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authorhellekin <hellekin@dyne.org>2016-08-07 23:19:32 +0000
committerhellekin <hellekin@dyne.org>2016-08-07 23:19:32 +0000
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<h2>Contents</h2>
- <p>Before jumping to Neo900 project updates since June, and our main
- feature, we'd like to share with you a recent vulnerability
- disclosure which shows the value of separating the telephony stack
- from the rest of the system.</p>
+ <p>Before jumping to our main feature on KiCad, let's review
+ Neo900 project updates since June.</p>
<ol>
- <li><a href="#asn1-vulnerability">ASN.1 Vulnerability</a></li>
+ <li><a href="#server-migrated">Neo900.org Server Migrated</a></li>
<li><a href="#more-n900-sourcing">More N900 Sourcing</a></li>
<li><a href="#neo900-whitepapers">Whitepapers Update</a></li>
<li><a href="#feature">From Eagle to KiCad</a></li>
</ol>
- <h3 id="asn1-vulnerability">ASN.1 Vulnerability</h3>
-
- <p>Following the decision of <abbr title="National Institute for
- Standards and Technology">NIST</abbr> to deprecate usage of SMS in
- two-factor authentication (we'll come back on this in an upcoming
- installment), this vulnerability disclosure confirms the interest
- of the unique design of Neo900 that isolates the baseband chip
- from power supply, making it dependent on the <abbr title="Central
- Processing Unit">CPU</abbr> (and the <abbr title="Operating
- System">OS</abbr>) to access anything else on the system, and
- preventing remote activation of the chip in the first place.</p>
-
- <p>Lucas Molas of <em>Programa STIC</em> discovered a <cite>Heap
- memory corruption in ASN.1 parsing code generated by Objective
- Systems Inc. ASN1C compiler for C/C++</cite> potentially affecting
- billions of phone users worldwide. The proprietary software
- vendor received a bug report via <em>plain text email</em> on
- June, 1<sup>st</sup>, 2016, according to
- the <a href="https://github.com/programa-stic/security-advisories/tree/master/ObjSys/CVE-2016-5080/">CVE-2016-5080</a>
- released on July, 18<sup>th</sup>, 2016 to the public in a
- coordinated release with the vendor.</p>
-
- <blockquote>Abstract Syntax Notation One (<abbr title="Abstract
- Syntax Notation One">ASN.1</abbr>) is a technical standard and
- formal notation that describes rules and structures for
- representing, encoding, transmitting, and decoding data in
- telecommunications and computer networking.</blockquote>
-
- <blockquote>A vulnerability found in the runtime support
- libraries of the ASN1C compiler for C/C++ from Objective
- Systems Inc. could allow an attacker to remotely execute code
- in software systems, including embeded software and firmware,
- that use code generated by the ASN1C compiler. The
- vulnerability could be triggered remotely without any
- authentication in scenarios where the vulnerable code receives
- and processes <abbr>ASN.1</abbr> encoded data from untrusted
- sources, these may include communications between mobile
- devices and telecommunication network infrastructure nodes,
- communications between nodes in a carrier's network or across
- carrier boundaries, or communication between mutually untrusted
- endpoints in a data network.</blockquote>
-
- <p>The proprietary software vendor released a hot patch (v7.0.1)
- available upon request to their customers, and will integrate the
- fix in the upcoming v7.0.2 of their compiler.</p>
-
- <p>On July, 1<sup>st</sup>, Programa STIC mentioned
- that <q>memory corruption bugs in <abbr>ASN.1</abbr> related
- components of an <abbr title="Long Term Evolution">LTE</abbr>
- stack have been announced or hinted at in several infosec
- conference presentations over the past few weeks and its likely
- the same or similar bugs will become public soon.</q></p>
-
- <h4>How is Neo900 Affected?</h4>
-
- <p>The short answer is: Neo900 is not affected. Keep reading to
- know why.</p>
-
- <p>In
- our <a href="https://neo900.org/news/paypal-resumes-neo900-sources-again">last
- communication</a> we noted that <q><strong>Neo900 is the only
- phone that provides a hardware protection from remote
- activation of the baseband chip</strong></q>.</p>
-
- <p id="anchor-gta0x">In fact, the
- <a href="#note-gta0x"><strong>GTA0x</strong> design</a> contains
- two unique features:
- <ul>
- <li>the modem is detached from the power source, unlike other
- smartphones, so that the modem has to be authorized by
- the <abbr>CPU</abbr> before it can perform its tasks.</li>
- <li>the modem and the <abbr>CPU</abbr> <strong>do not share
- <abbr title="Random Access Memory">RAM</abbr>, which
- prevents a whole range of attack vectors where a rogue
- baseband chip, either by design, by "lawful" or illegal
- action, could take control of memory segments pertaining to
- other subsystems and inject malicious code.</li>
- </ul>
- Neo900 takes advantage of this and incorporates circuitry to
- give the <abbr>CPU</abbr> the capacity to monitor:
- <ul>
- <li>the modem access to power and its consumption</li>
- <li>the activity of the modem antenna</li>
- <li>the activation of the
- <abbr title="Global Positioning System">GPS</abbr>
- part of the modem</li>
- <li>other interfaces (e.g., digital
- <abbr title="Pulse-Code Modulation">PCM</abbr> audio</li>
- </ul>
- </p>
-
- <p>Therefore this vulnerability that potentially plagues most
- commercial phones on the planet, won't affect Neo900 like it
- will other devices. In other designs where RAM is shared and a
- rogue modem can access the power supply at will, the attack
- surface is infinitely larger, and exploiting a vulnerability
- such as the <abbr>ASN.1</abbr> bug will grant access to the
- whole system.</p>
-
- <p>But with Neo900, only a rare combination of hardware
- vulnerability in the <abbr title="Universal Serial
- Bus">USB</abbr> connecting the modem to the <abbr>CPU</abbr>,
- and a software vulnerability would have a remote chance to do
- that. As long as there's no proprietary vulnerable binary blobs
- in the Neo900 <abbr title="Application Processor
- Environment">APE</abbr>, the chance of a modem bug bubbling up
- to the rest of the system without a way to control it and fix
- it in software remains null.</p>
-
- <p>Our exclusive Neo900 design is more valuable than ever!</p>
-
<h3 id="server-migrated">Neo900.org Server Migrated</h3>
<p>Last week we completed the migration of Neo900.org services,
@@ -178,7 +65,7 @@
too early at the movies, let's have a look at what our mad
scientists concocted since last June.</p>
- <p>
+ <p>...</p>
<p>You can always follow our whitepapers updates directly from
Werner in
@@ -192,39 +79,37 @@
<h3 id="feature">From Eagle to KiCad</h3>
- <p>When Joerg took charge of the Neo900 project, the electronics
- design was made with Eagle, and was updated using that tool ever
- since. Nikolaus Schaller, of OpenPandora fame, was the Eagle
- virtuoso, but our communication with his company, Golden
- Delicious, was hampered for a long time by incompatible tools and
- workflow.</p>
-
- <p>In 2016, Nikolaus faded away from Neo900, absorbed by the
- finishing touch to Neo900's sister
- project <a href="https://pyra-handheld.com">Pyra</a>. Just a few
- weeks ago he confirmed that he couldn't follow up on the layout
- for Neo900, which prompted Joerg and Werner to consider
- alternatives.</p>
-
- <p>In the <abbr title="Electronics Design Automation">EDA</abbr>
- market, besides Eagle, there's Altium. But Altium has the same
- flaw as Eagle: it's proprietary, and moreover, it's quite
- expensive. Our rationalizing mind wants to say there's cognitive
- dissonance in using non-free software for a free hardware
- project. And in hindsight, this sounds like a good
- rationalization.</p>
-
- <p>Among the open-source alternatives to Eagle (let's leave Altium
- in its own class), <a href="http://fritzing.org/">Fritzing</a>
- didn't match our need for multilayer board support;
- between <a href="http://geda-project.org/">gEDA</a>
- and <a href="http://kicad-pcb.org/">KiCad</a>, the choice was
+ <p>When Joerg took charge of the Neo900 project, the electronics
+ design was made with Eagle, and was updated using that tool ever
+ since. Nikolaus Schaller, of OpenPandora fame, was the Eagle
+ virtuoso, but our communication with his company, Golden
+ Delicious, was hampered for a long time by incompatible tools
+ and workflow.</p>
+
+ <p>In 2016, Nikolaus faded away from Neo900, absorbed by the
+ finishing touch to his cousin project
+ <a href="https://pyra-handheld.com">Pyra</a>. Just a few weeks
+ ago he confirmed that he couldn't follow up on the layout for
+ Neo900, which prompted Joerg and Werner to consider
+ alternatives.</p>
+
+ <p>In the <abbr title="Electronics Design Automation">EDA</abbr>
+ market, besides Eagle, there's Altium. But Altium has the same
+ flaw as Eagle: it's proprietary, and moreover, it's quite
+ expensive. Our rationalizing mind wants to say there's
+ cognitive dissonance in using non-free software for a free
+ hardware project. And in hindsight, this sounds like a good
+ rationalization.</p>
+
+ <p>Among the open-source alternatives to Eagle,
+ <a href="http://fritzing.org/">Fritzing</a> didn't match our
+ need for multilayer board support;
+ between <a href="http://geda-project.org/">gEDA</a> and
+ <a href="http://kicad-pcb.org/">KiCad</a>, the choice was
easy: the latter is much more popular, backed up
by <abbr title="Centre Européen de Recherche
- Nucléaire">CERN</abbr> as part of
- the <a href="http://home.cern/about/updates/2015/02/kicad-software-gets-cern-treatment">Open
- Hardware Initiative</a>, and there are discussions to share
- codebase between the two projects [ref needed].</p>
+ Nucléaire">CERN</abbr> as part of the
+ <a href="http://home.cern/about/updates/2015/02/kicad-software-gets-cern-treatment">Open Hardware Initiative</a>, and the community is more active.</p>
<h4>How does the move to KiCad influence Neo900 development?</h4>
@@ -285,11 +170,5 @@
news? You can tell me: hellekin at neo900 dot org, or in the
comments.</p>
- <p id="note-gta0x" class="footnote">Footnote: from Openmoko Neo
- 1973 and FreeRunner, to Golden Delicious GTA04 and maybe the
- upcoming Pyra, and of course Neo900, GTA0x design supports modem
- separation, although not power separation in Neo
- 1973. <a href="#anchor-gta0x" title="back to text">^^</a></p>
-
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