Friday, September 21, 2007

Australia - The Land of the Legislated

It seems that lunatic senators still want to make Australia more heavily legislated than China - Senator Helen Coonan has introduced a bill to Parliament to allow the feds to force ISPs Australia-wide to block lists that some crony will deem "offensive". The feds will wield this power on ACMA (our Communications regulation agency) who will then take out their iron rods and beat Australian ISPs into submission.

Yes, that's the same Australian ISPs who are being made responsible for what their clients do with the service they provide. It's ludicrous - if *I* choose to surf porn, download bomb recipies, read some of the already banned (in Australia) newsgroups or communicate with the Taliban using my Internet connection, this should be in no way the responsibility of my ISP.

Helen Coonan seems not to have much of a grasp of the technology behind the Internet. This follows a long trend of Australian Communications Ministers who are clueless about, well, communication. And this is not only an Australian issue, remember the Alaskan Senator, Ted Stevens, who amused the entire civillized world with his blatant misunderstanding of the Internet during an almost totally incoherent speech? He was only the chair of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation which was discussing network neutrality (the removing of restrictions on what equipment and modes of communication allowed on the Internet without unreasonably degrading the usability of the Internet by others).

So, do we want a country where free speech is legislated against? Do we want a country where our right as adults to choose what we ourselves partake in and what we allow our children to partake in is determined by the Government and not our own morals? Well, it looks like we're moving at a reasonable pace towards a society that is allowing itself to be legislated into submission. After all, who needs to think for themselves when the government will do all of that work for us?


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

SCO Finally File For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Well, after years of trying to make a business out of suing basically anyone who uses binary, SCO has finally realised that as they didn't succeed in this venture, they had better file for bankruptcy.

SCO tried to sue IBM because SCO claimed that they owned the copyright to code that IBM was using, the copyright to code that RedHat were using, and the copyright to code that pretty much every Linux distribution was using - not all the code, mind, just some of it. SCO of course could never actually say which code it was, they could only threaten to take your company out if you continued to use this code that they owned but couldn't tell you what it was.

Say what?

Yes. Exactly. SCO didn't actually OWN the copyright that they claimed they did, they therefore couldn't sue anyone for this copyright that they didn't own, yet they managed to garner over US$26m from a number of companies for "royalty fees"by using these threatening tactics. On August 10, 2007, Judge Dale Kimball ruled, basically, that Novell is the owner of the UNIX and UnixWare Copyrights, therefore SCO has no claim to them. (Yes, SCO finally let the court know what copyrights they were laying claim to, and they were found most definitely not to be the owner of what they claimed.)

I'd like to see what happens to SCO's bank accounts when the 95% of these royalty fees that actually belongs to Novell is paid back to them. Actualy, I think that the directors know what will happen, which is why they voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 as well as a petition for reorganization.

(Of course, with that court case scheduled to start in the very near future, this Chapter 11 is going to prove timely - hopefully Novel gets their dues before the Chapter 11 is deemed to have taken effect. It is clear that the timing was chosen to further damage Novell, and this is something that SCO should not be allowed to do. The courts should rule that all proceedings from the outcome of this court case should be taken from SCO's accounts before they filed for Chapter 11, leaving whatever (if anything) remains for them to function under Chapter 11.)

All I can say is that, well, SCO's board deserves to go. They cannot make unsubstantiated claims that they cannot backup, keep threatening companies to cough up their "protection fees" and then eventually tell the courts what they are laying claim to.

When the courts dismissed their claims, SCO's board of directors must have collectively taken the biggest dump in their pants in their lives - they realised long ago that their actual business was gone, so they tried well practiced (not necessarily by them, up until this point) organized crime-style heavyhanded tactics to force people to hand over protection monies. Then when they finally tell the court what they are claiming and have it totally dismissed, they file for Chapter 11 and hope like all hell that there will be something left to save and start again with.

The Board deserves to be totally dismissed without any compensation - they took a floundering company and dragged it totally through the mud. SCO's name is now mud. You can thank their corrupt Board for that. Fire the board, dissolve the company and pay out the creditors and shareholders (and exactly why there still actually are shareholders begs a number of other questions) and let bygones be bygones.

SCO is dead. They died a long time ago, it is just now that they are finally realising it themselves.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sony Rootkit Version 2 - Clarification

I've been reading a bit of the response to this blog post in various places and want to clear one thing up. I stated that Sony had installed a rootkit when that may not have been the best use of the English language - Sony has DEFINITELY done the wrong thing here and have installed software that causes a part of the filesystem to become invisible to many parts of the operating system and other applications, such as some anti-virus and anti-spyware software. This is a really, really bad thing that Sony has done, especially considering they gave no indication to the user that they were doing this.

Now, technically a rootkit is a piece of software designed to avoid detection and to gain root (aka administrator) access to the operating system. So technically this Microvault driver from Sony is not a rootkit. It *DOES* allow other malware to hide, it *DOES* allow other malware to go undetected, it *DOES* install without letting you know of the implications it could bring and it *DOES* leave a sour taste in the mouth of anyone who values security - all of which are things that Sony should have realised people didn't like after their initial foray into **rootkit-like** software back in 2005.

So, whilst this software driver is **rootkit-like** (insofar as it hides files and folders from the OS and various applications, making way for other malware to hide and work relatively undetected), in and of itself it is not a rootkit as it does not attempt to surreptitiously gain root access.

It is a poorly written, poorly thought out, poorly deployed and extremely poorly marketed driver, though. It *does* compromise security, and it *does* still make me boycott and want to encourage others to boycott Sony products until the company has a proved track record of releasing products that don't attempt to weaken the security of your computer, network and data.

Every time I buy an item where a Sony item would have been considered, I'm going to be letting them know that the reason I didn't think further about the Sony was because of this rootkit-like behavior they seem to see as being valid. If they don't know how much this is hurting their bottom line, why would they change their business practices?


The Outspoken Wookie