Now we see, there is no balance. Good we have had these paranoid people because they are now providing us a chance to opt-out.
Good there were these programmers who worked for years and often in their prime time in free and open solutions like GNU/Linux. Snort, the intrusion detection system. GPG. And so on.
For me it is a hard job to opt-out of being spied. But I will move on, step for step. Email privacy is the first; no GMail, no Apple Mail. Old friend Thunderbird/Enigmail it is.
I also installed TrueCrypt.
The biggest move will be to change the OS (again). Guess it takes me months or longer as I have a lot of great OSX software. But on the other hand, I can simply set up a new machine for private tasks - or dual boot my macbook with Linux.
I hope my government will take this warning serious and support more "Linux @ City" projects (Munich runs on Linux and Open- or LibreOffice).
Wow, long comment. I just needed to say. I am worried.
Trusted Computing (TC) is way more dangerous than classical hardware backdoors. I consider TC an evil technology because it not only takes control away from the user but it even allows to inject faked evidence into computers which could make innocent people -- independent journalists, political activists etc. -- suspect to crime.
TC could also be used to delete evidence from computers of journalists who would have no power to keep it. TC allows to control people without letting them even know about it. TC is a huge danger for freedom of speech. It should be banned politcally and boycotted in business. My recommendation: Don't buy consumer hardware but use embedded Linux systems with bare bone technology.
If we want to be truly secure from being spied then we must do a complete restart with new hardware and software from scratch. There is no way around.
I am actually "glad" about the NSA scandal (thank you Snowden) because it woke people up and made them aware of the reality of global surveilliance, and about the huge threats of Trusted Computing. NSA should be controlled by the people of the United States but obviously it has become out of control. This single NSA case has silenced the mouth of the conspiracy mockers once and for all.
Before the Snowden leaks, you'd be hard pressed to find a technically-minded person arguing that the NSA doesn't have, at the least, the potential to have their fingers in every pie.
Since Amazon deleted all those copies of 1984 from everyone's Kindles, I don't keep mine connected to the internet. If you have data, you can keep it. Keep it on your own devices.
What? When? Seriously?
Meanwhile you could google around for "Linux embedded systems".
Consider it a "dual system" mainboard with the usual hardware where you have full control, plus a controlling subsystem where you have no access at all. Everything could be done remotely but you couldn't see any evidence.
My understanding is, that there isn't an email privacy, since at least they will have your metadata. In my limited understanding, secure communication is to be done using some secure chat service.
I'm also fairly sure that Google will start integrating PGP into their desktop clients (Android, iOS) because this is affecting their bottom line (just wait until governments will start banning Gmail usage in the public sector).
people aren't JS libraries, you can't/don't "just move away from them"
"Hi Mom, I just want you to know: I am deprecating our relationship to "acquaintance" because you use Gmail and an iPad"
E.g. here are mine: not enough people communicate securely right now. I can't just abandon everyone; that's way too isolationist for my personal taste. Still, if you want to that _is_ an option.
Everything else (i.e. all my remaining devices and apps on those devices) are treated like any PC in an Internet café - untrusted and compromised.
We absolutely have a cold war, except, rather than a continuously increasing stockpile of nuclear weapons, we have a continuously increasing stockpile of zero-day exploits.
Another hallmark of the cold war is escalation and regional hegemony, and consider that draconian spying legislation is disseminating from the USA to her vassal states -- Canada, UK, Australia, NZ. Similar technology and legislation is being deployed in other major world players under the guise of fighting "terrorism," but it stands to reason that it's in response to Chinese espionage/reconnaissance.
The USA has a very serious rivalry with China, and vice versa. We can expect to see the USA trying to further compete with China by trying to level the playing field across a variety of fields. The TPP and the F35 Joint Task Force are shining examples of attempts to curry favour with fellow nation states.
Can you say more about this? Are we afraid of them doing something to us? What? Are they afraid of us doing something to them? What?
If the US speaks out, China pulls the plug on our Economy. If the US spies on them via technology, China uses its mass 25,000 military hackers to wreak havoc in cyber-security. With the debt we owe China, they keep waving it in our face, the US is helpless.
On the plus side, the Chinese people also are loosing faith in the party and have moved their money over seas, soon China's economy bubble will burst and the most of the US will be saved. New jobs will open, our debt to China will end, and all will be well. For those who make all their business importing from China, they will be the ones you will see on the streets if they don't stop and see the signs.
[German] government experts warn, Windows 8 is an unacceptable security risk for governmental offices and companies. The so-called Trusted Computing might be a backdoor for NSA.
According to their [expert's] opinion the operating system contains a backdoor which cannot be closed. This backdoor is called Trusted Computing and might have the consequence that Microsoft could control every computer remotely. And therefore NSA could do it as well.
Three points are decisive: First the [new] TPM, in contrary to the existing standard, is active from the time when you switch on the computer. As soon as you start the computer you cannot decide anymore if you want Trusted-Computing (Opt-in). Secondly it is not possible to deactivate in future the TPM (Opt-out). Third the OS takes over the control over the TPM, in the case of Windows OS it means that the computer is controlled by Microsoft.
In the light of the current situation on spying, I have to say that I am happy that it goes in this direction.
I'm not remotely qualified to comment on the contents of that talk, but it's a very concerning read–they claim that the SMC stores your FileVault key (though they don't seem to prove this?) and that the SMC has a backdoor. I'm all ears if anyone else has any additional info/knowledge about this...
The operating system kernel always has full control over the system, how are they suggesting the TPM adds control here? The TPM is a small chip that handles certain crypto operations more securely (especially key management), how does this provide any additional backdoor scenarios?
If Microsoft wanted a backdoor it could easily be added to the OS without a TPM.
Without a TPM, it is possible to detect and remove (or more likely mitigate) a backdoor. With the TPM, even if you know about a backdoor and have a patch you can not apply it without Microsofts blessing. At least, thats my understanding.
One is spying (NSA), another is restrictions on what to install (Microsoft) and some parts discuss the threat from China, manufactures of the TPM chips.
So I don't really understand the article. Placing trust in TPMs to maintain your secrets obviously depends on you trusting the TPM manufacturer not to hand over any of the secret keys, but having a TPM doesn't mean that you have to place trust in it.
A good intro to TPM on Linux: http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/24818.html
I think the distrust and confusion around TPMs and so on is due to Microsoft's moronic handling of Vista's protected playback system and people have extrapolated from there.
I agree that the NSA spying is a real threat, but so is traditional malware. The article is basically saying that, because the malware protection is not good enough (i.e. not securing against NSA malware), it's worse than no protection at all.
I do agree that locking down the OS so that it runs only MS-signed applications is a dick move in general and we'll probably see really bad changes in the market overall, but I see no relation to the NSA spying issue. The NSA can install malware as well on XP machines as it can on Windows 8 machines, so in that regard, Win8 is no better nor worse than previous versions.
(also: I really don't intend to be trolling and my argument seems reasonable. As such I wonder what the reason for the downvotes is. Is it possible that you guys are getting an english article with a different content? If I click the link I get to see a german article)
No. If the OS is locked down so only MS-signed applications can run, it is impossible to run software that can detect malware that has been approved by MS. It is also impossible to run software that can remove such malware.
If the OS makes it impossible to detect or remove malware, it is less secure than OS that do allow detection and removal of malware. This is not FUD.
What should happen, is that MS should be held strict liable for any illegal acts which their restrictions helps to propagate. Held under vicarious liability by non-US markets (so they can't get immunity by the US government), MS shareholders would demand the elimination of the restrictions in favor of less legal risk for the company.
Second, I haven't seen your argument made for iOS and Chromebooks which are much more locked down than Windows 8. Though one could argue that Chromebook doesn't need to have malware since everything is helpfully uploaded to the cloud.
It might had been worth mentioned, I am not the first person to talk about liability issues regarding lockdown. I first heard it in a talk that described the iPhone.
You see no relation?
If MS is the only who could control your computer, and MS is an American company tat has to obey American laws, and the American laws says they must spy on every customer, specially non Americans, like Germans, as they are defined "adversaries"...
You see no relation?
Maybe, just maybe we have come to the point in time that unless a system has been shown to be secure, it should be assumed to be wiretaping the user. We can no longer assume secure until proven insecure.
Absolutely. This is what the reputational damage to american firms like Microsoft looks like. Why the hell should their systems be trusted now?
I 100% agree. But I really fail to see how this makes Windows 8 a worse operating system in that regards than its predecessors. A system that provides no trusted computing support is equally easily hacked by the NSA as is a system that does support trusted computing. The latter does have the benefit of making hacking significantly more difficult for everybody but the NSA, so I would say it's still a net positive and not a huge negative which the article makes it out to be.
Security-wise only of course. I hate the idea of losing control over the hardware I purchased and I will resist as long as humanly possible installing a system that removes this kind of control from me. It just has _nothing_ to do with NSA spying and everything with corporate control of the OS maker.
Fud or not, this is what happens when you shake the public's trust in... anything. In this case it happens to be government, the internet and technology. The NSA scandal will have wide reaching and unpredictable implications.
Losers will be traditional technology providers like Microsoft, HP, Cisco, etc. Remember how the US blocked China from supplying networking gear domestically on grounds of "security concerns"? (Which no doubt are totally valid.) Well, would you trust your company's or government's security to Cisco gear?
1) The TPM still can't control your computer(yet). It can only measure it's state, allow you access to keys you created in some state, and attest to things about the state (which would allow other parties to mandate what state your system is in when interacting with it, but presumably those entities would be bond by German law and likely be German themselves)
2) If Microsoft wanted to backdoor your system, they don't need the TPM to do it. In fact, the TPM can be used to protect against a whole bunch of malware that various intelligence agencies might use: it can protect keys with passwords (with rate limiting/self destruct for guessing), make sure the system is in the same state(i.e. malware free) when you created you PGP key as it is when your using it to decrypt an e-mail, and it can isolate an application from the rest of your system.
- I can't enter BIOS before entering OS.
- Once I enter the BIOS from the OS I can't activate the hard disk password.
- I can't install the Windows 8 OS clean. The MSFT has the deal with the computer producers that doesn't allow them to deliver the pure OS medium, you can only backup the already present installed files to some external HDD.
- Because of the previous and the fact that the binaries are controlled on the hardware level (TPM), I have no control of what's running on my computer -- I can't know, to be precise.
- It's even worse than that, there is some Intel built-in technology on the hardware/BIOS/drivers level which also has built-in "features" that allow communication with some external "command and control center" which I don't control. It supposedly allows, among other "features" disabling the notebook once it's stolen. But I don't control how it's done, and I don't know if it has additional backdoors. It proudly claims to facilitate "remote access."
It's scary how it looks like all together. I haven't even figured out how I'd be able to install Linux on the computer. In some forums people claim that the OEM should allow that, but apparently a lot of people haven't managed to actually install it on different specific computers -- there are BIOS problems that can't be avoided, and the OEMs don't give you support or the updates. Mine is an Intel i5 processor-based modern Acer. It's fast, but I have no control. Definitely not FUD.
Personally I like Apple approach more: thanks to their approach of the OSX or iOS (no third party pre-installed crap) at least I have to just trust Apple. Here I have to trust Microsoft, Intel and every company who has the drivers on my machine. Much more chance for some of them to do what they want, in the name of "cloud." Remember routers that are controlled from the producer of the router, even "protecting" you from browsing all the sites? Remember Android phones which upload all your passwords to the cloud of the mobile operator? That's where the "cloud" support of the driver writers goes now. It is scary.
(Globally, we're talking about this: http://xkcd.com/743/ -- We've been giving up the control of "infrastructures" for a long time)
The discussions of kernel-level "giving up control" existed in Palladium and "technologies formerly known as Palladium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next-Generation_Secure_Computin...) even 10 years ago but with Windows 8 they start to be ubiquitous and nobody even notices.
... they already have Windows Update. It cannot be null-routed (respective entries in /etc/hosts are simply ignored), it is virtually always on and it can be trivially used to deliver custom patches to specific boxes. What more can you ask for?
The new "you as the user can't control the kernel stuff, even with the debugger" concept is really about the user (you) giving up the control. The excuse is that you as the user aren't supposed to be able to copy movies. In practice, you have no more control of your own computer whereas the companies have real-time control even of the content by directly controlling your computer. Some routers already did such stuff. It is really worrying -- having the part of the "great firewall of China/whateverothercountry" on your own computer which you paid with your own money.
(1) And in fact also have total confidence in the compiler itself:
It's not so hard to understand.
Sorry for any errors in Grammar or mistranslations. I also don't claim the technical 'facts' in the article are true, but they are what the original article was stating.
A link back to Hacker News on this thread and other related links. Plus a link to Lunubtu and Linux.org at the end.
Fill me in here, because I'm at a loss.
EDIT: Never mind. It seems like prior TPMs shipped with hardware, but were opt-in instead of opt-out, and now, with the W8.1 hardware spec, TPM 2.0 (which has a greater range of TC technologies) will need to be enabled as default on hardware shipped with W8.1, and there is no possible way to opt-out.
A shame that hardware manufacturers are just Microsoft lackeys.
How trustworthy is Microsoft? This is the question that concerns the Federal Administration and other German government agencies, as well as companies and private users who might want to use the Windows operation system now and in the future. Sooner or later they will be forced to use Windows 8 or its successor. According to documents available to the ZEIT ONLINE, government IT experts consider Windows 8 to be dangerous. They contend that the operating system contains a backdoor which cannot be closed. This backdoor is called Trusted Computing and it might empower Microsoft and the NSA to remotely control any device that uses it.
[...] The way in which the chip and the operating system cooperate is standardized and the specification for this is defined by the Trusted Computing Group (TCG). The TCG was founded ten years ago by Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, AMD, HP, and Wave Systems - all of which are US companies.
The current TPM specification is scheduled to be replaced by a new one dubbed TPM 2.0. Together, TPM 2.0 and Windows 8 achieve what has become the norm on smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles: hardware and operating system become a tightly coupled unit that allows the OS vendor to tie down precisely what can be installed on a device and what cannot. To put it another way, Trusted Computing is a vehicle for Digital Rights Management (DRM) enforcement.
[...] Three issues arise here: First, contrary to the current generation standard TPM will be enabled right from the first boot-up of the device. Whoever uses this computer will no longer be able to decide if they want to use TPM (Opt-in). Secondly, TPM can no longer be deactivated on systems that have it (Opt-out). Thirdly, how TPM functions are used is entirely up to the operating system [vendor], in the case of Windows computers this will be Microsoft.
From the year 2015 on every single PC will be shipped with Windows 8.x and TPM 2.0. For the user there is simply no way to tell what exactly Microsoft does to their system through remote updates.
To summarize, users of a Trusted Computing System lose control of their computer. This is the design goal of Trusted Computing, as the Federal Ministry for IT Security (BSI) explains in detail here [link]. The BSI suggests that government agencies, companies, and private users actually make use of this technology - but only if certain conditions are met. A way to Opt-in and Opt-out is part of these conditions, and these options are being eliminated now. [...] Accordingly, the Federal Administration and the BSI now express very clear warnings against the use of Trusted Computing 2.0 within German agencies.
According to a paper issued by the Ministry for Commerce from early 2012: "Due to the loss of control over [the capabilities of] information technology" "the security-oriented principles of 'confidentiality' and 'integrity' are no longer achievable". Other statements assert for example: "this could have severe consequences for the IT security of the Federal Administration." Thus the conclusion is: "The use of 'Trusted Computing' technology in this form ... is not acceptable within the Federal Administration and other critical infrastructure".
[end of page 1]
Another document reveals that Windows 8 and its successors combined with TPM 2.0 are already unusable "even today". Windows 7 could "be used securely until 2020". After that, other solutions would have to be found.
In an assessment the BSI writes that "unconditional and complete trust" in Trusted Computing is not possible with TPM 2.0. The documents contain evidence that the German government did try to influence the development of the new standard. This type of cooperation has been taking place for years, this time the Germans have been simply ignored though. However, other parties got exactly what they wanted. The NSA, for example. "The NSA approves" was a catch phrase that has been issued during the last meeting between TCG and interested parties, according to some participants.
[end of translation]
The second page contains a lot of predictable conclusions about suspected NSA/US spying capabilities.
The above is true of Apple and Google, but it is glossed over.
First, I fail to see any relevance or technical info about what the TPM or trusted boot has to do with the issue at hand.
If anything they should be warning people about using Chromebooks where everything is uploaded to the cloud by default, same with Google Apps and Skydrive. Or Outlook.com and Gmail.
Oh, also be careful about Ubuntu, Shuttleworth said he has root on your machines.
In short, this is a rambling article full of technical sounding gibberish designed to get semi technical folks riled up with scary sounding buzzwords instead of actually educating people.
Edit: Fixed typo reported in reply.
Is that a sentence? It sort of looks like a sentence, but something seems missing.
The article is an interview of Professor Dr. Rüdiger Weis, who is a cryptology expert:
Also, as an Ubuntu-user, as I really love the idea of these, but they're ugly and look really cheap: http://i.imgur.com/KGPznQz.jpg
The biggest problem is that the "trusted" party which has full access is almost certainly under NSA/PRISM jurisdiction and can be forced to do things which most people would find objectionable.
What attack vector, exactly, does the TPM enable that isn't present pre-TPM?
But wait, it gets worse. At least in the case of MacBooks you only have to trust Apple, but in the case of Microsoft you also have to trust the computer manufacturer. And that's a really tough pill to swallow.
I actually hope that Windows 8 will be banned by governments in the public sector, as Trusted Computing is a scourge upon this industry.
Only Windows? HN also has Slashdot levels of ignorance concerning the legal system, patents, copyright, and the music industry, and these are only the topics I know something about. I avoid political discussions, but from what I'm told, those are just as misinformed.
Note that I am no expert in those topics either. I just took the time and effort to research those on my own rather than accept the sound bites media puts out.
When it comes to technology, there's probably no better place. (And even that I would caveat with an exception for Microsoft technologies, where you'll find more FUD than knowledge.) But basically for anything else, don't expect much from HN.
While it may not be a direct security risk per se, it represents a model of computing where the security-priorities are reversed as far as anyone not in the content-industry is concerned.
Now... If Windows 8 is any worse in this regard than Windows 7 is probably questionable, but Windows 8 has had as a default OEM-configuration to be more locked down in "secure boot" and TPM-land than it used to be.
This smells of poujadist knee jerk Anti Americanism
But you do have a point - I suggest you lobby your MEP/Senator/MP to ban totally walled gardens or to use anti trust to split the app side of Google and Apple etc from the parent - this is what caused IBM so much trouble in the 60/70's
I don't think TPM or walled gardens are a political problem, but more a technical and marketing problem. Lobbying for legislation that prevents alternative marketplaces from being locked out of a particular ecosystem doesn't actually mean people will use them en masse, or even know they exist. For example, despite Android's open nature, Amazon Appstore is very unlikely to ever beat Google Play because most people don't switch from the default. Similarly, Internet Explorer remained the most popular browser up until lately, despite alternatives and European legislation. Google Chrome is now the most popular browser, but it took an expensive ad campaign to make Google Chrome happen, not legislation. Firefox is trailing in last among popular web browsers!
Increased adoption of FOSS is really the only solution. It only becomes political when FOSS is legally restricted.
Photoshop beats the pants off GIMP, unfortunately.
Admittedly, my use case is not terribly common.
I see you're new too! Welcome to HN! :-)
I am a happy Arch user at home. There is no non-free software installed on my personal machine. Even for my operations research work, when I do it using my machine, I prefer using free software (e.g., GLPK for optimization and Aivika for simulation) over the proprietary alternatives, because free software developers do not pull crap like "The professional edition can only run models with up to 2000 variables. If you need more, buy the enterprise edition."
Sadly, at work I do not get to pick what tools I use. Customers do not want to give up Excel and the proprietary software designed to interact / exchange data with it.
In any case, my original comment ("OpenOffice/LibreOffice suck for what I do with Office") was not meant to be a characterization of free software in general.
> <stallman-clone>We need, in part, widespread adoption of free, open source software to help maintain privacy, personal security, and freedom. (...)
Five years ago or so, I might have dismissed you as a lunatic; but, these days, I find myself increasingly agreeing with this point of view. I have seen OS X evolve from a somewhat restrictive but overall very convenient OS (Leopard and Snow Leopard) to an OS openly designed to limited what users can or cannot do (Lion, I have not used Mountain Lion). Windows has undergone a similar path (beginning with the Windows Genuine Advantage thing).
It is quite a feat that proprietary software has become so restrictive that I, someone who still does not place software freedom too high in his priority list, actively seek to use free software over its proprietary counterparts.
> (...) Also, the era of the cloud as we know it has to end!</stallman-clone>
> I see you're new too! Welcome to HN! :-)
Six months ago I'd have dismissed me as a lunatic too! Stallman, whether by luck or foresight, was right.