Barcelona government officially endorses Tor-based whistleblower platform

Xnet, a wonderful Spanish activist group, has created the Anti-Corruption Complaint Box, a whistleblowing platform for the city of Barcelona that allows people to file anonymous claims in a Globalleaks repository, with their anonymity protected by Tor. Read the rest

Whatsapp: Facebook's ability to decrypt messages is a "limitation," not a "defect"

Facebook spokespeople and cryptographers say that Facebook's decision to implement Open Whisper Systems' end-to-end cryptographic messaging protocol in such a way as to allow Facebook to decrypt them later without the user's knowledge reflects a "limitation" -- a compromise that allows users to continue conversations as they move from device to device -- and not a "defect." Read the rest

A critical flaw (possibly a deliberate backdoor) allows for decryption of Whatsapp messages -- UPDATED

Update: Be sure to read the followup discussion, which explains Facebook's point of view, that this is a deliberate compromise, and not a defect, that makes the app more usable for a wide variety of users, while putting them to little additional risk (namely, that Facebook might change its mind; or be forced to spy on its users; or suffer a security breach or internal rogue employee).

When Facebook implemented Open Whisper Systems' end-to-end encrypted messaging protocol for Whatsapp, they introduced a critical flaw that exposes more than a billion users to stealthy decryption of their private messages: in Facebook's implementation, the company can force Whatsapp installations to silently generate new cryptographic keys (without any way for the user to know about this unless a deep settings checkbox had been ticked), which gives the company the ability to decrypt user messages, including messages that have already been sent in the past.. Read the rest

Baratunde Thurston explains why encryption matters

Rainey from EFF writes, "EFF just launched a new video about its efforts to encrypt the web. It features bestselling author Baratunde Thurston explaining why encryption matters and two simple ways to ensure the web we love is encrypted." Read the rest

98% of Bitcoin trading volume over the past six months was in Chinese Renminbi

In case you were wondering why Bitcoin experienced a crazy spike recently: China's economy is a hyperinflated bubble, poised to burst and the Chinese central bank is depreciating the Renminbi -- so China's wealthy are getting their cash out of the country as fast as they can, using any means necessary: suing themselves, spending huge whacks of cash while on vacation, and converting it to Bitcoin (this is especially urgent now that the Canadian real-estate money laundry is shutting down) -- this is just the latest salvo in the Chinese capital flight story. Read the rest

My first Enigma machine: Mattel once sold a Barbie typewriter with built-in crypto capabilities

Slovenia's Maheno corporation manufactured a series of Barbie-branded and white label typewriters for kids, with a hidden feature that allowed their owners to use them to produce messages encrypted with a simple substitution cipher. Read the rest

Thailand's military-appointed Assembly unanimously passes an internet law combining the world's worst laws

On Dec 15, an amendment to Thailand's 2007 Computer Crime Act passed its National Legislative Assembly -- a body appointed by the country's military after the 2014 coup -- unanimously, and in 180 days, the country will have a new internet law that represents a grab bag of the worst provisions of the worst internet laws in the world, bits of the UK's Snooper's Charter, America's Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the dregs of many other failed laws. Read the rest

Trump's policies on net neutrality, free speech, press freedom, surveillance, encryption and cybersecurity

Three posts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation dispassionately recount the on-the-record policies of Trump and his advisors on issues that matter to a free, fair and open internet: net neutrality; surveillance, encryption and cybersecurity; free speech and freedom of the press. Read the rest

Ten principles for user-protection in hostile states

The Tor Project's "Ten Principles for User Protection in Hostile States" is both thoughtful and thought-provoking -- it's a list that excites my interest as someone who cares about the use of technology in improving lives and organizing political movements (principle 1 is "Do not rely on the law to protect systems or users" -- a call to technologists -- while number 7 is aimed at companies, "Invest in cryptographic R&D to replace non-cryptographic systems" and principle 2 says "Prepare policy commentary for quick response to crisis," which suggests that the law, while not reliable, can't be ignored); and also as a science fiction writer (check out those tags! "Acausal trade," "Pluralistic singularity" and "Golden path"! Yowza!) Read the rest

Freedom of the Press releases an automated, self-updating report card grading news-sites on HTTPS

Secure the News periodically checks in with news-sites to see how many of them implement HTTPS -- the secure protocol that stops your ISP and people snooping on it from knowing which pages you're looking at and from tampering with them -- and what proportion of them default to HTTPS. Read the rest

Bruce Schneier's four-year plan for the Trump years

1. Fight the fights (against more government and commercial surveillance; backdoors, government hacking); 2. Prepare for those fights (push companies to delete those logs; remind everyone that security and privacy can peacefully co-exist); 3. Lay the groundword for a better future (figure out non-surveillance internet business models, privacy-respecting law enforcement, and limits on corporate surveillance); 4. Continue to solve the actual problems (cybercrime, cyber-espionage, cyberwar, the Internet of Things, algorithmic decision making, foreign interference in our elections). Read the rest

Filmmakers want cameras with encrypted storage

Documentarians and news-gatherers who record sensitive material from confidential sources live in terror of having their cameras seized and their storage-cards plundered by law-enforcement; they struggle to remember to immediately transfer their files to encrypted laptop storage and wipe their cards while dodging bombs in conflict zones, or simply to remember to have robotically perfect operational security while they are trying to get a movie made. Read the rest

Cryptomancer: RPG based on real crypto fundamentals

In Cryptomancer, players inhabit a fantasy world populated with elves, dwarves and humans, but they win out by designing and undermining cryptographically secured networks of magical gems that allow different factions to coordinate their actions over distance. Read the rest

UK cops beat phone encryption by "mugging" suspect after he unlocked his phone

Detectives from Scotland Yard's cybercrime unit decided the easiest way to get around their suspect's careful use of full-disk encryption and strong passphrases on his Iphone was to trail him until he made a call, then "mug" him by snatching his phone and then tasking an officer to continuously swipe at the screen to keep it from going to sleep, which would reactivate the disk encryption. Read the rest

The hacker who took over San Francisco's Muni got hacked

Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Light Rail system (the Muni) had to stop charging passengers to ride because a ransomware hacker had taken over its network and encrypted the drives of all of its servers. Read the rest

Iphones secretly send your call history to Apple's cloud, even after you tell them not to

Apple has acknowledged that its Icloud service is a weak link in its security model, because by design Apple can gain access to encrypted data stored in its customers' accounts, which means that the company can be hacked, coerced or tricked into revealing otherwise secure customer data to law enforcement, spies and criminals. Read the rest

How to defend your digital rights: street protest edition

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Digital Security Tips for Protesters builds on its indispensable Surveillance Self Defense guide for protesters with legal and technical suggestions to protect your rights, your data, and your identity when protesting. Read the rest

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