Green Dam, the mandatory censorware that will be installed on all Chinese PCs as of July 1, is remarkably insecure. J Alex Halderman from Freedom to Tinker and his colleagues Scott Wolchok and Randy Yao have released a paper, based on a mere 12 hours testing, detailing attacks that can be used to “steal private data, send spam, or enlist the computer in a botnet” and ” install malicious code during the update process.” They’ve released sample code demonstrating their findings.
The Chinese government has mandated that all PCs sold in the country must soon include a censorship program called Green Dam. This software monitors web sites visited and other activity on the computer and blocks adult content as well as politically sensitive material. We examined the Green Dam software and found that it contains serious security vulnerabilities due to programming errors. Once Green Dam is installed, any web site the user visits can exploit these problems to take control of the computer. This could allow malicious sites to steal private data, send spam, or enlist the computer in a botnet. In addition, we found vulnerabilities in the way Green Dam processes blacklist updates that could allow the software makers or others to install malicious code during the update process. We found these problems with less than 12 hours of testing, and we believe they may be only the tip of the iceberg. Green Dam makes frequent use of unsafe and outdated programming practices that likely introduce numerous other vulnerabilities. Correcting these problems will require extensive changes to the software and careful retesting. In the meantime, we recommend that users protect themselves by uninstalling Green Dam immediately.
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