Trustworthy Peripherals? Things To Get Alongside a Librem


#1

I’m making a bit of a list of what I want to buy along with the Librem when I pull the trigger (currently I’m planning to do so when the Librem 15 v4 is released, whenever that may be - maxing it out on RAM and with NVMe Pro M.2 storage).

What I’m a bit hesistant about doing is introducing hardware to the device. Normally you don’t really think or care about this kinda stuff because you know your machine is probably littered with weird junk in the closed-source components anyway, but when you’ve finally gone far to protect your privacy and security by dropping some $3000 on an open-source laptop, you’re gonna become far more choosy about what you plug into it or what software you download, and for good reason.

You don’t care about introducing impurities to an already polluted lake. But you’d care a lot about introducing any to a pure spring. Especially if you paid for that spring.

For example, I don’t think I’ll be comfortable plugging just any old mouse into my computer. I currently use a Razer Taipan because I’m a gamer and it’s a nice mouse for that, but I know Razer isn’t exactly known for being trustworthy or private (quite the opposite for pushing “synapse”) so I wouldn’t want to introduce it to my secure laptop.

So I figured I’d create a bit of a thread asking for input on peripherals and what companies can generally be trusted when it comes to these.

I think I have my list in order, but I’m just wondering where to get the mouse from. I’ll probably use the internal keyboard, but if you have thoughts on that as well, let me know.

So far here’s what I’m planning on along with the lappy:

  • Netgate SG3100 (will be configured to use a VPN, adding a second layer to the VPN my end devices use. I may need to put a second wireless router running a different custom firmware upstream for others to use and for easily switching to a non-vpn network when needing to connect directly to the internet for whatever reasons as sometimes sites or services block or flag VPN or Tor users, or sometimes you need your full bandwidth for something. This will mean “turning off” VPN will be a matter of turning it off on the computer and then switching radios to the “parent”-most router. Will be sure to set them on opposite control channels).
  • IronKey S1000
  • UniFi AP SHD (wireless access point to be connected to NetGate router)
  • Mullvad or Windscribe VPN (kinda weighing between them right now, I contacted ThatOnePrivacyGuy for his thoughts, though I already know he likes Mullvad).

I don’t have anything else on my list yet, as I don’t really need much aside from a new router, a mouse, and a USB.

I figure Qubes 4.0 will be out by the time I buy, and that’s what the laptop will be running on if that’s relevant.

Let me know if you have any thoughts.

PS: If anyone at Purism didn’t see it, if anyone could weigh-in on this old thread I’d really love that. Just wanted to get a better idea of where you are in your roadmap really.

Thanks!


Is The WiFi freed, and is it 802.11ac capable?
#2

You are asking for something that nobody can give you. There is no such thing as a company that can be trusted. Perhaps Purism is just a front of the NSA to select all the paranoid people on the planet :slight_smile:.

Security needs to be designed from the start. Bolting it on top of a laptop with a lot of components that you don’t know about is already a lost cause in theory. Purism makes the list of components a bit smaller, but you still need to trust Purism, since you aren’t checking every nm size wire with an electron microscope, right? Even if you could, it would still be pointless, unless you had a live electron microscope with a resolution beyond what is probably physically possible to make.

You wouldn’t even consider USB in that case. You would just use PS/2 and physically destroy the USB ports.

Mullvad says they don’t have to log, because they are not an ISP. Providing a VPN is an internet service. The goal of internet legislation is to disallow untracked use of the Internet, so of course they have to log. To get them out of business, all you need to do is send a message to the telecommunications branch of your government.

A predecessor of The Kingston device you linked, has been hacked. Google for it.

Really, if you had the resources for real security, you wouldn’t be asking here. Have fun building your more secure system (and getting some experience with fancy tools), but don’t expect it to stop anyone of power.

If the goal is to keep a secret, do not put it in a computer.

I have no interest in a discussion; educate yourself if you want to care about this, but take it from me that security costs more than you can afford. Many governments can’t even afford it.


#3

Thanks for the completely unhelpful “it’s pointless” response…

That’s all I needed to know, and it didn’t even really need to be said.

I concede that there’s some truth to what you say, but if everyone thought they way that you do, things like Purism probably wouldn’t even exist to begin with. They’d just give-up and let the world do whatever it wants with them.

It’s true that you have to let go at some point, unless you yourself have all the skills and knowledge necessary to create the machine from the bottom-up, which you don’t. Modern computers are a culmination of decades of work by multi-billion dollar companies and thousands of workers, most of which each individual one is more skilled. Good luck trying to beat that, unless you’re some alien with superhuman intelligence.

Who knows, the whole universe could be a giant simulation and we’re all being had and none of this even really matters. But still have to try my damndest anyway.

Thus, not really looking for cynical and nihilistic responses like that. Kinda feels like it goes against the spirit of this project even.

While there’s some truth, there’s a reason that these things exist. It’s because it often works, and because it does often make a difference. At the very least, it makes things far more difficult for those that want to invade my life. Plus, I’ve always had the opinion that I’d rather die fighting against a force I have no chance of winning against than to live under their rule.

I feel like there’s some truth to a cynical perspective, but at the same time it’s a lot of lazy nay-saying that doesn’t really help anything. Sounds like the opinion of someone who’s tired of trying and has just given-up.

There’s a cynical perspective to everything in life, including a cynical perspective and approach to life itself. They often bear their fair share of truth, but also seldom ever really solve anything or contribute much to the discussion. It’s almost always a counter-productive attitude to have.

If you think you’re screwed any which way then I don’t even understand what you’re doing here or why you’d care about this entire project.


#4

OMGA!!! If the universe is a simulation how can we ensure it’s running on an ethical and open system?! How ironic to exist only as the product of some kind of cosmic OSX or MS Windows.


#5

The peripherals I have for my laptop are… Um… A $10 mouse from the supermarket and a cheap zip up case to stick it in when I’m on my bicycle.

I do use Mullvad sometimes but I know I’m not really secure. It’s a bit like putting on clean underpants then when I get smashed at least I can maintain a bit of respect (debatable I know)

Hardware that’d be nice to have for me might include, half a dozen more raspberry pi’s for more random stuff; a home-made usb 5 lead ECG machine; a data projector; a new external hdd, my existing one is slightly rusty and lives in a jumble of tape and wires crammed in a plastic lunchbox.

Sorry your post isn’t really getting very helpful responses yet. If I think of any actual good widgets made by good people I’ll come back and let you know.


#6

Eh, it’s fine. I figure I may not be getting many replies simply because I’m overthinking things. Guess I should just use whatever, just wondered if there was any better ideas out there.

I’ll probably use some cheap old mouse as opposed to the one I have though. I think it tries to inject a driver through the USB connection itself or something, but Razer Synapse will pop-up even on a computer that has never been connected to the internet before. Seems shady to me.


#7

There is always a reasonable approach to the security. Of course when speaking of security - even if all possible security measures are applied, one should always accept/acknowledge residual risk for unknown vulnerabilities/exploits. Measures are reducing the risk, by mitigating known security flows and attack vectors. That decreases probability of the breach, but never the implication.
Now, speaking about the mouse for example. On linux you have means to control the behaviour - eg. you can see which USB profiles are currently active on each connected device. If the mouse is HID - it’s safe enough to use it with known (in-tree) HID drivers. But bear in mind that connected device may dynamically switch the profiles. Eg it may switch to CDC mode on the fly while it’s idle. Then it’s up to you whether you have CDC drivers (modules) (builtin | whitelisted | blacklisted | etc.). Which means - again, you have a control over the behaviour (or system response to device behaviour).


#8

@Alex what cinderella was speciffically refering to is SECRETS - the kind that are top level crossed out with dark multiple lines. TOP SECRETS.

of course that very FEW people can AFFORD GOOD SECURITY but that doesn’t mean you don’t put a door and a lock on your residence at ALL times. maybe even a monitoring camera at all entry points. what happens when you live in a castle so large and complex that you barely remember how to get to the kitchen and toilet and then back to bed ? would it be as easy to secure as a small apartment ?

how would we define what is trustworthy and what is not ? based on what principles ?


#9

please don’t even type s**t like this. smiley faces or not. :slight_smile:

this seems to suggest without proof that Purism and any other company that tries to stand up for any kind of ideal tangible or not is just a HOAX. please do not belittle ideals and people without proof.

even if at some point someone would bring TRUTHFUL EVIDENCE to suggest something like this we would in the end still get a librem 5 smartphone that runs DEBIAN on supported hardware. something that will NEVER happen in any proprietary ecosistem. so yeah even if worse comes to worst it’s STILL BETTER than what we currently have.

the OPs point is - yes - somewhat vague in that he doesn’t specify a certain type of peripheral in the title but let’s not poison readers with “perhaps” in sentences that end with a smiley face.


#10

Feel free to test our hardware, from the very basic hardware components up to the software stack.


#11

It’s very relevant. Qubes uses IOMMU to isolate both the network stack, and USB controllers, to specific VMs. The whole point of this is to provide an additional protective layer between the outside world (in the form of malicious networks or USB devices) and the VMs that contain your private data.

Even so, don’t take unnecessary risks. Whatever USB stick you choose, look for one that is designed to be BadUSB resistant. Ideally the same would go for the mouse, but I am not aware of any manufacturers who claim their mice to be BadUSB resistant.

Your network hardware choices are reasonable, but consider an option that uses FOSS firmware and NetSpectre resistant hardware.


#12

It’s been ages since I posted this thread, it’s crazy how it seems so many of my threads get necroed back.

First of all, I’ve kinda relaxed on posting since I don’t intend to actually buy a Purism machine until Meltdown and Spectre are addressed at a hardware level and Purism gets a bit further along in their roadmap (I’d like for everything other than the “Schematics Freed” step to all be complete). That probably won’t be until at least 2020 I figure.

I’ve kinda changed my list of choices since writing my post back then:

I don’t really know what exactly to go for for the USB, and since tech moves along so quick there may be something new out by the time I decide to buy. Same goes for the router appliances I just listed too really. As for VPN, Mullvad still wins out for me, I’ve been using it for a little while now and I like it.

I’ve also been considering getting a Yubikey or whatever open-source version of it is eventually made as to add an extra layer to accessing the machine as well. If I had a Purism laptop I’d attempt to make is so that you need to first enter a BIOS password, then decrypt the drive using the decryption key, and then have the OS password as well. Yubikey could be an extra step prompted at any point in that process I figure (ideally before decrpytion though, I think).

I honeslty just wanted one because I figure a locked-down system is good, but even better would be perhaps having a locked-down system and keeping anything of importance on yet another level that’s usually hardware disconnected, like an encrypted USB stick. Figured I might keep my password database on it.

Basically I was kinda thinking of getting a Purism machine, encrypting the drive, making the drive actually “Read Only”, and then using the USB as my main storage which I would only connect when actually needed.

I’m not sure if a mouse or keyboard can have any malicious content on it - I mean obviously it could if it had a chip hidden in it or something, but I suppose the vast majority of such items don’t. I’m probably fine with just any old mouse and keyboard I guess… I just made this thread wondering if anyone knew anyone that makes intentionally “totally safe” or open-source hardware or something. Wasn’t sure if there might be a keyboard and mouse with open-source drivers/firmware as well.

I just figured you should be really careful what you connect to a Purism machine - if you’re spending thousands of dollars on a system for the security, you shouldn’t invalidate the whole point by connecting anything you’re not 100% sure of to it which would be potentially compromising it yourself. Unfortunately it’s kinda hard to find a “Libre” mouse and keyboard and USB stick etc, and even if there is one it’d probably just be a gimmick.

Anymore though, I kinda feel like I’m just being a loon with all of this. I’m not in a country with an oppressive government and I’m not important at all or anything. I’m probably just being a paranoid idiot. I still like Purism and intend to buy one eventually, but I’m kinda chilling on the security insanity for now and just enjoying my new gaming PC, haha.


#13

i’m still wait to find a secure keyboard, because as u wrote, we spend much more for a secure system, but if u attach something malicious to it we are f****
probably i’m paranoid too, but when i start thinking it seriously i read some unbelievable news from some corps or nations, so i start to think again i’m not paranoid, i just read what happen in a world where the money and power are more important than lifes

i really hope purism or someone else, will start to make a kind of secure hardware/firmware open components for our systems


#14

Basically yeah, like I just don’t want to spend $$$ on a good system only to invalidate the whole point with third-party hardware that isn’t verifiably safe.

I kinda hope Purism will start also providing mice, keyboards, and maybe even routers (they said ages ago they were interested in getting into routers but I’ve never heard more about it). Then I’ll have the brand guarantee and if anything goes wrong Purism is kinda on the hook to provide support. Makes me more confident about it.


#15

If you wanted an 8GB stick: https://duckduckgo.com/html?q=%22badusb%22+%22resistant%22+%228gb%22

Mutatis mutandis for other common capacities.

Consider Heads.

See Rutkowska’s State considered harmful.

Sadly, they do. So do many storage devices.

As Andrew “Bunnie” Huang noted in the video here and the post here, about the Novena laptop: “A few years ago, if someone presented you a scenario where, perhaps, you’re worried about your hardware being modified as it’s being shipped to you, they’d say, ‘You’re crazy, you should have a tinfoil hat.’ Turns out, you’re not that crazy. There’s actually evidence lately that that does happen… If you can’t hack it, you don’t own it.” “Back when I started the project, it was me and a few hard core open ecosystem enthusiasts pushing this point, but Edward Snowden changed the world with revelations that the NSA has in fact taken advantage of the black-box nature of the closed hardware ecosystem to implement spying measures—‘good news, we weren’t crazy paranoids after all’.”


#16

What are you talking about ? Edward Snowden was late to have his word out.
Like the armed security woman in 2004-AVP movie said when asked why she carries a gun if she doesn’t need one - “same principle as a condom - i’d rather have one and not need one that need one and not have one” :wink:


#17

Huh, I didn’t even know most peripherals were flashable. I always thought most had read-only firmware on them - probably just because I don’t think I’ve ever needed to flash firmware on such things before.

Purism could probably get into making ones that are read-only with no capability for any kind of write operations. The obvious downside would be that, they could cease working as technology advances and not be update-able, but I figure that’s highly unlikely given how simple of devices they are and even if that did happen they should be cheap enough to just replace.

I’m definitely going to get Purism equipment for my “serious business” machine eventually. I imagine I’ll always need a gaming machine alongside it though, hence I’ll have a Windows LTSB desktop.

For now though most of all I can do is be on a VPN at all times, keep everything up-to-date, use a password database to use ridiculous generated passwords, try not to install more stuff than is necessary, and practice good habits in general. I’d go into detail about everything I’ve done but I suppose the first rule of good security is not blurting out all your methods on a public forum. But I like to think I’m doing just about everything someone who’s still bound to Windows can really do.

I’m considering seeing if I can install Qubes as a secondary operating system on the same hard drive. I just imagined it might be a bit challenging (and cramped on my 256GB drive) and also the fact that I’m on a system with the Intel ME and UEFI and everything still fully in-tact, let alone that Windows will exist alongside it, would make it pointless. But I suppose every little bit you can do helps, right? I don’t think ME_Cleaner even has any support for the 8700k yet, and that ain’t my fault (it’d probably be risky to even attempt it on my far-from-standard motherboard, which is one of those crazy ASUS boards, even if support for it DID exist). Do what I can, don’t worry about what I can’t, yeah? I know there’s risks involved but it’s probably better than just using Windows outright anyway I figure.


#18

If you can afford to replace your motherboard if necessary, i.e. in case it gets bricked, then you could try running me_cleaner on it. If the mobo uses a SOIC chip to store the BIOS, then you can minimise (but not eliminate) your risk of bricking it, by dumping the original BIOS first, and having a second PC, a flasher with suitable PSU, and a SOIC clip with wires on hand, in case you need to restore it by flashing externally.

(I’ll stop here, because the question of determining whether me_cleaner is effective on your board is more a matter for the me_cleaner issue tracker/forum than for this thread about peripherals. :slight_smile: )


#19

Unfortunately if I had a lot of money I’d have just bought a Purism device by now. Instead I wait until Purism and Intel come along a bit further because I think I’ll only have the ability to buy such a device exactly once, hah.

But on the github ME_Cleaner is “Untested” for Coffee Lake and I’m on Coffee Lake-S, so I figure it’s probably just a plain bad idea to mess with it especially since I’m far from any professional when you delve into BIOS/UEFI and things lower-level than the operating system like that.

I’m still gonna attempt the other stuff I said, as it’s probably better than just using Windows outright at least, like I said. Qubes is pretty chock full of safeguards and considerations for anything that could go wrong, after all.

Sorry for veering off-topic a bit here.