NYT: If you see weird text on a computer screen, might be terrorist encryption software

From a March 19, 2016 New York Times article:

One of the terrorists pulled out a laptop, propping it open against the wall, said the 40-year-old woman. When the laptop powered on, she saw a line of gibberish across the screen: “It was bizarre — he was looking at a bunch of lines, like lines of code. There was no image, no Internet,” she said. Her description matches the look of certain encryption software, which ISIS claims to have used during the Paris attacks.

To summarize, if you see something on someone's computer screen that fits the description below, the person with the computer could be an ISIS terrorist! It looks like "a line of gibberish across the screen." It's "a bunch of lines, like lines of code." There's "no image." There's "no Internet."

It's good to know the spirit of Judith Miller lives on at the Times!

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LGBTQ people and Apple vs FBI


Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Everyone is focused on the high profile fight between Apple and the FBI, which is a good thing, because the outcome of this case will affect all of us." Read the rest

Apple engineers quietly discuss refusing to create the FBI's backdoor


If you're one of the few engineers at Apple qualified to code up the backdoor that the FBI is seeking in its court order, and if your employer loses its case, and if you think you have a solemn duty as a security engineer to only produce code that makes users more secure, not less, what do you do? Read the rest

Hack-attacks with stolen certs tell you the future of FBI vs Apple


Since 2014, Suckfly, a hacker group apparently based in Chengdu, China, has used at least 9 signing certs to make their malware indistinguishable from official updates from the vendor. Read the rest

As FBI war on crypto intensifies, Facebook, Google, WhatsApp to intensify use of encryption

FBI Director James Comey arrives for a House Judiciary hearing on "The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans' Security and Privacy" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 1, 2016. REUTERS

In response to the FBI's attack on Apple's use of encryption-based security methods, some of the biggest names in technology are reported to be planning an expanded use of encryption for user data that passes through, or is stored on, their products and services.

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The post-Snowden digital divide: the ability to understand and use privacy tools


Ian Clark's long academic paper in the Journal of Radical Librarianship takes a while to get to the point, but when it arrives, it's a very, very good one: in the post-Snowden era, we can no longer address the "digital divide" just by providing access -- we also have to teach people how their online usage is spied on, how that will harm them, and what to do about it. Read the rest

John Oliver on Apple vs FBI and the new crypto wars

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John Oliver continues to deliver the best comedy tech analysis in the business, with an epic rant/explainer that delves into Apple vs FBI and the new crypto wars with scathing wit and deep, technical truth that's made miraculously accessible to a general audience. Read the rest

Obama: cryptographers who don't believe in magic ponies are "fetishists," "absolutists"


Obama's SXSW appearance included the president's stupidest-ever remarks on cryptography: he characterized cryptographers' insistence that there is no way to make working cryptography that stops working when the government needs it to as "phone fetishizing," as opposed to, you know, reality. Read the rest

If the FBI can force decryption backdoors, why not backdoors to turn on your phone's camera?


Eddy Cue, Apple's head of services, has warned that if the FBI wins its case and can force Apple to produce custom software to help break into locked phones, there's nothing in principle that would stop it from seeking similar orders for custom firmware to remotely spy on users through their phones' cameras and microphones. Read the rest

Using distributed code-signatures to make it much harder to order secret backdoors


Cothority is a new software project that uses "multi-party cryptographic signatures" to make it infinitely harder for governments to order companies to ship secret, targeted backdoors to their products as innocuous-looking software updates. Read the rest

Help wanted: Simply Secure is hiring an ops person!


Simply Secure is a nonprofit whose advisory board I volunteer for; they're devoted to making usable, human-centered interfaces to privacy tools that anyone can use, and they're hiring. Read the rest

Racial justice organizers to FBI vs Apple judge: crypto matters to #blacklivesmatter


Phenomena like the Harlem Cryptoparty demonstrate the connection between racial justice and cryptography -- civil rights organizers remember that the FBI spied on and blackmailed Martin Luther King, sending him vile notes encouraging him to kill himself. Read the rest

Apple vs FBI: The privacy disaster is inevitable, but we can prevent the catastrophe


My new Guardian column, Forget Apple's fight with the FBI – our privacy catastrophe has only just begun, explains how surveillance advocates have changed their arguments: 20 years ago, they argued that the lack of commercial success for privacy tools showed that the public didn't mind surveillance; today, they dismiss Apple's use of cryptographic tools as a "marketing stunt" and treat the proportionality of surveillance as a settled question. Read the rest

As Apple fights the FBI tooth and nail, Amazon drops Kindle encryption


Amazon's Kindle devices run a custom version of Android that, until today, supported full-disk encryption. Now they don't. Read the rest

ISIS opsec: jihadi tech bureau recommends non-US crypto tools


The US government is attempting to force Apple to backdoor its Iphone security, congress is considering mandatory backdoors for all secure technology, and FBI director James Comey insists that this will work, because there's no way that America's enemies might just switch over to using technology produced in other countries without such mandates. Read the rest

Today, Congress finally showed it's willing to fight the FBI on encryption

FBI Director James Comey arrives for a House Judiciary hearing on "The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans' Security and Privacy" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 1, 2016. REUTERS

It took a while, but FBI director Jim Comey got a little bit of the grilling he has earned in the FBI vs. Apple case. Freedom of the Press Foundation's Trevor Timm writes on today's House Judiciary Committee hearings on Capitol Hill, at which both the government and the Cupertino tech giant were represented.

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#FBIvsApple could lead to "virtually limitless" surveillance powers, warns judge in iPhone case


What's at stake in the fight between the FBI and Apple over those iPhones? Oh, no big deal, just the legal green light for “virtually limitless” surveillance under the Internet of Things. That's what a federal judge has ruled in an order rejecting a government request in a New York drug case.

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