Tag - encryption

Overusing a new WhatsApp feature might be a risky business

WhatsApp has recently announced that it introduced a new feature called Live Location Sharing. Just to align with other apps who provide a similar feature, product manager of WhatsApp has attested that it had to be introduced in order to satisfy users’ needs. “Whether you are sharing a commute, or letting loved ones know you are safe, or meeting up with friends, these are experiences that are very common to us all.” Zafir Khan, Product Manager at WhatsApp.

Here is how WhatsApp Live Location sharing works:

  • Go to a conversation in WhatsApp (it can be an individual or group conversation).
  • Click the “attach” (paper clip) button from the message field and choose “Location”.
  • Apart from the static Location feature (the only Location option available so far) you’ll also see “Share Live Location”.

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Why U.S. Justice Department’s call on responsible encryption is not an option

U.S. Justice Department official Rod Rosenstein held a speech on Tuesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in which he criticized technology companies for helping out criminals and terrorists accomplish their plans through encryption software.

Directly pointing to Silicon Valley companies, he supported the idea of responsible encryption after mentioning several terrorism cases from the past. Tech companies refused to collaborate with the FBI despite the fact that the organization presented proper warrants that would have allowed them to access company databases.

Sure, this would have meant collecting only the data concerning terrorist suspects, but the reaction of companies is by far understandable. Once “inside” the system, law enforcement officers could easily break in and collect other important information as well, not related to terrorist suspects.

Responsible encryption or forced monitoring?

Many people (security specialists or not) fear that Rosenstein’s call for responsible encryption, while presenting strong arguments, is rather just another attempt to create a back door and legally monitor peoples’ lives online.

Saying that encryption methods are bad because they don’t help governments catch terrorists is just like saying that bulletproof vests should be banned simply because some criminals wear them when they are trying to escape the police. Yet, bulletproof vests have been a lifesaver for police officers, detectives and other law enforcement professionals.

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Remember you have human rights on the internet too

We are living in one of the most dangerous eras in human history: we see attackers killing innocent people for no reason yet what happens probably more often, but not so obvious for everyone to see, are cyber-attacks and other online misdemeanors.

Although there is no need to panic or to constantly feel threatened and drastically change your lifestyle due to all these concerning events, some things truly need to be changed. In terms of your online behavior, you need to re-think your communication strategies and the way you use and protect your information.

The need to overcome the next generation of cyber threats

Along with the evolution of technology, new methods of digital outbreaks and violations come into force. This doesn’t mean that classical online hacks such as phishing and identity theft will go away, but they will take it to the next level along with other new hacking methods that will occur.

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Online privacy in the time of Donald Trump

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America got everyone talking these days. What we would like to know, however, is what this decision entails on the online privacy front. Do we have any reasons to worry?

trump

What Snowden thinks

Edward Snowden says we shouldn’t “fear” and just carry on fighting on our own for online privacy, without expecting unwitting saviors.

Speaking from Moscow on November 10, in a live stream hosted by private browser developer StartPage, the world’s most notorious whistleblower brought into everyone’s attention our hopes concerning President Obama, for instance, who once was expected to bring an end to mass surveillance.

Then, Snowden emphasized that Trump is only one president of a much bigger world and that privacy is a global matter: “This is just one president. Politicians do what they think will gain them support… ultimately if we want to see a change we must force it through.”

He thus brought into attention recent legislative changes in Russia and China, where regulations allowing mass surveillance were passed this year.

One cannot however not worry about Snowden’s own safety in Trump’s regime. Although admitting to being crazy to dismiss a potential deal between Trump and Putin for extradition and trial, Snowden quite optimistically conceded: “If I was worried about safety, if the security and the future of myself was all that I cared about, I would still be in Hawaii.”

On this topic, back in 2014, Trump tweeted: “Snowden is a spy who has caused great damage in the US. A spy in the old days, when our country was respected and strong, would be executed”.

What Trump himself says

During his campaign, Trump vowed to “eliminate our most intrusive regulations” and “reform the entire regulatory code,” as quoted by the Washington Post. He singled out net neutrality as a “top down power grab,” predicting it would allow the government to censor websites.

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What is the FBI trying to achieve?

In the past few days, media reported about how parts of the US IT industry resist the espionage plans of the US government – triggered by Apple’s refusal to hack the phone of a suspect and prospectively install backdoors for secret services. What exactly is Apple required to do? And why is the company’s resistance so important? Also concerning VPNs …

For the first time in history, the government asks a company not just to assist in the investigation of an offense, request that no one would actually complain about; but publicly demanding Apple to develop a completely new software that makes the onsite security of its devices and features superfluous. This demand is affecting the security features that impact all Apple users and anyone who communicates with Apple’s users, and which are essential in the prevention of digital crimes. Bottom line, the company is forced to develop a master key that unlocks every single iOS device.

apple_vs_fbi

What would be the new changes? If FBI is successful, three major changes should be implemented by Apple:

  • Currently, iOS can be adjusted so that it clears the internal keys after 10 unsuccessful password entries. FBI wants the software without this feature.
  • After each unsuccessful password entry to unlock a device, iOS prolongs the time until another attempt can be made. The FBI wants the new software to accept an infinite number of entries without breaks.
  • iOS requires that passwords are entered manually. The FBI would like the possibility to enter passwords electronically, so one can run automatically a variety of options in a short period of time.
FBI's demand is affecting all Apple users and anyone who communicates with them. #PrivateLivesMatter Click to Tweet

If FBI’s requests will be approved, not only would Apple suffer of a bigger image loss than the one triggered by the Snowden revelations, but there would arise a fatal situation for citizens and businesses alike. By default, built-in back doors would not only be available for the US government, but potentially for others as well, especially for known enemies of the western countries like Iran, North Korea and Russia, but also the competing national economies, hackers and cybercriminals.

It’s rather naïve to believe that for the sake of all citizens, governments are the only ones trying to keep an eye on encrypted data. This rather reveals how much the thinking of law enforcement agencies has developed in only one direction: understanding total surveillance with themselves as luminaries of the planet, morally unassailable and almost uncontrollable anyway.

Another step towards 1984 2.0

And it would be only the first step, because once the protection of devices is gone, VPNs are just the next target on the hit list. If Apple’s refusal fails in court, the enforcement of backdoors for encrypted Internet access via virtual networks is only a matter of time. And besides: US companies operate globally. What arguments will be used for denying the Chinese government to do the same? And the Iranian? Who then has the last word when it comes to separate the evil from the good? And how exactly is the Russian mass surveillance different from the US one?

 

Use LinkNYC wireless public network from New York in a secured way

link-nyc-wireless-hotspots-5986.0

Credit: The Verge

New Yorkers have a new subject to talk about!

A network of Wi-Fi public hubs will replace over 7,500 pay phones across the entire New York with new street hubs called Links.

The first Links were launched, and there are many more to come, helping more than 8 million people to connect to the fastest and free metropolitan Wi-Fi.

Even more, according to PC magazine, the speed of these Wi-Fi’s is really super fast, gigabite internet, faster than Starbucks they say, so whatch out, Starbucks.

Cool facts about Link networks: Read More

Encryption – A Guide for Everyone

Did you know that even the great Caesar used a cipher to hide his military
correspondence between 100 – 44 B.C?  The key in this case was simply
to shift to the right by three.

Encryption is not a new concept but it keeps getting more and more complex and useful. We thought that a guide to encryption accessible to everyone would be more than welcomed, either to understand it better or to share it with people who would need it.

Just a short intro: encryption is the process through which information or data is transformed (encoded) in such a way that is unreadable to anyone who does not have the knowledge of the way it was transformed.
The information thus becomes available only to the authorized parties. This authorization works based on keys. Encoding the information is made by using an encryption key while decoding the information is made by using a decryption key.

Encryption

You can read the entire guide here.

Feel free to share it with people interested.

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