Tails first achieved notoriety as the Linux distribution that National Security Agency whistleblower Ed Snowden used. Tails, an acronym for The Amnesic Incognito Live System, is focused on enabling user privacy while online. On April 29, 2014, the Tails 1.0 debuted, and it has been steadily updated ever since. Tails 1.4 launched May 12 of this year with a number of new capabilities, including several important security updates. Among the big changes in Tails 1.4 is a new privacy-focused search tool called Disconnect. Tails 1.4 also enables users to print a paper copy of their privacy keys using the Paperkey tool. A core part of every Tails release is the included Tor browser, which benefits from an update in Tails 1.4 that fixes a number of recently disclosed security vulnerabilities. There are times when the Tor browser isn't enough, and users need a regular browser to get access to a service, which is why Tails 1.4 also includes an Unsafe Browser, as well. In this slide show, eWEEK examines key features of the Tails 1.4 release.
A recent post by Gil Tene raises the importance of an important, little known patch to Linux kernels that should be reviewed by all users and administrators of Linux systems, especially those who utilize Haswell processors. Tene reports that in particular users of Red Hat-based distributions (including CentOS 6.6 and Scientific Linux 6.6) should apply the patch as soon as possible. Even if your instance of Linux is running in a VM, that VM is most likely hosted on a Haswell machine if is on the popular cloud providers (Azure / Amazon /etc) and would benefit from the patch.
Venom, as described by its discoverer, Crowdstrike, an end-point security company, works by attacking QEMU's virtual Floppy Disk Controller (FDC). The first thing many of you think when learning this is: "Who cares, I've never used a floppy drive on my virtual machine (VM)!"
Ah, but, you don't have to activate the virtual floppy drive for a potential hacker snake to bite you. By default, the legacy floppy drive code is still in there, even though it's never been used. The corruption is still hiding in the code. So, even though you'd never dream of using a VM floppy drive, you're still open to attack.
Linux is engineered with security in mind. In fact, the most fundamental security mechanisms are built right in to the kernel itself, which makes it extremely hard for malicious code to bypass. Unfortunately, attackers always are looking for ways to break down security walls, and engineers constantly are patching security weaknesses.
Security holes often are caused by small bugs within the kernel. These can be exploited and used to execute code without the normal protection. When a serious hole is discovered, it's important to get a fix out as soon as possible. Unfortunately, rushed fixes sometimes cause problems of their own, such as the fix released by Canonical earlier this week.
Linux distributions can be separated into various categories based on use case and the intended target group. Server, education, games and multimedia are some of the most popular categories of Linux distros.
For security conscious users, however, there's a growing niche of distros aimed at protecting your privacy. These distros help ensure you don't leave a digital footprint as you go about navigating the web.
At a time when faith in open source code has been rocked by an outbreak of attacks based on the Shellshock and Heartbleed vulnerabilities, it's time to revisit what we know about Linux security. Linux is so widely used in enterprise IT, and deep inside Internet apps and operations, that any surprises related to Linux security would have painful ramifications.
In 2007, Andrew Morton, a no-nonsense colleague of Linus Torvalds known as the "colonel of the kernel," called for developers to spend time removing defects and vulnerabilities. "I would like to see people spend more time fixing bugs and less time on new features. That's my personal opinion," he said in an interview at the time.