LPS Linux – The Publicly Available Air Force Secure Linux Distro

LPS Desktop

Looking for a Secure Linux Distribution and not sure what to use? Why not try the publicly available Linux Distro created by the US Air Force?

Several nations are moving to or modifying their own Linux distributions for military use. And honestly, it just makes sense. But did you know that the SPI working with the US Air Force created the “Lightweight Portable Security” Linux (or LPS for short) and have released it for public use?

LPS is a publicly available, secure Live CD that offers security, sandboxing and encryption.

The ATSPI Technology Office produces nation-state class protection products, and according to the LPS website, “LPS-Remote Access was certified by AFNIC to connect to the GIG for general telecommuting use“. A whole lot of acronyms there, but basically what it means is that LPS is secure – secure enough to be certified by the Air Force to connect to the DoD Global Information Grid – the military’s information super highway.

And if it is good enough for military certification, you can believe that it is capable and safe for secure civilian use.

So what does it look like?

Well, a full blown Ubuntu operating system it is not. It comes with very few bells and whistles. But that is the point. The fewer the frills, the easier it is to secure it.

LPS Menu

As you can see from the user menu above, there are not a lot of pre-installed apps. Though LPS does come in a “Deluxe” version that includes OpenOffice and Adobe Reader.

LPS is meant to be used as a live CD. Simply download LPS, burn it to a CD and then boot from it when you need to use a secure OS – Like when you are traveling abroad or using public internet.

It does not write to the hard drive and does not leave anything in memory when shut down. Because it does not write anything to the hard drive, if by odd chance that LPS does get infected, there is no persistence. Just reboot and the malware will be gone.

LPS seems to be mainly be oriented to surfing, e-mail and data transfer. According to Lt. Col. Ken Edge, Air Force Research Laboratory’s Software Protection Initiative (SPI) program manager, “Imagine a pilot overseas who has to get orders but only has a very questionable Internet café computer, with LPS-Public and a smartcard reader, he can safely enter the CAC-authenticated Air Force Portal and his webmail. Likewise, sailors can securely bank online overseas, and soldiers can safely use social networking sites.”

It even comes with an easy to use Encryption Wizard that allows you to encrypt your data before transmitting it over the wire:

Encryption Wizard

Simply run the wizard, and drag the file you want to encrypt into the program box, then select how you want to encrypt it:

Encrypting File Passphrase

The wizard also decrypts files in the same easy to use manner.

There are other secure Linux distros out there with more capabilities, Tails Linux comes to mind. But if all you need is a simple, easy to use secure Live CD solution, then look no further than LPS Linux.

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Pentoo 2012 a Penetration Testers Distro of Gentoo Linux

I’ve never seen Pentoo before, but couldn’t resist taking a peek when I saw it mentioned in the Defcon news briefs floating around. Basically Pentoo is Gentoo Linux with a bunch of security focused tweaks and additions.

I am married to Backtrack and am not interested in switching to another Linux Security Distro, but Pentoo does look enticing. It is loaded with tools that fit very well with a pentester. A quick look in the application directory and you will see the programs grouped Backtrack like under headings like:

  • Analyzer tools
  • Bluetooth
  • Database
  • Exploit
  • Forensics
  • MitM
  • SIP/ VoIP
  • Wireless

Under each group you will find a slew of programs that would make any security guru giddy.

Tools like:

  • MSF Console
  • W3af Console
  • Autopsy
  • Burpsuite
  • Nessus
  • Aircrack-ng
  • Kismet
  • Development Tools
  • and many more…

I really liked Pentoo, but as the developer mentions on his site, it is in Beta form right now. Several times I received errors when clicking on menu items. The project is very interesting though and definitely worth checking out!

Backtrack 5 new release R2 is out!

How do you take something that is great and make it even better? Add more stuff!

Backtrack 5 r2 is out!

The Backtrack team has added over 40 new tools to the already impressive utility list. And have included the new Social Engineering Toolkit (SET), Browser Exploitation Framework (BeEF) and Maltego 3.1.0.

Some other good news, looks like Backtrack is now “including the Ubuntu updates in our repositories on a more regular basis. So from now on, when you run a dist-upgrade, you will also receive the updated tools and packages that are being pulled from Ubuntu, making for a more secure and stable distribution.”

Very cool, check it out!

Linux Mint to take Linux Crown from Ubuntu?

Linux Mint is now the 4th most used home operating system in existence. But can it unseat Ubuntu as the top Linux OS?

Ubuntu, currently number 3 (behind Windows and Mac) in the home OS theater, has received some stiff competition from Linux Mint. Distrowatch shows that Linux Mint has been the most popular Linux distribution over the last year, and their Linux Mint page has had about 2.5 times more visitors than Ubuntu’s page. Though Distrowatch claims that their stats are for entertainment purposes only, Linux Mint is definitely on the rise.

Add to that long time Ubuntu users dislike of the Unity desktop, now the main GUI by default,  and several issues with upgrading to 11.10 and you can see why some people are starting to look elsewhere.

Linux Mint may be an attractive alternative to many users. The install is familiar, it looks like Ubuntu, acts like Ubuntu and most importantly, it comes with the classic Gnome interface – not Unity.

With reports that it is very stable, I couldn’t resist anymore and decided to give it a whirl.

The installation was almost completely identical to Ubuntu’s. And once it is up and running, it looks just like Ubuntu with the classic gnome interface installed. Just a quick glance around and I fell in love very quickly.

First I liked the way it notifies you of available updates:

Also, looking through the menu, I found that it comes with the Firewall graphical user interface installed. You have to install it yourself in Ubuntu:

Just surfing around I felt very at home and familiar with the Gnome interface and the Ubuntu feel.

Okay, what didn’t I like about Linux Mint?

The color scheme! There is just something about green on gray that just turns me off. But a quick theme download and background change and things looked much better:

Linux Mint 12, check it out!