Boing Boing 

Darkmatter: a secure Paranoid Android version that hides from attackers

Stock Android phones with the Darkmatter OS use encrypted storage, OS-level app controls, and secure messaging by default, but if the phone thinks it's under attack, it dismounts all the encrypted stuff and reboots as a stock Android phone with no obvious hints that its owner has anything hidden on it.

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There's no back door that only works for good guys

My latest Guardian column, Crypto wars redux: why the FBI's desire to unlock your private life must be resisted, explains why the US government's push to mandate insecure back-doors in all our devices is such a terrible idea -- the antithesis of "cyber-security."

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Help wanted: crypto-usability research director & ops manager

Simply Secure, a nonprofit developing usable, free, open interfaces for cryptographic communications tools like OTR, is hiring!

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Faced with network surveillance, Hong Kong student demonstrators go P2P


The makers of Firechat, a wireless P2P chat app that works phone-to-phone over Bluetooth and wifi, say they've seen a surge of new users from Hong Kong's student demonstrators, who are locked in pitched battle with the territory's police as they fight for the right to choose HK's leaders without interference with Beijing, against a backdrop of growing wealth inequality.

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Reasons (not) to trust Apple's privacy promises

Apple's new Ios privacy policy makes some bold promises about their technology's wiretap-resistance, saying that even if Apple wanted to snoop on your messages, they couldn't, but as EFF co-founder John Gilmore points out, Apple's asking you to take an awful lot on faith here.

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Privacy for Normal People


My latest Guardian column, Privacy technology everyone can use would make us all more secure, makes the case for privacy technology as something that anyone can -- and should use, discussing the work being done by the charitable Simply Secure foundation that launches today (site is not yet up as of this writing), with the mandate to create usable interfaces to cryptographic tools, and to teach crypto developers how to make their tools accessible to non-technical people.

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Free cybersecurity MOOC


The Open University's "Introduction to Cyber Security" is a free online course -- with optional certificate -- that teaches the fundamentals of crypto, information security, and privacy; I host the series, which starts on Oct 13."

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UK Ministry of Justice loses harddrive with 3,000 prisoners' data, which they forgot to encrypt

Alan sez, "The UK Ministry of Justice was just slapped with a fine for the loss of a hard disk containing data on over 3,000 prisoners. These things happen."

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Honorable spies anonymously leak NSA/GHCQ-discovered flaws in Tor

Andrew Lewman, head of operations for The Onion Router (TOR), an anonymity and privacy tool that is particularly loathed by the spy agencies' capos, credits Tor's anonymous bug-reporting system for giving spies a safe way to report bugs in Tor that would otherwise be weaponized to attack Tor's users.

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A video about cybersecurity that you should really watch

Dan Geer's Black Hat 2014 talk Cybersecurity as Realpolitik (also available as text) is thoughtful, smart, vital, and cuts through -- then ties together -- strands of security, liability, governance, privacy, and fairness, and is a veritable manifesto for a better world.

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EFF unveils secure, sharing-friendly, privacy-minded router OS

As promised, the Open Wireless Movement's new sharing-friendly, privacy-minded router operating system was unveiled at HOPE X in New York last weekend.

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Snowden will develop pro-privacy crypto tools

He made the announcement at the HOPEX conference in New York this past weekend, calling on other attendees to join him in a project to "improve the future by encoding our rights into programs and protocols by which we rely every day."

(via /.)

(Image: SHH, Liz Welsh, CC-BY)

Snowden: Dropbox is an NSA surveillance target, use Spideroak instead


A remarkable moment from last night's remarkable Snowden video from the Guardian.

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Finnish national broadcaster will transmit blockchain over terrestrial digital TV network

The Finnish national broadcaster has partnered with Kryptoradio to broadcast the Bitcoin blockchain over the digital television network making it accessible over a non-Internet channel to 95% of the Finnish population.

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Digital First Aid Kit: where to turn when you're DoSed or have your accounts hijacked

A group of NGOs, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, offer a suite of tools for diagnosing and mitigating the kinds of attacks faced by dissidents and independent media all over the world, especially when they threaten the powerful.

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Fake Google subdomain certificates found in the wild

An Indian certificate authority in the Microsoft root of trust has been caught issuing fake Google subdomain certificates that would allow nearly undetectable eavesdropping on "secure" connections to services like Google Docs.

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"Personal Internet security" is a team sport


My latest column in Locus magazine, Security in Numbers, looks at the impossibility of being secure on your own -- if you use the Internet to talk to other people, they have to care about security, too.

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Blackphone: a privacy-conscious phone that actually works


The Blackphone is a secure mobile phone whose operating system is based on Android, designed to minimize the amount of data you leak as you move through the world through a combination of encryption and systems design that takes your privacy as its first priority.

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Cyber-crooks turn to Bitcoin extortion


Security journalist Brian Krebs documents a string of escalating extortion crimes perpetrated with help from the net, and proposes that the growth of extortion as a tactic preferred over traditional identity theft and botnetting is driven by Bitcoin, which provides a safe way for crooks to get payouts from their victims.

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Possible hidden Latin warning about NSA in Truecrypt's suicide note


When the anonymous authors of the Truecrypt security tool mysteriously yanked their software last month, there was widespread suspicion that they had been ordered by the NSA to secretly compromise their software. A close look at the cryptic message they left behind suggests that they may have encoded a secret clue in the initials of each word of the sentence ("Using TrueCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues"), the Latin phrase "uti nsa im cu si" which some claim can be translated as a warning that the NSA had pwned Truecrypt.

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Anti-forensic mobile OS gets your phone to lie for you

In Android Anti-forensics: Modifying CyanogenMod Karl-Johan Karlsson and William Bradley Glisson present a version of the Cyanogenmod alternate operating system for Android devices, modified so that it generates plausible false data to foil forensic analysis by law enforcement. The idea is to create a mobile phone that "lies" for you so that adversaries who coerce you into letting them take a copy of its data can't find out where you've been, who you've been talking to, or what you've been talking about.

I'm interested in this project but wonder about how to make it practical for daily use. Presently, it maintains a hidden set of true data, and a trick set of false data intended to be fetched by forensic tools. Presumably, this only works until the forensic tools are modified to spot the real data. But you can conceptually imagine a phone that maintains a normal address book and SMS history, etc -- all the things that are useful to have in daily use -- but that, on a certain signal (say, when an alternate unlock code is entered, or after a certain number of failed unlock attempts) scrubs all that and replaces it with plausible deniability data.

Obviously, this kind of thing doesn't work against state-level actors who can subpoena (or coerce) your location data and call history from your carrier, but those people don't need to seize your phone in the first place.

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Whistleblower org says it will go to jail rather than turning over its keys


The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has told the Obama administration that its leaders will go to jail rather than respond to an extrajudicial administrative subpoena seeking the identity of whistleblowers who disclosed corruption in the Veterans' Administration.

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How can you trust your browser?


Tim Bray's Trusting Browser Code explores the political and technical problems with trusting your browser, especially when you're using it to do sensitive things like encrypt and decrypt your email. In an ideal world, you wouldn't have to trust Google or any other "intermediary" service to resist warrants forcing it to turn over your sensitive communications, because it would be technically impossible for anyone to peek into the mail without your permission. But as Bray points out, the complexity and relative opacity of Javascript makes this kind of surety difficult to attain.

Bray misses a crucial political problem, though: the DMCA. Under US law (and similar laws all over the world), telling people about vulnerabilities in DRM is illegal, meaning that a bug in your browser that makes your email vulnerable to spying might be illegal to report, and will thus potentially never be fixed. Now that the World Wide Web Consortium and all the major browser vendors (even including Mozilla) have capitulated on adding DRM to the Web, this is the most significant political problem in the world of trusting your browser.

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Time-capsule crypto to help journalists protect their sources


Jonathan Zittrain writes, "I published an op-ed in the Boston Globe today musing on the prospects for 'time capsule encryption,' one of several ways of storing information that renders it inaccessible to anyone until certain conditions -- such as the passage of time -- are met. I could see libraries and archives offering such technology as part of accepting papers and manuscripts, especially in the wake of the "Belfast Project" situation, where a library promised confidentiality for accounts of the Troubles in North Ireland, and then found itself amidst subpoenas from law enforcement looking to solve long-cold cases. But the principle could apply to any person or company thinking that there's a choice between leaving information exposed to leakage, or destroying it entirely."

I'm less enthusiastic about this than Jonathan is. I think calibrating the strength of your time-capsule is very hard. If the NSA might be an order of magnitude faster than the rest of us at brute-force cryptanalysis, that means you need to make your 10-year capsule strong enough to last for 100 years just to be on the safe side. Same goes for proof-of-work.

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Encrypt like a boss with the Email Self-Defense Guide


Libby writes, "Today the Free Software Foundation is releasing Email Self-Defense, a guide to personal email encryption to help everyone, including beginners, make the NSA's job a little harder. We're releasing it as part of Reset the Net, a global day of action to push back against the surveillance-industrial complex. The guide will get you encrypting your emails in under 30 minutes, and takes you all the way through sending and receiving your first encrypted email."

Email Self-Defense - a guide to fighting surveillance with GnuPG (Thanks, Libby!)

Today is the day we Reset the Net

Today is the day we Reset the Net! It’s been one year since the Edward Snowden disclosures hit the news and the whole world woke up to the scale of mass, indiscriminate Internet surveillance — a spying campaign that was only possible because our own tools leak our private information in great gouts. Reset the Net provides you with a technical, political, and social toolkit to harden our Internet against the spies; and Boing Boing is proud to be playing a role.

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Google announces end-to-end encryption for Gmail (a big deal!)

Google has announced support for end-to-end encryption with Gmail, a major step for privacy and a major blow against mass surveillance. Gmail users who install free and open Chrome plugin will be able to send and receive messages that can only be read by people who have their intended recipients' passphrase, and not Google -- meaning that even if the NSA legally or covertly taps into Google's data-centers, they won't be able to read mail that's encrypted with the End-to-End plugin.

This is marvellous news. There is already support for Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG) and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) in Gmail, through Firefox plugin or Chrome plugin, but long experience has shown that many people are confused by PGP/GPG in its current state.

What's more, Google has explicitly tied this to the Reset the Net campaign (in which Boing Boing is a partner), a global day commemorating the Snowden leaks and calling for an Internet that is made strong and secure from mass spying.

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Engineering our way out of mass surveillance

Smári "Mailpile" McCarthy's lecture Engineering Our Way Out of Fascism sets out a set of technical, legal and social interventions we can undertake to make mass surveillance impossible, starting with this: "The goal of those interested in protecting human rights should be to raise the average cost of surveillance to $10.000 per person per day within the next five years."

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Warrantless spying makes spying-with-a-warrant impossible

Tim Bray's taxonomy of privacy levels makes a compact and compelling argument that the existence of warrantless spying and security sabotage is what drives people to adopt cryptographic techniques that can't be broken even with a warrant.

Mysterious announcement from Truecrypt declares the project insecure and dead

The abrupt announcement that the widely used, anonymously authored disk-encryption tool Truecrypt is insecure and will no longer be maintained shocked the crypto world–after all, this was the tool Edward Snowden himself lectured on at a Cryptoparty in Hawai’i. Cory Doctorow tries to make sense of it all.

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