Cuba Uses Linux To Stick It To The US

from the take-that-evil-capitalist-pigs dept

It looks like Fidel Castro’s plan to build a Cuban software industry has paid off, somewhat: the country has announced that it’s launched its own variant of Linux. The goal is to replace the Microsoft operating systems that runs most of Cuba’s computers, because the government sees Windows as a security threat. Insert your own punchline there, but for Cuba, it’s because it believes US authorities have access to Microsoft code, and can therefore spy on Cuba through it. That’s debatable, but so is the claim from the dean of the School of Free Software at Cuba’s University of Information Sciences, who says the “black holes and malicious codes” in proprietary software “doesn’t happen with free software.” While open-source projects often offer better security than proprietary platforms, open-source or “free” software isn’t inherently more secure. But somehow it seems ideology is probably more important than facts here.

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Comments on “Cuba Uses Linux To Stick It To The US”

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David T says:

Cloak and Dagger

If I were running homeland security, I would work with US software (Microsoft), hardware (Cisco) and data management (Google) companies that interface extensively with “hostile” governments.

For a small, “hostile,” nation that doesn’t have the infrastructure to code it’s own proprietary systems, going open source seems to be a smart move in the interest of national security.

LarsL says:

Re: Re:

“There is also a more valid reason. Most Microsoft products cannot be solved in “terrorist” nations, such as Cuba. That makes it fairly difficult for Cuba to get legal copies of Windows.”

As a ‘terrorist’ nation, do you think they care? Do you think that US Microsoft representatives in Cuba are going to put Cuban citizens or Cuban government agencies to trial in Cuban courts of law. And win?

Makes no sense to prosecute for software piracy in a country where the software is not even sold.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Considering that many people in the rest of the world don’t bother with legal copies of Windows, I doubt that’s a real motivating factor. It’s more to do with the fact that they can make changes and create systems that work for them, without having to operate at the whims of a hostile nation.

Besides, since when has Cuba been a “terrorist” nation. They have a communist government, a very different thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Besides, since when has Cuba been a “terrorist” nation.”

Since 9/11, haven’t you been paying attention?
Americans have since that day been on target to exterminate all enemies of freedom in all places unholy. Since we realize we can’t positively ID every terrorist out there we thought we would play it safe and just nuke earth from orbit.

We coined the term “The War on Terror” for us to be able to commit acts of crime without consequence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Good for Fidel!

>>Since 9/11, haven’t you been paying attention?
>>Americans have since that day been on target to
>>exterminate all enemies of freedom in all places unholy.

Why is it when I install Office 2007, My firwall wants me to authorize connections to DHS.GOV? No joke.

Yah, trustworthy computing!

db0 (user link) says:

If we're talking about current OS'

Then yes, they are more secure as their whole architecture is built to be secure. If we’re talking theoretically, then no, Free software is not necessarily more secure. But practically, in the world we’re living now, and the software that exist at this point, it is.

However what free software is inherently, is of better quality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If we're talking about current OS'

*nix is not built to be secure. The various security improvements over the years have increased security with the OS, and the fact that Microsoft is such a juicier target helps keep the majority of malicious apps on Windows.

Essentially, the various *nix distros have just gotten lucky that they haven’t been fully targeted. Even in the server arena where they are more prevalent, there is usually a Windows box there that is more readily compromised; easier only because of the years of practice people have in attacking Windows boxes.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: If we're talking about current OS'

Wow. Bizarro world exists in tech circles, it seems.

UNIX was designed from the ground up with security in mind. That’s why there’s always been such things as enforced passwords on user accounts, best practice that includes not running as admin unless you absolutely have to, security groups, etc. You can also disable and remove pretty much anything you want in a *NIX system within reasonable bound (including the option to recompile the kernel to remove insecure components is desired).

Windows was originally designed as a single user system. After abandoning the 9x core as being ridiculously insecure, Microsoft turned to the more secure NT kernel but also made a number of horrific security errors (including insecure services being enabled by default and encouraging the constant use of admin accounts) that led to various different worms and virii being possible. It’s only with Windows 7 that they finally seem to be correctly enforcing security on users. Server systems have been more secure, but to say that Microsoft has a history of coming close to a *NIX level of security until recently is a joke.

Jeff (profile) says:

Re: Re: If we're talking about current OS'

I cannot express my utter befuddlement with your statement.

*nix was indeed designed as a secure system.

While it is true that the creation of exploits/virii/worms has target windows due to its popularity, that is not the entire picture. Windows exploits exist primarily due to the fact that the preferred operating model of the OS is inherently insecure. In a *nix environment you may need to be root to install an app, but except for certain system apps and for the launching of server processes, you need not be root to run them. However, on windows there are more apps than you can shake a stick at that require you to have admin privileges to run them. So what, you might say. Well, the problem lies in that this makes for a greater likelihood that the end user on a windows box is an admin. If that end user executes code, it runs with admin privileges. Due to these facts, there is a plethora of “workbenches” that can lead nearly anybody through a process to build a virus or trojan.

And don’t even get me started on the issues with ActiveX and implied security.

eleete (user link) says:

Re: If we're talking about current OS'

It’s hard to argue which is more secure without exploring the code. Open Source makes sense because the flaws are there for the whole world to see, and fix. As soon as an exploit becomes known, the community goes straight to work and a patch is released within a couple of days if not hours. Compare that to M$ releasing patches so slowly, and being the only ones with the source code. At least with Linux if there’s buzz about the US spying on them through software, they can open up the source code, and see for themselves. Then they can fix the hole and resume. By Far, Open Source is the best alternative yet.

xtraSico says:

A lot of us did that

A lot of us (us=we, not U.S.) did that: we prefer Linux because of its security. So, most of our opinions are going to be approving their move. I use MS-OS’s at work because that’s what we use at work, but when I have to really audit a PC or network I use Linux. At home I use MS for extreme gaming (CoD4, Crysis, etc).

With all due respect, IMHO, I don’t see Cuba as a terrorist country. Communist yes, but not terrorist. When have you heard of a Cuban doing a terrorist attack. The White house? Yeah, that was TOO long ago.

Maybe their president doesn’t has a capitalist brain and he “condone” terrorists attacks on US soil, but, come on… Cubans are not like that. Just my opinion.

Lorenzo says:

Re: Cuba government=terrorist???

I guess I understand what you are trying to say.
But, behind the scene, Cuba’s government opened several terrorist training camps in Cuba and developed (is proved) quimical sustances to use it in dirty wars against “capitalism”.
So, Cuba’ strategy is not the be “oficially” the bad boys, but in reality, the are!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Fail @ trolling. Gitmo is being closed.

Really though, the US needs to do something about its politicians before it really gets out of hand. People talk about “evil amerika” and so forth but that’s not really accurate.

Bad enough you can’t trust the US anymore, even if it is your home. We don’t need the US marching steadily towards a police state anymore. It’s a distant future, but one that’s incoming if the past decade (and numerous parts of the US’ history) keep occuring.

Jack Sparrow says:

Funny !!! Verry verry funny!!!

“M$ is secure”…
“”terrorist” nations, such as Cuba”…
“”hostile,” nation”…


I can’t breath, I can’t breath.

I ever say and repeat it to children… Just use to learn something at school, since you’r been there so many time everyday… Don’t became a moron adult!

Dave says:

Network security, not local admin / root

I would think the security that Cuba is referring to has more to do with network intrusion than how the OS handles root or admin accounts.

Open Source software inherently has the security problem that… it’s open source! Go trolling through the source code and look for exploits.

This is also a strength, depending on the distro as you may have several people looking for exploits and fixing them.

Rich Kulawiec says:

Of course, they're quite correct

It is, as a practical matter, impossible to properly secure any Microsoft Windows system. Even Microsoft acknowledges this, in its own recommedations for (a) the band-aid of frequent patching (b) the band-aid of a firewall (c) the band-aid of anti-virus (d) the band-aid of anti-spyware, etc.

Compare and contrast with OpenBSD, for example, which is readily deployed on the open Internet without any of these things, and is vastly more resistant to attack.

There’s a reason why nearly all of the 100M+ zombies out there are running Windows, and it is not — contrary to the delusions of Microsoft fanboys — because Windows is popular. It’s because it’s pitifully weak, which is no doubt also why Windows system are routinely compromised in large numbers via software written by children.

So yes, open-source software IS more secure, both because it facilitates peer review (any software which does not should be classified as “snake oil”, just as any drug which does not should be) and because the results as proven in the field over the past thirty years indicate that it clearly outperforms closed-source software by a wide margin.

Case in point: last time a significant fraction of the Internet-connected hosts running an open-source operating system were hijacked by malware: November 3, 1988. Last time a significant fraction of the Internet-connected hosts running a closed-source operating system were hijacked by malware: rignt now.

It really does concern me that it seems necessary to reiterate this point to the inexperienced members of the audience. Surely it can’t be asking too much for them to review the brief history of the Internet vis-a-vis security before parroting the primitive and obsolete concepts of the software equivalent of the flat-earthers?

Freedom says:


I use MS stuff almost exclusively, but I don’t have anything to hide either… if I did, I wouldn’t do it on a MS based machine. There is too much going on in the mahcine and too much of it can’t be turned off for any real security.

Also, does anyone really believe that the government hasn’t worked out deals with Microsoft for back doors into the OS? Hell, with “secure computing”, they can even go ahead now and leave an “open door” and just give them a key.

The beauty of Open Source Software is the ability to review all the code. If Microsoft wants Cuba to trust them, they need to release all their source code for review and let them compile it themselves. In that case, you’ll at least have a system that they know hasn’t been tampered with and can disable any modules that they don’t “like”.


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