Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Stackify Blog, Pat Romanski, Shelly Palmer

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

Agile Computing: Blog Feed Post

Linux is Not the Answer to Security Problems

There’s nothing specific to the operating system here: it’s all about the browser and deception

Malicious links served up in a browser are OS agnostic. They don’t care about the OS because the target is people, not technology.

In response to the problem of links and trust put forth in a recent post a reader replies that the answer to “evil links” is simply to run Linux instead of Windows.

the very best solution is to run something other than windows, and with ubuntu at its current state of maturity (and free-ness), why wouldn't you?

I won’t disagree with the assessment of Ubuntu and its current state of maturity. It’s very nice, and I’m enjoying it immensely on my new laptop for a multitude of reasons and Don and I have always insisted that our children run a Linux distribution on their laptops just to minimize the impact (on us to cleaning up) of automatically downloaded and installed viruses and trojans. And the commenter is partially right – running a Linux-derived operating system will indeed protect many users from the automatic installation of many OS-specific (read: Windows) targeted viruses and worms. But it’s not the answer to the problem of malicious content a la links because most of the time the target of the content isn’t technology, it’s the user, and it isn’t relying on an operating system, it’s relying on a browser. And unfortunately, users aren’t going to change their behavior because they’re running Ubuntu or a Mac or Windows or an iPhone.


WEB 2.0 and CLOUD CHANGED THE GAME


One of the great things about standards in the browser like CSS and JavaScript and XHTML is the ability to create a rich and interactive user interface and have it consistent across operating systems and browsers. With the increasing reliance on “cloud-based services” for e-mail, personal document management, photo storage and generally any consumer-oriented use of a computer that used to be associated with a fat client now being pushed out to “The Cloud” the browser is the primary interface between the user and the rest of the world

If that interface can be, and it is all the time, leveraged by miscreants to manipulate users into providing their credentials or unknowingly assisting in the spread of links and code that can accomplish the same then the operating system upon which that browser is running is neither an advantage or a disadvantage.

And that’s exactly what’s happening. The benefit to miscreants today is in identity theft; in obtaining credit card and personal information that can used or sold for monetary gain. The old “destroy your computer” viruses of the 1990s are passé and not in vogue. Today it’s about theft, plain and simple, and almost all viruses that are distributed are done so in the hopes of accomplishing that task. “Viruses” today are keyloggers and applications that turn consumers’ desktops into part of a giant botnet that is performing mass SQL injection attacks with the intent of injecting a link that will entice a user to willingly hand over their identity.

And because it’s well-known that the Web is the Way, miscreants have turned to attacks that target the browser and the trust inherent in hyperlinks, in the visual clues that users take that engender trust like, say, the logo and design of the website. Clickjacking and cloning-based attacks are predicated on the ability to exploit the trust users have for a web site. If it looks like Twitter, or Facebook, or My Banking Institution, then it must be that site. Overlaying a “virtual keylogger” using clickjacking or cloning the site and using a domain name that includes the relevant site name in it is enough to convince a user that they are indeed on the site in question and certainly it must be safe to enter their credentials.

And from that one set of credentials the rest of the integrated, collaborative Web 2.0 world is opened to the miscreant. One set of credentials begets another and if they’re lucky enough to get your web-based e-mail credentials well, it’s like finding a pot of gold at the end of a digital rainbow.

With the exception of trojans and viruses designed to act as part of a larger botnet, there’s nothing specific to the operating system here: it’s all about the browser and deception. MacOS? No problem. Ubuntu? Great. Windows? Don’t care. This is social networking engineering at its finest: manipulating the trust of a user through the same rich interface technologies that have made the operating system irrelevant.

Comes the cloud and now trojans and viruses become even less relevant to the game. Given someone’s credit card and identity a miscreant could easily leverage cloud computing to accomplish what the end-user now will not. Move every consumer to an Ubuntu desktop and miscreants will simply find another way to launch their botnet, and that way likely leads to the cloud. Scalable, on-demand, self-service. It’s a miscreant’s dream


THE PROBLEM IS NOT TECHNOLOGY BUT THE SOLUTION WILL BE


The problem of links and the potentially malicious intent behind them is not one of technology in the traditional sense. Yes, technology is being manipulated to enable the use of links as a deceptive theft mechanism, but technology – whether guns or screwdrivers or clubs or lockpicks – have always had both good and bad uses. The intent of the wielder is always at the root of the issue. The problem is two-fold; first, it’s financially advantageous to miscreants to perpetrate such attacks and second, users are still woefully uninformed about phishing and pharming and avoiding the deceptions inherent across the Interweb today. There doesn’t seem to be much we can do about the first part of the problem and addressing the second is a never-ending battle.

Unfortunately, that’s not due to a lack of trying on the part of information security advocates. Trying to explain how to spot some of these deceptions to a typical consumer is like trying to explain to me how to tell the difference between the sounds a car engine might make when it’s in trouble. You can try, but I likely won’t “get it” or be able to put it into practice. It seems simple to you and I because we’re knee-deep in technology day after day. But for someone who just wants to get their e-mail and post a photo on Flickr and update their Facebook status…it actually is rocket-science and it is that complicated.

The solution will likely eventually be found in technology, it always is, but it won’t be as simple as a change in the operating system because that variable has been largely neutralized thanks to Web 2.0 and “The Cloud.”

Follow me on TwitterView Lori's profile on SlideShare friendfeedicon_facebook AddThis Feed Button Bookmark and Share

Related blogs & articles:

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
BnkToTheFuture.com is the largest online investment platform for investing in FinTech, Bitcoin and Blockchain companies. We believe the future of finance looks very different from the past and we aim to invest and provide trading opportunities for qualifying investors that want to build a portfolio in the sector in compliance with international financial regulations.
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
We are given a desktop platform with Java 8 or Java 9 installed and seek to find a way to deploy high-performance Java applications that use Java 3D and/or Jogl without having to run an installer. We are subject to the constraint that the applications be signed and deployed so that they can be run in a trusted environment (i.e., outside of the sandbox). Further, we seek to do this in a way that does not depend on bundling a JRE with our applications, as this makes downloads and installations rat...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...