Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 21st Sep 2011 22:06 UTC, submitted by kragil
Windows After the walled garden coming to the desktop operating system world, we're currently witnessing another potential nail in the coffin of the relatively open world of desktop and laptop computing. Microsoft has revealed [.pptx] that as part of its Windows 8 logo program, OEMs must implement UEFI secure boot. This could potentially complicate the installation of other operating systems, like Windows 7, XP, and Linux.
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RE[2]: Comment by OSbunny
by Lennie on Thu 22nd Sep 2011 09:10 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by OSbunny"
Lennie
Member since:
2007-09-22

Actually it is possible to include something in an open source project, but you'll have to also modify the compiler and probably wait a few years to:

Thompson's paper described a modified version of the Unix C compiler that would:

Put an invisible backdoor in the Unix login command when it noticed that the login program was being compiled, and as a twist
Also add this feature undetectably to future compiler versions upon their compilation as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backdoor_%28computing%29

It is not very likely, but it possible

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by OSbunny
by lemur2 on Thu 22nd Sep 2011 09:53 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by OSbunny"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Actually it is possible to include something in an open source project, but you'll have to also modify the compiler and probably wait a few years to:

Thompson's paper described a modified version of the Unix C compiler that would:

Put an invisible backdoor in the Unix login command when it noticed that the login program was being compiled, and as a twist
Also add this feature undetectably to future compiler versions upon their compilation as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backdoor_%28computing%29

It is not very likely, but it possible


That was only possible because the Unix C compiler itself was not open source.

I repeat, it is not possible to put malware into a product using an open source development process.

BTW, Linux is not Unix. BSD is Unix, but Linux isn't.

Edited 2011-09-22 09:54 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by OSbunny
by Lennie on Thu 22nd Sep 2011 10:02 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by OSbunny"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

You say "it is not possible" to add such a thing to an open source project.

That would be a bit naive.

It is like saying: it is not possible to be struck by lightning.

It is possible, just not very likely.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by OSbunny
by Alfman on Thu 22nd Sep 2011 10:22 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by OSbunny"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

lemur2,

"I repeat, it is not possible to put malware into a product using an open source development process."

I really don't want to make a fuss here, but this is the kind of overstated claim that does not take into account all of the possibilities. Could you use less absolute terminology, or at least more qualifiers?

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[3]: Comment by OSbunny
by bert64 on Thu 22nd Sep 2011 10:33 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by OSbunny"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

Such a backdoor would require fairly complex and specialised code, in an open source compiler that would be noticed so you could need to be using a closed source compiler...

The only realistic way to "backdoor" open source code, is to introduce a very subtle exploitable bug...
A blatant backdoor will be found quickly, whereas a bug may slip by...
Similarly, if your backdoor is found then you have deniability if it looks like a software bug, but if its obviously a backdoor you will likely be named and shamed, as well as blocked from any future commits.

You would also need to be a competent developer, and to commit a significant amount of legitimate code to a project in order to build up a level of trust first. It wouldn't be a simple quick attack, it would need to be planned and thought out well in advance.

And also note that all of the above also applies to closed source too, someone sufficiently motivated and funded could get someone hired by a software company to work on the target product. It's also been my experience that code written by an employee comes under far less scrutiny than code from a new contributor to an open source project.

Reply Parent Score: 6