Free Software and Security under the #NSA

Anyone claiming Free Software “does not magically make things more secure โ€“ never has, never will” without explaining how you’re so much better off at securing yourself is using truths to lie to you.

Here’s an example:

Explicit truth: it doesn’t “magically make things more secure
Hidden truth: it technically and scientifically does by exposure to peer review and the scientific method, the end results have definitely been proved more secure in average than the proprietary “alternatives”
Hidden lie: “never has, never will” It’s just piggy backing on the explicit truth in order to hide (using a true statement) that in average it does and that you’re better off.

So, if someone is lying to you so straight faced, how can you trust that person when he’s been claiming badBIOS is a myth?

The fact is it is possible, it’s installed code running on chips and it can be updated. Didn’t he himself just say that all software has security bugs when he told that being Free Software doesn’t “magically make things more secure“?

So why couldn’t these computers be compromised in such ways? In fact the NSA backdoor catalogue explicitly details BIOS level security compromises and implants! Go read this list, specially the BIOS level attacks then think for yourself upon badBIOS rather than trust people who tell you “no, that’s not it” or “just conspiracy theories”.

Those people are lying to you and they have hired a lot of security people under their wing, so of course they’d use these hired high tech spooks in order to try to discredit you…

So go watch Jacob Applebaum’s talk at 30C3, To protect and infect, part 2, rather than believing someone calling him a conspiracy theorist.

He’s publishing these findings at a respectable newspaper (Der Spiegel), the other guy is just name calling.

Which one deserves more credit? You decide.

Me, I’ll be trusting Free Software security, if anything, these NSA scandals have proven my reason, and sure they could try to insert backdoors in Free Software, but tell me, how easily can you put a backdoor where anyone can see?

Not. Easily. Not at all.

What about when most people are blinded except from the builders?

Riiight…

Here’s an example, from Jacob’s talk: Jake tells about those little USB dongles that randomly move your mouse in order to prevent the screensaver from launching… you know what Systemd now does when it finds one? Automatically locks the screen. What do Windows or MacOS do?

Riiight… you guessed it, move the mouse and prevent the screensaver from launching.

I’ll be using Free Software and so should you, but you’re your own boss.

You can choose a greater likelihood of being infected.

Yes! I’ve got my 46.03 โ‚ฌ of #Windows #Refund and so can you, at least with #Samsung

If you’ve been following me on this blog or other social networks you know I bought a Samsung NP900X3C. It’s a very nice laptop but I’m forced for some obscure cof OEM cof reason to buy a Microsoft WIndows 7 Home Premium OEM license.

Receipt and refund in cash

When I bought it at Media Markt I immediately mentioned I wanted to get a refund on the Windows that was installed. Media Markt said I’d have to go to Samsung or Microsoft, that they wouldn’t do that. Please remember this part…

Since It was the exhibition model they had there, I had no chance to explicitly reject the Windows license, so I went ahead and installed my favorite GNU/Linux distribution for personal use, Fedora, at release 20.

While it installed, I opened a case with Samsung by “email” and they replied to me soon enough by real email.

Samsung said that

  1. I wasn’t to turn the laptop on or accept the license [check, Media Markt did, I didn’t]
  2. that I should take it to the store [Media Markt, which had preemptively rejected any process]
  3. the store would use the official Samsung Service Center [which in Lisboa is just a few doors up in my street] to erase the disk and then
  4. return it to the store in order to fulfill the refund

Well, if steps one and two were broken already and since the store is a few doors upwards, why not just go there directly?

That’s what I did, but I was left hanging without any further details for up to three weeks and I was getting very pissed off. At least give me a piece of paper saying you won’t do it, damn it! ๐Ÿ™‚

So I went there today and said I wasn’t going to leave the store without one of three things:

  1. my satisfaction, aka, the Windows Refund, or…
  2. a note explaining why they can’t do it yet, or…
  3. a note explaining why they won’t do it.

Boy, where the poor nice guys at the service center pissed, so there’s this crazy guy trying to get money back from a Windows refund, what a nutty guy, never heard of that before and now I’m stuck here well past closing ours, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, after a short talk on the phone with the owner, who was a bit defensive then, and waiting a bit more, I had a second talk with him and he was much, much friendlier now and willing to capture my satisfaction. Nice! I don’t know exactly what happened, but they decided to fast forward the process.

Apparently, Samsung Portugal sent the request to Samsung Korea and never had any reply, so they were going to refund my 46.03 โ‚ฌ in advance.

Receipt

Yes!

I still had to explain the guys they had to take out the license from the charger because Samsung would need it to pay them back the money, but finally I could officially get rid of Windows and get back what I had paid for it.

Before: charger WITH Windows licenseAfter: charger WITHOUT Windows license

Global warming and climate chaos for dummies

On the subject of global warning and the current freezing storm in the USA, some denialists are claiming that this storm proves the climate is not warming… That scientists flip flip on their evidences of warning between “see it’s hot” with the extreme summer temperatures and “see it’s cold” with the extreme winter temperatures.

Actually, that’s gross (almost criminal negligence IMHO) misrepresentation of what scientists say.

As the average global surface temperature raises slightly, that breaks and melts some ice.

What happens to the water in your glass when you pour singer ice cubes in it? It gets cooler.

What covers over 2/3 of the surface? Sea water.

What currents being colder waters? Those near the USA.

What does colder water surface do? Cools the air.

….

What happens sometime after the ice melts?

Water gets hotter…

You can see where this is going unless you’re covering your eyes and ears… And I’ll even let you use a thermometer to analyse it yourself in your home.

Room temperature gets temporarily cold, cold gets temporarily colder, the changes in between wreak havoc everywhere, and then… It. Will. Get. Hot.

I probably won’t see this part, but I’m almost sure my son will suffer. I would love he didn’t have to.

Gun propaganda pretending to be civil rights campaign

There is a certain image spreading in social networks that seems to be in defense of personal rights but it’s not: it’s nothing but gun propaganda disguised of a civil rights campaign.

It goes like this:

Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t get one.

Don’t like cigarettes? Don’t smoke one.

Don’t like abortions? Don’t have one.

Don’t like sex? Don’t do it.

Don’t like drugs? Don’t do them.

Don’t like porn? Don’t watch it.

Don’t like alcohol? Don’t drink it.

Don’t like guns? Don’t buy one.

Don’t like your rights taken away?

Then don’t take away someone else’s.

There’s a little problem there with this logic. I’ll illustrate it with smoking.

It’s not enough to not to smoke in order to not suffer from smoking, if you don’t like to smoke.

Smoking affects the rights of others by intrusion, it’s the equivalent of stretching your arm up to my nose including contact. Your smelly cigarette is obnoxious and I don’t like the risk of disease by getting second hand smoke into my nose and lungs.

When I don’t want to get that smoke in my lungs, I’m not stretching my arm up to your nose with contact, I’m pushing your arm away.

You are the one intruding on my rights, not me.

Same goes for the effects of many drugs (including alcohol) when out of control (which happens with highly addictive drugs or when people are too drunk to understand how badly they’re behaving) and let’s not dwelve into what a stray bullet can do to me, who had nothing to do with your argument against your also-gun-loving neighbour who’s at odds with you.

Sexual orientation, abortion, sex and watching porn have nothing to do with that. They’re not even in the same league. They’re personal things you do on your own time, usually in privacy.

I can’t agree with that poster as it’s definitely not well thought and only seems to have one goal: allowing unfettered guns into the hands of people.

It’s disgusting. I beg you to not spread it.

Could security agencies be snuffing out inconvenient people? Why wouldn’t they, huh? #nsa #truepiracy

Like Jan Wildeboer sez:

ยซObviously suicide. Just two days before he would have presented how to hack pacemakers.

Too many hackers have accidentally run into such things in the past years. It’s a pattern that screams counterintelligence.ยป

A comment on his post on Google+ with which I agree wholeheartedly.

Counter intelligence has a history of snuffing out inconvenient people, that’s undeniable. There have been too many incidents (suicides, deaths, etc…) recently in our communities…

Shia Labeouf Brilliantly Parodies Intellectual Property With Plagiarized Apologies And Defense Of Plagiarism

I'll admit that, other than knowing his name and that he was a Hollywood actor in some big budget films, I didn't know very much at all about Shia LaBeouf. However, apparently he's been facing some "controversy" over a few different examples of plagiarism in his work, with the "biggest" being plagiarizing a cartoon by Daniel Clowes called Justin M. Damiano with the short film HowardCantour.com. Others also pointed out that, in a comic book created by LaBeouf, he apparently plagiarized a bunch of others, including Kurt Vonnegut and Charles Bukowski (if you're going to plagiarize, plagiarize from the best, apparently).

While plagiarism scandals pop up every so often, there are a variety of standard responses -- usually involving some sort of apology and then someone laying low for a while before reappearing (just ask Joe Biden). LaBeouf initially appeared to be following the same script... tweeting out apologies, before people started realizing that the apologies themselves were "plagiarized." That includes using Tiger Woods' apology after his scandal: "I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart." Also, former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's famous apology concerning his role in the Vietnam War: "I was wrong, terribly wrong. I owe it to future generations to explain why."

From there, he finally admitted on New Year's eve that he was really mocking everyone -- which should have been obvious from the beginning, by saying:

You have my apologies for offending you for thinking I was being serious instead of accurately realizing I was mocking you.
Oh, and if you hadn't figured it out already, that line is also plagiarized.

He then decided to give an email interview with BleedingCool, much of which itself appears to be plagiarized as well. BleedingCool initially claimed that it believed the statements were "original" to LaBeouf, but then has gone back and noted repeated lines in the interview that are plagiarized from others. I'm guessing that they're missing quite a few others.

But what comes out of it is what is likely a highly plagiarized defense of plagiarism, as well as a condemnation of the state of copyright law today, and how it limits forms of expression. Take this tidbit, for example:
The problem begins with the legal fact that authorship is inextricably
bound up in the idea of ownership and the idea of language as
Intellectual property. Language and ideas flow freely between people
Despite the law. It’s not plagiarism in the digital age – it’s repurposing.
Copyright law has to give up on its obsession with “the copy”
The law should not regulate “copy’s” or “reproductions” on there own.
It should instead regulate uses – like public distributions of copyrighted work -
That connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was intended to foster.
The author was the person who had been authorized by the state to print there work.
They were the ones to be held accountable for the ideas.
THE FIRST LAWS ON AUTHORSHIP WERE USED TO CENSOR & PERSECUTE
THE WRITERS WHO DARED PUBLISH RADICAL IDEAS.
Simple – should creation have to check with a lawyer?
At least some of that is from Larry Lessig. Almost certain other parts are from others. But, in a way he's proving the point. He is creating something new, unique and interesting, even as he's plagiarizing others, even to the point of talking about outdated copyright laws.

For what it's worth, even this idea is not unique. Back in 2007 we wrote about author Jonathan Lethem writing an entire defense of plagiarism, which was 100% plagiarized. If Labeouf is looking for more material, he might want to check that one out, if he hasn't already. Oh, and also Malcolm Gladwell's 2004 defense of plagiarism, which has some great quotes as well.

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