[linux-elitists] Surveillance

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun Sep 8 06:08:51 PDT 2013

On Sun, Sep 08, 2013 at 05:09:32PM +1200, Mark van Walraven wrote:

> How can I trust my hardware and the firmware therein?  If it's so hard to
> check that Huawei haven't embedded snooping mechanisms in the chips and

You can't. Anything with a baseband processor is tainted.
So buy a Huawei MiFi, and use a VoIP solution with
only open WLAN drivers and end to end encryption. 

That comparmentalizes potential compromises.

> use covert channels to export the data, how can I trust Intel or AMD or
> Broadcom or Marvell?  Covert channels can be subtle and during the cold

You can't. You need a community sourced open hardware.
You might actually let it build in China by way of security
by obscurity in small lots, and take representative samples 
from each lot for etching and tracing the metal layers. Old processes
help (bigger structures), orthogonal structures help,
moving as much as possible into software installed by
end users (like codecs, only FPGA blobs a la Parallella/Epiphany),
and so on.

> war the intelligence agencies did some amazing work in detecting data
> embedded in what seemed to noise.  Is there some way to crowd-source
> counter-espionage?  Can we automate "many eyes" to detect snooping?

Building secure systems is difficult, and end users have to actively
want that as a feature, even if that moderately inconveniences the
> Open hardware with quartz windows on the IC packages would be nice, but
> then I'd still want a way to validate that what I had was the same as
> what some transparent authority had declared to be a clean implementation.

You're looking for FPGAs. Unfortunately, modern FPGAs are lousy with
DSPs, SRAM, ARM cores, and so on. 

> Difficult with commonly-available equipment, but perhaps it could be
> common enough to make spy(hard)ware difficult and risky to deploy.
> My life and work are undoubtedly painfully uninteresting to any
> intelligence service, but the disrespect for my privacy rankles me;
> I would pay significantly extra for a clean platform.

So would I, but unfortunately this is a negligible user base.
At the moment you have to mostly roll your own, and it's a huge
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 836 bytes
Desc: Digital signature
URL: <http://zgp.org/pipermail/linux-elitists/attachments/20130908/7619a6f9/attachment.sig>

More information about the linux-elitists mailing list