Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And So It Begins


It appears that someone has successfully tricked a few Ubuntu users into install malware on their computers, see here, and here.



Note that this wasn't a security exploit in the sense that a coding bug was exploited. So far as I can tell, it was a bit of social engineering, where someone tricked someone into running a deb to get a cool screen saver, but the deb really only installed a bit of malware. I suppose this is a bit like a trojan, only the screen saver itself wasn't installed.

What this means is:
  1. Linux on the desktop has reached the phase where it is interesting for people to attack your system.
  2. The community may now be infiltrated by untrustworthy people, so the 99.999% of the good people will have to be a bit on the look out for the bad guys.
  3. Users will need to be on gaurd, and question the source of software or other goodies that they are installing a bit more.
Of course, users of Linux on the server have been aware of security threats for quite some time.

This situation is a big of a bummer, as I think as a community we've have the luxury of widespread trust, and being able to sample goodies from around the web. I suppose we'll need to do more to make it easy for good people to get their software into trusted repositories and, more to the point, put effort into ensuring those repositories are trustworthy!

In the meantime, remember, don't grant install privileges to random .debs. You wouldn't give the keys to your house to a stranger, right?

16 comments:

  1. Perhaps we need a GPG-based web of trust? That way, people who are known and respected in the community can vouch for the trustworthiness of packages on sites like gnome-look.org and designate other people as being trustworthy.

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  2. There is a web of trust, it's called the official archives. :)

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  3. we should also have "trusted ppa" for a software maintained by developers (upstream or ubuntu ones) that for some reason isn't in main archives (new or beta versions for example, or backports to the earlier ubuntu releases).

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  4. The problem with having a trust thing set up like what you guys are saying, is that somebody might hack into a trusted persons' account and then post something. Then the trust would be violated and nobody would trust this person ever again, even if this person has never really done anything wrong. Think about it logically, then you might discover that nothing really would work unless someone made an unhackable program for trust. (I'd like to see that happen, too bad it won't.)

    Just saying, maybe all of us should give it a lot more thought. Then we might eventually have a much greater understanding of what to do.

    Also, just to let you know. This is just my personal opinion, I'm not saying you are right or wrong. All I'm doing is putting facts out there that this world is full of lies and scadals. Nobody can really be 100% safe.

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