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Fourth Amendment Should Cover Your Digital Life

From Fox News:

In an era of constant political gamesmanship and gridlock, getting things done in Congress is never easy. That was never clearer than the last Congress’ failure to pass long overdue reforms to an antiquated that today threatens the very thing it was intended to protect – the privacy of Americans’ digital communications and records.

A bipartisan group of more than 270 members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored legislation with the same underlying objective — to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). And yet, these bills were left to die without a vote.

 

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Your Apps Are Following You

From The Wall Street Journal:

Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University concluded that a dozen or so popular Android apps collected device location – GPS coordinates accurate to within 50 meters – an average 6,200 times, or roughly every three minutes, per participant over a two-week study period.

The researchers recruited 23 users of Android version 4.3 from Craigslist and the Carnegie Mellon student body. Participants were allowed to use their own choice of apps after installing software that noted app requests for a variety of personal information; not only location but also contacts, call logs, calendar entries, and camera output. They weren’t told the purpose of the study and were screened to weed out people who had a technical background or strong views about privacy.

 

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Google Backtracks on Default Encryption for Devices

From ArsTechnica:

In short, devices are required to support encryption, but it’s still up to OEMs to actually enable it; this is exactly what Google was doing in KitKat and older versions (PDF, see section 9.9). Full-disk encryption is expected to become a requirement in some future Android version, but it remains optional in Lollipop despite Google’s earlier statements.

 

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How To Prevent The Government From Spying On Your Cellphone

From Democracy Now:

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Silent Circle Raises $50 Million

From ArsTechnica:

Terms of the buyout deal with Spanish smartphone maker Geeksphone, the phone’s hardware manufacturer, were not disclosed. Silent Circle said Thursday that it has raised $50 million and plans on showing off an encrypted “enterprise privacy ecosystem” at World Mobile Congress next week. A BlackPhone tablet is on the way, too.

“Silent Circle has brought tremendous disruption to the mobile industry and created an integrated suite of secure enterprise communication products that are challenging the status quo,” Mike Janke, cofounder and chairman of the Silent Circle board, said in a statement. “This first stage of growth has enabled us to raise approximately $50M to accelerate our continued rapid expansion and fuel our second stage of growth.”

 Silent Circle’s Enterprise Platform

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New Sofware From Apple and Google Better At Protecting Your Information From Government

From Reason.com:

Observant tech journalists have noticed something big in their latest privacy notes. Apple has changed its encryption so that the company itself cannot access the data on its users’ phones and iPads without the passcode. Thus, if police or the feds come to Apple with warrants to grab potentially useful private data off a device, they couldn’t comply even if they wanted to.

From ArsTechnica:

The Washington Post is reporting that Google will finally step up security efforts on Android and enable device encryption by default. The Post has quoted company spokeswoman Niki Christoff as saying “As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on.”

The move should bring Android up to parity with iOS. Apple recently announced enhanced encryption for iOS 8, which Apple says makes it impossible for the company to decrypt a device, even for law enforcement. While Android’s encryption was optional, it seems to work in a similar way, with Christoff saying “For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement.”

 

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Primer for Protesters and “Anti-Government Extremists”

From EFF:

Cell Phone Guide For US Protesters, Updated 2014 Edition

With major protests in the news again, we decided it’s time to update our cell phone guide for protestors. A lot has changed since we last published this report in 2011, for better and for worse. On the one hand, we’ve learned more about the massive volume of law enforcement requests for cell phone—ranging from location information to actual content—and widespread use of dedicated cell phone surveillance technologies. On the other hand, strong Supreme Court opinions have eliminated any ambiguity about the unconstitutionality of warrantless searches of phones incident to arrest, and a growing national consensus says location data, too, is private.

Protesters want to be able to communicate, to document the protests, and to share photos and video with the world. So they’ll be carrying phones, and they’ll face a complex set of considerations about the privacy of the data those phones hold. We hope this guide can help answer some questions about how to best protect that data, and what rights protesters have in the face of police demands. Read the rest of this entry »

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Possible Backdoor in iPhone OS

From The Daily Mail:

A security expert has warned Apple’s iOS software contains potentially sinister tools that could be used by governments to spy on iPhone and iPad users.

Speaking at the ‘Hackers on planet Earth’ conference in New York, Jonathan Zdziarski said that most users are unaware of the lack of protection for iPhone data.

He added files found hidden within the firm’s software contain a file-relay service that can be used to access the user’s address book, photos, voicemail and any accounts configured on the device.

However, Apple has denied the claims the backdoor was created deliberately for government or surveillance purposes.

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A Prize Is Needed For Easy Encryption

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

In an era when email and messaging services are being regularly subject to attacks, surveillance, and compelled disclosure of user data, we know that many people around the world need secure end-to-end encrypted communications tools so that service providers and governments cannot read their messages. Unfortunately, the software that has traditionally been used for these purposes, such as PGP and OTR, suffers from numerous usability problems that make it impractical for many of the journalists, activists and others around the world whose lives and liberty depend on their ability to communicate confidentially. Read the rest of this entry »

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EFF Calls On Companies To Enhance Security

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

How to Protect Your Users from NSA Backdoors: An Open Letter to Technology Companies

As security researchers, technologists, and digital rights advocates, we are deeply concerned about collaboration between government agencies and technology companies in undermining users’ security. Among other examples, we are alarmed by recent allegations that RSA, Inc. accepted $10 million from NSA to keep a compromised algorithm in the default setting of a security product long after its faults were revealed. We believe that covert collusion with spy agencies poses a grave threat to users and must be mitigated with commitment to the following best practices to protect users from illegal surveillance: Read the rest of this entry »

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You Can Have Privacy on the Net

Two members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation talk about how it is possible over at Slate:

Despite all of the awareness-raising around surveillance that has taken place over the last year, many individuals feel disempowered, helpless to fight back. Efforts such as the February 11 initiative the Day We Fight Back aim to empower individuals to lobby their representatives for better regulation of mass surveillance. But legislation and policy are only part of the solution. In order to successfully protect our privacy, we must take an approach that looks at the whole picture: our behavior, the potential risks we face in disclosing data, and the person or entity posing those risks, whether a government or company. And in order to successfully fight off the feeling of futility, we must understand the threats we face.

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Britain “Inadvertently” Censors the Web

From: Ars Technica

Your government has inadvertently censored the Web, but it’s working on a “fix”

Two days after Internet porn-blocking campaigner MP Claire Perry announced ISP filters were not overblocking content, the government has announced it is.

In fact it’s such a problem the government is creating a whitelist of sites that should be protected, as well as a system anyone can use to directly report the inadvertent blocking of their site to ISPs or check if their site is affected.

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Google Removes Privacy Feature From Android, Claims Release Was Accidental

From: EFF

Google told us that the feature had only ever been released by accident — that it was experimental, and that it could break some of the apps policed by it. We are suspicious of this explanation, and do not think that it in any way justifies removing the feature rather than improving it.

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Android App Warns When You’re Being Watched

From: MIT

Researchers find a way to give Android users prominent warnings when apps are tracking their location.

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CRYPTO Author Speaks with the NSA

CRYPTO author Steven Levy met with Gen. Keith Alexander, the Director of the NSA, and others to discuss the Snowden leaks .

From: Threat Level

The NSA is clearly, madly, deeply furious at the man whose actions triggered the biggest crisis in its history. Even while contending they welcome the debate that now engages the nation, they say that they hate the way it was triggered. The NSA has an admittedly insular culture — the officials described it as almost like a family. Morale suffers when friends and neighbors think that NSA employees are sitting around reading grandma’s email. Also, the agency believes that the Snowden leaks have seriously hurt national security

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