Monday, 30 March 2020

Most likely yes.

1. On one hand, Linus Torvalds himself admitted that he was approached by the US government to add a backdoor. We don’t know the outcome of that encounter.

2. On the other hand, there are mechanisms to embed malicious code in opensource, as proved by Ken Thomson since 1984, even if someone does review the code, by just changing the compiler (

3. Last, a lot of backdoors can be in the form of very subtle bugs in the software, that depend on timing and weird conditions that are almost impossible to catch. Since NSA contributed themselves software into the kernel (SELinux) they have more than opportunity.

To be honest at this stage it doesn’t matter that much, since they are just another attack vector. Since there can even be hard disk firmware rootkits (Hard Drive Rootkit Is Frighteningly Persistent), I think we can safely assume that each operating system is compromised by default.

By Bogdan Mustiata
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