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AMD

Researchers Point Out 'Theoretical' Security Flaws In AMD's Upcoming Zen CPU (bleepingcomputer.com) 14

An anonymous reader writes from a report via BleepingComputer: The security protocol that governs how virtual machines share data on a host system powered by AMD Zen processors has been found to be insecure, at least in theory, according to two German researchers. The technology, called Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV), is designed to encrypt parts of the memory shared by different virtual machines on cloud servers. AMD, who plans to ship SEV with its upcoming line of Zen processors, has published the technical documentation for the SEV technology this past April. The German researchers have analyzed the design of SEV, using this public documentation, and said they managed to identify three attack channels, which work, at least in theory.

[In a technical paper released over the past weekend, the researchers described their attacks:] "We show how a malicious hypervisor can force the guest to perform arbitrary read and write operations on protected memory. We describe how to completely disable any SEV memory protection configured by the tenant. We implement a replay attack that uses captured login data to gain access to the target system by solely exploiting resource management features of a hypervisor." AMD is scheduled to ship SEV with the Zen processor line in the first quarter of 2017.

Open Source

After 22 Years, 386BSD Gets An Update (386bsd.org) 83

386BSD was last released back in 1994 with a series of articles in Dr. Dobb's Journal -- but then developers for this BSD-based operating system started migrating to both FreeBSD and NetBSD. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The last known public release was version 0.1. Until Wednesday, when Lynne Jolitz, one of the co-authors of 386BSD, released the source code to version 1.0 as well as 2.0 on Github.

386BSD takes us back to the days when you could count every file in your Unix distribution and more importantly, read and understand all of your OS source code. 386BSD is also the missing link between BSD and Linux. One can find fragments of Linus Torvalds's math emulation code in the source code of 386BSD. To quote Linus: "If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux, Linux would probably never had happened."

Though it was designed for Intel 80386 microprocessors, there's already instructions for launching it on the hosted hardware virtualization service Qemu.
Security

Windows 10 Will Soon Run Edge In a Virtual Machine To Keep You Safe (arstechnica.com) 172

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Microsoft has announced that the next major update to Windows 10 will run its Edge browser in a lightweight virtual machine. Running the update in a virtual machine will make exploiting the browser and attacking the operating system or compromising user data more challenging. Called Windows Defender Application Guard for Microsoft Edge, the new capability builds on the virtual machine-based security that was first introduced last summer in Windows 10. Windows 10's Virtualization Based Security (VBS) uses small virtual machines and the Hyper-V hypervisor to isolate certain critical data and processes from the rest of the system. The most important of these is Credential Guard, which stores network credentials and password hashes in an isolated virtual machine. This isolation prevents the popular MimiKatz tool from harvesting those password hashes. In turn, it also prevents a hacker from breaking into one machine and then using stolen credentials to spread to other machines on the same network. Credential Guard's virtual machine is very small and lightweight, running only a relatively simple process to manage credentials. Application Guard will go much further by running large parts of the Edge browser within a virtual machine. This virtual machine won't, however, need a full operating system running inside it -- just a minimal set of Windows features required to run the browser. Because Application Guard is running in a virtual machine it will have a much higher barrier between it and the host platform. It can't see other processes, it can't access local storage, it can't access any other installed applications, and, critically, it can't attack the kernel of the host system. In its first iteration, Application Guard will only be available for Edge. Microsoft won't provide an API or let other applications use it. As with other VBS features, Application Guard will also only be available to users of Windows 10 Enterprise, with administrative control through group policies. Administrators will be able to mark some sites as trusted, and those sites won't use the virtual machine. Admins also be able to control whether untrusted sites can use the clipboard or print.
Operating Systems

Xen Vulnerability Allows Hackers To Escape Qubes OS VM And Own the Host (itnews.com.au) 73

Slashdot reader Noryungi writes: Qubes OS certainly has an intriguing approach to security, but a newly discovered Xen vulnerability allows a hacker to escape a VM and own the host. If you are running Qubes, make sure you update the dom0 operating system to the latest version.
"A malicious, paravirtualized guest administrator can raise their system privileges to that of the host on unpatched installations," according to an article in IT News, which quotes Xen as saying "The bits considered safe were too broad, and not actually safe." IT News is also reporting that Qubes will move to full hardware memory virtualization in its next 4.0 release. Xen's hypervisor "is used by cloud giants Amazon Web Services, IBM and Rackspace," according to the article, which quotes a Qubes security researcher who asks the age-old question. "Has Xen been written by competent developers? How many more bugs of this caliber are we going to witness in the future?"
Network

A Solution To the Security Guidelines Proposed By FCC For Home Routers (imgtec.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: Back in March 2015, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a security document that included a series of provisions related to the use of wireless devices. In order to comply with these security guidelines, some manufacturers of home routers and other networking equipment decided to lock down the software powering these devices. This caused an outcry from the open source community who demanded that the FCC and manufacturers would not restrict the free use of the operating system and associated software running on their devices. Now Imagination Technologies is presenting a proof of concept demonstration that addresses the next-generation security requirements mandated by the FCC and other similar agencies. The demo makes use of a feature of MIPS Warrior CPUs called multi-domain, secure hardware virtualization. This technology allows developers to create system-wide, hardware-enforced trusted environments that are much secure compared to current solutions. The platform used for the demonstration runs three virtual machines (VMs) on a MIPS P-class CPU integrated in a router-type evaluation kit; this approach securely separates the OpenWrt operating system from the Wi-Fi driver, allowing them to co-exist in isolation and thus comply with the FCC guidelines.Ars Technica has more details.
Microsoft

Head of Oracle Linux Moves To Microsoft (zdnet.com) 95

An anonymous reader writes: Wim Coekaerts, formerly Oracle's Senior VP of Linux and Virtualization Engineering, has left Oracle for Microsoft. Many of you may know of Coekaerts as "Mr. Linux" as he delivered the first Linux products, transitioned Oracle's programming staff from Windows to Linux desktops, and turned Oracle into a Linux distributor with the launch of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone, Oracle Linux. Mike Neil, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of the Enterprise Cloud, told ZDNet, "Wim Coekaerts has joined Microsoft as Corp VP of Open Source in our Enterprise Cloud Group. As we continue to deepen our commitment to open source, Wim will focus on deepening our engagement, contributions and innovation to the open-source community."
Space

Can NASA's Gryphon-X Project Save America? (thestack.com) 44

An anonymous reader writes: The Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, which advises both government and industry, has released an unusually fervent paper calling for NASA to push harder for funding for a massive cybersecurity project called Gryphon-X, which it claims has been lost in congressional confusion and administrative bureaucracy. Details are scarce as to how Gryphon-X could prevent cyber-incursions such as AnonSec's attempted drone sabotage in February, or even what new technologies might be on the table, but mentions that a significant new site would be built in Silicon Valley, and would include academic facilities. Extending Gryphon-X's scope far beyond NASA's security to a global role, the authors write that it would contain 'the fusion center, virtualization environment, and cyber-physical capabilities needed to analyze, prepare, and prevent threats like these from harming the nation, its organizations, or its people.'
Cloud

CoreOS Launches Rkt 1.0 (eweek.com) 50

darthcamaro writes: Docker is about to get some real competition in the container runtime space, thanks to the lofficial aunch of rkt 1.0. CoreOS started building rkt in 2014 and after more than a year of security, performance and feature improvement are now ready to declare it 'production-ready.' While rkt is a docker runtime rival, docker apps will run in rkt, giving using a new runtime choice: "rkt will remain compatible with the Docker-specific image format, as well as its own native App Container Image (ACI). That means developers can build containers with Docker and run those containers with rkt. In addition, CoreOS will support the growing ecosystem of tools based around the ACI format."
Businesses

Docker Moves Beyond Containers With Unikernel Systems Purchase (thenewstack.io) 69

joabj writes: Earlier today, Docker announced that it had purchased the Cambridge, U.K.-based Unikernel Systems, makers of the OCaml-based MirageOS, a unikernel or "virtual library-based operating system." Unikernels go beyond containers in stripping virtualization down to the bare essentials in that they only include the specific OS functionality that the application actually needs. Their design builds on decades of research into modular OS design. Although unikernels can be complex to deploy for developers, Docker aims to make the process as standardized as possible, for easier deployment.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.4 LTS Officially Released 132

prisoninmate writes: January 10, 2016, will enter in the Linux history books as the day when the Linux kernel 4.4 LTS (Long-Term Support) has been officially released by Linus Torvalds and his team of hard working kernel developers. Prominent features of Linux kernel 4.4 LTS include 3D support in the virtual GPU driver, allowing for 3D hardware-accelerated graphics in virtualization guests, a leaner and faster loop device that supports Asynchronous I/O and Direct I/O, thus increasing the system's performance and saving memory, and support for Open-Channel Solid State Drives (SSDs) through LightNVM. Phoronix also took a look during the newest kernel's development cycle, and has an overview of 4.4's new features.
Cloud

Amazon Makes It Almost Impossible To Calculate Their "Virtual CPU" Equivalent (informationweek.com) 114

dkatana writes: AWS started out defining its virtual CPUs as being composed of EC2 compute units, or ECUs, which it defined as an equivalent to a physical Xeon processor. However, a virtual CPU now looks suspiciously variable... A virtual CPU is whatever Amazon wants to offer in an instance series. The user has no firm measure to go by. From the article: [B]y doing a little math, you could actually compare what you were getting in virtual CPUs in EC2 versus Azure. Also by doing a little math, you knew how to compare one Amazon instance to another based on the ECU count in each virtual CPU. Microsoft didn't look too bad in the comparison. That is one of the casualties of the nomenclature change. I have searched for updated information on how a virtual CPU is measured and found nothing comparable to the definition of the 2012 ECU measure. I have questioned Amazon representatives three times between Oct. 27 and Dec. 21, and don't have much of an answer."
Windows

Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Moving To Per-Core Licensing (arstechnica.com) 288

rbrandis writes: Windows Server 2012 has two main editions, Standard and Datacenter. They had identical features, and differed only in terms of the number of virtual operating system instances they supported. The licenses for both editions were sold in two-socket units; one license was needed for each pair of sockets a system contained.

Windows Server 2016 reinstates the functional differences between Standard and Datacenter editions. Datacenter will include additional storage replication capabilities, a new network stack with richer virtualization options, and shielded virtual machines that protect the content of a virtual machine from the administrator of the host operating system. These features won't be found in the Standard edition.

Windows Server 2016 licensing moves to a per core model. Instead of 2012's two socket license pack, 2016 will use a 2-core pack, with the license cost of each 2016 pack being 1/8th the price of the corresponding 2 socket pack for 2012. Each system running Windows Server 2016 must have a minimum of 8 cores (4 packs) per processor, and a minimum of 16 cores (8 packs) per system.

Virtualization

The Tamagochi Singularity Made Real: Infinite Tamagochi Living On the Internet (hackaday.com) 84

szczys writes: Everyone loves Tamagochi, the little electronic keychains spawned in the '90s that let you raise digital pets. Some time ago, XKCD made a quip about an internet-based matrix of thousands of these digital entities. That quip is now a reality thanks to elite hardware hacker Jeroen Domburg (aka Sprite_TM). In his recent talk called "The Tamagochi Singularity" at the Hackaday SuperConference he revealed that he had built an infinite network of virtual Tamagochi by implementing the original hardware as a virtual machine. This included developing AI to keep them happy, and developing a protocol to emulate their IR interactions. But he went even further, hacking an original keychain to use wirelessly as a console which can look in on any of the virtual Tamagochi living on his underground network. This full-stack process is unparalleled in just about every facet: complexity, speed of implementation, awesome factor, and will surely spark legions of other Tamagochi Matrices.
Books

Book Review: the Network Security Test Lab: a Step-by-Step Guide 19

benrothke writes: It wasn't that long ago that building a full network security test lab was an expensive prospect. In The Network Security Test Lab: A Step-by-Step Guide, author Michael Gregg has written a helpful hands-on guide to provide the reader with an economical method to do that. The book is a step-by-step guide on how to create a security network lab, and how to use some of the most popular security and hacking tools. Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Advice On Enterprise Architect Position 198

dave562 writes: I could use some advice from the community. I have almost 20 years of IT experience, 5 of it with the company I am currently working for. In my current position, the infrastructure and applications that I am responsible for account for nearly 80% of the entire IT infrastructure of the company. In broad strokes our footprint is roughly 60 physical hosts that run close to 1500 VMs and a SAN that hosts almost 4PB of data. The organization is a moderate sized (~3000 employees), publicly traded company with a nearly $1 billion market value (recent fluctuations not withstanding).

I have been involved in a constant struggle with the core IT group over how to best run the operations. They are a traditional, internal facing IT shop. They have stumbled through a private cloud initiative that is only about 30% realized. I have had to drag them kicking and screaming into the world of automated provisioning, IaaS, application performance monitoring, and all of the other IT "must haves" that a reasonable person would expect from a company of our size. All the while, I have never had full access to the infrastructure. I do not have access to the storage. I do not have access to the virtualization layer. I do not have Domain Admin rights. I cannot see the network.

The entire organization has been ham strung by an "enterprise architect" who relies on consultants to get the job done, but does not have the capability to properly scope the projects. This has resulted in failure after failure and a broken trail of partially implemented projects. (VMware without SRM enabled. EMC storage hardware without automated tiering enabled. Numerous proof of concept systems that never make it into production because they were not scoped properly.)

After 5 years of succeeding in the face of all of these challenges, the organization has offered me the Enterprise Architect position. However they do not think that the position should have full access to the environment. It is an "architecture" position and not a "sysadmin" position is how they explained it to me. That seems insane. It is like asking someone to draw a map, without being able to actually visit the place that needs to be mapped.

For those of you in the community who have similar positions, what is your experience? Do you have unfettered access to the environment? Are purely architectural / advisory roles the norm at this level?
Upgrades

Revisiting How Much RAM Is Enough Today For Desktop Computing 350

jjslash writes: An article at TechSpot tests how much RAM you need for regular desktop computing and how it affects performance in apps and games. As it turns out, there's not much benefit going beyond 8 GB for regular programs, and surprisingly, 4GB still seems to be enough for gaming in most cases. Although RAM is cheap these days, and they had to go to absurdly unrealistic settings to simulate high demand for memory outside of virtualization, it's a good read to confirm our judgment calls on what is enough for most in 2015.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Switching To a GNU/Linux Distribution For a Webdesign School 233

spadadot writes: I manage a rapidly growing webdesign school in France with 90 computers for our students, dispatched across several locations. By the end on the year it will amount to 200. Currently, they all run Windows 8 but we would love to switch to a GNU/Linux distribution (free software, easier to deploy/maintain and less licensing costs). The only thing preventing us is Adobe Photoshop which is only needed for a small amount of work. The curriculum is highly focused on coding skills (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP/MySQL) but we still need to teach our students how to extract images from a PSD template. The industry format for graphic designs is PSD so The Gimp (XCF) is not really an option. Running a Windows VM on every workstation would be hard to setup (we redeploy all our PCs every 3 months) and just as costly as the current setup. Every classroom has at least 20Mbit/s — 1Mbit/s ADSL connection so maybe setting up a centralized virtualization server would work? How many Windows/Photoshop licenses would we need then? Anything else Slashdot would recommend?
Open Source

What Goes Into a Decision To Take Software From Proprietary To Open Source 45

Lemeowski writes: It's not often that you get to glimpse behind the curtain and see what led a proprietary software company to open source its software. Last year, the networking software company Midokura made a strategic decision to open source its network virtualization platform MidoNet, to address fragmentation in the networking industry. In this interview, Midokura CEO and CTO Dan Mihai Dumitriu explains the company's decision to give away fours years of engineering to the open source community, how it changed the way its engineers worked, and the lessons learned along the way. Among the challenges was helping engineers overcome the culture change of broadcasting their work to a broader community.
Emulation (Games)

Emulator Now Runs x86 Apps On All Raspberry Pi Models 82

DeviceGuru writes: Russia-based Eltechs announced its ExaGear Desktop virtual machine last August, enabling Linux/ARMv7 SBCs and mini-PCs to run x86 software. That meant that users of the quad-core, Cortex-A7-based Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, could use it as well, although the software was not yet optimized for it. Now Eltechs has extended extended ExaGear to support earlier ARMv6 versions of the Raspberry Pi. The company also optimized the emulator for the Pi 2 allowing, for example, Pi 2 users to use automatically forwarding startup scripts.

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