Friday Squid Blogging: Russian Sailors Video Colossal Squid

It tried to steal their catch.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Posted on July 31, 2015 at 4:17 PM • 179 Comments

Comments

Ford JacksonJuly 31, 2015 5:41 PM

On the US Government starting to be more informative about nation state based industrial and economic espionage, good article:

http://darkmatters.norsecorp.com/2015/0 ... -campaign/

FBI program.

&&

There is this article today:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/07/nsa-report-shows-china-hacked-600-us-targets-over-5-years/?comments=1&post=29487181

On this article and the leak, yes, it is clear now - if there was mistaking it before - that they are going for a 80s style Cold War escalation scenario, as opposed to merely just creating capabilities. They have talked about these offensive capabilities in the past, but not in context of nation state cyber espionage. Which is interesting escalation. I think China will call that bluff, but they could get caught in a misfire as nation based attribution is so inaccurate and easy to mislead.

The OPM hack was, however, a very, very significant escalation. To do nothing might be seen as showing significant weakness.

And considering the North Korean doxing of Sony... there are a lot of 'chips on the table'.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsJuly 31, 2015 7:12 PM

National Security Council, the Senate and House Armed Services, Intelligence and Finance Committees, DoD, and the less than cognitive DC think tanks seemed to have made a series of errors that represents a material risk to the country and several allies. Allow me summarize:


1.) The United States pursues, with massive taxpayer resources, the potential risk from a successful nuclear weapons program run by the government of Iran.
2.) The P5+1 members are confident with respect to the bounded set of arrangements respecting aspects of the Iranian civilian nuclear program.
3.) There is little known about the, NOT POTENTIAL, North Korean nuclear weapons program and progress respecting either capabilities or throw weights.
4.) Iranian reactors are limited in capability (heavy water or breeder).
5.) The North Korean nuclear weapons program consists of both a heavy and breeder reactor.
6.) It is obvious that Iran has yet to demonstrate their weaponized nuclear components, not even a fuze.
7.) North Korea has detonated several devices, to an unknown level of success, and appears well within reach of a MERV/ICBM payload based weapon system. Dong II is the throw at this point.
8.) There is little, functionally, that would be different from a risk factor if risks are weighted using only operational, not political, components.
9.) Israel is a more important partner than South Korea, we have not engaged South Korea to the degree that would be required to eliminate the appearance of political favoritism (or Foreign BFF's).

Where is a formalized threat analysis that measures the risk of a running nuclear weapon program and that of a weapon program that has yet to achieve critical mass.

Slime Mold with MustardJuly 31, 2015 7:16 PM

A Modest Proposal

Like all blog comments sections, this one tends to run all over the place. The only idea I can think of to help add some mild organization to it is to have commenters mark their comments in some manner similar to:
RE: One Of The Following
CYBSEC-Software CYBSEC - Firmware CYBSEC- Hardware CYBSEC - OS
EMSEC - CYB/COMMO/Audio/Optical/Drones/Other Spectra
COMSEC-PHN Mobile
COMSEC PHYS Surveillance/dead drops/brush passes/
OPSEC- PHYS Cameras-facial recognition/Plates/Drones
OPSEC- COINTEL - human terrain-psychology / background checks / internal surveillance

This obviously much less than perfect. Please phrase your response in the form of an insult.
Luv,
Slime

Pearls before slimeJuly 31, 2015 7:45 PM

Hey Slime, how should we mark stuff like this? How about USGOVPERVSFAPPINTOHOTTEENSELFIES?

Digested NGO input from the ICCPR follow-on report on the grave emergency of unlawful NSA surveillance from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Access and Amnesty International USA:

"(a) Despite recent reform attempts, the NSA still asserts authority to indiscriminately acquire and collect digital communications and data around the world.

"(b) Evidence exists suggesting that the NSA is relying on a legal loophole in PPD-28, which regulates the collection of data but does not place restrictions on the NSA’s acquisition of it, to conduct mass surveillance without violating existing domestic regulations. PPD-28 fails to adequately protect the right to privacy. There appears to be no legal restriction on the NSA’s ability to share communications and data collected under EO 12,333 with foreign governments and neither EO 12,333 nor PPD-28 provides any safeguards to prevent collected data from being used to commit or contribute to human rights abuses.

"(c) NSA surveillance activities continue to lack effective, independent and external oversight, either by Congress or the judiciary, and are, in practice, entirely self-regulated.

"(d) The five-year retention period is subject to significant expansions.

"(e) Persons affected by the NSA’s surveillance operations have little or no opportunity to challenge surveillance that affects them. For non-US persons located abroad, there is essentially no possibility of relief."

StukeJuly 31, 2015 10:19 PM

What drove this creature, that is normally a deep sea animal, to the surface in pursuit of food? If deep water temperatures rose just slightly, would that do it?

CuriousAugust 1, 2015 2:44 AM

Off topic I guess: (copyright related)
Good Morning To You Productions Corp. v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/happy-birthday-lawsuit-smoking-gun-811144

You might have heard by now that the Happy Birthday song is copyrighted:

"The fourth edition of The Everyday Song Book was published in 1922 and contains lyrics for “Happy Birthday To You” without any copyright notice, which predates Warner/Chappell’s 1935 copyright registration."
(http://law.pitt.edu/news/news-item/pitt-law-librarians-help-uncover-smoking-gun-evidence-historic-happy-birthday-song)

"Nelson’s attorneys immediately filed an ex parte motion to supplement the record in the pending summary judgment motions with the previously unknown evidence. As the motion explains, Warner Music Group claims that the blurry picture that led to the discovery of this song book had been “mistakenly” withheld during discovery."
(http://abovethelaw.com/2015/07/law-librarians-may-have-killed-worlds-biggest-copyright-troll/)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Birthday_to_You

mooAugust 1, 2015 3:50 AM

I watched a couple defcon presentations about "anti-forensic" techniques, and they were a bit underwhelming. But they got me thinking.

We've heard of malware that can hide in hard drive firmware, right? Why not modified firmware that wipes the drive if it thinks it has been removed from the "original" machine? I haven't seem anyone present that idea, but it seems like it would be pretty easy. Of course working out the details would take some effort, but a researcher with a few weeks of free time could do it. Use full-disk encryption software in your OS of choice, and make sure the augmented firmware knows where the volume header is stored. At startup, if the first sequence of commands it sees isn't the quirky sequence that your slightly-modified OS actually sends, then it nukes its own volume header and then invokes its own secure-wipe facility. So if investigators power up the machine, they get an FDE prompt disguised as a BIOS error message. Unless they had already observed the victim type in his password, they probably won't figure that out. And if they pull out the drive (as they often do) and connect it to a drive duplicator, its volume header becomes permanently unrecoverable as soon as they power it up. No image, no analysis, and even if they coerce the password out of the owner later it still won't do them any good. Write-protectors wouldn't prevent this, since they only prevent the computer from issuing write commands to the firmware.

After a while, they might catch on and start flashing firmware back to stock firmware before attempting to image the drive. At that point you'd need modified firmware that encrypted the disk (or at least certain key sectors) with a key, formed by combining some bytes sent by the host OS at startup with some other bytes stored only in the modified firmware. I suspect someone willing to hack their own firmware could prevent even forewarned adversaries from getting anything usable off the drive.

A Nonny BunnyAugust 1, 2015 4:33 AM

Intel and Micron have revealed a new non-volatile memory technology, about as fast as DRAM but 10 times denser.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/07/intel-and-micron-unveil-3d-xpoint-a-brand-new-memory-technology/

The fact it's non-volatile will probably make law enforcement quite happy; because if this technology replaces volatile memory, then when they confiscate computers and run into full disc encryption, they can just pull the password/keys from memory.

Truly SkepticalAugust 1, 2015 6:03 AM

@name.witheld.for.obvious.reasons

If you are concerned about nuclear disasters waiting to happen, then read this below from Wikileaks.

Due to the sloppy, sloppy military security practices inviting a catastrophe, it is more likely in the near-term that a terrorist sympathesier will get their ass on a Trident nuclear sub (or other Western nation's premier sub), bide their time on board the 3 month tour, and simply launch nuclear missles or cause other catastophic problems to the sub's functioning during that time.

Yes, apparently they do occasionally leave weapons launching keys lying around and enter critical codes whilst you look over their shoulder as a lowly ranking seaman.

So, the Western governments need to start looking much more closely at their own insecure arsenals first, as mechanical, safety, personnel and other problems invite a major reckoning.

9/11 would have nothing on a mushroom cloud or 10.

Remember these subs can have over a 100 missles when fully loaded, although I understand they are only usually at max capacity during periods of conflict(?)

https://wikileaks.org/trident-safety/

These are the words of UK Royal Navy "Trident" nuclear weapons submariner William McNeilly, aged 25.

Mr McNeilly, who has been in communications with WikiLeaks since the beginning of May, has decided he wants to go public about the detailed nuclear safety problems he says he has been "gathering for over a year".

"This is bigger than me, it’s bigger than all of us. We are so close to a nuclear disaster it is shocking, and yet everybody is accepting the risk to the public."

CuriousAugust 1, 2015 6:23 AM

Off topic, or, the internet of things: (NATO on "internet trolling" as hybrid warfare)

Never heard of 'Nato Stratcom' before myself. Presumably something legit.
http://www.stratcomcoe.org/lv/NewsandEvents/News/2015/7/30.aspx

I would think that GCHQ's JTRIG' have such things covered, so I think they are a little late.

On 16th July, the Centre presented the preliminary results of the study “Internet trolling as a hybrid warfare tool: the case of Latvia”. The study was commissioned by the NATO StratCom Centre of Excellence, and conducted by the Latvian Institute of International Affairs in cooperation with Riga Stradins University.

The study focuses on the identification of organised trolling in Internet media and measuring its influence on public discourse, using Latvia as a case study. By analysing trolling as a manipulative tool in the context of hybrid warfare, the study discovered several new angles, thus contributing to the discussion on vulnerabilities caused by the use of Internet and social network media."

CuriousAugust 1, 2015 6:54 AM

The thing below here seem to be about how a satellite in space used for the purpose of tracking things on the ground, can be exploited to offer the same feature to hackers.

"A satellite tracking technology can be easily hacked with the help of a $1,000 device made of off the shelf components, according to a security researcher who found a flaw in the technology." (From the article linked below)

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/this-1000-device-lets-hackers-hijack-satellite-communications

Clive RobinsonAugust 1, 2015 7:14 AM

@ moo,

It's an idea that I've mulled over before and I think @Nick P, has as well, however you've taken it further forward in practical areas.

However one trick you've missed. If you re-write the drive controlers, why not go a step further and change the way the track and sectors are recorded. OK you might loose drive space, but if someone else flashes the drive controler back to the manufactures original they won't be able to get at the data without one heck of a lot of extra effort. Likewise if they take the drive electronics off and go for the raw platter images.

Another trick I was thinking about was hidden volumes and "bad block triggers", if you modify the firmware you can use bad block access like a "port knocker" to switch from normal use to hidden volume use. Further if the "knock sequence" was wrong it could be used to "blow the drive" or do some other interesting function of which I've thought up quite a few.

The fact that your drive appears smaller than the number of platters in the drive is not immediatly suspicious. Like chip manufacture and overclocking, standardising manufacture for volume reduces costs and increases profit. Thus with high volume you build to top spec then to fill the cheaper sales ranges and maintain price point premium or "cherry on top proffit" you just mark the drive differently and flip a few bits in the controller firmware. Even if you only break even or lose a little, on the bottom of the range pricing, it's worth it because it takes sales from your competitors. Such are the realities / ethics of high volume production.

However differential pricing can get you into trouble if you don't take care as Euro Disney has just found out and now has the European Commision on their tail. Apparently they had identical pckages but sold at different rates into different countries. Apparently the Germans are scandalised to discover they are getting stuffew for a thousand Euros more than the English or some southern EU countries because of the perception of what the market will bare...

ThothAugust 1, 2015 7:19 AM

@moo
Those ideas you thought up are likely to exist already but not fully available to civilian users due to " National Security" issues that threatens the supremacy of local and global Govts.

There are self destructing and self encrypting hard drives in market but I have forgotten the brand. You can have a look at Curtiss Wright's secure storage hard drives for military application.

Most of the secure technologies are exclusive to military theaters and some weaker variants assigned to civilian Govt agencies (using legacy DES crypto because the police don't need AES :) ).

Data security on storage devices usually uses hardware secure chips to encrypt data at rest and in transit. This would make it difficult to swap hadd drives since without the specific chip's encryption key, the data is rendered useless and the destruction of the data simply lies in destroying the key and the encrypted data becomes unrecoverable.

Tamper resistant crypto chip have various ways if handling attempts to tamper the chip to grab the key inside the chip or to cause it to glitch and leak side channel data. In general, the best way to approach your idea of hardware data protection is to simply use a hardware crypto chip like a smartcard or a TPM module or even a dedicated HSM to handle data and tampering wtih the triggers security responses from the chip according to the level of assurance and security and features they market.

I have not gone into detailed discussion for this due to how deep the dicussion can go and it wouldn't fit the tiny cellphone screen if @Clive Robinson and many of our other users who browse via a cellphone.

Clive RobinsonAugust 1, 2015 7:21 AM

@ A Nonny Bunny,

Look up stacked FeRAM, it's like a cross between old magnetic core memory and bubble memory. It's charecteristics are broadly similr to those claimed in the ARS article.

ThothAugust 1, 2015 7:22 AM

@moo, @Clive Robinson
Oh wow.. @Clive Robinson beat me to posting the reply. He must have really quick and nimble fingers on his tiny cellphone touchscreen keyboard.

Anatoly NechaevAugust 1, 2015 8:42 AM

Judging by the watermark in top right corner, this video was filmed by FGUP "VNIRO" (Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, Всероссийский научно-исследовательский институт рыбного хозяйства и океанографии (ВНИРО)).
http://www.vniro.ru/

Also as the camera pans onto the deck the man behind says "I told you there will be discoveries here".

I found a two year old article in Russian, an interview with the scientists, they say this video is from 2008, when they were on board of South Korean vessel as a international monitors from Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. They were monitoring fishery of Dissostichus.

This particular long-line came from 1.5 kilometers deep.

Read the article, it's quite interesting. It also describes quid's size and ability (or property) to change color.

ZackAugust 1, 2015 9:26 AM

... GCHQ, Latvia NATO, internet trolling...

It is hard to take an agency seriously that takes internet trolling seriously. Much higher level actions are much more powerful. Psychologically, as physically, to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

It is attempting to stir the sea with a stirrer designed for a tea cup. If you wish to stir the sea, you use a stirrer designed for the size of the sea, not the size of a tea cup.

...anti-forensics for self-defense...

There is the long game, and there is the short game. There is patience and planning and careful deliberation.

And then, there is the rush job.

A good operation against an valued target means months and years of visual surveillance.

They are not a hard to catch dot on a map seen from far away. They are up close and personal, surrounded, and for years.

The snatch and grab scenario is the most seen. Because it is very rarely seen to have the resources to do otherwise.

Z.

winterAugust 1, 2015 9:50 AM

@Clive
"If you re-write the drive controlers, why not go a step further and change the way the track and sectors are recorded."

I remember Forth:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forth_(programming_language)

Just as a amusing side. Forth was designed to use raw storage and run in the smallest of processors. Wouldn't it be a "cool" proof of principle if it would be possible to run Forth inside the Hard drive itself?

Just asking. I really have no direct experience with Forth nor drive electronix.

CuriousAugust 1, 2015 10:44 AM

Re: Netzpolitik.org mentioned the other day.

According to The Guardian Germany's prosecutor general is said to now have 'suspended' their 'treason investigation'.

Hm, logically, I somehow doubt it is possible to "suspend an investigation". They should maybe try cancelling it instead.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/31/germany-halts-treason-inquiry-journalists-surveillance-protests

"A treason investigation into two journalists who reported that the German state planned to increase online surveillance has been suspended by the country’s prosecutor general following protests by leading voices across politics and media."

Gerard van VoorenAugust 1, 2015 12:06 PM

@ Thoth,

"If designing, building and deploying a security solution in a fast, easy and simple manner with high security and assurance does exist, we wouldn't be stuck in this self-destructive cycle for so long."

With fast I mean high performance. When it comes to fast deployment the answer is "easy to use". And simplicity is about the code itself that should be well understandable, good to read, and preferably short.

As I said before the reasons that high security and assurance are not widespread deployed comes down to other reasons than that it is not achievable. These reasons are too many (old, insecure and designed by committee) protocols, fragmentation, vendor lock-in, compatibility and probably other reasons.

Right now, OpenBSD is working in the right direction and these guys dare to deprecate (ax delete) old code and introduce new lightweight safety features, also possible because they control the entire OS and they only support the latest two versions of OpenBSD.

There are other projects as well such as Plan-9 and Ethos-OS but GNU Core Utils or the Linux kernel (that form the base of almost every Linux distribution) aren't on that list.

And one final remark. The httpd server and mail agent of OpenBSD are top notch just because of their simplicity.

SkepticalAugust 1, 2015 12:10 PM


From the squid thread of the prior week:

@Dirk: Because it [Iraq] was a horribly stupid idea that very few politicians at the time were able to impose on their electorate without the risk of a formidable political backlash. History proved them right. Today, Tony Blair is a political paria in the UK.

The point is that a vassal state could not have said "no, not for us" to the US. So, of course, the dissension surrounding the Iraq War demonstrated that European nations are certainly not vassal states. They never have been and, to the US, never will be.

We are not vassal states, but what you need to realise is that the public opinion - especially in Western Europe - is slowly shifting away from the post-WWII perception that the US by definition are the good guys who only have our best interests in mind.

Not at all. Favorability ratings of the US ebb and flow, but overall they are extremely positive. See e.g. http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/06/23/1-americas-global-image/

One other interesting side-note from that polling - strong majorities in countries polled support American military action against ISIS, with Russia being the strongest exception (67% disapprove).

And the US really has itself to blame for that: the unfettered capitalism of corporate America putting money over people, decades of military interventions and disastrous foreign policy that has destabilised entire regions, mass surveillance, secretive trade negociations, the renewed war-mongering over Ukraine, presidential candidates that seem to be coming right out of South Park ...

No, if you look at the time-series in the page in that link, you'll see considerable variation even in the last 15 years. Favorability ratings, for example, are higher now in many European countries than in 2000. You can see the sharp impact that the Iraq War had in 2003, and some years following, but also the rebound back to the norm as the event faded.

As to destabilizing regions... sorry Dirk, there's plenty of blame to go around, but one of the root causes is European colonialism. And the Middle East wasn't very stable before the Iraq War.

As to Ukraine... US favorability ratings there are 69% (they're even 56% in the east, which is rather remarkable), and are especially high among the younger generations.

Interesting side-note - the data shows that majorities in the countries polled strongly approve of American military action against ISIS, with a couple of striking exceptions, the most glaring of which is Russia (67% disapprove).

Gerard van VoorenAugust 1, 2015 12:50 PM

@ Bob S.,

"Wise geeks told us Windows 10 RTM final release would not have the built in keylogger from Preview. MS simply wouldn't do that to us.

Wrong."

I have said in the past that MS does learn. They have made lots of mistakes but they do learn. And besides that, they don't give a damn about their reputation, they are all in when it comes to making money.

With their new CEO Satya Nadella the direction to go is to make money the same way Google does. I guess they have understood that making money from an pre-installed OS on the desktop/laptop alone doesn't cut it because the market is shifting towards the phone/tablet. So, like Google, they have opened lots of their proprietary code bases and are more open in their development. I suppose a Microsoft Summer of Code is about to come as well ;-)

The price is that to make money from advertising and play stores they need information from the customer, which means, like with Google and Facebook, the customer becomes 'the product' and the real customers are the advertisers.

Momentous BeechAugust 1, 2015 1:02 PM

@Bob S. (re. Windows 10 privacy policy)

Yes. I am amazed the press hasn't picked up on this. The small print in the new version of Windows are blood curdling:

-By default, Windows will upload to its servers the user's web browser history, favorites, open websites, saved apps, mobile hotspot, and Wi-Fi network names & passwords.

-Windows will generate a unique advertising ID for each user on a device. This advertising ID can be passed on to third parties, such as app developers and advertising networks for profiling purposes.

-The BitLocker recovery key for the user’s encrypted device will also be automatically "backed up" online in the Microsoft OneDrive account.

-Windows will routinely collect information "from you and your devices," including "app use data" and "data about the networks you connect to."

-The Windows Siri-style personal assistant (Cortana) will routinely collect device location, calendar data, apps used, email and text message data, phone call history, contacts and how often you interact with them on your device, music preferences, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, products viewed and purchased, browser history, and more.

Perhaps most worryingly is that, even if you decide that this is unacceptable and steer clear from MS, Windows is still the default OS in >90% of desktop computers bought off the shelf. Chances are that everything listed above will happen whenever your lawyer drafts a letter about your divorce case, whenever your doctor types your blood test results into a MS Office spreadsheet, whenever your hospital processes your CAT scan images, whenever your colleagues type up the results of a multi-million dollar R&D project, whenever your accountant processes your payment details...

Slime Mold with MustardAugust 1, 2015 1:08 PM

@ Pearls before slime

RE: Mysterious Acronyms

I searched "HOTTEENSELFIES" on the web. All I got was a bunch of mal-wear.

System FailureAugust 1, 2015 1:19 PM

@Momentous Beech:
"-Windows will generate a unique advertising ID for each user on a device."

What do you know... MS has come up with the one cookie nobody will be able to clear from their system (because it *is* the system). Disgusting.

A Nonny BunnyAugust 1, 2015 2:51 PM

@Momentous Beech

Perhaps most worryingly is that, even if you decide that this is unacceptable and steer clear from MS, Windows is still the default OS in >90% of desktop computers bought off the shelf. Chances are that everything listed above will happen whenever your lawyer drafts a letter about your divorce case, whenever your doctor types your blood test results into a MS Office spreadsheet, whenever your hospital processes your CAT scan images, whenever your colleagues type up the results of a multi-million dollar R&D project, whenever your accountant processes your payment details...

Isn't the enterprise edition exempt from most of that built-in spying? I think that's what I read somewhere.
I mean, corporations are people, so they have a right to privacy. Unlike us humans, who are, I guess, not people.

@System Failure

What do you know... MS has come up with the one cookie nobody will be able to clear from their system (because it *is* the system). Disgusting.

Just create/use a new user every time you start the computer ;)
I don't expect it to take long for someone to write a service that regenerates the advertising id.

AnuraAugust 1, 2015 2:58 PM

Yeah, I think Windows 7 is going to be by last Windows. I'll stick with it until support runs out, then I'm just going to drop Windows entirely. The only things I need it for are Steam and development, but I don't do as much gaming as I used to, and it is less effort to only code for POSIX compliant systems anyway.

ZackAugust 1, 2015 3:28 PM

@Skeptical

If you are "skeptical" to what people are saying, I am wondering if you are skeptical about the damage to citizens caused by the escalation of surveillance. Where is the demonstrable damage that the recent escalation of governmental surveillance in the West has been used against people?

And, the other way around, where is there any evidence that the disclosures of Snowden have caused any real damage to citizens or the involved governments?

After all, if one is honest about the later, surely one can also be honest about the former. Or can they?

In society people divide themselves into opposing groups. One group tackles problems from one angle, the other group tackles problems from the other angle. Icepick in hand, they blind themselves to do this. It is The Sacrifice of the "I"/"eye", which they perform as the primary ritual of entry to the group.

I suspect the blindness is permanent.


Z.

Wait, what?August 1, 2015 4:17 PM

Microsoft have included a particularly shocking clause that's not been covered in these comments:

"We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to […] protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services."

http://bgr.com/2015/07/31/windows-10-upgrade-spying-how-to-opt-out/

You have to go through 13 separate screens to reduce the level of information transmitted to Microsoft. And trying to set up a limited access (non-admin) account is difficult so say the least.

Who's using what distro of Linux and why? I'm stuck between Debian, Mint, Ubuntu, Arch and CentOS.

Last of the FlaghumpersAugust 1, 2015 4:24 PM

Here's Skeptical rooting through oilman Pew's propaganda in the forlorn hope of confusing some simpletons. He can never resist the statist's cheap trick of conflating the population with the government, no matter how many times it fails. The world has no animus against the US population, since nobody blames Americans for the rigged results of their fake democracy, http://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf . The absurdly general questions in Pew's survey instrument avoid any reference to US government conduct. They set up a deceptive ambiguity to confound the despised rogue state and its well-regarded peoples.

The US population shares the global consensus that they need some albendazole to rid them of the beltway hookworms sucking their blood. It's harder for Americans to accept the world's judgment that beltway parasites make the US the world's worst threat to peace. The subject population of the US doesn't share the fanaticism of outer-party underlings like Skep, so statist propaganda induces a lot of cognitive dissonance.

Amusingly, Pew in their survey also uses the cheap statist trick of avoiding objective terms - 'personal freedoms' instead of human rights. That way they can hide from independent factual assessment on agreed terms, and stick to subjective feelings elicited by manipulative questions. Skep eats this stuff up. This puerile nationalism might be good enough for beltway third-raters on white man's welfare, but it doesn't cut it with people who have real jobs or educations.

BoppingAroundAugust 1, 2015 4:31 PM

A Nonny Bunny,
'Exempt' meaning it can be turned off. Allegedly. I'm not sure that all companies run Enterprise editions. Hell, many of them run pirated 7 Ultimate, at least where I live.

The advertising ID, if I recall it correctly, has been there since Windows 8.1 in some form.

Anura,
Word is Microsoft have tried to push telemetry on Windows 7/8/8.1 too through Windows Update. Can you confirm this?

square wheelAugust 1, 2015 5:10 PM

@Wait, what?
>"I'm stuck between Debian, Mint, Ubuntu, Arch and CentOS."

They're all actually very similar under the hood. What you might want to ask yourself is which desktop to go for: KDE, gnome, xfce?

Mint (with either gnome or KDE) is a pretty good place to start if you are new to Linux.

I would strongly advice you NOT to use Ubuntu:
https://www.fsf.org/blogs/rms/ubuntu-spyware-what-to-do

MIPAugust 1, 2015 5:42 PM

@Wait, what?; square wheel

I agree with square wheel: Canonical probably doesn't deserve your trust. Which brings me to the fact that the default version of Mint is actually based on Ubuntu, so you'd be better off downloading the Debian version of Mint (Mint Betsy) with the cinnamon desktop (a fork of gnome). Here's the link:

http://www.linuxmint.com/release.php?id=24

Clive RobinsonAugust 1, 2015 6:28 PM

@ Zack,

In society people divide themselves into opposing groups. One group tackles problems from one angle, the other group tackles problems from the other angle.

Err not realy true, society breaks it's self into a plurality of groups, only very few are diametrically opposite in opinion.

The reality is that two diametrically opposed groups are usually a tiny fraction of any population, the majority either disinterested or ambivalent at best.

However the two groups are usually entrenched in a fortress mentality that George W Bush brutishly once said to the world "Either you are with us or against us", thus they only admit to friend or foe, which entrenches them further.

Any group that does this is beyond help and redemption, and if they don't change destined for either the asylum or the charnal house. Unfortunatly when embueded with any kind of unilateral authority they drag the disintered majority to either the mad house or blood bath and frequently both.

Such is the state of the human race, condemned to the brutish idiocy of the ignoble few. This sorry state of affairs was all to well known by the Founding Fathers, who tried as best they could a way to codify out such idiocy. Unfortunatly as the old joke says "the problem with foolproof is there is never a fool around".

As @AlanS pointed out with his recent links, the idol of the neocons the --faux-- economist Hyak was strongly influanced by National Socialist (aka Nazi) thinking, a legacy the neocons are determined the majority will pay for endlessly to the benifit of the mearest fraction of the fortunate few.

As I've observed before economics is in no way science, if you care to look with unvarnished eyes you will find it's more akin to a fairy tale, one where he who pays the piper calls the tune, thus neocon thinking is what they preach.

And what they preach is faux fairness, they claim that all laws should be non partisan, but they then rig them by secondary effects of status. Take VAT a poor man spends all his income on the basics of life and nothing on appreciating assets, thus all he buys is taxed by VAT. A rich man however spends little of his income on the basics of life, most on appreciating assets that are strangly VAT and other tax free, thus VAT is but a tiny fractional percentage tax on what he spends. On the face of it VAT sounds fair, in practice it is a tax on status, with the lowest paying the greatest percentage of their income to it.

ThothAugust 1, 2015 6:39 PM

@Gerard van Vooren
Fact is OpenBSD is not widely and easily installed. It doesn't have a friendly way to install either (which fails the easy to use criteria).

Bob S.August 1, 2015 7:02 PM

I just say it, none of the Linux stuff is ready for Prime Time. If it isn't the stack itself, it's hardware and drivers to run it that's a problem.

But, iOs8, which is based on Linux is quite user friendly and generally more privacy-secure than Windows. And now the latest version of Windows seems to be a security and privacy nightmare.

So, my suggestion: For business stuff, or anything non-controversial it's OK to use Windows. But, for anything that might disclose personal data, fire up the iPad, or even iPhone. There's no reason you can't do your banking, Amazon, videos, texting, email etc on the Apple product.

I will also say I somewhat trust Tim Cook who has made many speeches to the effect they make money selling devices, not your data. Until proven wrong, I believe him. (Just stay out of the cloud.)

OK, I put my helmet on, start throwing the rocks.

rgaffAugust 1, 2015 8:23 PM

@Bob S.

"(Just stay out of the cloud.)"

But iOS is constantly barraging me with trying to put my data in the cloud, by default. Therefore it's, by default, insecure for my data, even assuming there are no holes/backdoors/etc (but DON'T assume such things).

"I somewhat trust Tim Cook"

Blindly trust no one, which is another way of saying, trust but verify. If it can't be verified, then it can't be trusted AT ALL. If Tim Cook says he encrypts all the data and he doesn't store the key offsite, let us verify that... or it can NOT be trusted. It's this simple.

AnuraAugust 1, 2015 8:39 PM

@BoppingAround

The update that pushes telemetry (KB2952664) is marked as optional, so unless you explicitly take action to install it, then it will not be installed. That said, Windows update doesn't actually tell you what the updates do or give you any helpful description, only references the knowledge base article which tend to be less than helpful. I'm not in the habit of installing optional updates for Windows, and I would advise against it unless you have a specific reason to.

Ed HurstAugust 1, 2015 9:08 PM

I normally lurk and I've really enjoyed this batch of comments.

@Wait, what?

I'll ditto the warnings about Ubuntu, though Mint's real problem is their attitude about updates from upstream providers (they make it hard to get some of them). Arch is the most work and has some of the best documentation used by lots of folks from other distros. CentOS is a fine corporate desktop, but you'll need EPEL and Nux repositories to do some of the same stuff others allow by default (multimedia, etc.). I've also worked extensively with FreeBSD in the past, and it's hard work that might be worth it for some. I've played with Mac but it's not for me, despite how easy it was to transfer my FreeBSD experience to the Unix soul of Mac.

I currently use Debian 8 with XFCE and I offer two free ebooks on how to get started (search my name at Smashwords). I'll also gladly be available to continue that education for anyone who dares to ask. I'm retired and I have the time, but I can't help you with GNOME if you choose that desktop interface. I use Debian because it's more versatile for my hobby of writing and tinkering with the Net. I'm not any kind of serious technician, just a customer service kind of guy with long experience on Linux.

Bob S.August 1, 2015 9:08 PM

@59e et al

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) isn't merely a backdoor, it legalizes virtually all forms of corporate and government electronic mass surveillance. Also, it looks like it will come up for a vote soon with predictions circumstances will be arranged to pass it by a wide margin with little or no debate.

I have to wonder how other software and hardware companies are adjusting to comply and profit with CISA. Certainly the corporations will be paid handsome fees for their cooperation.

I wish there was some way to make this stuff important to most Americans.

ZackAugust 1, 2015 9:16 PM

@Clive Robinson

Okay, very good response.

I do not think it would be possible, to throw an seasoned
security person a curve ball. Either you or AlanS would be in
that category.

Neither of you need any manner of zen koan. You already know
them all and many I have no knowledge of.


I do not really believe anything. Technical security is, as a
co-worker once well said, the "what is it" business. You get
something to work, good. It does what it does. You break
something, there, look at what it does.

You wear a lot of hats in this business. Some you keep. Some
you throw away. Some you pick up from the stand while walking
along. If you want to reverse engineer something, you have to
wear the hats of the people who made it. If you want to
design a security solution, you have to find and wear the
hats of those you are protecting and those you are protecting
against.

If you try and explain anything to anyone, you have to be
able to talk in their language. Otherwise, you are just
talking at them, and they won't hear a thing. You
might as well be speaking crow.

I do think the real problem with the world is intrinsic to
all human beings. We live in a closed system and so it is
difficult to deal with anything outside of that closed
system. That closed system, regardless of how varied it is,
is not "all there is".

There are those who are hot. There are those who are cold.
They are just what they are. Probably, they put on their
sports fan paint and it just would not come off. But maybe
not. Maybe they are just being true to themselves.

I do not believe money is all there is. You can be fabulously
happy and not have a dime to your name. I see more miserable
rich people then poor. Those sorts can not have mansions in
their mind. They have to have them be tangible. Same breed as
the sort who really long for that, but just never make it.

I do not start my morning shaking my first at the rich or
the "powerful". I do a lot of fist shaking, but it is all
about Too Many Assumptions. And I spend most of my time
concerned about my own.

Asking, again and again, "what do I believe". And "what, then, am I missing".

It is not doubt. It is just continuing on through the jungle.


Z.

tyrAugust 1, 2015 9:23 PM

@Clive, Zack

One of the most horrible of epistemological cartoons
is the idea that everything has to be divided up
into equal parts and by inference tagged as good or
bad. This is strictly bronze age methodology and way
of thought that should not be used in a modern world.

If Mani was unable to sell this why are people still
trying to use it as a paradigm. There should by now
have been a glimmer of non-aristotlean logic. We are
not wearing sheets and debating around dried goat turd
fires so why use those methods as substitute for a
brain. Good and bad only exist in the context of actions
assigning them as labels to everything without the
context makes them useless for thinking.

What most fail to realize is that most true human evil
is banal bureaucratic order following colourless nitwits
who accept no personal responsibility for what they do.
Up the ladder you find equally colourless types who
have no real connection to those their orders effect.
Most cultures assume this is normal civilization until
the war crimes tribunal hangs a few of the most egregious
offenders. After that things get better for a few years
and then the same behaviors creep back in disguised as
policy without individual responsibility. All the pious
mouthing about rule of law means nothing if you exempt
some from the law for whatever lame excuses they can
come up with.

@moo
I once had to fix a problem. Someone had modified a
disk drive cable by tying the write enable bit on to
use it to zero the media. The instant you powered on
a drive with that cable it initialized and started to
erase the tracks. Replaced the cable with a good one
and then started typing machine code into the disk
until the beginning was ready to use again. The point
is hardware can control things like this. Hardware mod
the drive to erase itself in a standard machine and
only work in yours. There may be adversaries out there
with a tech on the payroll who can catch this before
your drive self destructs but I'll bet they are few
and far between. It won't beat a nation state type
who owns a SQUID laboratory but it would make them
curse you for days.

JacobAugust 1, 2015 9:50 PM

@Ed Hurst

I downloaded your 2 Debian books and hopefully will read them in the next few days.
You describe how one interacts with the system in a story-telling style. Refreshing.

Thank you.

ZackAugust 1, 2015 10:44 PM

@tyr

Evil. And the City of Sin, Las Vegas. This coming week, myself, and many in the industry, are going out there. So, it is a good time to consider putting on those glasses, and considering 'who there is evil' and 'why'.

And 'what'.

You are going to have lone hackers. You are going to have hackitivists. You are going to have grouped hackers and organized crime. You are going to have every kind of cop and spook from all over the world. And all their support. A lot of military. A lot of contractors of all stripes. A lot of regular IT, a lot of programmers, a lot of sales, corporate managers and other executives, and then a whole lot of corporate and governmental IT security folk. From all over the world.

A vast nest of "evil", one could say, though maybe a better word, at least here, is "threat".

I wonder how many Chinese will be there, newly armed with their fresh data from OPM?

And how many five eyes won't be chasing their tail?

Most everyone will be considering anyone possibly a threat, anyone they do not know. They will be considering anyone as possibily not as they present themselves.

But, what is the best way to be. Guess it is how one comes. Different threat matrix for different people.

Nick PAugust 1, 2015 11:06 PM

@ Clive

So, FRAM is the modern take on core memory, eh? Wonder if it has core's excellent EMI and radiation properties. Doubtful. Anyway, if that's what core led to, I can't wait to see what happens when MEMS people discover Drum Memory. ;)

Meanwhile, I'll continue spending a little time here and there on the GP analog systems + asynchronous circuits. I think people outside a former commenter underestimate just how useful they might be in security-focused, mixed-signal systems. Obfuscation value alone in a world with estimated 3,000 analog engineers. Maybe I'll use some Genetic Programming to evolve circuits that will screw with them, too.

ThothAugust 2, 2015 12:36 AM

@Nick P
I wonder if more efforts should be filtered into security centric microkernel and frameworks to be used as TCBs instead of beating an already insecure setup like those hardened Linux ecosystems.

We know that more and more systems are looking at ARM TrustZone compatibility and software TCB but the general lack of appetite due to low amount of work and consumption but high desire for out of the box and easy to use and deploy higher assurance soft TCBs might be the next thing for the market.

MIPs version of TrustZone is more superior in allowing more domain definitions thus more assured security but the problem as ee know is to stir this hungry market's appetite and make them finally enter an uncontrollable thirst to have much greater demand and put the cash where it is.

There are a whole ton of secure computing equipment out there but there is just not enough secure endpoints to issue commands to control these secure equipments.

Gerard van VoorenAugust 2, 2015 1:10 AM

@ Thoth,

"Fact is OpenBSD is not widely and easily installed. It doesn't have a friendly way to install either (which fails the easy to use criteria)."

From the OpenBSD 5.7 Installation Guide:

"OpenBSD has long been respected for its simple and straight forward installation process, which is very consistent across all platforms."

I will leave it with that.

Missing In ActionAugust 2, 2015 1:33 AM

@Ford Jackson

The OPM hack was, however, a very, very significant escalation. To do nothing might be seen as showing significant weakness. And considering the North Korean doxing of Sony... there are a lot of 'chips on the table'.

The OPM hack was a hard kick in the balls to America and everyone with clearance.

So, you can believe they are going to finally react to China's hacking over all these years. Though, the US is far better then that then China could ever hope to be.

What you should expect is not some kind of brute attack, but a combination of efforts between intelligence, DoD, and law enforcement agencies exposing China's full gamut of activity. China has a lot of spies in country, and they will all be put on parade.

What people don't get about this hack is China came and said, "Fuck you" in the biggest way they possibly could. I want to say they sliced their balls off and made them eat it in front of the world. You know? To make them lose face as much as they possibly could. But, I have to say? Their balls are quite intact. And they are going to get what they gave.

So, goodbye, China. Hello India.

And maybe we might throw in world war three there. Let's see.

CuriousAugust 2, 2015 3:03 AM

@ Bob S.
Having read that article, sheesh, CISA is said to contain anti FOIA language. Makes me wonder if such exemptions are common in USA or if such is something new with upcoming CISA.

"In a particularly stunning display of shadyness, the bill specifically exempts all of this information from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or any state, local, or tribal law." (From the article)

I don't readily have an overview of CISA, but I guess some of it, or some aspects of it has already been publicized. Presumably, the part about intentionally avoiding the FOIA is legit.

CuriousAugust 2, 2015 3:48 AM

Off topic: (Editor fires cartoonist)
The political cartoonist Ted Rall appear to have been thrown under the bus so to speak, as an editor of The Los Angeles Times had him fired, apparently being a consequence of LAPD having complained about a recent blog post from May by Rall, which in turn made a reference to an event back in 2001 in which there was a confrontation between Rall and LAPD.

A problem now seem to be, that this editor fired Rall because Rall was believed to be simply lying, however there is now an allegation that that the audio recording that was provided by LAPD in fact contain more information about the event than this editor was led to believe, which would probably turn things around again.

Any minor exaggerations aside on Rall's part, if Ted Rall's is shown to be telling the truth, having simply fired the cartoonist just like that, I dare say that the following opinion of The Los Angeles Times just doesn't sound good.

"The Los Angeles Times is a trusted source of news because of the quality and integrity of the work its journalists do. This is a reminder of the need to remain vigilant about what we publish."

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-oe-rall-20150728-story.html

Afaik, Ted Rall is known for being a political catoonist, editor and a graphical novelist. Heh, I remember I was thinking he might be retarded when I first saw his non realistic comic characters as a young kid. Rall went to Afthanistan in 2001 and made a comic novel of it, and he apparently has an upcoming comic novel about Edward Snowden.

Clive RobinsonAugust 2, 2015 4:32 AM

@ Nick P,

I can't wait to see what happens when MEMS people discover Drum Memory. ;)

Err they already did back in the 1980's.

The original fast memory was serial and consisted of some kind of delay line, such as the sweep across a CRT, energy wave propergating down a transmission line such as the original mercury delay line.

It was the problems of syncing parallel delay lines and the move from "wire recorders" to tape, and the ferric-oxides and small read write heads that made the drum such an obvious solution.

Thus the synced delay lines can be done in a different way, and that is what magnetic bubble memory is, the replacment for both mercury delay lines and drum memory.

Stacked FeRAM is the crossbar frame, and instead of having just one bit at each crossing you have a vertical bubble memory delay line of 4 to fifty or so bits. So from a different POV you have an analog of magnetic drum with tens of millions of heads.

If memory serves the publicaly known technology leaders in this type of memory device are IBM researchers.

Oh and before you ask about tape store, it's still with us doing sterling service in electric super cars, and laptops in the form of Li batteries.

Sometimes what looks like an evolutionary dead end gets either new technology --such as mercury delay line to bubble memory-- or apparently end of life tech gets redeployed in a new field --casset tape to Li batteries-- predicting this and when it's worth investing in can make you very rich, or if you get it wrong very poor. So the jury is out on Elon Musk's bet on Li batteries for home "off grid" power generation storage is going to bring him bricks of gold or just lead kippers ;-)

Oh the energy storage efficiency issue is the real "elephant in the room" of "green energy generation", not unsightly wind turbines, or solar arrays.

Gerard van VoorenAugust 2, 2015 4:56 AM

@ Missing In Action,

"The OPM hack was a hard kick in the balls to America and everyone with clearance."

How can you make sure a kick in the balls doesn't hurt that much? Wear a jockstrap. Or in this case protect the network! One thing that is for sure is that when you kick the other guy back in the balls he isn't gonna leave it with that.

ThothAugust 2, 2015 5:35 AM

@Gerard van Vooren
I think what is meant by easy to use and generally accepted is when Glenn Greenwald doesn't need Snowden or @Bruce Schneier to explain how to use something. Similarly, the OpenBSD installation may not me suitable for journalists if you want them to setup a dirty style cleanroon to hold your new stash of leaks ?

I believe what is meant by easy to use is inserting a CD-ROM and getting a secure by default workspace with GUI in terms of ease of use ?

Might as well figure out a multiple L4Linux or OpenBSD launching above a TCB microkernel if the OpenBSD is pegged as so-called easy to deploy.

tyrAugust 2, 2015 5:45 AM

@Zack

Everybody talks bad about the old home town but most
of it is just reasonable laws and fleecing folks
from cornshuck kansas who think only cows teats
should be seen.

The reputation makes the place a shit magnet for the
worlds retarded who receive a nasty lesson in real
evil if they aren't careful. I know lots of horror
stories about the place but most are insulated from
the reality by hotel and casino security forces.

Mrs Grundy dislikes the idea of people enjoying a
drink, a show of flesh, and a roll of dice but they
aren't the evil part of town. Just remember the
local motto, keep Nevada green bring money. The
crowd at hackerfests are a lot of fun because
of the RPG elements involved in the milieu. The
fantasy is a normal part of being human and add
the tech and esoteric knowledge you get the circus
in town. Mostly harmless is the best way to think
of them until they fall into the trap I described
of passing the buck for responsibility because what
they do has real effects on real people.

If you're going just remember all that glitters is
after your gold. :^ )

Dirk PraetAugust 2, 2015 6:16 AM

@ Skeptical

Not at all. Favorability ratings of the US ebb and flow, but overall they are extremely positive

Perhaps according to Pew Global, which is a Washington DC based think tank. Other polls, like the annual BBC country ratings suggest otherwise. Among the key findings:

- The poll also finds that views of the United States have worsened around the world, led by sharp increases in negative views among citizens of Spain (up 19 points), Germany (up 18 points) and Brazil (up 15 points).
- On average, positive views of the USA across the tracking countries have dropped three points to 42 percent while negative views have risen by four points to reach 39 percent. This is the third consecutive year that the perceived influence of the USA has worsened.

Note that with its 39% score of negative views, the US does only slightly better than China (42%) and Russia (45%). I don't expect any significant improvement for 2015 as the reporting about US spying continues and the situation with IS gets worse. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing the region and are trying to make their way into Europe over the Turkey-Serbia route. Afghans are another significant group among them. And guess who the average European in the street is pointing the finger at?

... there's plenty of blame to go around, but one of the root causes is European colonialism. And the Middle East wasn't very stable before the Iraq War.

So I note that European colonialism is the root cause of the current situation in Iraq and Syria. I wonder if there's even one (1) political analyst or historian outside the US who would agree with that. As to the stability of Iraq: however brutal a dictator Saddam was, Iraq as a nation was definitely way more stable before the US-led invasion than after. The same can be said for the rest of the region.

BuckAugust 2, 2015 9:23 AM

@Dirk Praet

So I note that European colonialism is the root cause of the current situation in Iraq and Syria. I wonder if there's even one (1) political analyst or historian outside the US who would agree with that.
Err, ummm... I'm not 100% sure, but I'm fairly certain that if it were not for European colonialism, the US would almost undoubtedly be an entirely different beast from what we see today.

Though, following this train of philosophical thought, one could easily make a claim that the root cause of our current situation is actually the Big Bang/G_d/primordial ooze/it was written/ad absurdum... Take your pick or substitute your own, there's no wrong answer here! ;-)

SkepticalAugust 2, 2015 9:24 AM


@Dirk: Perhaps according to Pew Global, which is a Washington DC based think tank. Other polls, like the annual BBC country ratings suggest otherwise.

Pew Research Center is a highly respected, completely non-partisan, non-profit organization devoted entirely to empirical research. It quite explicitly does not take policy positions.

The BBC poll and the Pew poll ask different questions. The BBC asks whether a country is "having a mainly positive or mainly negative influence on the world." That's a very different question than one asking whether one has a favorable opinion of a country. Moreover, there are very large numbers of respondents in the BBC poll who said something like "it depends" or "don't know" or "neither."

The countries that score highest in the BBC poll are Germany and Canada.

So I note that European colonialism is the root cause of the current situation in Iraq and Syria.

I said that European colonialism is one of the root causes of instability in the Middle East.

I wonder if there's even one (1) political analyst or historian outside the US who would agree with that.

Uh, yes, actually you'll find very broad - remarkably broad, in fact - agreement on that. And really "outside the US", implying that there's monolithic opinion in the US on any subject, is ridiculous.

As to the stability of Iraq: however brutal a dictator Saddam was, Iraq as a nation was definitely way more stable before the US-led invasion than after. The same can be said for the rest of the region.

But we were speaking of the entire Middle East, not simply Iraq. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 certainly destabilized Iraq relative to its still precarious state in 2002. But are we going to connect the Arab Spring to that invasion? If not - and most do not by the way - then we would do well to acknowledge other, more powerful sources of instability that exist throughout the region.

ThothAugust 2, 2015 9:32 AM

@Clive Robinson, Nick P, Figureitout, crypto chip et. al.
I have not read a bunch of these articles but these are very interesting stuff.

1.) How to subvert a real crypto chip in real life in your own labs. Have fun and enjoy :) . @Nick P, this might be important to you since it also deals with some sort of FPGA subversion and you might want to take note of it if you have not. It will be nice if @Clive Robinson and @Nick P can try to simplify it and make it easier to understand.

Abstract -- As part of the revelations about the NSA activities, the notion of interdiction has become known to the public: the interception of deliveries to manipulate hardware in a way that backdoors are introduced. Manipulations can occur on the firmware or at hardware level. With respect to hardware, FPGAs are particular interesting targets as they can be altered by manipulating the corresponding bitstream which configures the device. In this paper, we demonstrate the first successful real-world FPGA hardware Trojan insertion into a commercial product. On the target device, a FIPS-140-2 level 2 certified USB flash drive from Kingston, the user data is encrypted using AES-256 in XTS mode, and the encryption/decryption is processed by an off-the-shelf SRAM-based FPGA. Our investigation required two reverse-engineering steps, related to the proprietary FPGA bitstream and to the firmware of the underlying ARM CPU. In our Trojan insertion scenario the targeted USB flash drive is intercepted before being delivered to the victim. The physical Trojan insertion requires the manipulation of the SPI flash memory content, which contains the FPGA bitstream as well as the ARM CPU code. The FPGA bitstream manipulation alters the exploited AES-256 algorithm in a way that it turns into a linear function which can be broken with 32 known plaintext-ciphertext pairs. After the manipulated USB flash drive has been used by the victim, the attacker is able to obtain all user data from the ciphertexts. Our work indeed highlights the
security risks and especially the practical relevance of bitstream modification attacks that became realistic due to FPGA bitstream manipulations.

Link: http://eprint.iacr.org/2015/768

2.) How to guess your keys from data obtained from side-channel attacks. For techniques that attempts to use overwhelm of random data, this might be something nice to prevent against if possible.

Link: http://eprint.iacr.org/2015/689

BoppingAroundAugust 2, 2015 10:22 AM

Bob S.,
iOS is not based on Linux. That and this little gem: Identifying Backdoors, Attack Points, and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices.

this was a talk I gave to a room full of hackers explaining that while we were sleeping, this is how some features in iOS have evolved over the PAST FEW YEARS, and of course a number of companies have taken advantage of some of the capabilities. I have NOT accused Apple of working with NSA, however I suspect (based on released documents) that some of these services MAY have been used by NSA to collect data on potential targets. I am not suggesting some grand conspiracy; there are, however, some services running in iOS that shouldn’t be there, that were intentionally added by Apple as part of the firmware, and that bypass backup encryption while copying more of your personal data than ever should come off the phone for the average consumer. I think at the very least, this warrants an explanation and disclosure to the some 600 million customers out there running iOS devices.

Bob S.August 2, 2015 11:44 AM

@BobbingAround

Somewhere, I was told iOS evolved from Linux and now accept it as a matter of faith rather than specific knowledge. Thanks for the correction.

I read the link you mentioned. I don't think it's up to date. iOS8 introduced encryption for photos, messages, contacts, reminders, call history, etc.

Nonetheless, super secret services are concerning which would support one of my theories which is: The current whining about going dark is merely theatrics to get us warmed up to the idea they want existing yet illegal secret (backdoor) methods of access legalized.

Regardless, there are several after market encryption file locker apps for iOS which would seem to address the existing secret backdoor. I think.

And in the end, it seems to me iOS8 is fundamentally more secure than Windows. Certainly, it's better out of the box than W10.

A cyber security expert I know claims Apple products are among the toughest to crack.

Nick PAugust 2, 2015 11:44 AM

@ Clive Robinson

What's old is new again. Recurring theme.

@ BoppingAround

Funny how he said he wasn't suspicious of Apple being malicious then made a hell of a case for exactly that. He might not be accusing them but I sure as hell am.

@ Thoth

Rule 1: If enemy has physical access, it's not your device anymore. Any attack predicated on physical access doesn't worry me much because of this. However, I do like to make it take time. This is good for the person that leaves laptop open, but locked, while they go to the bathroom. And so on.

Far this device, it surprised me that they had an onboard FPGA. Shows how low power and inexpensive they can be. However, a SRAM-based FPGA on security device is just asking to be modified. I'd try to do an antifuse if possible. If not, I'd try to use a third-party ASIC for the purpose. Further, it will be easier to modify the bitstreams with tools such as this. Another defense along lines of security-through diversity would be to randomize the synthesis on a per user basis. Not a good default for a mass-market device but maybe a good value-added service for those that bought it.

"I wonder if more efforts should be filtered into security centric microkernel and frameworks to be used as TCBs instead of beating an already insecure setup like those hardened Linux ecosystems."

That's what strong security research is doing. ;) The differences are how they go about protecting the TCB and knocking out attacks. They are divided into separation kernels, language approaches, diversity/randomization, integrity checking, and crypto-based protections. There are hardware schemes for each. Isolation plus interface protection is best for legacy hardware integrating OSS code. That's approach of L4 family and GenodeOS. However, I'm backing off it for my clean-slate efforts as the ISA itself is the problem and so I've mostly been working on hardware side.

Microkernel approach is good for the stuff you were doing for now. Also get on EROS site to see how they did their microkernel and middleware for capability security. Might find benefit in that.

FrancisAugust 2, 2015 11:52 AM

@Thoth - what kind of attack is that? They have to intercept the device, then reverse-engineer it, basically redesign HW and FW until it does what they want. Then they have to repackage it and finally deliver it to an unwitting victim. Dumb.

meAugust 2, 2015 12:20 PM

@Francis

They do that kind of attack every-day. Interdiction is a big-thing. Ciscos, Junipers, laptops, keyboards, hard drives. They even have ethernet/usb plug modules ready to go for installation onto motherboards. You think AES secured usb flash drives are immune? Too much money to pre-engineer an exploit? hahaha

Who?August 2, 2015 12:24 PM

@Bob S

OS X/iOS certainly do not come from Linux. They are BSD based (OpenBSD based initially, moving to FreeBSD later after hiring Hubbard), with a large heritage from NeXT Step.

If the cyber security expert you know thinks Apple products are among the toughest to crack it is because these products are really hard to differentiate from honeypots for an attacker. Nothing wrong with the BSD heritage, but the truly worrying lack of care about security from Apple itself.

Who?August 2, 2015 12:32 PM

@Thoth

OpenBSD is very easy to install. In most cases it is just pressing Enter until done. Journalists (at least the ones that understand english) will have no problems setting up a secure OpenBSD workstation. afterboot(8) does the rest.

albertAugust 2, 2015 12:32 PM

@Last of the Flaghumpers,
Best to ignore Skeptical, as he can't be reasoned with. He sees this as a chance to practice his propaganda techniques.
.
'Public opinion' polls are as useless as tits on a boar hog, unless you want an _estimate_ of a particular groups propaganda effectiveness. (and even at that, it's truth by proclamation)
.
..
.
..
o

rgaffAugust 2, 2015 12:48 PM

@ everyone arguing with skeptical

Keep in mind that when a government-line-toting person is absolutely impossible to convince of anything no matter how plain it might be, that your responses here are only to help guide others who might read these comments later on and be confused.

A Nonny BunnyAugust 2, 2015 12:56 PM

@Dirk Praet

So I note that European colonialism is the root cause of the current situation in Iraq and Syria. I wonder if there's even one (1) political analyst or historian outside the US who would agree with that.
I think most historians outside of the US (e.g. in Europe) would agree that dividing up the Middle East (and Africa) with arbitrary borders is an important contributing factor to much instability in those regions. Of course, if the Ottoman empire hadn't collapsed, France and Britain wouldn't have been drawing borders in the ME after WWI. And that wouldn't have happened (at that time) if the Ottoman empire hadn't allied with Germany. Which wouldn't have been an issue if the arch-duke of Austria hadn't been shot by a Serbian separatist who had no idea what he would set off. (etc) Anyway, lots of causes - but drawing those bad borders was a culpable and avoidable mistake. Good borders make good neighbors; contrariwise, forcing bad neighbors together in one country was asking for trouble.

Slime Mold with MustardAugust 2, 2015 1:08 PM

RE: Windows 10

I need to wean an office of about 50 people off of Windows. These are mostly not tech people. Many do not know what a command line is.

We will run Win 7 for a while, as we train up people on - What? I am familiar with some Linux platforms. That ain't gonna fly. We need something with minimal training time. Training time is more important than licensing fees. The majority of machines are HP (a few so old I believe they are steam powered).

@Bob S
"So, my suggestion: For business stuff, or anything non-controversial it's OK to use Windows".

I could not disagree more strongly. Business stuff is often extremely sensitive. Microsoft is not a "trusted partner" over here at "xyz corp". I've spent the better part of a month convincing the "powers that be" that we can't use Win 10, and they finally relented this past week. (The IT guy wants us all on Linux, yet for some reason I'm his boss - see above).

Your points on CISA are well taken. I find the apathy as, or more disturbing than the spying itself.

@Momentous Beech
Outstanding observation regarding doctors' and lawyers' offices. I wonder if I have to start telling clients they can't have certain data, and can't email us because they use Win 10?

naskAugust 2, 2015 1:31 PM

I want to say that OpenBSD is simple but not easy.

To install it you just need to press enter more or less, unless you want to create the filesystem yourself. But the interface scares away most people, they don't recognize what it is asking and don't want to look up the things or even read what the screen tells them to do when it looks like that. Even kids who have played computer games all life won't like the installation.

It is still a very simple but it's not intuitive and the interface scares them.

Then it boots up with X usually working and you are meet with fvwm that looks like it's from 1995 and a terminal. Yes I can change it to gnome with auto mount USB with fine lines in config files and downloading a few packages.

So maybe it's simple but it's not easy and maybe that's where the difference is. They don't want simple things but easy things, and easy are usually things that looks like how they are used to doing it.

piquant bassAugust 2, 2015 3:11 PM

My 2c re Linux usability: Modern Linux distros are easy to use. It takes a long time to become a good sysadmin, but very little time to figure out basic tasks through the point-and-click GUIs. Most non-technical people I know are able to find their way around a modern version of KDE or GNOME straight away.

@Slime Mold with Mustard: Try a little experiment: burn a couple of ISOs (e.g. Mint, OpenSuse, Gentoo, Manjaro, etc.) into a few laptops or VMwares and get a bunch of friends or colleagues to carry out a few basic tasks (e.g. open the word processor, reply to an e-mail, print a PDF). I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Clive RobinsonAugust 2, 2015 3:45 PM

@ A Nonny Bunnie, Dirk Praet,

I think most historians outside of the US (e.g. in Europe) would agree that dividing up the Middle East (and Africa) with arbitrary borders is an important contributing factor to much instability in those regions.

The dividing up of African and subsiquently other places was anything but "arbitrary".

It was a very deliberate plan by Cecil Rhodes (which Rhodesia was named after). The idea was quite simple, you get a map and on it you mark all the tribal boundries.

Then you make the country borders have two thirds of one tribe in it and a third of another tribe. You then put the minority tribe in power and give them a limited means to stay in charge.

The result is the minority makes the majority second class in status, but can only keep power with the "Help of the White Man" hence Kippling calling it "The White Man's Game" when trying to urge the US into steping upto the plate in the Empire building game.

The fly in the ointment, was the Franco-British problem going back centuries. Depending on who you believe Britain legaly owns France, and France legaly owns Britain... Any way there was no love lost from before the Norman Conquest in 1066, it was in Henry VIII time that the French had become effete and started to not be able to keep France's provinces together. Henry was powerfull, wealthy, educated was in effect a precursor to renascence man, and a keen and skilled sports man, but above all enjoyed rubbing the French "courtly knights" into the ground, and set Britain on the path to becoming not just the major naval power but splitting away from "The Holy Roman Church" by declairing himself to be head of the Church of England and confiscate the Holy Roman church property and wealth. Both the French and Spanish being devoutly Catholic developed a real enmity towards Britain that is still present in Popish plots and machinations (ie Tony Blair converting to Catholicism as he became the Special Envoy to the Middle East).

Cecil Rhodes, used this enmity to advantage, the French extreamly jealous of the "British Empire" would "follow British Traders around like a whipped cur, with soldiers in peacock regailier", he would create a confrontation and demand protection and via various political shenanigans get British troops in to protect his exclusive commercial activities... British politicians by and large had learned that an Empire, was not something they realy wanted as they were increasingly expensive to keep (by WWI the gains of Empire were negligible compared to the cost).

Where as Britain gave up it's Empire with a modicum of good grace, not so the French, which is why we have the "British Commonwealth" and Vietnam has good bread and a distinct dislike for French Tourists, as for Algeria, let's not go there. Then there was Suez and the Cannal, and compleat ignominy in the 1950's.

The real problem though were "the British mandates" of the likes of Cyprus and Palestine where terrorist organisations ended up forcing new statehoods, with Britain to war weary and America pushing for autonomous states. In both cases the results have been to destabilize the eastern end of the Mediterranean and west of the Middle East, which is where much of the current issues have arisen from.

All quite messy and engineered initially to maintain power to exploit and extort natural resources, to grease the dubious wheels of commerce.

BoppingAroundAugust 2, 2015 4:42 PM

Bob S.,
> I don't think it's up to date.
The situation has probably worsened :-)

Nick P,
That may be an example of a somewhat common method to say something without actually saying it (here: to accuse without explicit accusation). I don't remember how it's called in psychology but it has a name.

By the way I've found two more related links: Apple Responds, Contributes Little.

And this: Apple Confirms 'Backdoors'; Downplays Their Severity.

Slime Mould,
> Microsoft is not a "trusted partner" over here at "xyz corp".
Besides that there is another clause within the W10 EULA about 'sharing data with Microsoft's trusted partners'. I guess there may be trusted partners' trusted partners too. With another set of statements and agreements. Possible?

rgaffAugust 2, 2015 4:50 PM

OMG I never thought I'd get so many history lessons on a "Security" blog... certainly way more than was in any school in my backwards country (usa).

Dirk PraetAugust 2, 2015 4:50 PM

@ A Nonny Bunny, @ Skeptical, @ Buck

Anyway, lots of causes - but drawing those bad borders was a culpable and avoidable mistake.

But if course it was. After WWI, the UK and France reorganised and repartitioned the collapsed Ottoman Empire to best suit their "national interests". The same thing happened with Europe at the Yalta conference. Both have been and remain to date a subject of controversy. Although this division set the stage for future problems, the Iraq war was what eventually destabilized the entire region and gave rise to Da'esh (IS), with quite some of its current brass being members of the former Iraqi army and Bathist regime.

The Arab Spring - partially financed by Saudi Arabia and Gulf States like Qatar - did the rest, leaving two additional failed states and the West in a no-win situation, one being the result of an intervention (Libya) and the other one (Syria) a result of non-intervention. I doubt that toppling Assad would have made any difference, as it would just have left the same power vacuum as in Iraq, and with the same outcome.

@ Skeptical

Pew Research Center is a highly respected, completely non-partisan, non-profit organization

You know as well as I do that the outcome of a poll depends on quite a lot of elements, which is why you're always seeing different results in function thereof. Feel free to discard the results of the annual BBC polls or others mentioned by another commenter, but the appreciation of the US really is much less positive than what you, the USG or Pew are thinking.

@ Slime Mold with Mustard & others

RE: Windows 10

I need to wean an office of about 50 people off of Windows. These are mostly not tech people. Many do not know what a command line is.

If your company of non-technical people has decided to turn away from Microsoft/Apple and is considering a move to Linux, I strongly recommend looking into business distributions like Red Hat or SuSE. They are enterprise-ready, come with all the necessary management tools and are well-supported.

tyrAugust 2, 2015 5:32 PM


The Tor blog has a nice summary of this.

https://people.csail.mit.edu/devadas/pubs/circuit_finger.pdf

@Clive, et al

Most of modern problems were caused by the Great Game of
the colonial era. None of these have been worked out yet.
The most egregious problems are the dis-connect between
the policymakers and the effected areas. Superficial
beltway bandits can't find most of their conquests on a
map, don't know the languages spoken there, have no idea
what the history of the areas or their factions are all
about. The new imperial nitwits with their policies of
exceptionalism are basically the same as the white mans
burden crowd of the preceding empire. Read Jane Austen
and realize that the dope trading Taipans were where the
incomes she's talking about came from. That was over the
horizon and so considered disconnected from polite folk.

Run the clock ahead and you get the same players with
the same old games. Ordinary folk who get trampled in
the push of the game are less considered than chess pawns.
The Net might make a difference but first you have to
break the copyright ban on the knowledge of your culture.
If that doesn't happen soon you'll have a completely
dis-enfranchised mass who will not be able to understand
where they came from or how it happened. The idea you can
build a civil society out of fenced off cubicle rats who
are intensely specialized in a world where understanding
it is the key to racial (human race) survival is ludicrous.

Stop letting people push stereotypes on you as a substitute
for thinking. If you think Islam is a monolithic mass of
wild-eyed jihadis who are un-civilized, then you know very
little about how your so-called civilization came to exist.
If you think 97% of scientists agree on anything, you need
to go meet a few scientists. If you think Neo-cons are so
good, read Leo Strauss and ask yourself why U of Chicago is
called a moral cesspool. Is this what you want for the
guiding light into the future when it has worked out so
well in practice lately. Ask yourself, when was the last
time I saw a leader of any major debacle held accountable
for what happened ?

The narrative is that Julian, Jake,Ed, and Chelsea ruined
the world and need to be hung for trying to tell you an
ugly set of truths. If you believe that you need some
serious help with your problems.

ianfAugust 2, 2015 6:00 PM

Sez @A Nonny Bunny


[...] drawing those bad borders was a culpable and avoidable mistake. Good borders make good neighbors; contrariwise, forcing bad neighbors together in one country was asking for trouble.

Indisputable, primetime DWEM logick. Unfortunately, the (Middle-)Eastern, largely tribal (and/or caste-based) cultures, then as now do not subscribe to such mundane "line in the sand" concepts as borders (of spheres of influence or whatever) to begin with, much less to such being inviolate till the end of time. They, err... meditate to lots of different tunes. Our colonial forebears imagined themselves bringers of CIVILIZATION, warts-n-all, to the heathens without ever considering that by injecting themselves into the multilayer, much older than own Western, cultures, they would end up being used by warring factions/ tribes/ cliques within these subcultures for their own oft-malign purposes. So any reckoning of the West's doings in the East has to begin with acknowledging the... as-we-made-our-bed-so-we-must-lie-in-it-"dividend."

ELAugust 2, 2015 6:23 PM

The real problem with BSD is getting Torbrowser working. It's not just the difference in shells, it's something else, something beyond the ken of this commenter. There is no actual Linux/BSD version of Torbrowser, and without Torbrowser BSD is useless for anything that's sensitive.

rgaffAugust 2, 2015 6:37 PM

@ EL

However interesting your point may be, I'd like to point out the possibility of there being "something that's sensitive" that might not require a web browser to access.

Bob S.August 2, 2015 7:51 PM

@Slime Mold

Re: "business stuff"

Yes, I see where you are coming from.

I was speaking from the perspective of the employee entering data regarding whatever work project he might be working on...that is: not personal data.

However, from the perspective of a business owner or executive I shiver at the prospect of an operating system that will be openly collecting my data to make it available to unk. corporations and governments via data brokers for a fee.

Someone suggested a Red Hat business distribution. I think that's a great idea. My understanding is Red Hat has excellent support for their product, (for a fee of course). I do not know the status of their privacy and security policies, however.

Last, but not least, no matter what anyone says there are times Linux of any flavor fails to satisfy when a program or app can't be found that otherwise would be considered common place in the Windows/Apple environment.

And, don't expect the guy in the mail room to do command line scripts to find out where to get more postage stamps, either.

I would probably try to set up a parallel system to run both OS' simultaneously for 6 months or so to ensure the sanity and survivability of the business.

Last of the FlaghumpersAugust 2, 2015 8:35 PM

@albert, true, Skeptical is ineducable, but interesting for people with autonomous habits of mind. Today the poor dim dupe assures us that Pew's entirely 'empirical.' Skep is evidently helpless to imagine anything orthogonal to Pew's 'ideological consistency scale.' Pew's ideological electrified fence has got skeptical trained like a spaniel bitch. This is what happens when deficient education meets statist propaganda. You get Tom Parsons.

Dirk PraetAugust 2, 2015 8:49 PM

@ EL

There is no actual Linux/BSD version of Torbrowser, and without Torbrowser BSD is useless for anything that's sensitive.

But there is. Check out PC-BSD, based on FreeBSD. Comes with TBB, Pidgin/OTR, GPG etc. etc.

@ Bob S., @Slime Mold

Last, but not least, no matter what anyone says there are times Linux of any flavor fails to satisfy when a program or app can't be found that otherwise would be considered common place in the Windows/Apple environment.

Identifying the apps that are critical for your business environment is one of the first steps in your migration study. M/S Office can be replaced by LibreOffice. Some Windows/.Net applications for which no Linux-equivalent exists can be emulated under Wine or Mono. Replacing the Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Lightroom & co.) may prove a tad more difficult, unless not used extensively, in which case Gimp can be a valid alternative for bitmap graphics, and Inkscape for vector graphics.

I wouldn't recommend running a parallel environment. What you need is a test environment with some server and desktop VM's and only when all requirements of your key users are met can you proceed to a formal migration plan. Note that both SuSE and Red Hat are offering such services, so don't try to reinvent the wheel.

BuckAugust 2, 2015 9:16 PM

@Slime Mold with Mustard

We will run Win 7 for a while, as we train up people on - What? I am familiar with some Linux platforms. That ain't gonna fly. We need something with minimal training time.
Maybe you could get a Windows 8 theme for Gnome. Rename the shortcuts from 'Calc' to 'Excel’, 'Thunderbird' to 'Outlook', 'Writer' to 'Word' etc... It may be that the training time is similar to that of a major version upgrade from Microsoft. Of course, this will vary depending on organizational needs. As Dirk pointed out, Photoshop might be tricky, but you may consider Macs for those users.

If you feel like having some fun, you could tell everyone they're getting an advance copy of Windows 11 Enterprise Edition. Then wait and see how long it takes for them to figure it out! :-P

FigureitoutAugust 2, 2015 9:45 PM

Slime Mold with Mustard RE: your proposal
--Well, besides mini essays which I'd like to read other good ones here besides me and some others (practical w/ references for further reading), you can generally "speed skim" and get the gist of it.

Thoth
--Cool papers but I'm wondering if there can be an external verification of the protocol via say a 'scope or logic analyzer? I doubt it w/ an encrypted bitstream. Maybe that can be "faked" too, but for instance the CRC part, perhaps it has a signature you could spot? Other than that, I think there's an opportunity for a "secure delivery" company that'd work unless it becomes illegal for such a company. And this is why I like simpler protocols (especially implementing and catching bugs)...not some crazy "bitstream".

John Galt IIIAugust 2, 2015 10:57 PM


Empire is a machine, driven by greed, conflict of interest, amorality and hubris, that crushes bodies and souls to make power and money.

I wouldn't have much problem with the full spectrum dominance, if it were managed with a reasonable ethical framework.

Clive RobinsonAugust 3, 2015 2:53 AM

@ rgaff,

Because of the way humans are, history gives a good indicator of likely future actions.

Unfortunatly, it's difficult to get a "warts and all" education in history, the civil servants and their tail of politicians don't want you to know it, so most below graduate history is shall we say more political propaganda...

It's easy to do, if you read my comments about Henry VIII he sounds like a good guy... well whilst factual I left out his serial womanizing, and having people executed on false charges etc, but I'm kind of hoping people know from being taught his bad side not his good. Shakespeare's had words on this particular human failing "... the good that men do is oft interned with their bones, the bad lives after them... ", so I was just trying to tip the balance a little ;-)

Clive RobinsonAugust 3, 2015 4:31 AM

@ John Gault III,

I wouldn't have much problem with the full spectrum dominance, if it were managed with a reasonable ethical framework.

It might start that way... but ethics get in the way of greed, so it will never last.

But... there is a problem with what we call greed it is of both mind and body, and with the body it might not be greed but dependency.

However with the mind can also have alternative drivers, aside from distinct mental disorders mental greed is expressed by a quest for status and it's acknowledgment by others. History teaches us that visable differentiation was common for example in Rome it's indicated that only their leader could wear some difficult to obtain colours, we see this again in medieval art with blue. But in France and other continental countries they had "dress codes" to denote status. Thus greed is the seaking not of wealth or power --they are more or less interchangable-- but differentiation from "The Common Clay" of the rest of humanity, but that must include "due deference" to the rank and position of that status. Importantly this deference is most required by "the for most of equals" that is some are more equal than others amongst their equal peers by some measure, they all agree on.

Almost invariably this gives rise to the further trappings that secret societies and cults are usually recognised. Often with exclussion being a more powerful punishment than death. We see this even in the application of legaslitive justice where "Justice has to be seen to be done" irrespective of if it is.

Who?August 3, 2015 4:56 AM

@nask

To install it you just need to press enter more or less, unless you want to create the filesystem yourself. But the interface scares away most people, they don't recognize what it is asking and don't want to look up the things or even read what the screen tells them to do when it looks like that. Even kids who have played computer games all life won't like the installation.

What can we do about people that do not even read what the screen tells them? How can people that do not care about reading stay secure, not only when using computers but also on real world too? They are drones that press the "Ok" button each time a window emerges asking for permission to do something. They do nothing to earn security.

Of course you stop pressing enter when you want to do something yourself while installing the operating system. Do you know any operating system that can be customized by just pressing enter?

Kids do not have the required skills in most cases. They just play with their consoles, run a poorly installed Ubuntu and think they rule the world and install a few apps on their smartphones.

OpenBSD requires both reading and thinking. I supposed these were basic abilities for someone that wants to run a secure computer.

Dirk PraetAugust 3, 2015 5:12 AM

@ Thoth, @ Nick P.

We know that more and more systems are looking at ARM TrustZone compatibility and software TCB ...

Which is why a growing number of security researchers are looking into it too. Check this PoC for injecting malicious code into the ARM TrustZone of Huawei smartphones.

Who?August 3, 2015 5:13 AM

@me, Francis.

Who needs to open a secure AES flash drive? Just have a bunch of fake "secure" drives that look like the real ones, and replace the good ones with the fake ones on delivery on the hubs in the United States. Easy and cheap.

There are lots of fake items for sale (think about laptop batteries on eBay); why would swapping devices be out of the scope of one of the largest surveillance agencies on the world?

ThothAugust 3, 2015 5:24 AM

@Nick P, Figureitout, Clive Robinson et. al.

I would like to note that the chips are only FIPS-140 Level 2 which means weak tampering or at most tamper detection via epoxy coating and a Level 3 rating is a moderate just pass rating and is not high end security at all. A banking HSM would gave to have Level 3 certification at least to enter the EMV process if I am not wrong. Level 3 covers more extensive tampering and the researchers would not be able to simply tap a Level 3 certified bus line that easily.

Maybe this article does not fully represent real world attacks in higher assurance security devices like those rated at CC EAL 6+ and FIPS 140 Level 3 and above rating. There are many tamper resistant countermeasures and I wonder why the general security circuits are not protected by sendor tripwires and protected by onboard tamper batteries but uf those are done, it would have been a higer rating level.

WinterAugust 3, 2015 5:29 AM

@Clive
"It's easy to do, if you read my comments about Henry VIII he sounds like a good guy..."

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Also, reigning powers seem to become more popular the greater the number of their subjects that died as a result of their rule.

Cases in history: Caesar, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Stalin, Mao.

To get back to Henry VIII:
Did Henry VIII execute a lot of people?


Estimates vary widely. Some suggest that as many as 72,000 people were executed during his reign, yet other estimates are much lower. It was a violent age and, compared to other monarchs, he was not considered particularly bloodthirsty. It was his daughter, Mary, who would earn the epithet, ‘Bloody’.

http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/HamptonCourtPalaceSightsandstoriesYounghenryFAQsaspx#28

Also, see:
List of people executed by the Tudors
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_executed_by_the_Tudors

Dirk PraetAugust 3, 2015 5:34 AM

@ Clive

Because of the way humans are, history gives a good indicator of likely future actions.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" - George Santayana

Too little attention is paid to history classes in school. It became one of my favorites early on in high school when we had a really inspiring history teacher who used to read from a medieval book of torture techniques while we were sitting written tests.

Clive RobinsonAugust 3, 2015 7:27 AM

@ Winter,

It's funny you should mention Hampton Court Palace, not only do I have three or four personal connections with it one of whom was intematly involved with the design and wording of the childrens exhibits one of which you link to. But I also used to live just around the corner, as well ws sail and teach kids to sail there.

It has also a pub "The Cardinal Wolsy" just out side HCP has been in the news in the past few days, for what sounds most peculiar.

Apparently the Landlord of the Pub "according" to the Police and prosecuting authorities, murdered a troublesome patron with an ironing board by using it to push the patron out of the premises. What is under dispute is whether the landlord pushed the patron to far, or wether the patron steped back etc, either way the patron got hit by a speeding vehical (which is difficult there) and died as a result. From the little information available in the news report I would tend to side with the story presented by the landlord that the patron was violent and the landlord was using the ironing board as a shield for self defence to avoid being kicked and punched. Thus using it to premeditativly and deliberatly kill the patron sounds a bit of a push at best, so murder does not fit the bill of the event as described publicaly.

As for "bloody Mary" there are other reasons cited as well for her being called that, it is an interesting time in history, where the idea of prison was always "short term" for all but politicaly important prisoners used as barganing chips in the grand game. But life was nasty brutish and decidedly unhealthy, where a simple cut or broken bone could lead to death or lifelong diabilities. Those tied to the land could expect an average life of about half that of their lordly masters, with death often violent due to fire or accident of unsafe working practices.

But then there was their "Faith in God" to contend with as well... and you had no option to "opt out" of that game.

Oh and entertainment was also brutish in nature, the early vestigaes of football can be seen with heads from the recently executed being kicked around... after watching the thrill of the execution. Plain hanging was rather dull compaired with such fun as being torn apart by horses, breaking on the wheel, dragged on a hurdle, hung drawn and quartered. However even minor punishment could be unpleasant and violent, we get told of people being put in the stocks, for a day or so, but apart from the more or less myth of rotten food being thrown, there is a reason the stocks were conveniently outside the pub etc. How to put it delicatly is difficult but let's just say you would most likely be used and abused by those working of their frustrations after dark.

But then death for faith reasons could be far worse as it usually had to involve a publicaly visable "driving out of demons" aspect that was done by quite inhumane ways, the least of which was being burnt to death quickly.

Modern historians tend to diagree with those befor on the exact nature of punishment and how often it was used.

But the UK has roughly 70,000 convicted criminals locked up and as many again in other forms of punishment, for a population of around 70 million. Thus one in five hundred, the UK population was not large in Tudor times and thus the numbers executed would have been smaller. However as a percentage it's difficult to judge as many executions were not recorded, and it was the usual punishment for more serious crime if caught.

My son is of an age where the more gory asspects of crime and punishment are of interest, and it's now thought not to have been as bad as I was told at his age. For instance we were led to belive that "boiling alive" was common. In reality not, firstly it was not very entertaining, secondly it was first used on a cook who had supposedly poisoned his lord, thus the punishment was made to fit the crime. He killed by cooking, therefore he was cooked to death...

Gerard van VoorenAugust 3, 2015 11:43 AM

@ Winter,

Do you know what will happen when you mix Louis XIV and Napoleon? Utter madness! ;-)

@ Obama (the guy in the White House),

When you want to revenge the OPM hack, make sure you pick the right guy.

ZackAugust 3, 2015 4:01 PM

@tyr

The crowd at hackerfests are a lot of fun because of the RPG elements involved in the milieu. The fantasy is a normal part of being human and add the tech and esoteric knowledge you get the circus in town. Mostly harmless is the best way to think of them until they fall into the trap I described of passing the buck for responsibility because what they do has real effects on real people.

Ironically, it is the "real" ones who are the most role playing. Their role playing is "real", they take it too seriously. Yet, disconnected from knowing anything, that only enhances the illusion. Part of that disconnect does involve the ambiguous entry and exit points of responsibility.

For others, they are going to be much more aware of the Role Playing Game they are engaged in is "just a game", it is "not who they really are". You can poke them just a bit and they show that. It is not a game they are far too deeply invested in to be able to know "it is not real".

Their responsibilities tend to be far less ambiguous, as are their roles in life. They do not have to fill that uncertainty with a lie just to get along. A hole these others have to feed everyday, every night, year after year.


Z.

BoppingAroundAugust 3, 2015 4:10 PM

Off-topic.

Someone at FSF has attempted an experiment to find out whether people do read the source code.

I'm a bit unsure how good is this one. Ole did only put an obscure line into the comments. Would the results be better or worse, had he put some actual code in there?

Dirk PraetAugust 3, 2015 5:53 PM

@ Clive

... the least of which was being burnt to death quickly.

Which was not necessarily a quick death either. If you were lucky, you got a bag of gun powder around your neck or died of carbon monoxide poisoning before being roasted. The French however also had a more refined technique called "petit bucher" to make the agony last as long as possibly. In essence, the convict was put on a slow-burning fire and barbecued to death. Jacques de Molay was one of the more prominent people to experience this treatment.

Clive RobinsonAugust 3, 2015 6:25 PM

@ Dirk Praet,

The French however also had a more refined technique called "petit bucher" to make the agony last as long as possible.

When I was a lot younger than I am today, I had an interest in forensic --supposadly-- science. Amongst many books I had on the subject, one was from the 1950's and dealt with distinguishing between murder and suicide. The obvious ones of slit wrists or throat where a suicide would have many tentative strokes before the one that caused exanquination, whilst murder would not. It also looked into and --we now know correctly-- doubted "spontaneous combustion".

But it also had a couple of chapters on oddities and inventiveness, which would but the Darwin Awards to shame. One of which still haunts my mind with the black and white photos of the scene taken from the police files. An emigray hard down on his luck and with no other means available took the matress and other bedding off the bed frame in his lodgings and put a fresh lit candle under the supporting springs, then lay down upon it and with fortitude lay still with it cooking his spine slowly untill he died...

me, @allAugust 3, 2015 7:17 PM

The second Thunderstrike exploit to target Macs

Researchers create a worm that infects Macs silently and permanently
http://www.engadget.com/2015/08/03/mac-firmware-worm/

This new version is more nefarious because the malware can be delivered via a link. The latest OS X security update (10.10.4) seems to keep the exploit from taking hold.

GregWAugust 3, 2015 7:44 PM

Bruce likes to pull from many fields to understand fundamental security/society issues.

In that spirit, here's a quote about the general problem of "security" which I just ran across from a 1951 philosophy text. I immediately thought Bruce and others here might appreciate it:

There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. [GW: read the blog commentary below for more context on what he means by "whose very nature is momentariness".] But the contradiction lies a little deeper than the mere conflict between the desire for security and the fact of change. If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure. To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I,” but it is just the feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid. In other words, the more security I can get, the more I shall want.

To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.

Source: Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety (1951)
Blog article containing the quote: http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/06/alan-watts-wisdom-of-insecurity-1/

I just love the last line in that quote. Ha!

Is this a fair synopsis/assessment of why we find ourselves living in an ever-snooping security state?

rgaffAugust 3, 2015 8:25 PM

@ GregW

It is a fair explanation of the famous Benjamin Franklin quote:

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"

I'd like to note here that the word "deserve" is really denoting a natural consequence, not a punishment. You will ALWAYS naturally become less safe when you give up liberty to get safety, it's a natural law of the universe. That's why ALL people who keep talking like there's a "balance" between the two are dead wrong. There's no "balance"... they are not opposing forces where you either have lots of one and little of the other, or little of the one and lots of the other. Liberty creates safety, without it, there IS NO SAFETY AT ALL.

rgaffAugust 3, 2015 8:27 PM

FYI, before stupid people answer, let me just say, anarchy is not liberty. So freedom to murder everyone is not liberty. Liberty has defined rules and limits to behavior... it ends right where another's begins. That's all it is.

rgaffAugust 3, 2015 8:40 PM

And also, the limits must be set fairly, obviously.... you don't just grant one person the right to murder everyone and everyone else only the right to be murdered, then call that the "rules of liberty".... It has to be fair for everyone, obviously.

rgaffAugust 3, 2015 8:41 PM

...and why am I answering every troll before they even start to troll? people never use their heads anymore! use them people! sheesh!

ZackAugust 3, 2015 9:12 PM

@GregW, rgaff, whomsoever

'Why security'...

Could it not be that security is just a kind of boundary between the finite and the infinite? A matter which plagues us all? This is the finite world, yet in our hearts and minds we can embrace the infinite.

Infinite gold, infinite beauty, infinite love, infinite good times, infinite joy, infinite water, infinite food, infinite technology... infinite life... we can imagine all these things, or strive to, yet everything is frustrated in this world. It does not fit.

It is not ever as we can imagine, and it never seemingly is.

And there comes in "security".

Z.

Slime Mold with MustardAugust 3, 2015 9:24 PM

@ nask
@ piquant bass
@ Who?
@ Dirk Praet

THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!

You have all helped not merely a small office, but few couple magnitudes larger number of employees and clients.

I ought to of known that I should go here for the more practical answers!

Luv,

Slime

cynicalAugust 3, 2015 9:39 PM

@ rgaff

>...and why am I answering every troll before they even start to troll?

You're not alone amigo.

We all often make reasonable expectations of others impressions on our marks, as to what good lurks in the heart of wo/men.

There is a polarity matter to sphere as laws of physics. Thus politics is a nonfiction science as a study of polarity and expectations of groups of people not matters.

CuriousAugust 4, 2015 1:35 AM

Firstlook.org's 'The Intercept' has a couple of stories about something that apparently is actually called "ECHELON", said to be a reference found in the Snowden documents.

It is at the moment unclear to me what kind of publicity Echelon had had in the years prior.

"Ever since legendary British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell told the world in a 1988 magazine article about ECHELON — a massive, automated surveillance dragnet that indiscriminately intercepted phone and Internet data from communications satellites — Western intelligence officials have refused to acknowledge that it existed."

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/08/03/17-years-reporter-exposed-echelon-finds-vindication-snowden-archive/

&

"In December 2014, I asked fellow Scottish journalist and Intercept reporter Ryan Gallagher to check Snowden’s documents. Was there evidence of ECHELON?"

"There was; the documents included details of the “ECHELON agreement” and more — a batch of GCHQ and NSA documents confirming what whistleblower Margaret Newsham had revealed 27 years ago. ECHELON was indeed “a system targeting communications satellites” that began nearly 50 years ago."
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/08/03/life-unmasking-british-eavesdroppers/


I wonder what role the satellite play in eavesdropping on telecommunications today. I guess I would like to know if relaying data over satellites in some covert way was a feature somehow.

Wondering if perhaps the name Echelon might be random, or perhaps allude to some deeper meaning. Afaik, 'echelon' is associated with being a flight formation and for when advancing groups of soldiers on the ground. (Ofc, there might even be more references.)

Something else that I've been wondering about: How did the Watergate scandal in USA get detected? Could it be that the democrats so to speak, had sort of bugged the republicans first and learned about an upcoming break in beforehand? :) That would be hilarious wouldn't it?

CuriousAugust 4, 2015 1:52 AM

Does anyone know what the following phrase is supposed to mean?
I mean, I can read and write English, however I am puzzled as to what point is being made with this statement? 'Prejudicial' sounds a bit like prejudice.

"for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state"

CouldntPossiblyCommentAugust 4, 2015 3:46 AM

@Curious Prejudicial to the safety etc. is indeed derived from the word prejudice. More specifically, an act that is considered prejudicial is believed to introduce prejudice, that is from the literal pre-prior judice-judgement. One can trace most usages of the word back to the basic concept of a prior act influencing, often inappropriately, a subsequent situation.

Legal Dictionary describes prejudicial in a formal legal context to mean harmful, biased, damaging etc. I am not a lawyer, but this is what I could glean:

For example, an act that is prejudicial to my rights might be seen as contravening some fundamental right I possess (thus a future exercising of my rights would have issues). An act prejudicial to my legal case might well put the fairness or unbiased nature of the outcome of my legal case into question. An act prejudicial to the safety of the state is one deemed to put the safety of the state at risk at some future point.

There are also other uses of the terms. A legal case can be closed with prejudice, or employment can be terminated with prejudice (both meaning permanent, they cannot be re-opened). This follows the more literal prior judgement - i.e. a prior judgement has been made that forever bars that person from being re-employed in that circumstance.

This gives rise to 'terminate with extreme prejudice' as in suggesting the person has actually been killed, a prior judgement that is guaranteed to prevent any future recurrence.

The more usual prejudice term of e.g. racial prejudice is referring to a judgement prior to all the facts being available e.g. one believes person X is Y because of their race, rather than waiting to actually know them.

BroderickAugust 4, 2015 4:10 AM

Detekt version 2.0 is out (Jul 28, 2015)

- DETEKT

What is Detekt and how does it work?

"Detekt is a free tool that scans your computer for traces of known surveillance spyware used by governments to target and monitor human rights defenders and journalists around the world. By alerting them to the fact that they are being spied on, they will have the opportunity to take precautions.

It was developed by security researchers and has been used to assist in Citizen Lab's investigations into government use of spyware against human rights defenders, journalists and activists as well as by security trainers to educate on the nature of targeted surveillance.

Amnesty International is partnering with Privacy International, Digitale Gesellschaft and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to release Detekt to the public for the first time."

https://resistsurveillance.org/
https://resistsurveillance.org/faq.html
https://github.com/botherder/detekt/releases
https://twitter.com/botherder/

ZackAugust 4, 2015 7:00 AM

@curious

Watergate was detected because the burglars made several screw ups. No counter-conspiracy about it. In fact, a great example of how conspiracies often screw up. And so good lesson for those who over inflate the capabilities of others, which is 'all of us'. But can be trained against.

Clive RobinsonAugust 4, 2015 7:11 AM

@ Curious,

"for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state"

The problem you are having is that words change their meaning in peoples heads by usage.

The word "prejudice" has the same roots as "prejudge", "prejudicate" and "prejudicial"

All are to do with making choices befor a valid judgment.

We most frequently hear "prejudice" with respect to discrimination against individuals or groups, often over race, gender and sexual orientation, though in more recent times we are now hearing it over "other 'isms'" such as status, class, size, and the way people speak, dress, behave etc.

Thus it is loosely related to a "harm" or "harms" the target of the specific "ism" suffers as a consequence of what is at the end of the day a "knee jerk" reaction / judgment.

The "isms" arise in three basic ways,

1, Somebody suffers a harm from a person in a differentiable group.
2, Somebody is taught to blaim/hate a person from a differentiable group.
3, Somebody for personal gain uses the differentiation to their own advantage.

The thing to watch out for is those of the third group, who make declerations that legislation should not favour differentiable groups as a smoke screen to doing exactly that. An example is you differentiate on a secondary charecteristic such as wealth, a game you can see the neocons playing everyday, by buying legislation through elected officials. They claim it's fair because anybody can have wealth... however as we know this is actually a lie, recources are finite thus a balanced share would get worse with any increase in population. However we see through prejudicial legislation for the very wealthy, they form a closed group that corals resources to stop others gaining wealth. It's one of the reasons new technologies are called "disruptive" because it upsets the old order of closed group wealth accumulation.

And the "prejudicial" in that phrase means exactly that, anything that "harms" that closed group's intrests, and thus that of their purchased very self interested representatives.

Clive RobinsonAugust 4, 2015 10:36 AM

@ Bruce, Nick P,

I don't know if you've read this or the two documents it links to,

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-33676028

As a point of interest the machine pictured had an earlier version that was known to be in use in the Egyption Embassy in London at the time that MI5's Peter Wright (Spy catcher) and Tony Sale (Bletchly) were tapping the phone line in their crypto room to exploit an acoustic side channel that revealed the wheel settings.

So it is entirely possible that one of the back doors introduced by Boris's engineers was an extension to the sound side channel. It would be remarkably easy to do in various ways.

meAugust 4, 2015 11:30 AM

@Curious

My understanding is that microwave point-to-point transmissions can also be picked up by satellites due to the curvature of the earth.

Though, as we know from the UK-IRELAND telephone microwave link, building a windowed tower in the middle of the transmission path is a cheaper and more permanent solution.

65535August 4, 2015 4:53 PM

This is another mobile phone question directed at experienced commentator like Clive and Nick P and so on.

Some YouTube “experts” indicate that simply turning off a mobile phone kills the signal and is sufficient to keep the NSA from spying on you [all varieties of phones from cheap burner phones to the newest Samsung cell phone]. I disagree.

Here is where I designate a mobile phone is “on” and can be used a spy device:

When a mobile phone has a “time alarm” capability to alert users of pending task to be done AND Is Powered Off [but still has the battery in it] – And the so-called “time alert” issues an alarm via a tone or other method while off – it is can be used as a spy device – and should be considered as such.

I believe the only way to stop the cell phone from covert real time monitoring is to remove the battery or use a Faraday cage style pouch or other Faraday device. When I say “real time monitoring” I am excluding the ability of said phone to record or cache the conversation to be retrieved at a later date.

Feel free to comment Clive or Nick P – or any other person who is familiar with cell phone technology and/or RF technology.

Any comments?

Clive RobinsonAugust 4, 2015 5:33 PM

@ 65535,

Some YouTube “experts” indicate that simply turning off a mobile phone kills the signal and is sufficient to keep the NSA from spying on you [all varieties of phones from cheap burner phones to the newest Samsung cell phone]. I disagree

You are correct to disagree.

I do not know of any mobile phone these days that has a "hard off" switch, as far as I am aware they are all "soft off" switches.

A hard off switch physicaly disconects the power source and is the equivalent of taking the battery out. Software has no way of getting around this physical disconnect.

A soft off switch is not a physical switch it's a momentary push button at best, or just a patch on a touch screen. It's entire functionality is defined by software, and whilst it may originally have had the desired aproximation to off the reality is quite a bit different especialy with an OTA update or malware capable of changing the software.

If you think about it a soft off switch being a button or touch screen patch can not actually be an off switch, otherwise how would you turn the phone on again? The best it does is put the phone into some type of low power mode, which may or may not turn the radio module off (as in aircraft mode).

Anyone who claims otherwise had better be prepared to show a real switch not a button on the phone, and that it genuinely open circuits the battery from the electronics and maintains it that way untill operated again, otherwise they are making invalid assumptions.

Oh and these days even six year olds should know the difference between a button and a switch, because they get shown it at school as part of their
introduction to science, with flash lights and code (aldis) lamps.

Dirk PraetAugust 4, 2015 5:55 PM

@ 65535

Get yourself one of these for any device you can't take the battery out of (e.g. iPhone).

tyrAugust 4, 2015 6:51 PM


This one's for Bob S.

Clipped from elsewhere.

Loaded up WIN 10 last night and left it on to do its thing. Woke up to wife asking why I set it to rotate all my porn images right on the desk top view. I have no idea how to shut that feature off and that computer is staying shut down until I do.

Free windows and a free trip to the doghouse. Thanks Microsoft!!!

Edit: Don’t make my mistake, keep your private pictures out of My Pictures, no matter how deep you hide them in sub folders.


If transparency enhances security, Gates has finally
managed the magic trick. : ^ )

65535August 4, 2015 7:18 PM

@ Clive

“If you think about it a soft off switch being a button or touch screen patch can not actually be an off switch, otherwise how would you turn the phone on again? The best it does is put the phone into some type of low power mode, which may or may not turn the radio module off (as in aircraft mode). Anyone who claims otherwise had better be prepared to show a real switch not a button on the phone, and that it genuinely open circuits the battery from the electronics and maintains it that way untill operated again, otherwise they are making invalid assumptions.”
Thanks for confirming my suspicions. Lesson learned:

1] Take out the battery

2] Use a Faraday Cage pouch or similar Faraday device.

@ Dirk Praet

Good idea.

Now, I wonder when the NSA will start to subvert these pouches in one form or another. Say, some type of thin-film transistor hidden in the manufacturing process that records or caches data for re-transmission? Yea, that is a stretch'g but it could happen.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thin-film_transistor

Or, the NSA just issues an NSL to these companies and subverts them. There a portion of the population that would not know how to test the pouch and go blissfully on their marry way assuming that "it works" [Think granny]. But, other people would not fall for that trick.

Dirk PraetAugust 4, 2015 7:55 PM

@ 65535

Now, I wonder when the NSA will start to subvert these pouches in one form or another.

A not entirely unreasonable concern. Somewhere in a distant past, I was having a conversation with Nick P. who IIRC was looking for something similar. I pointed him at this military issue box. Alternatively, look for a non-US product.

Dirk PraetAugust 4, 2015 8:00 PM

@ tyr

Free windows and a free trip to the doghouse. Thanks Microsoft!!!

Probably a deliberate prank from engineering. They've come a long way from hidden flight simulators in Excel.

Nick PAugust 4, 2015 9:44 PM

@ Curious

Good to have more confirmation. It's that exact type of double standard that's the reason I call BS on Europe's reaction to Snowden leaks. Other leaks indicate that pretty much all of them were cooperating to some degree in NSA's SIGINT efforts. That document says why. ;)

@ 65545

You were correct. Clive's soft vs hard button issue is one way. I particularly like his statement:

"If you think about it a soft off switch being a button or touch screen patch can not actually be an off switch, otherwise how would you turn the phone on again? "

Nicely sums that up. The other thing to remember in these discussions is that phones have several chips in them that each can have loads of functionality. Most of these are designed to draw almost no power while in operation. The simpler circuits can last a week easy if not making much use of radio or screen. Old Blackberries did while doing way more than a GPS or DMA subversion would need.

So, you have a bunch of circuits that do unknown things for long lengths of time without any indicators. Without knowing inside, the only logical route is to disable their power: remove battery. Any onboard, tiny batteries might still be a risk. Old CMOS comes to mind. Might be a mobile equivalent. Yet, even if they existed, the main SOC and baseband activity are battery-powered due to high energy needs. Right back to removing battery.

@ Clive Robinson

I love reading stuff like this. It goes "he was hinting to me that... would make it possible... to supply certain customers with a model *almost like* the M-209. This model is, of course, easier to solve than the new models and [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] redacted]." Lol.

I kind of skimmed over the rest for now so I might have missed something relevant to this point but... it would seem that NSA having this much detail into Crypto AG's operation and them offering a sabotage makes old Crypto AG claims 100x more believable. They can't act like they barely had a relationship. NSA knew everything about their operation. They were also willing to weaken the products for money. Things might have changed over decades, but I'd steer clear of any firm like that.

Note: I like how one redaction made it look like no conversation happened and the other indicated subversion potential. One reviewer was wiser than the other. ;)

@ Dirk

". Somewhere in a distant past, I was having a conversation with Nick P. who IIRC was looking for something similar. "

Yeah. It was a nice box. Still on my to-do list. :)

@ tyr

We'll probably be fine until things like Bing and Amazon start suggesting porn to us in targeted ads. People will suddenly remember the value of not staying logged in, no cookies, and using proxies. :)

ThothAugust 4, 2015 10:27 PM

@Nick P, Cpive Robinson
It is really hard to trust any, especially the big companies like Crypto AG, General Dynamics, Thales, Harris, BAE et. al. since we know they have some level or most that would involve Govt interactions to be that big and powerful. It is like asking China to supply encryptors for military operations.

Latest Samsung phones have their batteries buried into the chipset so it's a permanent tracking device if you will. Apple's already done it anyway. More phones I guess would be moving towards batteries jammed into handsets.

High security with better usability and docunentations might simply be reserved for the echelons and elites ?

65535August 4, 2015 11:49 PM

@ Dirk Praet

“A not entirely unreasonable concern. Somewhere in a distant past, I was having a conversation with Nick P. who IIRC was looking for something similar. I pointed him at this military issue box.”

That looks like a very solid Faraday box! Thanks.

@ Nick P

"If you think about it a soft off switch being a button or touch screen patch can not actually be an off switch, otherwise how would you turn the phone on again? " - Clive

“Nicely sums that up. The other thing to remember in these discussions is that phones have several chips in them that each can have loads of functionality. Most of these are designed to draw almost no power while in operation. The simpler circuits can last a week easy if not making much use of radio or screen. Old Blackberries did while doing way more than a GPS or DMA subversion would need.” –Nick P

That is an excellent point.

For me, it is back to removing the battery [if possible] or a Faraday pouch… or a thick steel pot.

@ Thoth

“Latest Samsung phones have their batteries buried into the chipset so it's a permanent tracking device if you will. Apple's already done it anyway. More phones I guess would be moving towards batteries jammed into handsets.”

The non-removable battery is a horrible trend. I wonder if the NSA had some part in the fixed battery cell phones – I would not put it past them [Plus, when the battery dies and cannot be charged you would have to buy a new phone or the like – typical business planned obsolesce and more revenue for phone manufactures].


FigureitoutAugust 4, 2015 11:58 PM

Thoth RE: tampering
--Their attacks had some "pre-req's" too like some known plain/ciphertext; the worst are those requiring little known info and high spread potential (like the android MMS thing). General physical protection would work for the most part, until you sleep. And the tamper-resistance, I'd be happy w/ that (I'm guilty of leaving my PC's open b/c I'll just keep opening them anyway, pain in ass removing covers and cables, the entire lab needs to be a "safe zone"). You might as well make it a ROM chip at that point b/c updating it would destroy it more or less (screw-less design too).

OT: TrustZone bug
--Thought you would like this. Pretty good RE of TrustZone. Exploit found (and notified Qualcomm) allowing "full" code execution in the Trustzone kernel (bug covered, not exploit yet).

http://bits-please.blogspot.com/2015/08/exploring-qualcomms-trustzone.html

ThothAugust 5, 2015 12:27 AM

@Clive Robinson
Wiuld it be safe to assume using some sort if cascade cipher for higher security settings and also with different ciphering mechanism running either in different physical or logical sandboxes be a better idea ? Say you encrypt in Serpent in one machine and move to a Twofish encryptor on a separate machine and chain them in an order of either randomness or preference and then send it with a MAC would be harder for machines or chips to collude ? It us an idea from your Prison setup.

@Figureitout
Re: Physical tampering
It is just another method or an inital method to make attacks much harder. Defense is about delay. Another way is to split your materials logical data bits into oieces like a quorum based secret share and keeping them separate until a need to use. You may want to split (maybe not secret share) the ciphertext as well although it is an overkill. The best is to store keys in tamper resistant RAM reason being that keys ahould be available only when keyed and use from a chips internal RAM in the confines of tamper traps so the attempts to breach a running tamper resistive chip meant having live traps keeping watch. Of course traps can be breach and it's just to increase cost and effort to breach the traps. Snaking eating it's tail style of "self-encrypting" chips with dynamic designs adds the cost and time needed.

Noted on the TrustZone bug. Will read it later. Weaknesses in TrustZone are due to implemwntations in vendors.

CuriousAugust 5, 2015 5:48 AM

US 'FCC' retention rules is being questioned. Major points seem to revolve around how data retention rules are anti-privacy, anti-democracy and generally being something outdated by today's telecom technology for the purpose of keeping customer records as I understood it.

http://www.dailydot.com/politics/fcc-phone-records-rule-privacy-groups-letter/
("Privacy groups attack NSA surveillance at the root by targeting FCC rule")

"The Electronic Privacy Information Center and 27 other consumer groups wrote to the FCC asking it to repeal the "Retention of Telephone Toll Records" rule, which requires phone companies to hold onto customers' personal information and call details for 18 months in case law-enforcement agents need them for investigations."

Nick PAugust 5, 2015 11:18 AM

@ Thoth

And now I'm seeing a secondary market for Samsung clones with removable batteries and older, jailbroken phones. :)

winterAugust 5, 2015 2:26 PM

@Dirk
"Get yourself one of these for any device you can't take the battery out of (e.g. iPhone)."

A tinfoil hat might not work for brains, they do for phones.

When I wrap my phone in a few layers of tin foil, it cannot be called anymore. That suggests that it also cannot call out.

All local recording will continue, though.

Dirk PraetAugust 5, 2015 6:19 PM

@ Winter

When I wrap my phone in a few layers of tin foil, it cannot be called anymore. That suggests that it also cannot call out.

I guess it's the same difference as between wrapping your lunch in aluminium foil and putting it in a lunch box. You use the foil to keep it fresh when you haven't got anything else. The foil is one time use, the box isn't. From a bystander's perspective, people will think of you as a paranoid nut when using the foil, whereas using a classy pouch - preferably with some official looking logo on it - will lead to wild conspiracy theories of you being some kind of spook they can better be on good terms with. Dress sharp for added effect, answer every question on the topic with another question and it's just a matter of time before you become irresistible to all the ladies at the office 8-)

ThothAugust 5, 2015 8:36 PM

@Nick P
Any smartphone with removable batteries would work. I am hoping Genode and Ksyslabs work more on other brand of phones to stabilize and port over their open source Genode ARM implementations for those with ARM chips inside. We know that Qualcomm have been making a good amount of mistakes with their TrustZone implementation and @Figureitout recently pointed out the latest bug that allows sideloading of unchecked binaries into RAM and violate integrity and security using a very small command parameters in his recent post. Now I am doubtful of the Qualcomm QSEE TrustZone. Someone should take a stab at Samsung Exynos and KNOX and publish open results without holding back. I think the Genode TrustZone with L4 microkernels might be much better than those ckose sourced due to it's openness (a generic statement).

FigureitoutAugust 5, 2015 11:27 PM

Thoth
--Defense is about delay and capture. Wasting their time isn't good enough (though letting them analyze utter crap is funny), you need to let them know how it feels and give them a good scare. After a few good thorough pwns they'll probably switch over to the actual harder problem to solve, setting up a secure system that's usable.

Finally said "screw it" to one of my windows laptops and installed kali on disk (after trying Qubes...I couldn't get used to it, too weird lol, like some other things I've tried I couldn't get wifi to work! lol it's good I guess if I can't connect internet. Then screwing around w/ vm's and starting assigning usb controllers to different "domains" and I just tried one of my usb's and frickin' dom0 opened it so it ruined the isolation...gah...and no more live for everything...goddamn so much nicer w/ SATA speeds, get my ram back, not waste time w/ settings) and there's some really cool features. Encrypted everything on 1 partition now, but they had an option of partioning off /tmp, /home and some other directories, wonder if anyone has tried that and liked it (and how it works communicating b/w those encrypted partitions..)?

RE: trs 80 article
--Great read, that journalist earned some "street cred" from me. The few older machines I "brought back to life" was the best feeling ever (got a couple ti-499's I want to revive on later date, probably at least 5 years since other projects are more pressing/fun), must've been a rush connecting to that first site. Maybe it could be a guard but it seems like the Pi was doing most of the heavy lifting and the trs-80 was the endpoint, perhaps it'd be good to use b/c who has malware for the trs-80 ready to go lol?!

RE: using smartphones and trustzone
--Relying on a smartphone for an ultimate security operation is a definite fail from the start. I can barely take apart an old cell phone and remember how to put it back together (well, actually I can but it's so fragile and stuff) and there's too much packed so tightly. So if you really care don't use a smartphone, burner phones bought w/ cash from a "swap-meet", sim-cards, make the call quick w/ OTP code words in the form of regular sounding sentences etc...

Note that he said Qualcomm was pleasant to work w/ and patched the bug very quickly which indicates just a simple mistake, even simple standard protocols on today's chips can be hard to implement.

Regardless, I wish Qualcomm would work more on the BrewOS ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_Runtime_Environment_for_Wireless )and similar things (couldn't receive MMS messages for example, couldn't run sh*t on some of those other phones lol besides the full on backdoors/hacks), harden simpler things w/ their best people instead of "feature-land", but f*cking market for phones is cut throat and they're reaching limits on new things to do (so start focusing on security! goddamnit...).

Nick PAugust 5, 2015 11:43 PM

@ Figureitout

It's funny you mention Brew. That was one of OKL4's case studies IIRC. The phone supplier could run Brew apps side-by-side with more modern apps on their platform. I'm guessing that means BrewOS is done for in terms of updates and features. Try another another platform.

FigureitoutAugust 6, 2015 12:12 AM

Nick P
--Well it's bullsh*t anyway w/ features like e911 constantly pinging your phone, sh*tty crypto that's broken by $30 devices, and terrible authentication replicated w/ $1500 and less (to pwn lots of devices). And the phone supplier has all your calls, meta data (locations importantly) and texts. And there's like what, 5 phone suppliers tops?

But no one can move on to digital HF radio b/c "that's too much, you tinfoil hatter".

ThothAugust 6, 2015 2:12 AM

@Figureitout
Maybe it's best to keep defenses and operations mire simple than to try and scare someone. In the military fields, anything too complex and the boys on the ground won't get it.

BuckAugust 6, 2015 3:01 AM

@Thoth

P.S. Why would NSA be interested in those researchers since NSA already is presumably good at its operations.
Uhh... NOBUS.!?

Clive RobinsonAugust 6, 2015 3:14 AM

@ Figureitout, Mike the Goat, Nick P, Thoth, Wael,

With regards OS we appear to keep going around in circles...

Perhaps it's time we actually decided what we want from a very minimal kernel, and then take it from there.

Back in the early days of unix there were very few Sys-calls less than seventy were described in the Bach book. Now when we look at any of the current standards we see anything upto a couple of thousand, of which many appear as way out edge cases at best.

I would propose we think in terms of as simple an unprivileged application process space as possible, possibly ditching run time memory managment (sbrk and friends) would simplify many things and rather than "everything looks like a file" everything look like a well defined message in a stream and attendant control channel. Thus shifting out most of the system side code and having the ability to have a strongly mediated interface, either by the system or a hypervisor process.

Having derived the simplest case we can then look at what's required for the various system and privileged processes.

The less complexity at these layers the better, even if people howl about what they perceive as inefficiency.

When we've got a rought draft idea we can then think about the pros and cons of other OS's and be able to evaluate them in a methodical manner.

Gerard van VoorenAugust 6, 2015 12:37 PM

@ Clive Robinson

Although I am not on your "to" list I would like to add a few things.

"With regards OS we appear to keep going around in circles...

True!

Perhaps it's time we actually decided what we want from a very minimal kernel, and then take it from there."

The question is: What do you want to reach? Or more in general, what do we want to reach?

AnuraAugust 6, 2015 12:44 PM

@Clive Robinson

With regards OS we appear to keep going around in circles...


Perhaps it's time we actually decided what we want from a very minimal kernel, and then take it from there.

Have you considered forming a committee?

/me runs away

J on the river Lethe August 6, 2015 3:35 PM

@rgaff

There is in deed a lot of discussion of history on this blog. As well as level headed discussion. That quote about history repeating as if it is some kind of curse. I do enjoy history. The problem is in the interpretation. Gibbons wrote a huge tome putting forth opinions about what caused the Roman Empire to "fall".

Many opinions and analysis, and only one correct? Maybe. But something like WWI can spawn theories with documentation in the dozens. Add political theory and you have enough to chew on to give you a headache. Today we have technology to help and complicate the analysis. I would submit that the damage that a single individual or small group can cause is going to necessitate a change in political structures, as well as individual adjustments. A society whether we like it or not in some cases restrains individuals and groups. How far is too far? What is still truly private and none of anyone else's business. Now we have that business being the actual business model!

How much of the modern economies would crash if individuals actually restrained the privacy leak? Information is being gathered, sold, repackaged, sold again. Ponzi? I think so. How many times can the same info be resold? How many junk emails, mail or phone calls does the average person throw away? Someone is selling and buying that info. Any showman can tell you playing to a crowd is dangerous. They can turn on you in a heartbeat. Just a thought.

Recent funny for me. Is getting junk mail from a cementary wanting to sell me land. Veteran specials offered. ha! F off! Must have been sold out by a vet group. :( I have gone from people wanting to sell me a house to this special.

Back to what you said. Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. Those who fail to learn history CORRECTLY, they are simply doomed. One of My favorite quotes. From andromeda series. Such a fing geek. ;)

tyrAugust 6, 2015 6:07 PM

@ J, rgaff

I recommend Max Nordau for a basic overview of
what being a historian is all about. Easy to find
on archive.org.

Gibbon ran afoul of the mythical narrative when he
did an evidence based investigation. So the way to
read Decline is do the text first, then go back and
waste your time on the footnotes. Pareto should be
read in reverse first the footnotes, then the text.

I fail to see how one is supposed to do any human
activity correctly since there is no evidence of it
occurring in the past.

We have an advantage because the physical sciences
are shining a light into the past that is evidence
based. That makes it possible to connect the dots
of what would otherwise be random agenda based hear-
say and have some reasonable surety that the time of
occurrence makes sense.

No amount of spin will change the flood once you find
the nano diamonds left by the cometary strike on the
Canadian ice pack. Now world wide flood legends make
sense.

@Clive

Are you sure you want to discard the everything looks
like a stream to the kernel model? I'd like to see the
drivers code fend off unwanted intrusions into kernel
space. Getting rid of the kitchen sink approach to lib
code would go a long way towards making things harder
to subvert.


ThothAugust 6, 2015 6:13 PM

@Anura

"Have you considered forming a committee?"

Agreed :) . We need an open security committee to handle things from hardware to software standards yet again since the current ones are simply in-effective at best at doing anything. Look at how many holes SSL/TLS legacy stuff creep into certain libraries and the protocol as well as a good example of security protocols failing.

AnuraAugust 6, 2015 6:35 PM

@Thoth

I mentioned before that I started making a sort of crypto protocol framework; basically a modular toolkit that allows you to create secure cryptographic protocols from a handful of independently verifiable components, but I got busy on other projects that are taking priority (you know, like watching TV, and arguing on the internet). I'd like to try to have maybe some sort of proof of concept by the end of the year if I can find the time.

Clive RobinsonAugust 6, 2015 8:40 PM

@ Gerard van Vooren,

I suspect "the usual suspects" would be more than happy to swell their ranks :)

Maybe we should start using hashtags, but that has it's problems as well...

With regards to "The question",

What do you want to reach? Or more in general, what do we want to reach?

The general definition of a kernel is "to provide abstract support via systems and services" which is vague enough to cover most sins, hence the bloated size of modern kernels.

If you go back to the early 1980's it was realised that the idea of a "Personal Computer" had problems from the issues that arose from the success of the Apple ][. It's IO slots, enabled any hardware to be added, but there was no standards of access which ment that even "80 column" display cards all worked differently and thus you would have to buy the card that worked with the software you wanted to use then you had to live with software that worked with the card you now had...

Hence the idea of a Basic Input Output System (BIOS) which stole certain ideas from early *nix via CP/M.

Bad as the early BIOSs were they provided a minimal common environment for applications without the unnecesary overhead of "Big Iron" OS's, and it's getting back to that idea in a secure way that I'm interested in doing.

As I frequently say the future of computing is in parallel operation and pretty much always has been since the earliest days, the impediment being the serial nature of human thinking.

Thus you have to think of how to effectivly pull the two modes of working together not just in software but hardware as well. The solution in software has been processes, lightweight processes, and shared environment threads. Whilst the last works well on single CPU systems, it has problems on multi-core systems and up and fails horribly in distributed systems. Hence lightweight processes with efficient message passing is one way to go, even though it can have security issues.

Thus the simplest model to think of from the application software side is a single CPU system with fixed sized memory and a simple streams/message interface to run a tasklet or lightweight process in. Such a limited BIOS type interface can be written in a tiny amount of code and thus be fairly easily audited for security etc.

This enables such a system to be thought of like a telephone that is plugged into a switch, and likwise all the services it needs are likewise plugged into the switch. Providing care is taken expanding the reach of the switch is a fairly well known process.

Further from a programers point of view writting small tasklets with clear message passing interfaces is a way of converting serial thinking into parallel functioning.

There are downsides, for instance running multiple tasklets on a single CPU or Core gives rise to context switching overhead, however tasklets don't require heavy weight memory managment of full blown VM so the overhead is considerably less than it might otherwise be.

Tasklets also have the advantage of low complexity thus are easier to security audit and keep secure in the execution environment. They also have less complex interfaces thus making the task of security easier in many respects.

Thus my thinking is to work out what is required for a minimal tasklet environment as a starting point, and work from that point upwards.

@ Tyr,

Are you sure you want to discard the everything looks ike a stream to the kernel model?

Simple answer "Yes and No"...

The problem is that it is very simple but to simple. It's ideal as an abstraction but in the process causes problems of "in band" / "out of bound" encoding and signaling which makes the "strongly mediated" interfaces required for security difficult.

@ Anura, Thoth,

"Have you considered forming a committee?"

Aghhh (sound effect of footsteps running fading off to stage right)

Most committees I've ever been involved with appeared to have had only one of two purposes, firstly look busy but do nothing in reality or secondly a pretence at democracy whilst a fight to the death to get your way to become the only way is happening.

Which might be the reason behind,

    Standards are like toothbrushes, every one agrees you should have one, but nobody except you want's to use yours...

@ Anura,

... but I got busy on other projects that are taking priority (you know, like watching TV, and arguing on the internet)

Hmm once upon a time "religion" was called "the opiate of the masses", but that was befor "reality TV" and "You-Blube".

George Orwell called it right on a screen in every home and the Two Way "idiot box" we call the Internet... Well Orwell missed the "two way" bit, but he sure called the ubiquitous surveillance right on it thougy...

Clive RobinsonAugust 6, 2015 9:07 PM

@ Markus Ottela,

The important thing to note is,

    Specifically, Funtenna offers comparable exfiltration capabilities to RF-based retro-reflectors, but can be realized without the need for physical implantation and illumination

Thus it falls fair and square into the TEMPEST domain with "data coding enhancments".

Thus it's applying "method" to "known knowledge" not providing "new knowledge".

It's the sort of thing I would have expected the likes of GCHQ, NSA, et al to have done a long long time ago to make their lives simpler by providing a standard "signals framework".

The thing about such standards is "they have signatures" by which they can be readily identified and thus used (the whole point of doing it). That is in the process of making their task easier those adopting such methods make the defenders job easier as well.

Look at it this way the signal may be "down in the grass" but it adds pattern to the grass so stands out like those nice stripes you see on well maintained lawns...

WaelAugust 6, 2015 11:24 PM

@ Clive Robinson,

With regards OS we appear to keep going around in circles...

I need a break to get some things in order, my friend ...

tyrAugust 7, 2015 3:17 AM


@ the usual suspects

This is strictly speculative.

One way to avoid the problems in modern architecture
would be to use a true multitasker. The kernel would
then reside in a dedicated CPU/mem and only process
requests from the isolated task CPUs by handling the
DMA between processor cards. Its only function would
be to check for action requests in its dedicated mem
space.

So the display unit only cycles through its program
and displays what appears in its memory via DMA magic.
That CPU is unaware that the others exist and there
is no coupling except at the kernel DMA control level.
Same with communications, that CPU handles it all
and only passes info to another CPU by stuffing it
into a dedicated memory slot in another CPUs memory
space.

You write code for each CPU memory combination as a
single task program. There is no monster context
switching stack storage to deal with. and the kernel
just controls the DMA channel between CPUs by handling
the requests it recieves.

You add functions by plugging in more CPU memory combos
loading their code and the rest is taken care of by
the kernel.

You'd have to break the Intel lock on computing with
its environment stack saving method but it would be
easier to concentrate on specific task hardwares.

It is similar to Unii but the kernel thinks everything
is a memory location instead of a bitstream.

Clive RobinsonAugust 7, 2015 4:11 AM

@ Wael,

Take the time you need but pop up occasionally to say hi.

People can forget, some things can and do take time to sort out.

Any way as Ken Dodd once said "Listen here Misses this is important, just remember, a laugh is a noise, that comes out from a hole in your face,,, anyhere else and maybe you should change your diet".

Clive RobinsonAugust 7, 2015 7:52 AM

@ tyr,

This is strictly speculative.

Actually it's not speculative, at least not to me and one or two others, I've been thinking and building along those lines with increadably cheap microcontrolers (many of which have more resourses than most early Unix boxes and cost around 1-3USD).

The problem with what you say is two fold, the first is DMA by the kernel CPU, the second is signalling, polling is never efficient. There are quite simple ways around both problems as I've indicated in the past.

That said I don't want to stop people thinking on those lines because there are times when disadvantages cancel out, and "sweet spot" operating points found.

AnuraAugust 7, 2015 11:45 AM

@Clive Robinson

Hmm once upon a time "religion" was called "the opiate of the masses", but that was befor "reality TV" and "You-Blube".

I don't watch no reality TV. But to be fair, I did design a cipher that is really really eloquent. Now, I may have no intention of ever using or publishing it, as I cannot do the cryptanalysis required, making it nothing more than more procrastination disguised as something productive, but still, it felt productive!

ZackAugust 7, 2015 1:16 PM

@65535

'taking the battery out of the phone'

The recommendation to take the battery out of the phone has been going on since the 90s. So, this may go beyond the hard off problem.

This recommendation is by intelligence. My take is they know something that the average person likely does not.

One issue is that, historically, a lot of bugs have had power problems. So you put a bug in wiring, to keep them powered. In other words, this battery issue could represent hidden functionality of phones, or a common tactic of using the phones battery, microphone, and other components for a separate module which has been snuck into your phone.

It should be noted that a major indicator the NSA has used in the past, has been to take notice of those who take the battery out of their phones. Schneier mentions this in 'Data vs Goliath'.

It is a smart indicator.

Probably, other organizations and other nations use the same indicator.

However, it is also common for foreign travelling businesspeople to be advised to do this. So there are instances where this is normal behavior and not indicative of spy work, though it does indicate to the home intelligence office that the businesspeople have information that would be valuable to them.


Z.

ZackAugust 7, 2015 1:28 PM

@65535

Oh, on the above. This does mean, I do not think a handset (smartphone, etc) can be trusted even with the power off. Not the best place to put a bug, because people will be paranoid of it. But it is something people will tend to always carry with them. They change their clothes, but keep their phone.

And, if they believe taking the battery out provides them complete safety, then it has that illusion.

Conversely, these tactics trigger back on people. If they believe they are not getting theater, they will believe the lies they hear via surveillance.

Z.

FigureitoutAugust 7, 2015 3:25 PM

Clive Robinson RE: os dev
--I'd have to work w/ RTOS's more before considering something like an OS from scratch, for now I like just initialize (probably the hardest part) and looping programs that I can do a few things in and connect back to regular PC to exchange data. So all these boards, got one from Freescale I want to try (powerful chip) and get a screen and keyboard for beaglebone like my RPi; something like that would be the ultimate goal but secure EMSEC properties in design and software architecture very resistant to compromise (or easily recovered, completely, no need to chuck it); main threat is virus from I/O. To be even worth my time I'd need a good crypto program (directory, file, and text encryption preferably), how about a memory system in the first place and a way to move around in it, support for graphics and at least keyboard, text editor, and capable running either some IDE's or gcc/llvm support so I can at least do some small programming. That's like bare minimum for something that'd be worth using, eh?

That'll be a while though, like comms protocols and small things now and connecting those small things (one idea had was a board like arduino nano w/ a SoC, takes in handtyped keys and plaintext on a one-way serial line, encrypts, and one-way line out; but needs a computer or some kind of regular keyboard input (hand-made keyboard...meh rather not but could)) and I'm up to my eyeballs in projects and circuits I want to make.

I also have nothing to add on the design aspects on kernel/OS side.

Markus Ottela
--Damn indeed, for sure countermeasures would be so annoying...

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