What’s The Deal With Snap Packages?

Who would have thought that software packaging software would cause such a hubbub? But such is the case with snap. Developed by Canonical as a faster and easier way to get the latest versions of software installed on Ubuntu systems, the software has ended up starting a fiery debate in the larger Linux community. For the more casual user, snap is just a way to get the software they want as quickly as possible. But for users concerned with the ideology of free and open source software, it’s seen a dangerous step towards the types of proprietary “walled gardens” that may have drove them to Linux in the first place.

Perhaps the most vocal opponent of snap, and certainly the one that’s got the most media attention, is Linux Mint. In a June 1st post on the distribution’s official blog, Mint founder Clement Lefebvre made it very clear that the Ubuntu spin-off does not approve of the new package format and wouldn’t include it on base installs. Further, he announced that Mint 20 would actively block users from installing the snap framework through the package manager. It can still be installed manually, but this move is seen as a way to prevent it from being added to the system without the user’s explicit consent.

The short version of Clement’s complaint is that the snap packager installs from a proprietary Canonical-specific source. If you want to distribute snaps, you have to set up an account with Canonical and host it there. While the underlying software is still open source, the snap packager breaks with long tradition of having the distribution of the software also being open and free. This undoubtedly makes the install simple for naive users, and easier to maintain for Canonical maintainers, but it also takes away freedom of choice and diversity of package sources.

Continue reading “What’s The Deal With Snap Packages?”

This Week In Security: Nintendo Accounts, Pernicious Android Malware, And An IOS 0-day

A rash of Nintendo account compromises has made the news over the last week. Nintendo’s official response was that they were investigating, and recommended everyone enabled two factor authentication on their accounts.

[Dan Goodin] over at Ars Technica has a canny guess: The compromised accounts were each linked to an old Nintendo Network ID (NNID). This is essentially a legacy Nintendo account — one made in the Wii U and 3DS era. Since they’re linked, access via the NNID exposes the entire account. Resetting the primary account password doesn’t change the NNID credentials, but turning on two factor authentication does seem to close the loophole. There hasn’t yet been official confirmation that NNIDs are responsible, but it seems to fit the situation. It’s an interesting problem, where a legacy account can lead to further compromise.

Just Can’t Lose You: xHelper

xHelper, an Android malware, just won’t say goodbye. xHelper looks like a cleaner application, but once installed it begins rather stubbornly installing itself via the Triada trojan. The process begins with rooting the phone, and then remounting /system as writable. Binaries are installed and startup scripts are tampered with, and then the mount command itself is compromised, preventing a user from following the same steps to remove the malware. Additionally, if the device has previously been rooted, the superuser binary is removed. This combination of techniques means that the infection will survive a factory reset. The only way to remove xHelper is to flash a clean Android image, fully wiping /system in the process. Continue reading “This Week In Security: Nintendo Accounts, Pernicious Android Malware, And An IOS 0-day”

An Antenna That Really Cooks–Really

[9A4OV] set up a receiver using the HackRF board and an LNA that can receive the NOAA 19 satellite. Of course, a receiver needs an antenna, and he made one using a cooking pot. The antenna isn’t ideal – at least indoors – but it does work. He’s hoping to tweak it to get better reception. You can see videos of the antenna and the resulting reception, below.

The satellite is sending High-Resolution Picture Transmission (HRPT) data which provides a higher image quality than Automatic Picture Transmission (APT). APT is at 137 MHz, but HRPT is at 1698 MHz and typically requires a better receiver and antenna system.

Continue reading “An Antenna That Really Cooks–Really”