Send in your ideas. Deadline October 1, 2024
Theme fund: NGI0 PET
Start: 2019-06
End: 2022-10

Accessible security

Integration effort of independent security efforts like Qubes, Heads, coreboot, etc

The "Accessible security" project's initiative was sparked by the need for usable security made available to the average citizen. Several projects are contributing a part of this bigger puzzle: QubesOS, coreboot, Heads, me_cleaner, Whonix and others. Yet the average person does not have the sophistication to integrate these software projects. With some effort we can add some missing parts, help the effected projects usability, and facilitate access to cutting-edge developments, currently only usable by developers and more sophisticated users. Bringing these projects together will reduce the amount of expertise and effort required to benefit from these projects.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Most users rely on antivirus programs to keep their system and important data safe and private. Visited sites, downloaded files, email coming in and out, everything should pass through a digital border control that keeps malware and spyware out. Perform a complete system scan every other month and most users will be reassured: I am safe. The truth is that there is more than one way into your system and not every backdoor is properly protected. Attackers can also target the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) program that every computer has to boot up and load the operating system. The BIOS is the first process to run when you power on your computer and is usually not scanned by any antivirus or security software you have installed. Accessing the BIOS and installing malicious software on such a fundamental level gives attackers far-reaching control over a system (which is why it is used for ransomware) and the user usually does not even realize it. And updating their BIOS probably is not something they do (if they are even aware of it at all).

Fortunately, there are plenty of open-source tools developed over the years that can completely secure your system, down from the hardware and the BIOS up to the software you use. Unfortunately, the barrier to entry of many tools is probably too high for most users, who will not now where to begin and get lost in a maze of technical details. Which program is better than the rest, how can I make tool A work with framework B? And how will all of this affect my system, can I still use my computer the way I am used to?

Security should not be a black box. Instead, users should be able to choose from plug & play solutions that work together nicely and cover most if not all exits in their systems. Or they should have a one-stop-shop solution, a big green button they can press for total security. This project aims to update, optimize and interconnect existing open-source security solutions. The end goal is to improve the security of both technical and non-technical users. In a deeply connected world, cybersecurity should be as democratic as possible so we can be sure we can actually trust our online devices.

Run by Insurgo, Technologies Libres / Open Technologies

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo NGI Zero: letterlogo shaped like a tag

This project was funded through the NGI0 PET Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825310.