Configurable or Secure, pick ONE


Recently I posted a comment about a vendor who is starting to sign their firmware, which is good for security. Paul points out in the comments section of that post the other side of that situation, configurability:

Today, Brian of Intel’s UEFI team points out a story about new Apple laptops including tamper-resistant screws:

As Paul mentions in his comments, Google makes a ChromeBook targetting developers with a Developer Mode, a screw to turn to let you override firmware/OS security.

I hope PC/smartphone/tablet/router/IoT vendors consider the situation of the consumer in a use case when the company abandons the product and no longer offers firmware/software updates, and the only person to refurbish the flaws in the unsupported firmware is the user, and they will need the ability to bypass the security features that only permit the company’s firmware from being loaded, or else the device will be a useless brick. The model that Google ChromeBooks have: a Developer Mode, may be the best option. If you are unsure about this, do an experiment with your next device, add a similar Developer Mode it to some models, and charge a bit more for hobbyists, and see if there is a market. Abandoned products aside, advanced users can build better firmware/software than you can, look at how the camera hackers have added features the vendor never thought of? This is another way you can grow the ecosystem and popularity of your device, and generate more sales/profit. Don’t seal all devices in the name of security, please.


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