, with Microsoft’s help, by proxy, e.g. through MOSAID (now renamed “Conversant” because of its bad reputation). The European authorities have already been made aware of this and they warned Nokia.

Nokia seems to be following the footsteps of companies like Qualcomm, which got the attention of some pro-software patents the other day.

11.15.14

The Terrible Joke Which is Microsoft ‘Loving’ Linux: Nightmares With UEFI ‘Secure’ Boot (i.e. Windows Monopoly Imposed) Continue to Affect GNU/Linux Users

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A reminder of Microsoft’s sheer hostility towards GNU/Linux and long-reaching sabotage of GNU/Linux installations

THE OTHER DAY we saw Microsoft’s booster Gavin Clarke speaking about Microsoft’s attempt to enter primarily GNU/Linux-oriented datacentres such as Rackspace’s. To Microsoft, especially these days, the goal is not just to dominate operating systems, APIs and file formats but also to possess all files (in so-called ‘cloud’ storage) and servers (so-called ‘cloud’ hosting). It’s all about control, e.g. surveillance on databases, site visitors, individuals’ files, passwords, E-mails etc.

When speaking about Microsoft “loving” Linux (a lie that we debunked here before) we should bear in mind that Microsoft views GNU/Linux in Azure as just another object to spy on, extort, tax, and ultimately control. The strategy is one of devour or command-and-conquer. This Linux.com article from the other day made some noteworthy points: “When a journalist asked about the absence of Red Hat, during the Q&A session of the same event where Nadella declared Microsoft’s love for Linux, Microsoft executives didn’t have any specifics. Nadella stepped in and vaguely said, “We’d welcome Red Hat in our cloud.”

“We don’t know what is stopping Microsoft from offering Red Hat, because both companies are not ready to talk about it. John Terrill of Red Hat sent me the following response by email, “While we can imagine that a partnership, which respects each party’s business model and open source, could be possible for Red Hat technologies on Azure, we are not able to comment publicly on the topic. Red Hat does have a partnering arrangement of substance with Microsoft – certifying and supporting Red Hat Enterprise Linux running on Hyper-V, and Windows Server running on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.”

“It’s unclear who is unwilling to work with the other, even if it makes no sense for either companies.”

No person should trust Microsoft for a whole load of reasons. We already know that Microsoft really hates GNU/Linux and only does things for it where these things are inherently detrimental to GNU/Linux. Several weeks ago Curry’s essentially prevented me from even replacing Windows with GNU/Linux without voiding the warranty on the underlying hardware (like keyboard or screen). I never found out who was behind this ridiculous policy, which consistently applied to hundreds of large stores across the UK (stores called “PC World”). Although they have changed their policy nationwide following my rants (I checked in the stores to ensure it’s truly as they’ve claimed it to be) this basically shows just how GNU/Linux-hostile Microsoft forces retail giants to become. Not only would they void the warranty of those who install GNU/Linux but Intel, Microsoft and OEMs also work together to make it very hard to install GNU/Linux on PCs. Here is a new UEFI nightmare story from a British writer:

Because this is a UEFI Firmware system, the first step is to wrestle with with BIOS and UEFI configuration. Every OEM is different in this area, and sometimes even different models from the same OEM are different. The critical questions are:

How to UEFI boot from a USB stick

How to (optionally) disable UEFI Secure Boot

How to (optionally) enable Legacy Boot (MBR)

Will changes to the UEFI boot configuration be retained

I know from experience with previous Acer systems that there are two things you have to do in the BIOS to prepare for Linux installation. FIrst, you have to change the “F12 Boot Menu” option to ‘Enable’, so that that you can press F12 during startup and get to the Boot Select menu.

Second, if you want/need to change the UEFI boot settings, you will first have to set a “Supervisor Password” in the BIOS configuration. Once the password is set, you can disable Secure Boot and/or enable Legacy Boot as necessary.

[...]

After the installation process completed, and before I rebooted, I checked the UEFI boot configuration (efibootmgr -v). It was correct, with “opensuse-secureboot” defined and first in the boot sequence list. But then I rebooted and… it booted Windows. ARRRRGGGHHHH! NO! Acer doesn’t do this kind of garbage, HP/Compaq does! I have two or three other Acer laptops around here, and the boot configuration is perfectly stable on them!

I rebooted and used F12 to get Boot Select, then selected openSuSE from there, and it came up ok. Then I checked the boot configuration again. Sure enough, the boot order had been changed back to have Windows Boot Manager first. Swine…

I rebooted again, and this time went into BIOS setup (F2). On the ‘Boot’ page, there is a ‘Boot priority order’ list, and “Windows Boot Manager” was right at the top of that list. There was nothing about “openSuSE” in the list, but there was a strange new entry for “HDD: WDE WD5000LPVX-22VOTTO”, which is absolutely as clear as mud… I didn’t recall seeing that entry when I was in the Boot menu the first time. I moved that item to the top of the priority list, crossed my fingers and rebooted.

If Microsoft loves GNU/Linux as much as it claims, why does it continue trying to complicate installations of GNU/Linux? People must ask such questions. The sad thing is that some in the Free software community are right now being bamboozled by facts-free charm offensives.

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