Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Secure Communications

by ThatBritGuy Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 01:46:34 PM EST

A few random thoughts about this.

     1. The most secure comms are the ones where it's not obvious communication is happening at all. This pretty much eliminates email, IRC, and everything that has 'this is a 1-1 communication channel' in its job spec.

However, you can still do things like:

a. Bury content in spam, and send it to millions of people, only one of whom needs to know how to decode it.
b. Bury content in pictures with steganography on popular websites, including Tumblr and Wordpress blogs.
c. Torrent content, and include some 'spammy' pics with content buried in them.

And so on.

This isn't even thinking about custom protocols which do the same job as email but without the standard headers/tell-tales. Using something like Tor it would be pretty hard to keep track of who was sending what to whom, even if you could decrypt the content.

I would be surprised if state- and security-level comms weren't already using these techniques.

     2. Single VPNs are probably overrated. No - well, almost no - VPN co admits to keeping traffic records. In reality - it's probably not a good idea to trust them too far, because including a backdoor and/or traffic copy isn't the same as keeping records, but it's just as effective.

Some people are claiming that chaining VPNs makes them more secure. It probably does up to a point. But it doesn't allow for traffic tracking, where you can try to match traffic events to see if they correlate in time, without having to know what the content is. (This is very intensive, but statistical analysis of traffic patterns has been standard issue for the spooks for at least a couple of decades now.)

     3. The weakest link in any encryption system is key management. If your hardware, OS, or network has a back door, assume content can be read in the clear, no matter how secure it is while it's getting to you. Linux is the only secure-ish OS. But unless you lock down your network with your own hand-rolled software and hardware, you're going to be vulnerable.

Problem is, the hand-rolled hardware and software are getting cheaper and more accessible. It's possible to run a low-traffic industrial-strength firewall on a £30 Raspberry Pi. The hassle factor is still higher than most people want, but the costs are not going to increase.

     4. Conclusion - the NSA has only been successful because hardly anyone has been paying attention to security.

After Snowden, this is going to change. People and corps are going to start inventing workable, secure systems. Open source versions of these systems will be public and easy to use.

Some of these systems will be based on spamming/high traffic & low content obfuscation, which is a much harder problem than simple decryption, because you don't know where the important traffic is, so you have to try to decrypt all of it.

Bottom line - the spooks are actually fucked, or will be soon. The only way to run state-level surveillance is going to be to assume all traffic on the Internet is of interest - only without knowing whether it is or not, or who it's for if it is, or how you can tell, or how you decrypt it, or how you make sense of the content if you do decrypt it.

Interesting times.


Display:
Problem with stenography is that the larger the message content the more likely it is to be detected, I think. So you end up with an awful lot of kitten pictures to send any sort of significant message.

Which, come to think of it, explains a lot.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 02:02:05 PM EST
The wikipedia example of steganography uses:

as an example of an encrypted image.  The decoded message is:



She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 09:38:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Video. One byte per frame. 25 bytes/sec is enough for simple messages, and given how noisy video is, it's likely undetectable if it's buried in a pattern of +/-1 RGB offsets.

You don't even need the original. You just need to agree a PNRG seed, a PNRG algorithm, and the algorithm you'll be using to work out xy and RGB offsets.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 09:54:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, keep the bit rate down and it's easy to hide. For more complex messages you have more of a problem. How do you securely send video?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 10:22:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 02:33:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't securely hide anything. You send it using any public channel that happens to be convenient and pre-agreed - YouTube, Vimeo, some squirty porn site, or whatever.

The one thing you don't do is try to hide it.

What makes it invisible is the fact that it looks just like the rest of the content it's hiding in, and doesn't come with a tag that says 'SUPER SEKRIT HIDDEN CONTENT - PLS TO NOT DECRYPT THX'

Which is the obvious problem with Tor and PGP email.

Obviously this doesn't work for simple emails. But there's no reason in principle content piggy-backing couldn't be added to any publicly accessible content distribution system, and the packaging and unpackaging couldn't be automated.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 10:31:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm how can you automate piggybacking without leaving a crackable trail to the content?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 11:43:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you encrypt the data (to make it look random) and use a low bit rate you're just adding random looking noise to the stream. It's not possible to find the data. Really not traceable, done right, even if the NSA are running a statistical analysis over their giant stash of data - which I would be if I were them. Assume you're using a truly random one time pad to generate the stenography and I'm pretty sure they'd be screwed. Just remember to generate your content on your secure, air gapped work station, preferable enforcing things like MAC and BLP.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 01:33:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
During a previous Daily Mail hacking scare story , there was a sideways comment from a senior security service person who said that they were terrified of an increase in encryption. At the moment, there were only two types of people who used it. The crazed crypto obsessives, and the wrongdoers. So at the moment if someone was throwing encrypted messages around you could check to see if they appeared on crypto forums, and if not then you needed to watch them. However the thing that scared them was something happening like the Snowdon event. Then a large ammount would start using encryption and it would become a needle in a haystack.

So once again the subversives within mob have screwed up the actual war on terror.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 02:18:10 PM EST
No doubt the securicrats will come up with a blanket solution like any unauthorized person who uses Tor or encryption is by definition a terrorist/communist/hacker on the principle that if you have something you want to hide from them you are probably up to no good. Kind of plays havoc with commercial security though. I can see corporates putting their most sensitive documents on standalone PCs in future and distributing by paper - although the NSA had a hidden scanner on the fax machine used by the EU for sensitive documents to spy on fax transmissions.

Distributing porn using a backdoor to Wordpress means you don't even have to have your own processing power - but an Irishman is currently awaiting extradition to the US for doing precisely that.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 03:03:00 PM EST
Frank Schnittger:
No doubt the securicrats will come up with a blanket solution like any unauthorized person who uses Tor or encryption is by definition a terrorist/communist/hacker on the principle that if you have something you want to hide from them you are probably up to no good.

Which is why it is important to spread the skills. Help enough family and friends and you are building a pretty large stack of needles in the bigger stack of hay.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 04:00:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that could be less successful than the NSA hoped, earlier this week there was a report that certain  photocopier and scanner companies products were misinterpreting numbers, and so may well have been storing documents with incorrect digits.

so you never know they might have all the wrong data.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 04:09:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be sweet were the NSA backdoor software found to be responsible for the data corruption.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 09:09:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems that it was image compression being used out of context: on a photograph, taking similar bits and reusing isn't a big issue. On a document it is. 1 <> l <> ! <> i <> |
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:38:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Knuckleheads!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 09:47:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
These all suffer from the same flaw.
They are trying to be clever. And in a contest of clever, professional info-war specialists IE; The NSA are going to win. Key managment is not the problem. The problem is that the NSA has a much bigger budget for paying mathematicians than anyone else - The only safe assumption is that any encryption scheme which can be broken might as well be plain text.

So do not rely on codes. Rely on physics and proofs. One time pads, air gaps, faraday cages.

If you want secure communications, brute force is the only solution.

Step the first: Keep no secrets that are not strictly necessary. Open information structures are not vulnerable to covert monitoring because they are public.

Step the second:
For those things which secrecy is judged necessary, do not get cute. Use the techniques which are provably secure, and no hard or software with any proprietary bits at all. - assume all secrets of design are zero-level exploits designed to send all your secrets to your worst enemy.

Keep your terminals in faraday cages in rooms with no windows. Encode your transmissions with one time pads.

by Thomas on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:27:16 AM EST
Well, it depends on expense, doesn't it? If everyone was doing proper encrypted comms then the NSA's "job" would be prohibitively expensive: they'd have to pick their targets.

But yeah, if you really need security, build your own kit, airgap, one-time pads (stenography is to hide the fact of the encryption) and faraday cages. And worry more about informants, because now you're a target!

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:36:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, no. The point is it's not too difficult to make one-to-one communication invisible, to the point where if you're a spook you have to try to decrypt all traffic and web content on the Internet, without knowing if it's been encrypted, or how.

Not even nation states have that kind of budget. Nowhere close.

Public email and cloud storage are very low hanging fruit in security terms. So far the NSA has been relying on hope and wishful thinking to get its sigint.

But my point is that once you start sending messages through non-standard channels, it doesn't take much effort to become invisible.

And once that happens, your only hope as a spook is to scan and decrypt the entire Internet - because nothing else will do the job.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 10:05:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not if statistical analysis of passing images or video - you just need a sample - throws up that stenography is used. You then get to be a person of interest.

If everyone is using encrypted channels you get lost in the noise. Otherwise you just risk attracting attention.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 10:24:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That depends how it's done. The companies offering statistical analysis assume you're using an off-the-shelf app. All they do is buy an app, run some tests, and create a profile.

But all that says is that most commercial steganography apps aren't all that good.

In the limit, good steganography is indistinguishable from compression artefacts and random noise. And if the bit rate is low enough and somewhat randomised, it becomes even harder to be confident about getting a clean positive.

There are also things like this.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 10:46:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to mention the expense and difficulty of key distribution with one-time pads and the need to get info in and out of your lockbox. Expensive pain in the ass to implement, especially if you don't want opponents to know that you're doing it.

How do you get the one-time pads to your correspondents? Couriers? In an age of surveillance? Oh dear.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 05:53:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One time pads can be made ridonkulously large with modern storage media. So for something like a company network or embassies.. Carry it there yourself when you build the secure room. Weld it in place. Assuming you do not use your secure net for daily video conferencing, you should never have to replace the pad.
by Thomas on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 06:19:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is great if you're a corporate and you and they know you're a potential target. If you're a dissident, the problem is harder.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 07:00:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you're a dissident, you should assume that your electronic communications are being monitored. Depending on what sort of dissident you are, you may also have to assume that your garbage is being monitored. And your mail opened. And your home searched while you're out. (If you're at the point where your home is being searched while you're in it, then it's normally too late to worry about information warfare.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 07:33:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, I am mostly thinking about this in terms of corporate security. The NSA is not spending billions on reading dissidents mail, because dissidents can be shouted down just fine by the noise machine manufacturing consent 24/7/365
NSA is about stealing intellectual property. The KGB spent an absurd amount of effort on industrial espionage.

 I estimate that the odds that the other declining empire is into that game up to it's eyeballs at nigh-unity.

Which also explains why there is so much money flowing into US politics, and why the economy is so crappy.  - The market economy isn't - the game is being rigged in the favor of whoever is paying the biggest bribes.

The best solution to this would be radical openness. Tear up the intellectual property treaties, close the patent offices, void the IPs on everything, and run corporate governance with open books and open board meetings. This seems a bit unlikely to be implemented, so as a second best solution, it might be worth while to prevent the NSA from just giving boeing the blueprints for anything they want. Not that they seem to be profiting much from what they are stealing...

by Thomas on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 08:37:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that's not the rule of good security.

The rule of good security is that the amount of effort that the attacker has to spend to penetrate your security, less the amount of effort you have to spend to maintain your security has to be greater than the higher of the value to you of not having your security penetrated or the value to the attacker of the attacker penetrating your security.

In practice, there are four groups of people that a private individual does not want to share his mail with, in roughly descending order of capabilities:

  • Major governments and corporations.
  • His boss.
  • Gangsters.
  • Non-work relations (relatives, friends, lovers, grudges, etc.).

For the last two, ordinary levels of caution are perfectly sufficient: Family members are unlikely to defeat even simple precautions, and you don't need to have better infowar capabilities than the scammers, you just need to have better infowar capabilities than the random sucker two blocks down the road.

To prevent your boss from reading your mail, it will probably suffice to assume that he monitors all traffic that touches hardware he actually owns. So maintain strict segregation between work hardware and networks and personal hardware and networks, and never use the former for anything you don't want your boss to read along with. Assume that your boss installs keyloggers on anything he lends you.

Assume that all major governments and most major corporations will read anything you commit to electronic signal in any form.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 07:19:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your rule complements Thomas' rule.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 09:56:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first step is a commercially available computer system that does not have built-in security gaps.  WinTel machines are not secure and cannot be made secure.  Apple is the same.  Unix is hopeless.  Linux is better but can still be penetrated.  As part of this, any digital device should have factory installed first level security.  The most common password for mobile devices is "passwd."  Even a random 8 byte password is better than that.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 11:23:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lavabit founder speaks out.  

(As much as he can.)

Levison is speaking out about his decision to shut down the e-mail service in the hopes that it puts some pressure on Congress to change the laws that put him in this situation to begin with. Levison is legally barred from saying much about what the government demanded from him, but even with that broad gag order in place, he has refused to keep quiet. He's determined to at least let people know that the gag is there and let inferences be drawn.



She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 12:12:30 PM EST
Some of the most widely used encryption methods might be broken within a couple of years:

Math Advances Raise the Prospect of an Internet Security Crisis | MIT Technology Review

Alex Stamos, chief technology officer of the online security company Artemis, led a presentation describing how he and three other security researchers studied recent publications from the insular world of academic cryptopgraphy research, which covers trends in attacking common encryption schemes.

"Our conclusion is there is a small but definite chance that RSA and classic Diffie-Hellman will not be usable for encryption purposes in four to five years," said Stamos, referring to the two most commonly used encryption methods.

RSA and Diffie-Hellman encryption are both underpinned by a mathematical challenge known as the discrete logarithm problem. That problem is computationally difficult to solve, ensuring that encrypted data can only be decoded quickly with knowledge of the secret key used to encode it in the first place. Breaking RSA or Diffie-Hellman encryption today requires using vast computing resources for significant periods of time.

However, it is possible that algorithms able to solve the discrete logarithm problem quickly could exist. "We rely on that efficient algorithm not being found," said Jarved Samuel, a cryptographer who works for security consultancy ISEC Partners and presented alongside Stamos. "If it is found the cryptosystem is broken."

The next cryptography frontier is supposed to be  elliptic curve cryptography (ECC). The kicker?

Math Advances Raise the Prospect of an Internet Security Crisis | MIT Technology Review

The U.S. National Security Agency has for years recommended ECC as the most reliable cryptographic protection available. In 2005 the agency released a toolkit called SuiteB featuring encryption algorithms to be used to protect government information. SuiteB makes use of ECC and eschews RSA and Diffie-Hellman. A classified encryption toolkit, SuiteA, is used internally by the NSA and is also believed to be based on ECC.
by Bernard on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 03:25:06 PM EST
Been thinking about this, and I am coming to the conclusion that the difficulties of one time pads are bloody well overstated.

Who here has a USBdongle from their bank? A code card? Some physical item supposed to help with the security of your ebanking needs? That item might as well be a read-once memory stick. Heck, if I am reading traffic use right, you could encode your world of warcraft account in this way with approximately the same amount of hassle as is currently expended protecting those accounts. Except this would be guaranteed to actually work against all hacking strategies short of "Break into your place, steal your hardware".

by Thomas on Fri Aug 16th, 2013 at 03:58:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Three requirements for One Time Pads are:

  1.  Truly Random Key
  2.  Key as long as the message
  3.  Key is never used again

Assuming the three part computer system I described above (for operational security) the only problem is the first.  Turns out it's only possible to derive an algorithm capable of computing a pseudo-random number, at some point every algorithm cycles back to the beginning. Thus, any practical implementation is not mathematically 'complete' but it doesn't really matter.  Practical systems use a pseudo-random seed value - say the current barometric pressure divided by the current temperature times the second through ninth numbers in the mantissa of the current time - fed into a Good Enough pseudo-random number generator for the key.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 11:27:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No. So much no.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 02:53:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... take an Geiger counter. point it at a rock.  Pseudo-random number generators are for people scared of soldering wire.
by Thomas on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 03:00:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the NSA cracks that, they deserve a nobel for proving the simulation hypothesis.
by Thomas on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 03:02:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but the problem is even then key delivery isn't trivial. you may have generated the perfect random key, but yoy still have to get it to both ends of the chain, without it being intercepted

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 09:20:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's where covert and indirect methods are so useful.

You can hide information in anything - Tweets, Amazon feedback, EBay bids, blog comments, lolcat pics, videos, porn, banner ads, the time a given IP address reloads a web page.

Etc.

You don't even have to use steganography. Like email, it just happens to be convenient.

As long as you can agree a code, you can exchange your key using pretty much any traffic on the Internet.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 10:18:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For any common purpose key delivery is trivial. This is the electronic era - there is no reason not to make the pad very large, and at some point in time you are very, very likely to have met anyone you wish to communicate securely with in meat-space. Ebanking? pick it up when you set up your account. Corporate networks? HR can hand it over when you are hired/promoted. It isnt like you have to constantly get new keys! A single memory stick pair will cover all your traffic needs for life.. or at least until you forget to take it out of your pockets before washing.
by Thomas on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 07:02:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sending a key over the net would be very stupid, however. The entire point is that you do not let anyone see the key twice. Which means delivery has to be physical.
by Thomas on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 07:04:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine, but if I deal with people all over the world, do I have to visit all of them? am I going to end up with a memory stick from every one? I'm sure it would fail on Practicality

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 07:57:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oh, that is easy, also. Oldest known security trick will work for this.
Take USB stick. Mold a clay figure or tablet around it. Sunbake it. -it does not have to be a pretty figurine - in fact, it kind of helps if it is not, harder to copy.  Mail it. Email a photo. Have the recipient compare before smashing. But yhea, you will need a pad for everyone you want secure communications with.
by Thomas on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 02:19:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Point of this isnt that a clay figurine could not be duplicated. The point is that it would take long enough to do so with sufficient accuracy that the recipient should notice the delay.
by Thomas on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 02:22:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know you live in Denmark, so I am forced to assume that it has been a while since you last sent anything in the mail...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 04:28:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Take USB stick. Mold a clay figure or tablet around it. Sunbake it.

This assumes that no packages are X-rayed. But a hollow metal object with an opening that looks like a mold mark might work. Insert data stick, fill remainder of cavity with a metal filled clay, solder the opening shut, grind and polish that surface and glue felt over it as a base. Just don't use a falcon.

A cast or formed metal brass or pewter decorative paper weight would do fine -- unless the authorities became suspicious of the sender or recipient, as acoustic or even more sophisticated inspection might be used. A Dremel tool would suffice to open the base in the appropriate place. If one desired to reuse the object just have a back piece that is soldered around the entire bottom edge. But this is getting to be non trivial.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 05:51:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
perhaps deep down it's a government scheme to get people using the post again to drive the price up for privatisation

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 07:12:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The other two are also trivial - Again, assuming you do not have a strange hardon for securely encrypted video chat or life logging, a read-once memory stick covering decades of use would cost pocket change.

.. If you insist on securely locked down lifelogs (.. and the police and security might have good uses for that) it is still trivial, only now you have to actually get new keys once a month or so.

by Thomas on Sat Aug 17th, 2013 at 03:07:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fascinating case in point : Was Miranda carrying information from Poitras to Greenwald? Given that any electronic communication between the two would be eagerly examined by "interested parties", it's plausible. It would be astonishingly naïve of them, but that's not implausible.

Visibly he was detained because he was on a watch list :
Glenn Greenwald's partner detained at Heathrow - reaction | Politics | theguardian.com

* The US was given a "heads up" before David Miranda, partner of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was detained in London. White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed on Monday that the UK alerted the US government that they would hold Miranda before he arrived at London's Heathrow airport.

* The White House said it did not give the order for Miranda to be detained, but nevertheless was kept aware of developments. "We had an indication it was likely to occur but it's not something we requested," Earnest said. Pressed on when the US was told Miranda would be held, he added: "It probably wouldn't be a heads up if they had told us about it after the detainment." Earnest said it would be "accurate" to interpret this to mean the US was told Miranda would be detained when his name appeared on the manifest.

* Earnest would not deny that the US had obtained access to Miranda's electronic material. Several items, including laptops, were seized at Heathrow. Asked by a reporter to "rule out that the US has obtained this material", Earnest said: "I'm not in a position to do that right now."

NUJ - "Shocking detention" of Miranda part of abuse of anti-terrorism law

"Miranda had been used as a go-between by Greenwald and film-maker Laura Poitras, in Berlin, who had been working with him on the information supplied by Edward Snowden. This material has now been confiscated. Journalists no longer feel safe exchanging even encrypted messages by email and now it seems they are not safe when they resort to face-to-face meetings.

 

"This is not an isolated problem. The NUJ believes that journalists are coming under more scrutiny and surveillance, being stopped at borders and their work interfered with, simply for doing their job. We are currently collating examples of such unacceptable interference across our membership. The treatment meted out to David Miranda is wholly unacceptable and it is time the use, or rather misuse, of terrorism legislation as a way of targeting individuals was properly and independently reviewed."



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 03:25:34 PM EST
Haha funniest thread ever.

If you want to send a message "demonstration starts now," then just send it. Anything that has incriminating evidence is doomed to eventual decoding, no matter how clever your system is. Anything else. WW2 messages were still being decoded and evaluated in 1980.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venona_project

by asdf on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 10:47:50 PM EST
Sure, maybe - good luck decoding a one-time pad you don't have the key for - but that probably doesn't matter. Forty years later the operation succeeded or failed.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 05:49:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your faith in the slowness of computers, and the good intentions of certain agencies, and the randomness of algorithmic random number generators, and the lack of agents in one's organization, and the ability of any human-membered team to avoid encryption mistakes is entertaining.
by asdf on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 10:11:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again. only people with an inexplicable fear of soldering wire would ever use a pseudorandom generator when nature has given us granite and science has given us geigercounters. Or any of a dozen very easily put together true random number generators. This is not difficult, nor expensive. It is trivial.
by Thomas on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 10:23:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming you're not in NYC, where Peter Vallone tried to ban geiger counters, along with all other devices to measure pollution. I don't think they suceeded, but they may try again.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 10:33:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Computer speed isn't really an issue with one-time pads. The output is effectively random, if I recall properly (checks, yes I do), so there simply isn't the information there to break the code without the key, even in theory. You're not relying of the difficulty of computing anything.

At no point did I discuss the use of algorithmic random number generators: I may have neglected to specify, but's thats only because of the well-known idiocy of using one in connection with encryption.

I'm only discussing securing electronic communications: the rest of the trade craft is left as an exercise for the reader.

Given a one-time pad, using it to encrypt a message isn't the most difficult thing imaginable. It's the sort of thing you should be able to build to a very high level of assurance in a relatively short time. Be careful about what you write onto your transfer medium and you're pretty safe.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 10:33:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Long reply replaced by "fallible humans."
by asdf on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 11:43:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure. The risk of exposure rises exponentially (or thereabouts?)  in the number of people involved.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 12:07:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But that's sort of the point: if you want secure communications you have to go those sort of lengths and they're bloody impractical for anything other than point-to-point within a very small group of people or a very professional organisation.

Otherwise assume the NSA and friends are listening to everything.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 12:14:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, and with the smallest number of participants, two, you have to hope and pray that the other guy is not going to turn you in.
by asdf on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 12:18:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not the take-away at all.

They were able to crack certain messages because one-time pads were re-used by the Soviets (to improve productivity figures presumably!) That's an easy blunder to avoid.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 05:53:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The hint is in the name ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 05:55:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plenty of blunders are easy to avoid, but for some reason they just keep on happening over and over and over. Why is that???
by asdf on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 10:12:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this case, I'm going to guess it's the difficulty of transmitting OTPs.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 10:34:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The short answer is the average person is a nincompoop.

The super-duper Enigma 2 was cracked after an operator sent the exact same long message twice and in succession using the exact same key and the exact same rotor set-up.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 10:59:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Besides Many-Time Pads the Soviets continued to use microdots even after they knew they had been compromised.  They also used Enigma to encrypt some of their communications, in some cases the actual machines captured from the Wehrmacht.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 11:06:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think they knew that Enigma had been cracked: the British kept it a secret for many years after the war.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 11:09:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe, but remember that there is a huge practical problem with all of these systems. You have to get your Enigma machines and processes and papers and trained officers and technicians and informed generals and couriers and radio listeners and everything else all set up, and then if you find out that there is a security failure, there's a massive institutional inertia not wanting to change anything that you're going to have to overcome.

So the British listened to the Germans, the Germans listened to the Russians, the Russians listened to the Americans, the Americans listened to the Japanese, and the Japanese listened to the Native Americans. I think the super-duper-ness of the Enigma system is mostly propaganda. For a couple of years early in the war it was a pretty stupendous effort, and then the weirdo English mathematicians and chess players were replaced by massive brute force computers over in the U.S.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/brewbooks/3318667711/in/photostream/

by asdf on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 11:56:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Partly that, partly I remember reading the British and Americans sold on these German uncrackable encryption machines to friends and allies after the war, so they would keep the advantage. And even after the Russians found out about it from the Cambridge spies after the war, they weren't going to grass them up, because then they could read those allied transmissions too.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 04:24:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Groklaw shuts down over fears of email snooping - Boing Boing

Groklaw, an award-winning campaigning website that played a pivotal role in the SCO case (a proxy war in which Microsoft tried to kill GNU/Linux) and others, is shutting down, over the revelation of widespread, deep email surveillance. In an open letter, Pamela Jones, the site's owner, cites the open letter posted by Lavabit founder Ladar Levison when he shut down rather than cooperating in surveillance of his users. Specifically, he said that he'd stopped using email, and if we knew what he knew, we'd stop too.

Jones says that she can't run the site without email, and implies that the knowledge that she'd be putting her sources, collaborators and users in jeopardy of surveillance crossed a line for her. She compares the knowledge that her email is being intercepted by the surveillance apparatus to being robbed when she first moved to NYC, "how deeply disturbing it is to know that someone, some stranger, has gone through and touched all your underwear, looked at all your photographs of your family."

She cites the testimony of Primo Levi, an Auschwitz survivor, who said, "solitude in a Camp is more precious and rare than bread," and recommends the services of Kolab, a Swiss mail-provider, for those looking for a haven from snooping.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 11:22:59 AM EST
An interesting option for confusing surveillance (or ad servers)

Paranoid Browsing: anti-profiling plugin seeks feedback - Boing Boing

Ben West read my novel Little Brother in tandem with the Edward Snowden leaks about NSA spying, and it got him thinking about a browser plugin called Paranoid Browsing to make it harder to profile your traffic based on surveillance. He's posted the source-code to GitHub and looking for critical feedback about the robustness of the system -- remember, the only experimental methodology for validating a security system is public discussion, because otherwise, you never know if your system is secure, or just secure against people who are stupider than you.

Many systems have been proposed to create a "profile" of users based on their browsing history. A constant problem with these systems is that they have difficulty filtering out which pieces of your browsing history are "relevant" and which are noise.[1]

Paranoid Browsing exacerbates this difficulty by creating a background tab which browses the Internet, creating a false set of preferences. By default, it browses the most popular American web sites, but it can be configured to browse other, more niche sites to create a more targeted false profile.

Life imitates art : From the Chrome download page for the plugin :

PB was inspired by fictional software described in Cory Doctorow's book Little Brother: "It even throws up a bunch of 'chaff' communications that are supposed to disguise the fact that you're doing anything covert. So while you're receiving a political message one character at a time, [it] is pretending to surf the Web and fill in questionnaires and flirt in chat-rooms. Meanwhile, one in every five hundred characters you receive is your real message, a needle buried in a huge haystack."


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 11:47:06 AM EST


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]