Quirks in Tech

An informal space where I think about the oddities of technology, politics, and privacy. Also some other stuff.

Showing 169 posts tagged security

Four weeks on, huge swaths of the Internet remain vulnerable to Heartbleed ∞

With the media off (most) companies’ backs there’s just no way/reason that these remaining companies are going to patch the heartbleed vulnerability. One can only hope that civil suits are launched against these remaining companies to show via the market that patching is a requirement for contemporary digitally-enabled businesses.

May 9, 2014

Ethical hackers say government regulations put information at risk ∞

The chilling effect of vulnerability disclosure stems from potential legal liability for reporting vulnerabilities to software vendors. While it’s often (though not always) the case that technical staff understand the problems and may work to mitigate them, things can go to hell pretty quickly once non-technical staff such as legal or public relations get involved. 

In effect, the incentive model for White Hats to come forward to help the commons of software users breaks down incredibly quickly in the face of harsh penalties for individuals ‘breaking digital locks’ or found to violate terms of service, penalties that corporate vendors can (and do) leverage in order to maintain their public reputations.

Apr 28, 2014

Canada Bought $50 Million Worth of 'Secure' Phone Systems from the NSA ∞

It’s certainly interesting (and newsworthy) that Canada is buying cryptographically-secure systems from the NSA, though not necessarily surprising: the NSA is recognized as a leader in this technical space and has economies of scale that could reduce the cost of the equipment. These isn’t, however, any indication whether CSEC examines or tests the devices for backdoors. Presuming that the math hasn’t been compromised, and the phones and faxes aren’t being compromised by our close ally, then there are presumably (relatively) few worries with the Canadian procurement strategy and lots of benefits.

Apr 25, 2014

Tech giants, chastened by Heartbleed, finally agree to fund OpenSSL ∞

OpenSSL’s bare-bones operations are in stark contrast to some other open source projects that receive sponsorship from corporations relying on their code. Chief among them is probably the Linux operating system kernel, which has a foundation with multiple employees and funding from HP, IBM, Red Hat, Intel, Oracle, Google, Cisco, and many other companies. Workers at some of these firms spend large amounts of their employers’ time writing code for the Linux kernel, benefiting everyone who uses it.

That’s never been the case with OpenSSL, but the Linux Foundation wants to change that. The foundation today is announcing a three-year initiative with at least $3.9 million to help under-funded open source projects—with OpenSSL coming first. Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell, Facebook, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NetApp, Qualcomm, Rackspace, and VMware have all pledged to commit at least $100,000 a year for at least three years to the “Core Infrastructure Initiative,” Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin told Ars.

To be clear, the money will go to multiple open source projects—OpenSSL will get a portion of the funding but likely nowhere close to the entire $3.9 million. The initiative will identify important open source projects that need help in addition to OpenSSL.

This is really excellent news: the large companies and organizations that rely on open-source critical infrastructure projects need to (ideally) contribute back through either code contributions of financial support. Hopefully we’ll not just see money but efforts to improve and develop the code of these projects, projects which often are the hidden veins that enable contemporary Internet experiences.

Apr 24, 2014

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