Locked out? Good luck

Let’s build and configure a minimal SSH bastion host (jump box) from scratch, using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

Source: DIY SSH Bastion Host

This is all well and good except for the bit where the author is clearly invested in using the cloud (i.e. other people’s computers) to run your own infrastructure.

What happens when google locks you out? Or when amazon decides to do the same. Same concern goes for Azure, or any other cloud provider.

Good luck fixing any of that without having to tear down a lot of your own work just to be able to be useful again. I get it, from a developer point of view setting it like this means it’s easy to plug into projects, but from a sysadmin point of view it means you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot sooner rather than later, specially if you missed a little onfiguration detail that lets your server wide open for takeover.

Goddamnit, Amazon

Source: Gordon’s Notes: Amazon reviews now unreliable – negative reviews filtered (Anker example)

I thought I was running into isolated issues as I rarely have to give negative reviews but knowing there is systemic bias in the reviews available makes all of those reviews useless to me. I’ll probably end up having to make use of the return policy much more often now.

Where else might we see this? It makes shopping online that much harder knowing the website you’re shopping at is actively fucking with your perception of it.

The new corporate overreach normal

Today I have four stories that are the start of a trend that is quite worrisome.

First we have the story of a composer who says Apple Music destroyed his music collection. This is a case of a company messing around with your livelihood.

Then we have the story of Amazon disabling internet access for Kindle devices. This is a case of a company messing with your entertainment.

Next up is Google Nest disabling the Revolv smart hub because the company doesn’t consider it worth updating anymore. This is a case of a company messing with your convenience for its own profit.

At the last we have this new story of Microsoft disallowing Administrators from disabling the Windows Store in Windows systems. This is a case of a company messing with your ability to do work.

If it had been only one company, that specific product might have been shunned and the company could have corrected its course. But now here we have four of the biggest companies around deciding unilaterally what they think is best for you. Doesn’t matter if you don’t use the specific product talked about. This applies to the entirety of the company.

This is quite on purpose. They want to set the social precedent that it is okay to do this. A legal precedent might not be set since their EULAs usually include arbitration agreements; contracted and paid for by these same companies to make sure customers always lose and prevent the justice system from being able to intervene.

The government is quite unconcerned itself since most of these companies proclaim to support encryption, yet all of them are jumping on the Internet of Things bandwagon. The power of IoT is on its ability to eavesdrop and surveil your life ostensibly for your benefit as an user. The data gets sent to the companies… but must travel through connections that have always been monitored. So the government doesn’t care as long as they can do surveillance.

I’ll only mention Facebook in that their way of functioning precludes them from disabling access to products. Otherwise how can they obtain more information on what you do and who you are?

As it is, Open Source can provide a viable alternative only if we find a way to make sure that the developers of the software we depend on are rewarded for their efforts (remember OpenSSL having no money?) otherwise things like Heartbleed will happen again and again. Companies will provide funds only for things that will directly benefit them and/or their bottom line; never for useful software that competes with theirs.

For myself I know I won’t really use Apple products at this point. I do use Windows but I know I’ll switch back to Linux eventually. I use Google Apps but will brush up on keeping my own mailservers. I like Amazon Prime but I won’t buy a Kindle or an Echo device.

These are conscious decisions about how I interact with the business giants of our age. We all need to do that, lest we risk being stepped on.