Posts Tagged communications

Politicians Start Using Encrypted Messaging

From The Wall Street Journal:

Signal, a smartphone app that allows users to send encrypted messages, is gaining popularity in the political world amid rising fears about hacking and surveillance in the wake of a tumultuous election year.

Some say the legion of political types has a singular goal to avoid a repeat of the WikiLeaks scandal, in which the emails of Mrs. Clinton and her closest allies were dumped onto the internet.

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Signal App Subpoenaed For User Data

From Open Whisper Systems:

In the “first half of 2016” (the most specific we’re permitted to be), we received a subpoena from the Eastern District of Virginia. The subpoena required us to provide information about two Signal users for a federal grand jury investigation.

This is the first subpoena that we’ve received. It originally included a broad gag order that would have prevented us from publishing this notice, but the ACLU represented us in quickly and successfully securing our ability to publish the transcripts below. We’re committed to treating any future requests the same way: working with effective and talented organizations like the ACLU, andpublishing transcripts of our responses to government requests here.

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Communicating In The Shadows

From DialtoneBlog:

Where do your antennas belong? Outside of course! But what if the time comes when your visible antennas make you a target? If that day comes you will have to go covert. With all of the HOA restrictions removing your rights, some of you may already be doing this.

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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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Intelligence Authorization Act of 2015

EFF’s Statement on the Act:

On Wednesday of last week, the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2015 passed in the US House of Representatives. The bill, H.R. 4681, contains Section 309, which imposes guidelines for when the intelligence community can keep some communications collected under Executive Order 12333 (EO 12333). President Reagan wrote the policy document in the 1980s to provide the framework for intelligence agency conduct. Today, it is used to justify mass surveillance of communications.

Congress showed that it is willing to tackle the mass spying conducted under EO 12333 by inserting Section 309 into the bill. It’s one of the first times Congress has publicly stood up to spying covered by the Executive Order. It’s a good sign, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. The bill must usher in more vigilant—and public—Congressional oversight of EO 12333 and other NSA spying activities.

Unfortunately, the procedures in Section 309 reflect the current status quo: the over-collection, over-retention, and over-sharing of innocent users’ communications. The procedures in Section 309 try to protect the communications of non-targets, but include massive loopholes. These loopholes do not grant any new authority, but they do allow the President to continue the egregious retention and sharing of innocent users’ communication, which is a practice that must be stopped.

While the language in Section 309 was taken from the Senate Intelligence Authorization bill(.pdf), the House did not take time to debate it. We’ve learned over the past year that, at a minimum, both Congress and the public need time to read these intelligence bills and understand their implications. Yet again, this didn’t happen. And yet again, the American public is left without a voice on the surveillance laws used to collect their communications.

GovTrack page

Congress.gov page

Wikipedia page

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USA Freedom Act

The EFF gives a rundown of the bill and why it is important:

The USA Freedom Act is a bill that was first proposedlast year by Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner. The original version of the bill limited the NSA’s call records collection program, introduced aspecial advocate into the secretive court overseeing the spying, mandated much needed transparency requirements, and included significant reform of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FISAA), the law used to collect Americans’ communications in bulk.

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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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FLIR For Your iPhone

From TechCrunch:

If you ever wanted to experience how the Predator sees the world, now’s your chance, and all you’ll need is an iPhone and the FLIR ONE case. The FLIR ONE case packs a full thermal imaging camera that sees variances in temperature on the infrared spectrum, and works with either the iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s, along with the FLIR ONE companion app. It can show you a live view of the world broken down by relative heat, and it’s coming to Apple Stores and Apple’s online retail portal in August, with pre-orders at FLIR ONE’s website kicking off tomorrow.

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What The Snowden Leaks Have Revealed

From the EFF:

It’s been one year since the Guardian first published the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order, leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, that demonstrated that the NSA was conducting dragnet surveillance on millions of innocent people. Since then, the onslaught of disturbing revelations, from disclosures, admissions from government officials, Freedom of Information Act requests, and lawsuits, has been nonstop. On the anniversary of that first leak, here are 65 things we know about NSA spying that we did not know a year ago:

1. We saw an example of the court orders that authorize the NSA to collect virtually every phone call record in the United States—that’s who you call, who calls you, when, for how long, and sometimes where.

2. We saw NSA Powerpoint slides documenting how the NSA conducts “upstream” collection, gathering intelligence information directly from the infrastructure of telecommunications providers.

Full Article

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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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Keeping the NSA in Perspective

Keeping the NSA in Perspective is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Editor’s Note: The following Geopolitical Weekly originally ran in July 2013. We repost it today in light of the April 21 awarding of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service to The Washington Post and The Guardian US for their reporting on the National Security Agency’s large-scale surveillance programs.

By George Friedman

In June 1942, the bulk of the Japanese fleet sailed to seize the Island of Midway. Had Midway fallen, Pearl Harbor would have been at risk and U.S. submarines, unable to refuel at Midway, would have been much less effective. Most of all, the Japanese wanted to surprise the Americans and draw them into a naval battle they couldn’t win.

The Japanese fleet was vast. The Americans had two carriers intact in addition to one that was badly damaged. The United States had only one advantage: It had broken Japan’s naval code and thus knew a great deal of the country’s battle plan. In large part because of this cryptologic advantage, a handful of American ships devastated the Japanese fleet and changed the balance of power in the Pacific permanently. 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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RSA Paid $10 Million By NSA To Keep Backdoor In Crypto

From Ars Technica:

Security company RSA was paid $10 million to use the flawed Dual_EC_DRBG pseudorandom number generating algorithm as the default algorithm in its BSafe crypto library, according to sources speaking to Reuters.

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