Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft: Let's Talk About Heartbleed€® (Reported by Our 'Former' Security Chief) While the World Migrates From XP to GNU/Linux

Looking through the tube



Summary: Government the only likely entity to exploit Heartbleed€®, but Microsoft and its peripheral PR apparatus try to scare everyone away from GNU/Linux

A LOT of concerned people, including large businesses, are moving to GNU/Linux for improved security right now (I am aware of some businesses but cannot name them), bearing in mind that Windows XP is no longer secure even in Microsoft's eyes. Microsoft put back doors in Windows (for governments), so when even Microsoft claims something to be not secure, then it should be ever more alarming.



We are still seeing many articles about migration from Windows XP to GNU/Linux, not just in blogs of GNU/Linux advocates [1,2,3] but also in Microsoft-friendly news sites [4], widely-distributed publications like The Economist [5] (typically GNU/Linux-hostile or just ignoring GNU/Linux), GNU/Linux-oriented sites [6,7], and the Linux Foundation [8]. There are other general news sites [9-12] that cover this (suggesting GNU/Linux as a replacement for XP) and on the other hand there are those in the GNU/Linux world who are apathetic about it [13]. The common theme, however, is rather clear. People are being advised to explore GNU/Linux and jump off the treadmill of Windows 'upgrades'. Microsoft must be worried. There are many confirmatory indicators of this worry -- ones that we covered before.

We recently saw a lot of FUD over GNU/Linux security coming from Microsoft-linked sources, basically inciting/creating unnecessary panic by twisting facts and never mentioning Microsoft's security issues (some are there by design, like NSA back doors or even FBI entry points).

Someone who worked for the FBI (worse than the NSA by some criteria) and then Microsoft (the back doors partner of the NSA) then revealed Heartbleed€®, on the very same date that Windows XP is officially dead. What's the likelihood that this was a coincidence? Microsoft's 'former' security chief sure helped distract from stuff like the articles about moving to GNU/Linux for security. If it was a stunt, then it sure worked like a charm.

Heartbleed€® does not seem like the work of secret agencies [14], but it sure helps them a lot [15], undermining activism [16] and Free software [17], as well as security in Apple and Microsoft products (they use OpenSSL too and they still have no patches, unlike GNU/Linux distributions). Pay attention to how Microsoft boosters like Miguel de Icaza twist this to look like a problem only for GNU/Linux. Microsoft propagandist and partner Tony Bradley (he works with Microsoft) plants some FOSS-hostile articles to that effect [18] as well. Microsoft must be having a day field with its PR/propaganda agents. As we expected, Microsoft partners now spread articles full of FUD -- stuff which was published in a timely fashion by a Microsoft-linked firm, exactly upon Windows XP EOL. Watch some timely new revisionism (PR) from Microsoft Peter, using false claims (changing history) to push people to 'upgrade' from XP to Vista 8. This is not journalism; it's advertising from a Microsoft booster who infiltrated a news site. Many sites are still affected by Heartbleed€®, but reports from Microsoft-friendly journalists (who were behind some of the previous security smears against GNU/Linux) exaggerate the numbers. At my job, for example, no Web site was found to be affected by Heartbleed€® (one can check this online [19]). The main source of danger right now is government spies [20,21] (or government crackers). Those who understand the technical details [20] even guess that government actors may have played a role in putting the bug there [22]. The FSF responded by highlighting the fact that proprietary system have back doors by design [23] (the FSF says "Microsoft are even sharing bugs with others like the NSA without fixing them") and other GNU/Linux-oriented sites did cover the incident, but not with an excessive sense of panic [24-29], unlike Gates-funded papers [30].

To summarise, what we are dealing with here is an incident where the firm of Microsoft's 'former' security chief shares bugs with the whole world irresponsibly (many sites had not been secured by that time in which his firm decided to release details, exactly when XP hits EOL). And having checked customers' systems overnight, I found that nothing was affected by this OpenSSL bug. Irresponsible reporting from Microsoft-friendly journalists (with history) claims -- falsely -- that 2/3 of the Web is affected. Talk about appalling FUD. Wow!

One sure thing is, Chromebook sales are not going to be stopped by it, not even by Microsoft's attack ads (hypocritical FUD is now central to Microsoft's official strategy and there is no hiding it).

Related/contextual items from the news:


  1. Good News And Bad News Depending On Whether Or Not You Enslave People To Wintel


  2. OEMs Aren’t Going To Replace XP With GNU/Linux. Real People Have To Do That


  3. What To Do With XP PCs
    If you think you can’t do without XP, think again. I have not touched an XP machine or any other OS from M$ for years now because all my PCs run GNU/Linux. If you think you can’t do without some application that only runs on XP or any other OS from M$, think again. Many millions of users of GNU/Linux don’t have those problems that M$ causes: malware, spyware, re-re-reboots, and lock-in.


  4. Windows XP's Demise Will Help Linux Leapfrog Mac OS X 10.9
    Linux is frequently touted as one of the most successful open-source projects ever. Since its release in the 90s, the versatile OS has gradually become more popular with users. With a 1.49% market share, Linux is now rated the third-most popular PC operating system after Windows and Mac OS X operating systems.


  5. End of the road for Windows XP
    But to what? For those determined to stay in the Microsoft camp, forget Windows 8 or 8.1. Not only do they demand too much in the way of hardware, both have been been written off as a debacle as bad as the Windows Vista disaster. With their touch-based design, they require users to do things differently from the way they are familiar with. Microsoft is now hurrying out Windows 9 in a bid to pre-empt a mass migration to Linux or Macintosh.


  6. A Beginners Guide for XP Users to Switch to Linux
    Microsoft has ended its support for Windows XP and most of you might not even care but for some of you who do care and understand the complications involved in using a discontinued piece of software, you are in for a change. You can either install already outdated Windows 7, no one’s favourite Windows 8 or you can join the elite group of Linux users by installing on of the many available flavours of Linux.
  7. Windows XP and the Changing Calculus of Technology Choice
    One reason technology choices are so difficult is technology is always a work in progress; your one choice has lasting consequences since the technology rarely ever lives on its own, and most good technology is never done -- that is unless you’re Windows XP. As most of us know, Microsoft today is turning off support for Windows XP. That means that roughly 30 percent of all Windows users will cease to get security updates and other ongoing maintenance. Since hackers disproportionately target Windows products, this is a big deal.


  8. Replace the Retiring Windows XP with Linux


  9. Windows XP orphaned: 1/3 of computer users vulnerable
    RMS is the guru of computing freedom, and a great source. He started the "hack" movement as an outsider inside MIT during the Vietnam protesting era, and founded both the GNU software movement and the Free S/W Foundation. He seems (to me) to be highly-influenced by socialist ideals.
  10. Forget About Windows XP, Tranform Your Linux Mint in Windows 7
    In this case, Linux Mint 16 is the perfect candidate for a Windows 7 look-alike transformation and the Windows7 Pack (Cinnamon+ GTK3/2) theme works like a charm. You will have to move the files manually in the appropriate folders, but the themes should be easy to activate.
  11. Open Source Alternatives For Windows XP
    To simplify the downloading and installing, collections of these many software components, called “distributions“, are available ready for users to download and start using straight away.


  12. Windows XP Alternatives: Six Linux Distros to Replace Microsoft's Ageing OS
    On Tuesday, Microsoft finally end support for one of its most successful operating systems, the 13-year-old Windows XP. Owing to this, there will no longer be any official security updates and bug fixes from the company, meaning those who continue to use the OS will be left vulnerable to security threats.


  13. Why I don’t care about the end of Windows XP
    Frankly, I’ve never liked Windows XP. I found the interface to be an eyesore way back when it was first released and using it never improved the experience. I’m very glad to see that it’s going away finally, it’s demise has been been long overdue. I’m rather surprised that it has hung on this long, given that it was never all that anyway. It’s almost become like some sort of a disease you can’t quite get rid of, it just goes on and on and on.


  14. Heartbleed coder: bug in OpenSSL was an honest mistake
    The Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL wasn't placed there deliberately, according to the coder responsible for the mistake.


  15. The Real Threat From The Heartbleed Security Flaw Is The NSA
    “The best guess is that the only ones exploiting this bug are spy agencies, if anyone at all.”


  16. Why the Web Needs Perfect Forward Secrecy More Than Ever


  17. LibreOffice 4.2.3 arrives with Heartbleed fix


  18. Is open source to blame for the Heartbleed bug?


  19. Test Sites for Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability


  20. Wild at Heart: Were Intelligence Agencies Using Heartbleed in November 2013?


  21. heartbleed vs malloc.conf


  22. Heartbleed
    At this point, the probability is close to one that every target has had its private keys extracted by multiple intelligence agencies. The real question is whether or not someone deliberately inserted this bug into OpenSSL, and has had two years of unfettered access to everything. My guess is accident, but I have no proof.


  23. Free Software Foundation statement on Heartbleed vulnerability


  24. FOSS Community Hustles to Fix Gaping Heartbleed Flaw


  25. Fedora status on "Heartbleed"


  26. Fedora releases openssl security updates


  27. The Internet Goes Nuts with OpenSSL Bug Today, Linux Systems Were Fixed Yesterday
  28. How to find out if your server is affected from Openssl Heartbleed vulnerability (CVE-2014-0160) and how to fix that


  29. Heartbeat SSL Flaw Puts Linux Distros at Risk


  30. Heartbleed: Hundreds of thousands of servers at risk from catastrophic bug


  31. Google jumps on Windows XP's demise with Chromebook for business offer
    GOOGLE HAS BEEN QUICK to jump on the demise of Windows XP, and is looking to persuade businesses still running the operating system to buy Google Chromebooks instead.


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