One Laptop Per Child Project Cites Security Spec to be Used

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 8th, 2007, 09:29
Category: News

xo.jpg
MIT‘s One Laptop Per Child project, a collaborative effort on the part of more than a dozen technology firms to provide a laptop computer to students in developing countries, has released the security specifications for its XO laptop according to an article on Wired News.
The XO currently includes a swiveling LCD screen capable of switching between low-resolution color and high-resolution black and white modes depending on light conditions, camera, microphone, three USB ports 512 megabytes of Flash-based storage, Wi-Fi, Linux operating system and a battery which can be powered by either a cord or a car battery.
While security has been a looming issue, especially where theft, reselling stolen units on the black market and overall privacy are concerned, Harvard security expert Ivan Krstic’s BitFrost platform may be able to provide some answers.
Click the jump for the full story…


xo.jpg
MIT‘s One Laptop Per Child project, a collaborative effort on the part of more than a dozen technology firms to provide a laptop computer to students in developing countries, has released the security specifications for its XO laptop according to an article on Wired News.
The XO currently includes a swiveling LCD screen capable of switching between low-resolution color and high-resolution black and white modes depending on light conditions, camera, microphone, three USB ports 512 megabytes of Flash-based storage, Wi-Fi, Linux operating system and a battery which can be powered by either a cord or a car battery.
While security has been a looming issue, especially where theft, reselling stolen units on the black market and overall privacy are concerned, Harvard security expert Ivan Krstic’s BitFrost platform may be able to provide some answers.
The BitFrost platform uses a single user prompt which turns on the laptop’s camera and places limits on every program’s capabilities. Each program runs with a limited set or abilities and only has a certain level of access within the system.
“Applications can no longer run rampant,” Krstic said. “Spyware becomes very, very hard. It can’t spy on the keyboard. You can only spy on how a user uses their program.”
The approach contrasts sharply with operating systems such as Windows XP where every program has equal access to all peripherals and system functions, such as Internet access, etc.
The only downside to this, according to Krstic, is that it makes applications somewhat harder to build for the laptop, especially when the programs in question don’t have full access to all segments of the computer and its operating system, a feature that many developers have come to expect.
Where theft and black market resales are concerned, each XO laptop will use a “lease”-based security program. The laptops will connect to the Internet daily and check in with country-specific servers to see if the unit has been reported as stolen. If not, the lease and operability is extended by another few weeks.
If the lease expires or the laptop has been reported as stolen, the XO’s Internet functions are disabled. In locales where Internet connectivity might be intermittent or nonexistent, a school can extend its lease from its own Internet-connected server or with a USB dongle.
Full details as to the security layout will be available on the project’s web site within a week.

Recent Posts

One Response to “One Laptop Per Child Project Cites Security Spec to be Used”

  1. The specification is available: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Bitfrost.