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85

Summary: There's probably some BS marketing going on, but on the whole they probably are making the more privacy-respecting laptop they can. Other answers mention other brands of privacy-focused laptops that avoid Intel chips in favour of 100% libre hardware, but you take a big performance and cost hit for doing it, because, well, Intel is the market leader ...


24

Yes, binary blobs are a security risk, as any other proprietary software that you cannot audit. I wouldn't call all systems using proprietary software "compromised", but you can only trust such systems as much as you trust people selling them. Regarding that Purism thing, I wouldn't trust them more than I would any other laptop. Their FAQ states: Purism ...


15

Do binary blobs pose a potential security threat? In short: yes. Binary blobs are by definition not auditable (barring extended reverse-engineering). You don't know exactly what they do, and whether they have backdoors. One particular binary blob I'd like to highlight is the one in the Intel Management Engine (and the AMD equivalent, the Platform Security ...


8

Binary blobs are code that you have to send to a device to make it work, but that you can't inspect or modify. They are more of a threat to your legal freedoms than your privacy. In the case of Intel chips, you can't write a free-software BIOS, because it must include the non-free binary blobs. Binary blobs let chips outsource storage of code to software. ...


5

So both of your scenarios rely on the attacker having root access to the phone. In security, it's generally considered that once an attacker has root access, it's game over. That said, there are still interesting things to be said about your question. You asked: Is there a situation where the secure element does offer a clear security benefit to this ...


3

The reason DBAN or such erasure software, wont beat the investigators, is that when they find out a drive is erased (zero:ed), this will count as destruction of evidence, which is punishable. Thus, its enough that the investigators prove that the drive has been intentionally erased. It depends on country, but in most countries that employ the "forbidden ...


2

I know a few like: Pwn Pro Secpoint Penetrator But I don't know the exact generic name of those devices and I don't think there is one.


2

I had just happened to watch 32c3 conference talks, and while I am far from being into hardware security at least two of those talks touch upon the topic of chipset binary blobs. Both might add to an answer. This one by Joanna Rutkowska of the Qubes OS project discusses in some details Intel ME and SMM technologies and security concerns. She also discusses ...


1

Since I can't comment yet, here's another answer on the subject about: Lights-out management with Intel Active Management Technology on Intel vPro processors which is capable of remotely controlling and modifying virtually all aspects of the system, including the ability to download and update software and firmware regardless of the computer's power ...


1

Let's say the i5 contained some spy routines, "collecting info" on you, it would still need to get the data out for it to pose any threat. The only practical way to get the data out would be over IP, which is easily detectable, analysable and blockable. From a more paranoiac view, there might be RF signals leaking from the system, forged by the blob or not, ...


1

Bypassing all physical deterrence measures, given no hard limit on time. Install cameras with a monitored security solution off premise, e.g. ADP call the cops when something is out of the ordinary. If you are using keycards, you could create a script that does something along the following: “If this mission critical system stops responding to probes, lock ...



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