Ubuntu Linux: More than just a Desktop OS

Will Ubuntu Linux lead the IoT market?

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the disruptive technologies it brings, it is only natural that many tech companies around the world would try to take their stake in it and reap the profits in the near future. While hardware companies have already been hard at work improving their products in order to account for it (especially with 5G technologies), there is also another matter to take into account: what is going to run it?


IoT doesn’t really come embedded into the hardware. All of the information gathering and processing, along with the AIs commonly used alongside it, require programming, testing, data storage, and enough processing power. And all of this needs to run on some kind of operating system, in order to make the interface between hardware and software. But, which one would be the best option for that?


That’s where Canonical’s Ubuntu distribution of Linux may come in.

More than just a desktop OS

For some time now, Canonical, the company which maintains and publishes Ubuntu, has been hard at work branching out into other ways of using Linux, adapting its operating system to different applications and doing the necessary changes. Ubuntu Server was one of the first, and has been highly successful. More recently, they also rolled out Ubuntu Cloud, designed to be run on cloud servers such as AWS and Google Cloud, and also Ubuntu for IoT.


Ubuntu for IoT is an operating system designed to be run on small programmable hardware, such as the Raspberry Pi. Its objective is to be fast and flexible: contain just what is necessary to run programs on it, and maybe some quality-of-life improvements, and also interface seamlessly with whatever hardware it is on, being able to connect to whatever other hardware may be interfacing with it, such as lights, buttons, sliders and similar peripherals.


All this being done professionally: while you can just download the OS and try it for yourself, Canonical also offers continuous support and maintenance of your boards for a fee, in case you have a company which plans to depend on it.

Highly flexible and controllable

Ubuntu, like other Linux distributions, comes with the advantage that it is highly flexible. Being open source, you are able to change whatever you want so that it better fits your purposes. You are even free to change the kernel, the part of the OS responsible for accessing the hardware. And also, using a familiar OS instead of a completely new one means that it is easier to develop programs to it, even considering it is not going to be placed inside a desktop. Changing the source code too much may make it impossible for Canonical to give support for it, though, so it should be considered with care.


Even better, Linux is one of the best development environments out there. Many programs and libraries are developed in Linux distributions, being Ubuntu the most popular one, and made with Linux in mind. Linux’s easy access to the command console, configuration files and incredible customization makes it much easier to use for programming than Windows, and it is also distributed for free. Being basically a professional conspiracy theorist, he has already delved into many different subjects along his journey, laying them out in his own website, InfoWars, or through live rants and podcasts of something. Below is a selection of some interesting conspiracy theories of his which involve technological advances which are, well, a bit beyond those which we are used to. You May Also Know: Fungi-based Computers

The future of Windows

Still, a hard-hitting competitor may be emerging soon. With Windows 10, Microsoft already rolled out IoT support – part of its idea of making Windows 10 run everywhere, including phones and tablets. Windows is the standard OS today, most enterprise solutions are developed with it in mind, and Microsoft has certainly many more resources than Canonical in order to make this work.


And now, Microsoft has also unveiled Windows 10’s successor, Windows 11, which aims to be an improvement in every way, starting with better integration to the Microsoft Store and what seems to be a design with mobile devices in mind. An IoT suite is expected to follow it, along with Microsoft’s direct support of it and even hardware developed with IoT in mind – like the HoloLens, which also runs its own version Windows 10.

The IoT scene is sure to see a lot of action in the near future. Ubuntu has been shaping up to be the go-to OS for development and technology, but Windows 11 has the chance to change everything – provided Microsoft does it right. We’ll have to wait and see.

How Do Crime Syndicates Use Technology To Do Their Bidding?

Two Sides Of the Coin.

Technology is limitless. It knows no boundaries, becoming better and better with every passing day. It also enlarges our boundaries: because of it, we can do things today that no one would’ve thought possible a few decades ago, such as having millions of books available at our fingertips and the ability to cheaply and instantaneously talk with anyone anywhere in the world.

But that had its price. The ability to do a lot of good also comes with the ability to do a lot of evil. While modern technology gives the police and some vigilante groups the power to discover and do a lot in a small amount of time, it also gives criminal organizations unprecedented power to expand their reach and strengthen their grasp over their sphere of influence. Let’s talk a bit about how they do that:

Embracing Cryptocurrencies

While cryptocurrency’s decentralization and anonymity could lead us to greater levels of economic freedom, those same features also make it the perfect currency for criminal activities.

Cash, credit and bank transactions are very traceable. They were designed to be this way, both by banks and governments, in order to track criminal activity and enforce tax payment. Notes have serial numbers and credit cards and bank transactions are linked to the users’ identities. Records are stored for years, and can be retrieved with a warrant. Accountability is key.

With decentralized cryptographic currencies, however, things are different: transactions happen between public keys instead of individuals. Creating new wallets is quick and easy, and they aren’t necessarily linked to your identity. The ledger may be public, but that doesn’t make things a single bit easier if you know what you’re doing. And crime syndicates sure do.

Deep Web Activity

The existence of the deep web also gives those organizations a new layer of safety and money making. Remember Silk Road? It was the biggest marketplace inside the deep web. Too big, even, considering it became public knowledge during the deep web craze some years ago. It was the place to go to buy illegal drugs and fake documents, along with other legal stuff, anywhere in the world. All of this has been powered by Bitcoin since the website’s inception (in 2011).

While both Silk Road and its successor, Silk Road 2.0, have been shut down, there are other illegal marketplaces hidden throughout the world, some much less restrictive than those two were (Silk Road didn’t allow selling child pornography and weapons through it, for example). Illegal gambling sites are also spread out throughout it, giving a greater degree of adrenaline to its users (as they are illegal and riskier) and also more earnings to its owners (deep web websites are infamous for suddenly disappearing, taking the money they were holding onto with them).

And now, with the Bitcoin price soaring, this has become more lucrative than ever before.

Enforced Anonymity

Crime syndicates also managed to weaponize anonymity in order to do their bidding more safely and more effectively.

One of the ways they do so is by running their organization almost anonymously. While the people that are part of the inner circle probably know each other in some way, the relationship to their “employees” can now be completely anonymous, but in a one-sided way: they know who they all are, but the employed do not know their employers. They are just expected to follow their instructions, or face the consequences.

Another way they take advantage of anonymity is for human trafficking and grooming new hirelings. They are able to find people on the internet that fit the profile they are looking for, and lure them into their traps using direct advertising, such as by posting fake job ads in legitimate websites or directly talking to them and promising a job in another country, such as by using a fake social media profile. All of this without revealing themselves and their true intentions until it is already too late for the victim.

Technology is incredible, but in the wrong hands it can also be very scary. While criminal organizations adapted very well and very quickly to these new possibilities, the police worldwide are still scrambling to keep up, so things are going to stay bleak like this for a while. But with the development of new advanced security systems, we are hoping for a brighter future. Being basically a professional conspiracy theorist, he has already delved into many different subjects along his journey, laying them out in his own website, InfoWars, or through live rants and podcasts of something. Below is a selection of some interesting conspiracy theories of his which involve technological advances which are, well, a bit beyond those which we are used to. You May Also Know: Fungi-based Computers

Why Cybersecurity is One of the Fastest Growing Tech Fields Today.

The Never Ending Increase of Severe Cyber Attacks.

On May 7, the system of a Southeastern American pipeline was struck by ransomware, a computer virus that encrypts the computer’s entire storage and turns it hostage. The virus’s creator will only allow the users to restore their data upon payment of a (pretty large) amount of money. In this case, it was 75 bitcoins, that is, 4.4 million dollars.

Last week, a group invaded the servers of EA (Electronic Arts), one of the largest game publishers around, and managed to steal about 780 GB of data, including source code and assets of games yet to be launched, such as FIFA 21 and Battlefield 2042.

Not to mention that database breaches are becoming ever more common. Recent large and famous leaked data include information of 500 million Facebook users (April 2021),  2.3 million Indonesian citizens (May 22, 2020), 6.9 million Dutch citizens (March 11, 2020), 220 million Brazilian citizens (January 2021), 250 million support records from Microsoft (January 22, 2020), among many, many others.

We have a problem

For most companies, even tech companies, cybersecurity has always been a secondary matter. Many more investments were made in physical security (such as implementation of security systems in company headquarters) than in securing their servers and terminals.

And that is because hacking wasn’t such a common problem for a long time. It used to be very difficult to manage to learn how to crack open databases and invade server farms. Companies would suffer breaches only when they didn’t take simple measures such as encrypting their databases. The main problems were dealing with software and hardware cracking/jailbreaking, like those that happen to the iPhone (remember GeoHot?), game consoles and PC games.

Now, however, there are thousands of internet forums and groups dedicated to cracking software and doing malicious hacking, everywhere in the world, and those guys even manage to crack especially difficult anti-piracy software, such as the famous Denuvo, in a matter of days. There are reportedly even military hacker armies in some countries, such as Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Better late than never

With the rise of data breaches, many measures came forward in order to try to prevent more of them. On one side, large tech companies started investing in cybersecurity, and some cybersecurity startups and products started to come up left and right, such as Cloudflare, ThreatLocker and VPNs. On the other side, it also caught the attention of governments everywhere, leading to the creation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, which then became a model for data protection laws in other countries. So, if getting the bad fame of having your data breached wasn’t enough incentive to invest in cybersecurity, a big enough fine accompanying it probably would be.

So now, of course, every company out there is scrambling to catch on to the hackers and protect their servers, terminals, and whatever kind of software and hardware they have that is connected to the internet – along with measures to prevent other kinds of data breaches, such as break-ins and social engineering (ever watched Mr. Robot?).

However, creating effective cybersecurity is pretty hard.

You see, you can’t major in cyber security awareness, for example, nor do any kind of specialized course focused on it. There may be one or two courses on it during a major in Computer Science, or maybe just a lecture. If you’re lucky, maybe there are graduate programs on it.

Hacking, and by extension cybersecurity, is still more of a craft: you have the masters, and you have the apprentices learning from them. It is a very secretive endeavor, and you have to know your way around the deep web in order to learn more. And that means putting yourself at risk: if those guys can play around with huge tech companies and government databases, they can just as easily find out who you are if you take a step in the wrong direction.

So, cybersecurity is in high demand – but the supply of good white hat hackers is still far from enough. Meanwhile, the black hats are thriving. How do you think this is going to end?

The Hacker’s Manifesto

The Mentor & the Hacker’s Manifesto.

Key background:

In hacking culture, The Hacker’s Manifesto holds a significant place. It overnight changed the world’s perspective of Hackers and heavily impacted media. One of the first articles that kept a philosophical base of hacking culture. 

The Hacker’s Manifesto, also called The conscience of a Hacker, is a small essay written by a computer security hacker, known by his pseudonym The Mentor. The Mentor was later identified to be Loyd Blankenship. The Mentor belonged to the group of hackers, Legion of Doom. This group was considered one of the most potent and proficient hacking groups. Read more articles: 3D Printing Food

The Mentor was among the successors of the groups. He also served as a member of Ecstasy Elite. The Mentor had been active since the 1970s, not only as a hacker, but as a writer of the most popular writing within the hacker’s world.

Publication:

The Hacker’s Manifesto was published on 8th January 1986. The essay was written soon after the arrest of The Mentor. The essay was first published in the ezine Phrack. Phrack is an ezine or online magazine which is specially dedicated to hackers. Phrack is considered one of the most eminent and running ezine.

Since the publication of The Conscience of a Hacker in Phrack, it gained popularity. Today, people can access it on various other websites. It is also found on T-shirts and in films. 

Inspiration for writing:

On being questioned about the inspiration for writing his infamous essay, The Hacker’s Manifesto, the author stated that he had read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and was impressed by the revolutionary ideas it exuded.

At another public event, The Mentor talked about his motivation to write after his arrest. He said it built ’empathy’ for his fellow friends who have to encounter similar circumstances. Further, after the release of WarGames, the author felt a growing need to change the hackers’ public perception. Hence, the author chose to write The Hacker’s Manifesto. 

Purpose of the essay:

The essay served some essential purposes for the hacking community. The essay aimed to perform the following purposes:

  • Guideline for hacking community:

The Conscience of a Hacker conveys some essential guidelines to the hacking community, especially beginners and those new to the fields. He has schooled his hacking comrades and explained their curiosity and thirst for knowledge.  

  • The ethical basis for hacking:

It also provides an ethical base for hacking and promotes ethical hacking. Such that may assist in the development of new technologies, or discovering beneficial information. 

  • Positive usage of technology:

The essay also claims that the usage of the technology should not exploit or harm others. Instead, it should widen our perspectives and keep the world free. 

Adaptations:

The Hacker’s Manifesto has gained acclaim since its first publication. It is considered a bedrock for the Hacker’s community and describes the philosophies of a Hacker. It grabbed the public eyeballs after its adaptation in various books and movies. 

Initially, it caught media attention in Hackers, a 1995 movie where it was quoted many times. 

The poster of The Hacker’s Manifesto also features in The Social Network, a 2010 movie. The poster was displayed in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard room. 

The Mentor has also read his essay at H2K2, a conference held for Hackers in 2002, where he offered more insight into his essay. 

The Conscience of a Hacker also features in the Autobiography of Edward Snowden called Permanent Record