Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

Not Your Average Linux Distribution: DOD's Flavor

The Department of Defense has released a unique Linux distribution with special security considerations for telecommuters.

Obama's Tech Tools
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Obama's TechTools
The Department of Defense (DOD) has released a unique Linux distribution designed to be a secure option for people, such as telecommuters, who need remote access to internal government and corporate networks from potentially insecure desktops.

Created by a collaboration between the DOD and the Air Force Research Laboratory, Lightweight Portable Security (LPS) can be booted from a CD or flash drive onto nearly any Intel-based PC or Mac, according to information posted on the project's website.

The idea behind the distribution is to give people a secure option for accessing firewall-protected networks and the Web from home or shared PCs or Macs, the military said.

"LPS-Public turns an untrusted system (such as a home computer) into a trusted network client," according to the DOD. "No trace of work activity (or malware) can be written to the local computer," nor is there any record of what users did on the PC during the session.

While a public image of LPS is available online for free download for anyone, the DOD may have created it with federal government teleworkers in mind.

In December, President Obama signed the Federal Telework Act of 2010 into law, codifying an activity the federal government already was beginning to embrace on a wider scale. Just this week, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released security guidelines for those teleworkers to ensure they are not exposing federal networks to vulnerabilities while working outside of the office.

The DOD also has released a quick-start guide to help people use the distribution.

LPS does not install any software onto a local machine, nor are administrator privileges required to use the software. Once users boot up LPS from an external storage source, they can use a computer for general Web browsing and connecting to a remote network.

The distribution includes a smart-card enabled Firefox browser supporting common access card (CAC) and personal identity verification (PIV) cards, a PDF and text viewer, Java, and Encryption Wizard-Public, according to the DOD.

LPS is different from other Linux distributions in several ways, the DOD said. Since it's designed to run from read-only media, it has no persistent storage and has no need to be continually patched. However, the software will be patched on at least a quarterly basis, and the DOD will release maintenance updates periodically, it said.

Even if malware infiltrates the OS it can only run within the session in which it infects LPS, the military said. To add even more security to LPS, users can reboot between sessions or before engaging in activity that's particularly sensitive or vulnerable.

For example, LPS developers suggest booting LPS immediately before performing online banking transactions, and after visiting risky websites or if they think the machine may have been infected with malware.

See the latest IT solutions at Interop New York. Learn to leverage business technology innovations--including cloud, virtualization, security, mobility, and data center advances--that cut costs, increase productivity, and drive business value. Save 25% on Flex and Conference Passes or get a Free Expo Pass with code CPFHNY25. It happens in New York City, Oct. 3-7, 2011. Register now.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
A Startup With NSA Roots Wants Silently Disarming Cyberattacks on the Wire to Become the Norm
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  5/11/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Cybersecurity: What Is Truly Essential?
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  5/12/2021
Commentary
3 Cybersecurity Myths to Bust
Etay Maor, Sr. Director Security Strategy at Cato Networks,  5/11/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-18178
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
Path Traversal in HongCMS v4.0.0 allows remote attackers to view, edit, and delete arbitrary files via a crafted POST request to the component "/hcms/admin/index.php/language/ajax."
CVE-2020-20214
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
Mikrotik RouterOs 6.44.6 (long-term tree) suffers from an assertion failure vulnerability in the btest process. An authenticated remote attacker can cause a Denial of Service due to an assertion failure via a crafted packet.
CVE-2020-20222
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
Mikrotik RouterOs 6.44.6 (long-term tree) suffers from a memory corruption vulnerability in the /nova/bin/sniffer process. An authenticated remote attacker can cause a Denial of Service (NULL pointer dereference).
CVE-2020-20236
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
Mikrotik RouterOs 6.46.3 (stable tree) suffers from a memory corruption vulnerability in the /nova/bin/sniffer process. An authenticated remote attacker can cause a Denial of Service due to improper memory access.
CVE-2020-20237
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
Mikrotik RouterOs 6.46.3 (stable tree) suffers from a memory corruption vulnerability in the /nova/bin/sniffer process. An authenticated remote attacker can cause a Denial of Service due to improper memory access.