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Shields up!

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Companies that market products like to talk about the “threatscape”. Long gone are the days when someone might be coding a virus for fun, as an experiment or to see if they could get it to propagate widely enough to gain some notoriety and online kudos in equal measure. Yet for the majority of Linux users there’s not even a threat of traditional malware, be it spamming toolbars into your browser or trying to monitor what you do. Today, the threatscape is more directed at online systems, which can be attacked directly using any known weakness and then typically hit with ransomware. This, alongside social engineering attacks – in terms of phishing emails – are the biggest threats that most standard users face today.
That’s the guiding light for the 2017 edition of the Linux Format Learn to Hack guide. By looking at the methods and techniques hackers use to attack systems, we can learn how to plug holes and protect those systems. It feels like it’s been at least a little while since the last major security hole appeared after the torrent filled 2016. Though having just written that, both Sod and Murphy’s law will now apply...

Orange army

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We know there’s a collective roll of the eyes from many regular readers when we run our (bi)-annual Ubuntu release covers. But there’s no escaping the sales boost every orange-soaked cover gains on the yearly 04 release schedule. It’s actually heartening to see so many people looking forward to, or at least welcoming, the release of a new version of Ubuntu by rushing out and snapping up our little magazine.
The truth is that Canonical, and its prime distro Ubuntu, remains a key driver for Linux both on the desktop and in the enterprise world. Red Hat and SUSE certainly have made their own mark in enterprise, but Canonical is seeing wins in the telephony industry, ‘cloud’ market and the emerging IoT world of devices from Pi-like boards to self-driving cars and robots, as we covered the LXF223 show report.

Better infrastructure

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The stupid thing is that we all know to keep our desktop and server up to date, right? We truly hope so. The simple reason being that new exploits are being discovered all the time – let’s not even get into the CIA Vault 7 revelations – so unless you can keep your infrastructure updated, you have no security.

The Terminal Man

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It’s one of those issues where we’ve had to sneak the main feature past management to get it into the magazine. But using the terminal is so core to Linux day-to-day life we were way overdue a decent look at the subject. Over the last year of Linux Format we’ve been slowly pecking away at the terminal with a regular tutorial section, but like the clichéd guided horse there’s no reason that someone might try it unless they’re forced to!

Slippery slope

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In the USA there’s the Fourth Amendment, here in Europe there’s the European Convention on Human Rights and both protect an individual’s rights when it comes to government interference over person, possessions and private life. In the past that largely meant the government couldn’t just waltz into your property and seize any documents (or persons) it felt like, listen in on your private conversations or stop you from moving around the country without a damn good reason. Sounds reasonable, right? It seems in the internet age those rights no longer apply.

Secured for 2017

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We know 2016 was bad for security threats and 2017 isn’t looking any better. But with hackers turning their attention to poorly secured internet of thing (IoT) devices, rather than better secured servers or desktop computers, isn’t it about time you started taking your network security more seriously?

This issue we take a long look at the rush by consumers to install insecure devices on their home networks, what you can do to lock down your own network and devices to help protect yourself, create a truly secure smart home built not only on Linux servers, but also Linux-powered IoT devices that you control. It’s these last two points that are just as important. Part of the issue with the IoT is the loss of ownership and control people have over these devices.

Get into Linux!

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When was the last time you tried to get someone to use Linux? A family member, a friend, your workplace, heck, how about your entire government? It all starts with a simple install, but unless there’s someone there to give them a disc or the right download, it’s only the lucky few that are ever going to discover Linux for themselves. Considering it’s nearly impossible to buy a new PC preinstalled with Linux it really is down to people to get into Linux themselves or with a little help from their friends…

So if you’re new to Linux we have a complete guide to get you started, it’ll hold your hand, explain how to use live discs and try Linux in a virtual machine, so you don’t even need to change a thing on any existing PCs. If you’re already sold on Linux, we look at building a reassuringly fast PC for a modest amount of cash. It’s an impressively speedy box that runs Linux like a champ.

Ultimate Ubuntu

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While us Northern hemisphere types pull out the thermal underwear to endure chillier weather and longer nights, we do get the bonus at this time of the year of a whole new Ubuntu distro release to enjoy. Ubuntu 16.10 has hit the internets and brings with it a host of updates, upgrades and Ubuntus.

This issue we’re not going to dwell on the core release – where enhanced support with the Linux kernel 4.8 and the Unity 8 preview are the highlights – instead we’re asking how can you make Ubuntu even better? Install Fedora you cry? Surely not, though Fedora 25 is just around the corner. Our resident experts have given us their tips on how to boost Ubuntu and make it even better.

Power to the Pi!

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We know that some people scoff at the popularity of the Raspberry Pi, but selling in the millions and running the Debian-based Raspbian, why not think of it as one of the biggest selling GNU/Linux devices of all time? (Possibly because it is?) Surely that can only be a good thing and spreads contact with Linux to a wider and vitally younger audience? I recently listened to a FOSS (free and open source software) talk where the discussion centred on how any FOSS device could even come close to the success of the Apple iPhone. The talk turned to finding a niche new market or demand that no one else had thought of… Surely, I thought at the time, what they’re talking about here is the Raspberry Pi?

Privacy, privacy, privacy

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“Please, come into my home nameless government agent. Yes, I have no issues with you looking through my letters, my computers, my phone, my messages, my photos and my emails. You want to store copies on your own servers forever? Fine, fine, take what you want, what a wonderful use of my tax money!” That’s effectively the situation that’s happening every second of the day while you’re online. Without being told, or warned, or asked, it appears all of our internet traffic has been stored away by government agencies in a number of secret programmes around the globe.

It’s all done to protect us, you understand, despite the documented misuse of this information – and that’s only the leaked cases we know about – and the almost zero documented cases of it actually stopping anything, but unlimited government surveillance is here. Thankfully with FOSS we have the tools, know-how and organisation to block prying eyes and protect sensitive data.



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