August 2006


Well, I just got back from LinuxWorld and have to say I had a great time. This was a much better show than Boston was. Actually, after attending this show I realized how much the Boston show lacked for attendance and things happening. I still think part of what killed the Boston show was the move out of New York to Boston, but now that that the Boston show has been dropped and the LinuxWorld Summit in New York set as a replacement, hopefully it will get back on track.

Anyways, had a lot of fun at a couple of the booths, notable were the Fedora guys, who willingly let me hose the FC6 test 2 box in the name of experimentation, the USENIX booth for some good information, and the Trolltech booth with their cool developer phone coming out soon. Outside of the actual show, I had a good time hanging out with Joshua Abraham (pbnj developer) and Jon “maddog” Hall. Both of them were very cool, and introduced me to several other very cool people. Unfortunately, I’m terrible with names, and besides Pixel (aka “Bob”), can’t remember who I had the pleasure of having dinner and hanging out with Wednesday evening. Here is a rather bad picture taken with my Treo at dinner of some of the folks:

LinuxWorld group at dinner in SanFrancisco

Ok, here is the actual interview that I had with Network World.  I really like how it came out, I think Phil Hochmuth did an excellent job taking what I had said and presenting it to the reader.  This is also the interview where they had taken the quote from for the previous article.   Well here it is if you are interested:

LinuxWorld experts: Securing Web-based application on Linux

A pretty good article about the upcoming LinuxWorld/OpenSolutions World Conference and expo came out in the online magazine Network World today. I was even quoted in it at the bottom of the second page. It was an interesting interview, and I believe I rambled on for way too long, but they managed to get my main point, that is, Security is about finding the right compromises, and there are good tools now and in the near future to help us get there.

Now there is one small issue, and I’m posting this as a correction. I am not currently working on development of SELinux technology. I am working on some policy stuff, but I am not active in the community development of the technology currently. I have worked on it in the recent past, and plan to continue in the near future (though I am thinking of helping out indirectly via SEDarwin). I just wanted to make that clear. I support SELinux, I’m trying to help promote and improve SELinux, but I’m not a core developer of the technology. There are others such as the NSA, Trusted Computer Solutions, IBM, Tresys Technology and several other groups and companies that are putting in the hard work to make this technology a reality in the production world.

Here is the article for those interested.

Interesting article, and I would love to see this presentation at the BlackHat conference. Jon Ellch and David Myanor will be showing off how they can hijack a MacBook laptop in about 60 seconds using vulnerabilities in the wireless card driver. There are a couple of things that make this interesting:

1. All that has to happen is that your wireless card be turned on. You don’t have to be connected to a network. If you wireless card is on, you are a target, period.

2. In theory, there is nothing to say that BlueTooth is safe from this either. I would imagine that similer vulnerabilities could be found in Bluetooth drivers as well.

3. This is not Mac OS specific! Though they used a Mac for the demo, they have also discovered vulnerabilities in Windows. And I see no reason that it couldn’t affect Linux/*BSD as well.

4. Firewalls and anti-virus programs won’t and can’t protect you from this. This is a much lower level attack and will always bypass this. The only way to protect against it is either through better device driver security or not using wireless. SELinux/SEBSD/SEDarwin may help this somewhat, but again drivers are usually in the OS kernel and once you’re in the kernel it’s hard to stop attacks. I’ll have to look into the SE* solutions and see if they might be used to help mitigate this attack (though I’m doubtful).

Currently, there isn’t much you can do to protect yourself. Just turn off wireless when you don’t need it. Apple’s patches just came out, but there was no mention of a fix for this. The researchers are talking to Apple, Microsoft, and others to get this fixed. Also, they are not showing how they did it, just that they did it, so no current “in the wild” exploits are known of at this point.

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