Privacy implications of EOMA68 and other open-hardware projects

Discussion in 'privacy technology' started by SDF1, Jul 16, 2016.

  1. SDF1

    SDF1 Registered Member

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    What do you all think about EOMA68 and other open-hardware projects (e.g., RISC-V) in terms of their long-term impact to online privacy and security?

    These types of projects give me hope that sometime in the near future we'll have hardware that can be trusted not to have built-in backdoors (e.g., Intel IME, proprietary firmware blobs, etc.) -- although in all likelihood, we'll need to settle for underpowered and overpriced devices.

    On the other hand, certain things give me pause. I don't know of any open-hardware GPU projects. I'm not sure what's going to happen with wifi technology. I understand that modern hard drives have their own mini-processors inside of them (with proprietary firmware) -- who knows what's being recorded or whether other devices on the PCI bus (such as NICs) can be accessed? Honestly, I don't think all of these things are doing nefarious things on my machine, but who can know for sure?

    These issues aren't as important for military or large corporate interests, as they can audit the internals by force (law) and/or by signing NDAs. But what about the little guys, like political dissidents in oppressive regimes?
     
  2. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    I think they're essential, particularly for servers, firewalls and routers, controllers and RNG initially. My take is that if you want a GUI/Games dominated system, you have no real choice but to take the proprietary, then you have effectively already invited spyware onto the hardware, and all you can do on it is your public persona. I think the issue of GPU power is possibly over-stated, provided you avoid the entertainment and gaming aspects. So to that extent, I expect the projects to work outwards from niches.

    Personally, I'd also like to abandon the browser as the mechanism for communication and merchant transactions - I want an open message passing system of medium latency, this would vastly reduce the processing/GPU power required.

    What we've been lured into with the browsers is to accept, on the basis of "free", becoming eyeballs onto a covert mainframe.
     
  3. SDF1

    SDF1 Registered Member

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    I agree that DRM (or something similar) is going to be a reality for the foreseeable future when it comes to big budget games and movies.

    I find it ironic that tons of people want "online privacy" these days, there are lots of legitimate privacy/anonymity software solutions, and yet, all of them are being deployed on top of backdoored equipment! In my mind, the front lines of the battle for online freedom has moved into the hardware realm; but the vast majority of people either haven't realized it yet, or don't see things that way.

    I do think the enemies of online freedom realize the situation, and are moving to lock down devices in various ways, so that firmware is not only proprietary, but must be signed in order to run (making reverse engineering useless).
     
  4. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    There's lots of decent used gaming hardware out there :)
     
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