86

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 ...


71

It's a complex matter because there are several aspects to consider, with pros and cons, and there might not be a definite answer. The security advantage of open source software is supposed to come from a "law" that Wikipedia calls "Linus's law", which says that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow". To start with, you'd have to ask yourself how ...


43

Using obscure applications is, as my phrasing suggests, a form of security through obscurity. Such reasoning is false, and only leads to a false sense of security. Obscurity is not security. Don't select your security-critical software based on how popular it is or isn't; select it based on the amount of analysis that has gone into the software, how quick ...


41

Historically, the open source movement is not about security but about freedom. Basically, Richard Stallman was very dismayed at not being able to fiddle with his printer because the driver source was unavailable. OpenBSD's stance on being "secure" does not come from it being open source, but on an avowed goal and pledge to do things properly with regards ...


35

This is called "security through obscurity", which is generally considered to be a bad security model for most (if not all) purposes. There are two main terms focusing upon this concept: Kerckhoff's principle: A cryptosystem should be secure even if everything about the system, except the key, is public knowledge. Claude Shannon reformulated this later,...


25

Open Source Does Not Unequivocally = More Secure/Safe Anyone CAN look at open source software/hardware, but that doesn't guarantee that "anyone" WILL look at it; further, if they do look at it, it also doesn't mean that they will disclose something that they find that could be a vulnerability. People assume too much about open source, and one of the ...


25

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 ...


24

It's not that simple. With the huge number of platforms on which the program could have been built, it can be extremely difficult to replicate the original build environment. Because of this, you could be using a different compiler, with different settings, using different versions of libraries. These slight variations in the environment can definitely ...


22

I have recently heard that most of the PHP code is confidential, because if attackers know your database structure or the hash function used to encrypt the passwords, there is higher chances of a breach. That's only when designers don't use the correct hash function or protect the webapp from SQL injection. But these things can be easily detected, there eve ...


20

Leaving aside the "open source == secure" argument, you can also look at this question as "Why run a secure OS when the BIOS/firmware isn't guaranteed to be secure". Why bother locking my front door when an attacker can just break the windows? You will never make a completely secure system. What you can do is make sure you work on securing the parts that ...


17

I'll take a crack at explaining this without technical jargon. Lets say you want to send a nasty letter to someone, but you'd rather not deliver the letter in person for fear that they might get angry with you. You can ask a courier to take the letter from your house, and deliver it to the recipient, right? That works, but has the problem that the courier ...


16

No, because knowledge of the method is not enough to break it. You would also need to acquire information (e.g. Decryption keys), which simply cannot be obtained by an attacker. The attacker can't figure out the source IP, or look at the data. Each Tor node only "knows" the source and destination of a block of data that it is handling. It can't open it to ...


16

If you compile the code yourself, then you may obtain the same binary. Or not. Basically, your chances are good if the compiler uses deterministic optimization algorithms (that's the usual case) and you use the exact same compiler version with the same command-line options (that's usually much harder to ensure). Deterministic re-compilation is easier with ...


16

There is an open source ransomware called Hidden Tear. The code encrypts files with the following extensions: ".txt", ".doc", ".docx", ".xls", ".xlsx", ".ppt", ".pptx", ".odt", ".jpg", ".png", ".csv", ".sql", ".mdb", ".sln", ".php", ".asp", ".aspx", ".html", ".xml", ".psd" by default with AES 256 bit encryption. It is open source so it could be easily ...


16

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 ...


15

The theory is: Closed-source software is mostly non-trojaned because the vendor of such software is legally responsible for the software contents, and easily tracked down, should a hidden malicious code be revealed to be part of it (e.g. through reverse engineering). Open-source software is mostly non-trojaned because it is very difficult to inconspicuously ...


14

Open source software is less confidential than closed source software, but that is not relevant when considering backdoors, as opposed to vulnerabilities in general which are almost always accidental. In this answer, I will only address backdoors, and not the wider issues of vulnerabilities in general (only an insignificant fraction of vulnerabilities are ...


14

@Polynomial makes very good points regarding "security through obscurity" and you definitely shouldn't secure yourself based on "obscurity" because it has proven not to work. However, I don't believe that the answer to your question is that simple - I think your question is more of a "risk reduction" question but could be wrong. Quite often in the security ...


13

If you can recompile the source code and have your own binary, then maybe you won't be able to get the exact same binary as the one that is distributed; but why would it matter ? At that point, you have your own binary, which necessarily matches the source code (assuming your compiler is not itself malicious): you can just ditch the binary package, and use ...


12

I have recently heard that most of the PHP code is confidential This appears to be incorrect. At the very lease, most PHP is unobfuscated and readable to anyone it's distributed to. because if attackers know your database structure or the hash function used to encrypt the passwords, there is higher chances of a breach. Also incorrect. Neither the ...


12

If your website is secure, even the source code wouldn't help an attacker in a perfect world. But we do not live in this world. By making the source code public you are simultaneously holding yourself to a higher standard coding wise, and introducing more risk. Since you're giving away your code to anybody who asks, you'd better make it rock-solid. (In fact,...


12

I doubt you'll find ransomware source code floating around in the general public. I'd guess there is code out there somewhere but I wouldn't risk visiting shady sites on the "Darknet" (I really hate that term). (Un)fortunately, ransomware is not very complex. For a university project, simply encrypting and replacing files in ~/Documents is probably good ...


12

You are misunderstanding how open source software development works. Not just anyone can modify the kernel, so no "unknown developers from around the world" are submitting mysterious lines of code. In order to make changes directly, you have to be hired by the Linux Foundation or another organization that has access to commit privileges, not just pass a ...


11

It depends. If all reasonably functional alternatives are fundamentally prone to programming errors, like it is the case with browsers, it is probably a good idea to use a not-so-popular one. In particular, if your threat model does not include sophisticated adversaries that wait, observe and develop attacks specifically for your setup, using the not-so-...


11

The Certificate Signing Request (CSR) is of no use once you've obtained your certificate. It's merely one of the vehicles that can be used to give the CA your public key as part of the application process, so that they can issue a certificate. You'll now be able to get the public key again from the certificate itself anyway. In fact, in this particular ...


11

Yes it is possible. But it is very hard, as the whole compilation process hasn't been designed for that goal. It is often called "deterministic builds", "reproducible builds", "idempotent builds" and is a challenge. Bitcoin, Tor, and Debian, are attempting to use deterministic builds, and the technical process is described here. Admittedly the process is ...


11

Your premise is wrong, there is: ClamAV. Edit: Assuming that there are indeed surprisingly few open source antivirus tools, then this could be due to the fact that people who are competent enough to build them often don't believe in antivirus. This is just speculation on my part but the arguments against antivirus are solid and you can find many articles on ...


10

There is already a standard method of reporting vulnerabilities to vendors. CERT is great about contacting vendors and mitigating the issue. I think that your ideas can be helpful and there is a lot of overlap with your ideas and OWASP. You should look for a local OWASP chapter in your area. If one doesn't exist, MAKE ONE!, and use it as a platform ...


10

Open source software is not necessarily better or more secure. Where open source has an advantage is the potential for independant security minded individuals to examine the source code and hopefully the conceptual model for a given software project. This advantage is contingent on: review by qualified individuals feedback from the reviewer to the project ...


10

With Open-Source software anyone can see and analyse the code, so this model actually has a lot going for it. Many eyes etc... The problem comes when you have a massive codebase, and not enough qualified, experienced eyes - things may slip through the net. However with closed-source code, you are essentially putting your trust in the developers - how do ...


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