DanielPocock.com

Software engineer, Free/Open Source Software Innovator, Debian Developer

4 September 2017

Spyware Dolls and Intel's vPro

by

Back in February, it was reported that a "smart" doll with wireless capabilities could be used to remotely spy on children and was banned for breaching German laws on surveillance devices disguised as another object.

Would you trust this doll?

For a number of years now there has been growing concern that the management technologies in recent Intel CPUs (ME, AMT and vPro) also conceal capabilities for spying, either due to design flaws (no software is perfect) or backdoors deliberately installed for US spy agencies, as revealed by Edward Snowden. In a 2014 interview, Intel's CEO offered to answer any question, except this one.

The LibreBoot project provides a more comprehensive and technical analysis of the issue, summarized in the statement "the libreboot project recommends avoiding all modern Intel hardware. If you have an Intel based system affected by the problems described below, then you should get rid of it as soon as possible" - eerily similar to the official advice German authorities are giving to victims of Cayla the doll.

All those amateur psychiatrists suggesting LibreBoot developers suffer from symptoms of schizophrenia have had to shut their mouths since May when Intel confirmed a design flaw (or NSA backdoor) in every modern CPU had become known to hackers.

Bill Gates famously started out with the mission to put a computer on every desk and in every home. With more than 80% of new laptops based on an Intel CPU with these hidden capabilities, can you imagine the NSA would not have wanted to come along for the ride?

Four questions everybody should be asking

Share your thoughts

This issue was recently raised on the LibrePlanet mailing list. Please feel free to join the list and click here to reply on the thread.

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