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Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD

JohnInKansas 25 Jul 11 - 12:41 PM
gnomad 25 Jul 11 - 01:26 PM
olddude 25 Jul 11 - 02:09 PM
Jack Campin 25 Jul 11 - 02:12 PM
Newport Boy 25 Jul 11 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Jon 25 Jul 11 - 02:56 PM
JohnInKansas 25 Jul 11 - 04:05 PM
Newport Boy 25 Jul 11 - 05:21 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Jul 11 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 25 Jul 11 - 08:40 PM
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Subject: Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 12:41 PM

Perhaps of interest expecially for current Linux users, but possibly also for others:

U.S. Dept. of Defense offers up tiny, secure Linux distribution

Jul. 22, 2011 (9:30 am) By: Matthew Humphries
Geek.com

With the number of websites being hacked at the moment, security has to be a growing concern at all major companies and organizations across the U.S. That includes departments of the government.

It's not just the security of websites that has to be considered, though. We've also seen USB sticks and laptops full of information lost or stolen, and people's online accounts being hacked with valuable information stolen.

The U.S. Department of Defense and the Air Force Research Laboratory have decided to respond and offer up a way to use a PC securely by developing a new lightweight and secure Linux distribution.

The distro is called Lightweight Portable Security (LPS) and has been created to allow any system, secure or not, to be used in a trusted way. LPS does this by running directly from a CD or USB stick, executing only within a machine's RAM, while offering up Internet access, a web browser, file system, and a small range of applications to use.

LPS can be used on either a PC or Mac and does not require the installation of anything and no hard drive access at all. Running it from a CD means there is absolutely no way the OS can be compromised, and even if it runs from a USB stick the chances are very small that an infection can happen, especially as it executes entirely in RAM sandbox.

The number of applications included is small, but functional. You get a version of the Firefox web browser, file encryption solution, PDF and text reader, and Java installed allowing access to a number of online services that require it.

Probably the best news is that this Linux distribution isn't limited to the Department of Defense or Air Force staff. It is free to download from the Software Protection Initiative which was put in charge of the distros' development under the guidance of DoF and AFRL. The download comes in at just 135MB meaning you can stick it on one of those old 256MB USB stick we all have in a draw somewhere.
Three versions of LPS exist. The 135MB version discussed above is called LPS-Public. Then there's LPS-Public Deluxe which adds OpenOffice and Adobe Reader for further functionality at the cost of size on disk. Finally there's the LPS-Remote Access version that is only available upon request. It adds VPN and any custom Thin Client software that an organization requires. For every day users wanting a secure portable distribution LPS-Public is probably all you need, especially if you use something like Google Apps instead of MS Office or OpenOffice.

See the link for download links and more information

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD
From: gnomad
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 01:26 PM

Two reviews here, Distrowatch and Linux Journal

An interesting experiment to watch, but not one I expect to join at present.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD
From: olddude
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 02:09 PM

Yea but it runs everything as root, how can that be more secure? I need to read more about it


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Subject: RE: Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 02:12 PM

Somewhere you are going to have to put your Internet and other network settings in a place you can write to. So it can't ALL be on the CD, and the bit that isn't will still be subject to hacking.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD
From: Newport Boy
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 02:50 PM

I think this may be of more interest to those who want something more secure than Windows. There are already a number of live linux distributions, some of which have a persistence feature. This means that you can write your data and settings to the USB stick without troubling the hard disk. I don't use this facility, but I have Mepis 11 on a stick with more applications than I will ever use - and I don't run it as root.

Looks like this is too little, too late - unless it has features not disclosed in what I've read about it.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 02:56 PM

Looks like this is too little, too late - unless it has features not disclosed in what I've read about it.

That sums up my first impressions too.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 04:05 PM

The DoD distro comes with a fixed set of applications, none of which should require writing to the program files during use. If you can keep the document you make from being infected, there's shouldn't be a problem with saving it back onto the thumb drive, to a second thumb, or to your hard drive.

If you write the Mini OS to a CD, it shouldn't be possible for any malware to write there to change the programs and if it actually works "in a secure way" having the program on a thumb drive shouldn't be very much of a risk.

It's probably not the way you want to go for a general purpose OS on a machine where you want lots of additional installed goodies, but as a "pocket OS" for use in unsecure places (like your city library or at Barnes on "free wifi"?) it might be a handy "accessory OS" for travel and temporary use(?). I'm not sure it has enough "bulit in" program capability to take to your buddy's machine when you have to help with a cleanup; but it's possible that you could add "clean accessories" to the thumb drive or CD you carry the OS on.

Off the subject: Newest threat - A malware researcher has demonstrated that some Mac BATTERIES can be hacked to insert malware onto any machine they're plugged into - and/or to make the batteries explode and burn up the machine(?). Ain't Evil Cute?

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD
From: Newport Boy
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 05:21 PM

John - the point I was making was that there are already fully-specified linux CDs/thumb drives which do more than this offering.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 05:49 PM

If that had a full Acrobat-a-like that did not cost an arm and a leg it wouldn't 'arf be 'andy.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Secure Linux from US DoD
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 08:40 PM

I like everything GNU (Gnu Not Unix - cute story behind the name). KNOPPIX - rolls straight and clean and small direct from the download.

I hope to never need to purchase a Gates/Job program again. I did once in 1997.

UPGRADES and UPDATES - Forget them. (How do keep a hard-on? Don't Fqck with it...)

Try - hacks.oreilly.com - for some interesting reading.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

The browser wars were wild fronter days.


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