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Proprietary Software Is Often Malware
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Proprietary software, also called nonfree software, means software that doesn't respect users' freedom and community. A proprietary program puts its developer or owner in a position of power over its users. This power is in itself an injustice.
The point of this page is that the initial injustice of proprietary software often leads to further injustices: malicious functionalities.
In this section, we also list one other malicious characteristic of mobile phones, location tracking which is caused by the underlying radio system rather than by the specific software in them.
Power corrupts; the proprietary program's developer is tempted to design the program to mistreat its users. (Software whose functioning mistreats the user is called malware.) Of course, the developer usually does not do this out of malice, but rather to profit more at the users' expense. That does not make it any less nasty or more legitimate.
Yielding to that temptation has become ever more frequent; nowadays it is standard practice. Modern proprietary software is typically a way to be had.
As of July, 2021, the pages in this directory list around 500 instances of malicious functionalities (with more than 610 references to back them up), but there are surely thousands more we don't know about.
If you want to be notified when we add new items or make other changes, subscribe to the mailing list <www-malware-commits@gnu.org>​.
Injustices or techniquesProducts or companies
DRM (2)
Jails (3)
  1. Back door:  any feature of a program that enables someone who is not supposed to be in control of the computer where it is installed to send it commands.
  2. Digital restrictions management, or “DRM”:  functionalities designed to restrict what users can do with the data in their computers.
  3. Jail:  system that imposes censorship on application programs.
  4. Tether:  functionality that requires permanent (or very frequent) connection to a server.
  5. Tyrant:  system that rejects any operating system not “authorized” by the manufacturer.
Users of proprietary software are defenseless against these forms of mistreatment. The way to avoid them is by insisting on free (freedom-respecting) software. Since free software is controlled by its users, they have a pretty good defense against malicious software functionality.
Latest additions
2021-08
Various models of security cameras, DVRs, and baby monitors that run proprietary software are exploited by a security vulnerability that could give attackers access to live feeds.
2021-08
Recent Samsung TVs have a back door with which Samsung can brick them remotely.
2021-08
The Russian communications watchdog tells Google and Apple to remove Navalny's app from their stores.
Because Apple controls what a user can install, this is absolute censorship. By contrast, because Android does not do that, users can install apps even if Google does not offer them.
2021-07
The pegasus spyware used vulnerabilities on proprietary smartphone operating systems to impose surveillance on people. It can record people's calls, copy their messages, and secretly film them, using a security vulnerability. There's also a technical analysis of this spyware available in PDF format.
A free operating system would've let people to fix the bugs for themselves but now infected people will be compelled to wait for corporations to fix the problems.
Please note that the article wrongly refers to crackers as “hackers”.
2021-07
A newly found Microsoft Windows vulnerability can allow crackers to remotely gain access to the operating system and install programs, view and delete data, or even create new user accounts with full user rights.
The security research firm accidentally leaked instructions on how the flaw could be exploited but Windows users should still wait for Microsoft to fix the flaw, if they fix it.
Please note that the article wrongly refers to crackers as “hackers”.
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Updated: $Date: 2021/09/15 05:53:58 $