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Red Hat Software Ubuntu Linux

Red Hat Clarifies Doubts Over UEFI Secure Boot Solution 437

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the there-goes-freedom-one dept.
sfcrazy writes "Red Hat's Tim Burke has clarified Fedora/Red Hat's solution to Microsoft's secure boot implementation. He said, 'Some conspiracy theorists bristle at the thought of Red Hat and other Linux distributions using a Microsoft initiated key registration scheme. Suffice it to say that Red Hat would not have endorsed this model if we were not comfortable that it is a good-faith initiative.'" Color me unimpressed, and certainly concerned: "A healthy dynamic of the Linux open source development model is the ability to roll-your-own. For example, users take Fedora and rebuild custom variants to meet personal interest or experiment in new innovations. Such creative individuals can also participate by simply enrolling in the $99 one time fee to license UEFI. For users performing local customization, they will have the ability to self-register their own trusted keys on their own systems at no cost." From what I can tell, the worst fears of the trusted computing initiative are coming true despite any justifications from Red Hat here. Note that the ability to install your owns keys is certainly not a guaranteed right.
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Red Hat Clarifies Doubts Over UEFI Secure Boot Solution

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  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:02AM (#40231129) Journal
    If anyone can pay $99 to get a key that lets them install malware in anyone's firmware, then there is obviously no security in the system. I'd have thought this would be excellent grounds for an antitrust investigation...
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:07AM (#40231181)
    rips Microsoft a "new one" in a class action and/or anti-trust suit

    and Fedora/Redhat are feeble minded idiots for paying Microsoft,
  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:15AM (#40231275) Homepage Journal

    It will be released but not all the hardware vendors will sign on. Loads of tech people, like the ones here, will not buy it. It will flounder for a few years then eventually die off and go the way of microchannel.

    Ill toss this one up there with Divix-DVD's and there pay per view, Sony memory standards, Micro-channel, and many other crappy ideas.

  • by ledow (319597) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:18AM (#40231303) Homepage

    The point is probably that it wouldn't be "anyone's" firmware. What they are saying is that you can get a personal key, which you can manually add to your machines as a trusted key. For $99.

    It doesn't mean that you can take you personal key and automatically install it on every computer and thus destroy their trusted boot mechanism or "replace" the Microsoft key with your own. You still can't tamper with the OS on any machine for which you don't have permission or access to modify the trusted boot keys. All you can do is affect machines you already control (i.e. you get to pay for the privilege of installing your own OS on your own computer).

    That said, I think Red Hat are being too blinkered here. The whole point of the fight against UEFI is not that you can get a key, it's that you need to be able build machines where you CAN change the key, add your own, or turn off the damn functionality yourself. And those machines need to be the default standard, not some "premium" service available only to the Google's and Dell's of the world.

    Hopefully, the whole trusted-key junk will die a death soon or someone will enforce a standard that lets you turn it off. Why *can't* I be given machine that can boot whatever the hell it likes, including legacy OS? That's a question for big businesses that has real implications for keeping their systems running. If I were running a military-grade system, yeah, UEFI boot with trusted keys is a good extra layer to have, but on a home PC (and thus, in ten year's time, everyone's tablets, smarphones, etc. following suit)?

  • Just say 'No' (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:19AM (#40231315)
    I won't buy any PC or motherboard with UEFI unless it can be disabled - and I will actively search for machines that refuse to implement UEFI at all. Frankly, this is a quisling move by RedHat. Microsoft bullied the PC manufacturers into this anti-freedom technology. Now RedHat is directly supporting Microsoft by paying into their protection racket. Before you know it, every computer will require a 'legitimate' - government/oligopoly authorized operating system. Just say 'No' to RedHat because they are giving money to a system that is sliding down that slippery slope toward removing your freedom to use your devices as you wish.
  • "Good Faith" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clonehappy (655530) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:20AM (#40231323)
    I'm not going to invoke Godwin, but *lots* of things start out as being "good-faith initiatives". I know UEFI has tons of advantages over a standard BIOS, and I'm a flat-earther for wanting to stick with the old tried and true methods, but anything that takes away control over hardware I own, especially anything that takes control and gives it to a multinational corporation, I'm passing right over.

    And I assume plenty of other tech-minded people will do the same, and the system will fade off into the sunset.
  • by mjg59 (864833) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:22AM (#40231341) Homepage

    As the author of the linked article, things have somewhat changed since then - the language in the hwcert docs makes it clear that the hardware can be configured into a state where keys can be added. Is it a guarantee? No, but it's as close as is possible to get in the technology world.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:24AM (#40231361)

    If anyone can pay $99 to get a key that lets them install malware in anyone's firmware, then there is obviously no security in the system

    Not really. If you get a signing key, you will be registered, and any malware can be tracked back to you. So "anyone" cannot do this. Only large corporations, with no liability, and lots of money, will be able to install malware from now on. YEAH!

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:34AM (#40231469) Journal

    Microsoft learned after their last antitrust investigation, and increased their political contributions by an order of magnitude [opensecrets.org], without changing their business practices at all. Now that Microsoft has paid the appropriate protection money, they can do whatever they want.

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:36AM (#40231483)

    So "anyone" cannot do this. Only large corporations, with no liability, and lots of money, will be able to install malware from now on

    Luckily large corporations never have data breeches, so its not like you'll be able to go to wikileaks or pirate bay to get a copy of the MS secret key, or the Dell key, etc.

    That large integer will of course be made illegal, so only private citizens will have unsecured systems. The hard core crooks and the slightly-bent will of course have free reign over everyones system.

    I'm sure they'll be another moronic legal battle where some 256 bit or 2048 bit or whatever integer is declared persona non-grata on the internet, stupid restraining orders, blah blah blah, all over again.

    Who wants to buy a tee shirt with Microsofts UEFI secret key on it? I give it a couple months till someone releases it, maybe even before the hardware hits the shelves, and a couple hours later I'll fetch it from pirate bay or whatever, and a couple hours later I'll put up a shirt design. Just to be a complete A-hole I'll also make shirts that have equations, too, so it'll be something like 32523136136 minus 1.

    I'll go further with my prediction. Malware will be found signed with a legit "major corporate" key BEFORE legit hardware/software using "major corporate" key hits the shelves, in at least one instance. In other words your new Dell, for example, will be ownable before you can even buy it.

  • FUCKING stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inode_buddha (576844) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:40AM (#40231533) Journal

    "Suffice it to say that Red Hat would not have endorsed this model if we were not comfortable that it is a good-faith initiative."

    Fucking STUPID. Since when in their entire history has Microsoft ever done anything in "good faith"?? Morons! *ALL * you need to do is read a few court cases...

  • by Anpheus (908711) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:48AM (#40231615)

    You're confusing the keys that have previously been publicly available and the private keys here. Unlike the previous keys, this isn't part of a DRM scheme where the user has to be able to decrypt content and simultaneously "not have" the key to do so. DRM is fundamentally flawed in that regard, and DRM schemes are routinely broken because they cannot both obscure the content and show it to you at the same time. At some point, your computer has to possess the ability to unlock the next frame, and smart people figured out how to copy that. Ta-da, AACS key, or HDCP master key. Those weren't failures of public key cryptography, they were leaked because the universe is at odds with DRM.

    What private keys of note have been hacked? Recently, a weak Microsoft intermediate certificate key was exploited to use to generate code signing certs, but that was a weak key with a poor algorithm (MD5 hashed thumbprint). Or Sony's private key for the PS3? Well, they implemented their crypto wrong, one of the supposed-to-be-random parameters was instead hardcoded as a constant. Oops.

    Dell, Microsoft, the big players, they all work very hard to make sure their private keys are secure. Would you care to take a wager on whether or not the Microsoft root key will be released within the next year? (By root I mean whatever key is the common root used to sign a plurality of UEFI signed bootloaders, if they use many intermediate CAs, it would have to be whatever key is for all of those CAs. If they use one intermediary that signs a majority of the bootloaders, then it must be that one - does not have to be _the_ Microsoft key.)

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:51AM (#40231653)

    If you get a signing key, you will be registered, and any malware can be tracked back to you. So "anyone" cannot do this.

    So all it really takes is a stolen credit card?

  • Re:Just say 'No' (Score:5, Insightful)

    by a90Tj2P7 (1533853) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:53AM (#40231675)
    Replace "UEFI" with "BIOS" in your first sentence and see how it sounds. Because that's what it is. It's not some MS feature or add-on, not some kind of evil conspiracy, it's the new BIOS. And it's not that "new". And part of the Windows 8 certification requirements for x86_64 systems is that the secure boot feature, which also isn't an MS invention, can be disabled. So that address your concern about buying PCs and motherboards that won't let you disable the feature you actually have a problem about.
  • Re:Just say 'No' (Score:5, Insightful)

    by a90Tj2P7 (1533853) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @09:59AM (#40231743)
    Secure boot, which is what you're concerned about, is just a feature in UEFI. Which has been the BIOS replacement for years. It's not new, it's not an MS creation, and it's not limited to secure boot. Saying you won't buy any PC or mobo that has UEFI because of secure boot is like saying you won't buy any with BIOS if it doesn't have overclocking settings.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @10:26AM (#40232075)

    "Sorry this application can only work in secure boot mode."

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @10:30AM (#40232113) Homepage
    Saying that if you just quit your damn bitching and hold still, it won't be as bad as you imagine. Hell, once you've been slammed hard a few times, you'll hardly even notice it's happening.
  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @11:05AM (#40232587)

    There are attacks other than mathematical or algorithmic.

    Financial? somebody@something.ru offers $100K to someone at microsoft.com who is being outsourced to India to ... plus or minus an order, or two, of magnitude.

    Religious/political? Somebody of a certain religious persuasion is contacted by a guy on line who convinces him that the only way to save *.il from a second holocaust is to provide the secret signing key to enable the stealthy deployment of stuxnet 2.0 to really shut down the iranian nuke program this time. Of course the guy doing the convincing is secretly J Random Malware Author, whoops. Or maybe he really is from *.il and he really is preventing a nuclear holocaust using the key, but his kid / coworker / ex wife / competitor / guy trying to set him up to take the fall / something else releases the key to the public. Or he just loses the thumbdrive with the key. Or the story for plausible deniability, is he loses the thumbdrive containing the key and another dude just happened to find it, although in reality it was all scripted out.

    You trust *.microsoft.com to keep it safe, well that's a little optimistic of you, but whatever. The problem is the random collection of "friends of microsoft" in the govt and govt contractors trying to write undetectable cyberwarfare software. So now you have to trust all of *.mil and quite a bit of *.com not to screw up.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @11:27AM (#40232941) Journal

    It's ludicrous that one could purchase a system and then not be allowed to install arbitrary software on it

    Indeed, and yet startlingly popular (iDevices, Tivo, consoles, etc.).

    The idea of a general-purpose computer in the hands of the masses is dying. It's being killed by the mediocre middle (consumer use focusing on such simple-minded appliance-level functions as social media and entertainment consumption).

    The computer and the Internet were once Freedom Machines. Looks like that'll be gone within my lifetime.

  • by WebCowboy (196209) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @11:47AM (#40233309)

    How? Most reasonable mechanisms that could be envisioned would likely be considered an 'attack vector' in certain scenarios. I'm genuinely curious as to the mechanisms allowed for end-user key management in this sort of system.

    Secure boot specification describes three "modes" of operation:

    1) standard: Accept software signed only by keys included in the factory BIOS (ie. Microsoft-issued keys)
    2) custom: Accept software as in 1) but also allow keys signed by another authority/the user. This allows the user to flash in their own key and spin their own Linux/BSD/alternative OS and sign it so it will work with secure boot. NOTE you would also need custom mode in Windows 8 if you are employing custom or in-house drivers or other software that talks too closely to hardware.
    3) setup(?): Seems to be a special mode--I think it is a one time setting that changes back after reboot? The setup mode is so that your software installer--an alternative OS or a driver in Windows or otherwise, would be able to push its key into te system's firmware during the install process so you don't have to do that step in the UEFI setup manually. Once a key is installed from a software setup process the system would revert to custom modefor subsequent boots.

    Besides that UEFI secure boot can be disabled entirely so you can run unsigned system software and none of the above would matter.

    The deal with Red Hat and the Devil (um, the evil Microsoft one not the cute FreeBSD one) commits Microsoft to distributing keys signed by them to anyone who ponies up $99 and fills out the requisite forms. In return you get a key to sign your own OS or other privliged software (drivers/kernel modules...) issued through a Microsoft CA that will work in mode 1) above. That is, you can create a distro or driver setup disk that will work with a "factory default" UEFI setting.

    I personally have no problems with this scheme except for two critical points:

    1) Microsoft alone is the caretaker (cert. authority) for ALL standard keys. This constitutes a monopoly. Monopolies are not illegal but using them to supress potential competitors IS illegal, and this arrangement sets up Microsoft with the ability to get into amti-competitive shenanigans (again). The $99 fee is not a problem--there is no expiry on your key and you can sign all your stuff with it--I may get one for my own business should I run into issues with custom mode or disabled secure boot. A BIG problem is that nothing commits them to being honest with the CAs. There isn't going to be just one root cert form Microsoft, and nothing stops them from using a "special" certificate class for the $99 certs. That would let them revoke all of them "killswitch" style for whatever reason (the root gets compormised, or they just don't like what they keys are being used for), so anyone who does a bios update or gets a new machine would be SOL if MSFT doesn't re-issue you a new key and won't take another $99 from you.

    2) Microsoft is not being platform agnostic. There is ARM and "everything else". MSFT has decreed that ONLY standard mode is permitted on ARM devices that have Windows installed--NO custom or setup modes and NO disabling of secure boot. Furthermore I am not sure if the $99 keys will work to build software for ARM devices (anyone know that one? MSFT could issue certs that only work on x86 architecture if they wanted to). You cannot get a shiny "built for Windows 8" sticker (who cares really) and it is against the license agreement to even install on "insecure" ARM hardware (THAT is something to care about). MSFT is (currently) an inconsequential player in mobile/ARM space so there isn't a big risk yet. However, they could leverage their desktop monopoly to push Windows 8 slates and smartphones in the enterprise and even elsewhere (smart glass in the home for example) and if they are successful it would entice vendors to lock out custom OSes.

    Regulatory authorities are going to have to keep a close watch on how MSFT conducts itself as s

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