encryption

“Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It’s because the public is demanding it. A public does not want an out-of-control surveillance state,” Lieu said.

“Apple and Google don’t have coercive power. District attorneys do, the FBI does, the NSA does, and to me it’s very simple to draw a privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution. And because the NSA didn’t do that and other law enforcement agencies didn’t do that, you’re seeing a vast public reaction to this.”

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Glitchi

iOS social messaging app lets users encrypt photos with a custom glitch feature, which can only be seen by the receiver:

Inspired by celebrity hacks, 2014 hacks, and in general, how little control we have over privacy, we wanted to create a solution that would make it impossible to get remotely hacked.

glitchi is the only social network that gives you space to keep everything between you and your friends. No one including us, hackers and other curious eyes, is able to see your content in glitchi, because it’s only available on your device and the device of the friend that you’re sharing with. We’ve completely eliminated the passwords, because they suck in protecting you from unwanted snooping. Passwords are the easiest way for someone else to get into your account.


You can find out more at the Glitchi blog here or at their website here

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The PGP Word List (“Pretty Good Privacy word list”, also called a biometric word list) is a list of words for conveying data bytes in a clear unambiguous way via a voice channel. They are analogous in purpose to the NATO phonetic alphabet used by pilots, except a longer list of words is used, each word corresponding to one of the 256 unique numeric byte values.

Each byte in a bytestring is encoded as a single word. A sequence of bytes is rendered in network byte order, from left to right. For example, the leftmost (i.e. byte 0) is considered “even” and is encoded using the PGP Even Word table. The next byte to the right (i.e. byte 1) is considered “odd” and is encoded using the PGP Odd Word table. This process repeats until all bytes are encoded. Thus, “E582” produces “topmost Istanbul”, whereas “82E5” produces “miser travesty”.

A PGP public key fingerprint that displayed in hexadecimal as

    E582 94F2 E9A2 2748 6E8B
    061B 31CC 528F D7FA 3F19

would display in PGP Words (the “biometric” fingerprint) as

    topmost Istanbul Pluto vagabond
    treadmill Pacific brackish dictator
    goldfish Medusa afflict bravado
    chatter revolver Dupont midsummer
    stopwatch whimsical cowbell bottomless

The order of bytes in a bytestring depends on Endianness.

Leaking Securely

Laura Tingle has an article in the AFR today about how to securely leak and there’s some seriously bad advice in there. Let’s unpack this.

First of all, the new laws can’t apply to overseas based providers. When you think about it, that was obviously always going to be the case. How on earth, for example, can Australian law apply to a communications service provider based in another country like the United States or Estonia?

Your traffic is transited from your ISP to those services, so the metadata that you connected to these services, interacted, for how long and at what times are all collected.

That means that if you use an overseas provider for you email, like Gmail or Yahoo! or Hotmail, the security agencies can’t access your metadata. (Mind you, some of us would observe that using Gmail actually also makes it quite hard to access one’s own emails so there are swings and roundabouts in all these things).

I don’t understand what this means other than boomer.gif

Senator Ludlam also suggested you could use Facebook Messenger or Twitter direct mail. But I’d prefer if you are going to leak like Edward Snowden, you don’t break it down into lots of 140 character messages.

Don’t use DMs or Facebook Messenger to leak information to Journalists. Please do not do this. UPDATE: ‘Both accounts could potentially be linked to you and facebook and twitter both respond to data requests. If you’re trying to minimise consequences, don’t use them’

Apparently the only really dumb thing to do if you are a potential leaker is ring direct from your phone to my mobile (after the first call). And don’t send a text messages.

No, there are plenty of dumb things you can do, most of which are recommended in this article.

Instead, phone me via a provider like Skype (based in Estonia) and the metadata doesn’t show up.

No, the call is routed, the metadata does show up saying a skype session between IP ONE and IP TWO happened at X TIME for X Length. So don’t do this.

(I should also point out that for some years the Fairfax VOIP landlines have worked on a system where our numbers don’t show up when we ring out, and thus neither does our metadata. Just saying)

That’s beyond stupid. If the metadata didn’t exist the calls couldn’t be routed. Come on, technology isn’t fucking magic.

There is the option of private-key cryptography (no I don’t what that means either but includes apps like Wickr and Snapchat) which keeps no metadata. But to be successful, with this you have to be able to remember your password. Which not all of us have successfully done.

Private Key Cryptography DOES have metadata, again, or it couldn’t be routed. Come on. Come on.

“Virtual private networks, available at a very reasonable subscription rate, make it impossible to tell where in the world you are when you are using the internet—also not illegal. Anonymity is not illegal, circumvention is not illegal and cryptography is not illegal.”

VPN providers can and do work with LEAs but yes, it would just show a huge amount of traffic to a particular endpoint, your VPN, but the browsing data would be contained within the tunnel (if you have configured it correctly) and thus would not be eavesdroppable from the Australian standpoint. Again, you’d want a VPN hosted outside of Australia for this.

Of course, there are also other ways of leaking to journalists even if they are fashionably old-fashioned.

There is snail mail, for example, and let’s face it Australia Post needs the money.

This is a good point, but again, make sure it’s not sent from the postbox near you, so it’s not easy to trace the item to the source.

But probably the suggestion that you should put your mobile in the fridge should not be relied upon. And we all know that the Cone of Silence doesn’t work.

A fridge is a faraday cage, if you’re going to go leak to a journalist in person, leave the phone at home.

So yeah, apart from being laughably inaccurate, there isn’t really any good advice on how to leak. So here’s what to do to leak securely, or at least to massively reduce the risk of being caught and getting in trouble

How To Leak

  1. This might seem obvious, but think about it, don’t leak information only you have access to. If you’re the only one that has the information then it’s pretty bloody easy to figure out who leaked the info. Find or create a situation in which you can have plausible deniability that someone else accessed the data
  2. Don’t leak data from your home computer, from your personal devices or anywhere at home or at work. You will get caught, and if there are legal ramifications of the leak they will rain down on you like fire.
  3. Don’t leak data from personal accounts or accounts linked to family or friends or that can in any way be traced back to you. Create a hushmail or a gmail account, don’t put in your phone number and create this account on a computer you do not normally use, say an internet cafe.
  4. Don’t provide any personal information in the stuff you leak. Redact as you need to.
  5. Don’t store copies of leaked information on personal devices or home devices.
  6. If you use a USB device or something similar to access or copy data, be aware of corporate policies or monitoring. If you’re copying from your office computer, logged in under your account to a device, corporate IT systems can easily track you down and figure out who copied what and when.
  7. Destroy any items or devices you use to transit the information to be leaked to a third party area. Dispose of them, again, somewhere you wouldn’t normally dispose of items so someone going through your rubbish can’t find them.
  8. Only leak to places that have SecureDrop, like the Guardian.
  9. DON’T TELL ANYONE WHAT YOU DID. DO NOT TELL A SINGLE SOUL WHAT YOU DID. LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS AND BLABBING YOUR BIG STUPID MOUTH ABOUT YOUR LEAK IS GOING TO LAND YOU IN THE SLAMMER YOU STUPID DUMB BABY SO DON’T DO IT.

If you have any other recommendations or ideas, ping me a line on twitter

Take care of yourselves.

Secret sharing

Let’s say you want to share a secret with someone. Maybe you want someone to have your password, to your tumblr or email account, a bitcoin wallet, a final farewell message, anything you might want them to have access to someday should something happen to you.

But you don’t want them to have access to it right now, because let’s face it, your friends are flaky. You can’t think of a single one of them you would trust not to get drunk some night and log into tumblr and start making problematic posts in your name, or steal your btc, etc…

So instead of sharing your secret with just one of your untrustworthy friends, you share it with three of them. How is that better? Because you send each one a part of this:

Then explain to them that if all three of them agree that it would be a good idea to access your account, they can do so by getting together and sharing all three parts of the secret with each other, XORing them, and the output will be your secret. But, should any one of them not agree to participate, the other two will never be able to figure out the secret with only their two parts.

This is the simplest form of secret sharing, and it works regardless of how many shares are created. You could create 100 shares, and it’s mathematically proven that your secret could never be recovered using less than all of the shares.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Take your secret and convert it to binary, in this case it’s 64 digits long
  2. Then generate two truly random binary strings that are also 64 digits
  3. Send these two random numbers to your first two friends, unchanged
  4. Calculate the third share and send it to your third friend

You’ll need to do some XORing to get the last share. The process is simple, if the two digits are the same, their XOR is 0. If they are different, it’s 1.

  1. XOR the password (pw) with the share for your first friend (f1) to get x1
  2. XOR x1 with f2 to get f3
  3. Send f3 to your third friend
  4. Destroy any papers/files used to create the shares, so that x1 and f1-3 can’t be recovered by an attacker

And here’s the processed reversed:

I should probably have mentioned sending the shares to your friends in a secure way, perhaps giving them out in person, because if you email it to them then an attacker could intercept all of the shares and gain unauthorized access. Which is important because secret sharing is what the FBI/NSA are talking about in recent articles about backdooring smartphone encryption. They are talking about a more advanced form called Shamir’s Secret Sharing, where n shares are created, but only t shares, the threshold, are needed to decrypt the secret.

One possibility is n=4, t=2. Of the four, two shares are given to the smartphone user, so they can access their phone/files on their own. One share is retained by Apple or other phone manufacturer, and one is sent to the government and held in escrow for use by the NSA, FBI, and who knows who else. In the event that they want access to your secrets they get a court order and force Apple to hand over their part of the secret, then they can access your phone.

Or they can intercept the shares in transmission, break into the manufacturer’s servers and steal them, or subvert the generation method and leave the system weakened to some method of attack the NSA has found, that we’re not aware of yet. Overall, I’m doubtful. And that’s before the Chinese government demands that n=6 and that they be given two shares for every phone sold in China.

The FBI used to recommend encryption. Now they want to ban it – Trevor Timm

For years, the agency recommended phone encryption as a defense against criminals. Now, that information has been scrubbed from public view

Mar. 28 2015

The FBI wants to make us all less safe. At least that’s the implication from FBI director Jim Comey’s push to ban unbreakable encryption and deliberately weaken everyone’s security. And it’s past time that the White House makes its position clear once and for all.

Comey was back before Congress this week - this time in front of the House Appropriations Committee - imploring Congressmen to pass a law that would force tech companies to create a backdoor in any phone or communications tool that uses encryption.

He also revealed the Obama administration may be crafting such a law right now. “One of the things that the administration is working on right now is what would a legislative response look like that would allow us … with court process to get access to that evidence”, he said.

The whole controversy stems from Apple’s decision to encrypt iPhones by default - so that only the user can unlock a phone with a pin or password and even Apple itself does not have the key. It was a huge step forward for security, and given that the US government considers cybersecurity attacks a more dire threat than terrorism, you’d think they’d be encouraging everyone to use more encryption. But Comey essentially argued to Congress that because encryption sometimes makes FBI investigations harder, it should be outlawed.

The idea that all of a sudden the FBI is “going dark” and won’t be able to investigate criminals anymore thanks to a tiny improvement of cell phone security is patently absurd. Even if the phone itself is protected by a passphrase that encrypts the device, the FBI can still go to telecom companies to get all the phone metadata they want. They can also still track anyone they choose by getting a cell phone’s location information 24 hours a day, and of course they can still wiretap the calls themselves. Let’s not forget that with a four digit passcode - like iPhones come with by default - can easily broken into by the FBI without anyone’s help anyways. So a vast majority of this debate is already moot.

Beyond a few vague hypotheticals, Comey wouldn’t give any specific examples at the hearing about where this has tripped up the FBI before, but the last time the FBI did, what they said was immediately debunked as nonsense.

Read More

Time and again, people are told there is one obvious way to mitigate privacy threats of all sorts, from mass government surveillance to pervasive online tracking to cybercriminals: Encryption. As President Obama put it earlier this year, speaking in between his administration’s attacks on encryption, “There’s no scenario in which we don’t want really strong encryption.” Even after helping expose all the ways the government can get its hands on your data, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden still maintained, “Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on.”

But how can ordinary people get started using encryption? …

Apple, Google helping terrorists with encryption – Manhattan DA

Allowing users to take advantage of advanced encryption in order to keep their messages and mobile communication out of the government’s hands will only help terrorists plot future attacks, a top New York law enforcement official said.

 The new encryption  services offered by Apple and Google will make it harder to  protect New Yorkers, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.  told local AM970 radio host John Cats. He mentioned built-in  encryption – which Apple claims its own engineers cannot break –  means that federal and local law enforcement bodies won’t be able  to intercept communications between potential criminals and  terrorists, even if they acquire a warrant.

 When Cats suggested, “terrorists are running out to buy  iPhones,” Vance responded by saying, he was “absolutely  right.”

AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.

The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.

In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”

With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.

As part of the covert operations against Gemalto, spies from GCHQ — with support from the NSA — mined the private communications of unwitting engineers and other company employees in multiple countries.

Gemalto was totally oblivious to the penetration of its systems — and the spying on its employees. “I’m disturbed, quite concerned that this has happened,” Paul Beverly, a Gemalto executive vice president, told The Intercept. “The most important thing for me is to understand exactly how this was done, so we can take every measure to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, and also to make sure that there’s no impact on the telecom operators that we have served in a very trusted manner for many years. What I want to understand is what sort of ramifications it has, or could have, on any of our customers.” He added that “the most important thing for us now is to understand the degree” of the breach.

Leading privacy advocates and security experts say that the theft of encryption keys from major wireless network providers is tantamount to a thief obtaining the master ring of a building superintendent who holds the keys to every apartment. “Once you have the keys, decrypting traffic is trivial,” says Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The news of this key theft will send a shock wave through the security community.”

Read More

Various federal law enforcement agencies in the United States have let it be known that they’re not fans of the kinds of encryption technologies that are becoming more widely-used by the general public. Whether it’s theNSA’s preference for “front door” access to user accounts, the Department of Justice’s claims that a “child will die” due to Apple’s use of encryption by default, or FBI Director James Comey begging Congress for backdoor access to Americans’ cellphones, it’s clear that multiple agencies don’t like the idea of ordinary people being able to protect their private data. These sorts of stories could be somewhat troubling to bitcoin users because — in the case of digital cash — data is money.

HOW CAN BITCOIN USERS BE AFFECTED BY BACKDOORS?

How bitcoin users are affected by backdoors depends on where those doors are placed. For the most paranoid bitcoin user, the idea of hardware backdoors is always in the back of the mind. If this were the situation, bitcoin as a technology would likely fail. After all, the encryption algorithms used by bitcoin are only secure in a situation where everyone can trust the hardware on which those algorithms are placed. …

How to remove password from Word Document

How to remove password from Word Document

Word Document is the most popular document creator and editor among all of us. It not only helps in creating and editing the documents but even allow us to setup passwords for the same in order to prevent them from prying eyes. Before moving with a tutorial about how to remove password from Word Document, it is really important to have a prior knowledge about encryption of word document.…

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The United States Is Angry That China Wants Crypto Backdoors, Too

Feb. 27 2015

When the US demands technology companies install backdoors for law enforcement, it’s okay. But when China demands the same, it’s a whole different story.

The Chinese government is about to pass a new counter terrorism law that would require tech companies operating in the country to turn over encryption keys and include specially crafted code in their software and hardware so that chinese authorities can defeat security measures at will.

Technologists and cryptographers have long warned that you can’t design a secure system that will enable law enforcement—and only law enforcement—to bypass the encryption. The nature of a backdoor door is that it is also a vulnerability, and if discovered, hackers or foreign governments might be able to exploit it, too.

Yet, over the past few months, several US government officials, including the FBI director James Comey, outgoing US Attorney General Eric Holder, and NSA Director Mike Rogers, have all suggested that companies such as Apple and Google should give law enforcement agencies special access to their users’ encrypted data—while somehow offering strong encryption for their users at the same time.

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