Richard Bucker

Survcap

Posted at — Jan 4, 2020

This video is super spooky. I find myself asking a new category of questions and it’s deeply disturbing.

I absolutely love my ChromeOS devices. They auto-upgrade when they need it. With the exception of the Linux and Android capable models my attack surface area is limited to the Chrome browser. But after watching the video I’m asking myself if Google’s goal of making Android phones as close to zero as possible also applies to ChromeOS devices. And if Google is using ChromeOS as a data collection device then what do Google’s premium devices say about is and does that stratification of hardware say about us in that context?

The followup question may not be as obvious… What information might Microsoft, Apple, Ubuntu, Dell etc be gathering about us only we never thought to ask?

Somewhere in the back of my memory I recall some article about ubuntu forwarding some set of info back to Canonical. There were some momentary outcries but then it all went dark. There is nothing to say that those complaints were responded to or “people” just gave up. What is stopping Apple or Microsoft from doing the same?

Then in 2019 there was an article about a small ship that China was installing that was leaking data. The picture of the chip was a small surfacemount resistor looking device. I’m not sure exactly how that worked but in hindsightI wonder if it was just the key to unlock some feature in some other chip. Most modern server grade machines have a webserver embedded in their ethernet hardware giving access to the firmware and a number of pre-boot features including access to the HDD. I imagine it’s possible to inject some packets in the stream while the machine is running or even powered off. Keep in mind that off is not always OFF.

[a] of course this is probably a conspiracy between business, marketing departments, and governments. Now is the time for the real Snowden to pop up. [b] This post will never be sensored because that would mean admitting to the above. [c] patents? Never for the same reason.

I am not a RMS (Stallman) fan but this is more true today than ever before.