Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Flint Brenton, XebiaLabs Blog, Elizabeth White, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Linux Containers

Open Source Cloud: Article

Why 'LiveCD' Should Be a Part of Every Computer User's Vocabulary

Setting up security at a public terminal

Throughout the last decade, society has witnessed an explosion of network connectivity among PCs and mobile devices as well as a vast proliferation of networked applications, ranging from Web-based email to online banking. The end result of this is that network connectivity has become an almost indispensable resource for many individuals. Yet along with the convenience and flexibility of anytime, anywhere network access, society has also seen an increase in computer-related security and privacy concerns, with the most dreaded being the possibility of identity theft. 

While numerous security resources can be found explaining the proper security measures an individual should take on any computer they administer, few resources exist that describe security measures an individual can take to protect themselves when they are forced by circumstance to use a potentially unsecure machine for which they have no administrative control, such as a traveler who wants to check his email at an Internet café or someone choosing to access the Web from a public terminal at a library. While in many instances it can be hard enough for typical computer users to protect themselves against the proliferating world of spyware, Trojans, rootkits, and botnet software installs, it can be even harder to protect oneself from threats hidden in a machine that you do not control. When a would-be user of a public terminal sits down and begins to use the machine, what assurances do she really have that there is not software installed that is tracking her computer usage, logging keystrokes, or performing other such nefarious deeds? The truth is that, practically speaking, there is little that can be done to verify the security and privacy of information that passes through the operating system (OS) or any of the installed applications of a public terminal. What then is the answer to this dilemma, for users who must make use of computing devices that are open to the public?

The answer is to actually use your own operating system install complete with its own applications. This can be easily accomplished by using a LiveCD, which is a CD (or DVD or USB flash drive) that is executable upon boot and contains a computer operating system, typically Linux. Files that would typically install onto the hard drive of the computer are loaded into system RAM and as such simply rebooting the computer will return it to its previous state. These traits make the use of a LiveCD a great idea for anyone needing to use a public computer terminal. Loading an operating system from the CD will allow a user to take advantage of the computers resources, including network access and access to disk drives, but will not load the OS or any applications that are installed on the computer’s hard drive. This means that any key loggers or other such tracking software that is installed upon the machine will not be loaded and the user of the terminal need not fear software being used to monitor his/her actions. While this will not protect against hardware-based key loggers or network-based monitoring such as packet sniffing, it does help to dramatically improve security and privacy, by all but eliminating software-based threats. Moreover, the fact that the LiveCD install and use data resides only on either the CD or in volatile memory such as system RAM is an added benefit. As soon as the CD is removed and the computer is rebooted, all of the information pertaining to the usage of the machine is wiped out, thereby making it virtually impossible for a future user to garner any usage information from browser histories, caches, or auto-complete features.

Moreover, Linux based LiveCDs come in a great variety with one of the first Linux LiveCDs to appear being Knoppix. Many Linux LiveCDs like Knoppix and the Fedora and Ubuntu Live distributions load versions of Linux that closely resemble desktop installs of Linux, and provide access to robust desktop environments such as KDE or Gnome and applications such as OpenOffice.org. While these types of LiveCD distributions are great if you need all of the features of a full Linux desktop, their performance can be somewhat lacking since data often needs to be read from the CD to load certain applications. Users who are simply interested in a LiveCD distribution for purposes of accessing the Web and email may instead want to consider distributions such as Puppy Linux and Damn Small Linux, as these distributions can be completely loaded into system RAM. While not as application rich as other Linux distributions, most users will find them surprisingly feature complete given their small size, and as a result of running solely off of system RAM, they will yield extremely rapid response times.

Before you head out the door to make a trip to the airport or even the local coffee shop, remember to grab not only your keys, but also a copy of a Linux Live CD.

More Stories By Christopher Frenz

Christopher Frenz is the author of "Visual Basic and Visual Basic .NET for Scientists and Engineers" (Apress) and "Pro Perl Parsing" (Apress). He is a faculty member in the Department of Computer Engineering at the New York City College of Technology (CUNY), where he performs computational biology and machine learning research.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business in 2016. However, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will drill down to the components in this fra...
I'm a lonely sensor. I spend all day telling the world how I'm feeling, but none of the other sensors seem to care. I want to be connected. I want to build relationships with other sensors to be more useful for my human. I want my human to understand that when my friends next door are too hot for a while, I'll soon be flaming. And when all my friends go outside without me, I may be left behind. Don't just log my data; use the relationship graph. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Boyd, Engi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Numerex Corp, a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ:NMRX) is a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). The Company's solutions produce new revenue streams or create operating...
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ReadyTalk, a leading provider of online conferencing and webinar services, has been named Vendor Presentation Sponsor at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ReadyTalk delivers audio and web conferencing services that inspire collaboration and enable the Future of Work for today’s increasingly digital and mobile workforce. By combining intuitive, innovative tec...
Vidyo, Inc., has joined the Alliance for Open Media. The Alliance for Open Media is a non-profit organization working to define and develop media technologies that address the need for an open standard for video compression and delivery over the web. As a member of the Alliance, Vidyo will collaborate with industry leaders in pursuit of an open and royalty-free AOMedia Video codec, AV1. Vidyo’s contributions to the organization will bring to bear its long history of expertise in codec technolo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...