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Security

OPSEC For Activists, Because Encryption Is No Guarantee 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the protect-yourself-before-somebody-wrecks-yourself dept.
Nicola Hahn writes: "In the wake of the Snowden revelations strong encryption has been promoted by organizations like The Intercept and Freedom of the Press Foundation as a solution for safeguarding privacy against the encroachment of Big Brother. Even President Obama acknowledges that "there's no scenario in which we don't want really strong encryption."

Yet the public record shows that over the years the NSA has honed its ability to steal encryption keys. Recent reports about the compromise of Gemalto's network and sophisticated firmware manipulation programs by the Office of Tailored Access Operations underscore this reality.

The inconvenient truth is that the current cyber self-defense formulas being presented are conspicuously incomplete. Security tools can and will fail. And when they do, what then? It's called Operational Security (OPSEC), a topic that hasn't received much coverage — but it should.
Encryption

Gemalto: NSA and GCHQ Probably Hacked Us, But Didn't Get SIM Encryption Keys 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-the-encrypted-cookie-jar dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Last week The Intercept published a report saying agents from the NSA and GCHQ penetrated the internal computer network of Gemalto, the world's largest maker of SIM cards. Gemalto has done an internal investigation, and surprisingly decided to post its results publicly. The findings themselves are a bit surprising, too: Gemalto says it has "reasonable grounds to believe that an operation by NSA and GCHQ probably happened."

They say the two agencies were trying to intercept encryption keys that were being exchanged between mobile operators and the companies (like Gemalto) who supplied them with SIM cards. The company said it had noticed several security incidents in 2010 and 2011 that fit the descriptions in The Intercept's documents. Gemalto had no idea who was behind them until now. They add, "These intrusions only affected the outer parts of our networks – our office networks — which are in contact with the outside world. The SIM encryption keys and other customer data in general, are not stored on these networks." They claim proper use of encryption and isolation of different networks prevented attackers from getting the information they were after.
Encryption

Moxie Marlinspike: GPG Has Run Its Course 293

Posted by Soulskill
from the end-to-end-before-the-ends-moved dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Security researcher Moxie Marlinspike has an interesting post about the state of GPG-encrypted communications. After using GPG for much of its lifetime, he says he now dreads getting a GPG-encrypted email in his inbox. "Instead of developing opinionated software with a simple interface, GPG was written to be as powerful and flexible as possible. It's up to the user whether the underlying cipher is SERPENT or IDEA or TwoFish. The GnuPG man page is over sixteen thousand words long; for comparison, the novel Fahrenheit 451 is only 40k words. Worse, it turns out that nobody else found all this stuff to be fascinating. Even though GPG has been around for almost 20 years, there are only ~50,000 keys in the "strong set," and less than 4 million keys have ever been published to the SKS keyserver pool ever. By today's standards, that's a shockingly small user base for a month of activity, much less 20 years." Marlinspike concludes, "I think of GPG as a glorious experiment that has run its course. ... GPG isn't the thing that's going to take us to ubiquitous end to end encryption, and if it were, it'd be kind of a shame to finally get there with 1990's cryptography."
Encryption

NSA Director Wants Legal Right To Snoop On Encrypted Data 400

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
jfruh writes: This may not come as a huge shock, but the director of the NSA doesn't believe that you have the right to encrypt your data in a way that the government can't access it. At a cybersecurity policy event, Michael Rogers said that the U.S. should be able to craft a policy that allows the NSA and law enforcement agencies to read encrypted data when they need to.
Encryption

NSA, GHCQ Implicated In SIM Encryption Hack 155

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
First time accepted submitter BlacKSacrificE writes Australian carriers are bracing for a mass recall after it was revealed that a Dutch SIM card manufacturer Gemalto was penetrated by the GCHQ and the NSA in an alleged theft of encryption keys, allowing unfettered access to voice and text communications. The incident is suspected to have happened in 2010 and 2011 and seems to be a result of social engineering against employees, and was revealed by yet another Snowden document. Telstra, Vodafone and Optus have all stated they are waiting for further information from Gemalto before deciding a course of action. Gemalto said in a press release that they "cannot at this early stage verify the findings of the publication" and are continuing internal investigations, but considering Gemalto provides around 2 billion SIM cards to some 450 carriers across the globe (all of which use the same GSM encryption standard) the impact and fallout for Gemalto, and the affected carriers, could be huge.
Security

Ars: SSL-Busting Code That Threatened Lenovo Users Found In a Dozen More Apps 113

Posted by timothy
from the keeps-on-giving dept.
Ars Technica reports on the continuing revelations about the same junkware that Lenovo has shipped on their computers, but which is known now to be present in at least 14 pieces of software. The list of software known to use the same HTTPS-breaking technology recently found preinstalled on Lenovo laptops has risen dramatically with the discovery of at least 12 new titles, including one that's categorized as a malicious trojan by a major antivirus provider. ... What all these applications have in common is that they make people less secure through their use of an easily obtained root CA [certificate authority], they provide little information about the risks of the technology, and in some cases they are difficult to remove," Matt Richard, a threats researcher on the Facebook security team, wrote in Friday's post. "Furthermore, it is likely that these intercepting SSL proxies won't keep up with the HTTPS features in browsers (e.g., certificate pinning and forward secrecy), meaning they could potentially expose private data to network attackers. Some of these deficiencies can be detected by antivirus products as malware or adware, though from our research, detection successes are sporadic."
Censorship

Iran Allows VPNs To Make Millions In Profit 57

Posted by timothy
from the have-cake-and-eat-it-too dept.
New submitter Patrick O'Neill writes with this excerpt from The Daily Dot: Anti-censorship technology is de jure illegal in Iran, but many VPNs are sold openly, allowing Iranians to bounce around censorship and seemingly render it ineffective. Nearly 7 in 10 young Iranians are using VPNs, according to the country's government, and a Google search for "buy VPN" in Persian returns 2 million results. Iran's Cyber Police (FATA) have waged a high-volume open war against the VPNs, but it's still very easy to find, buy, and use the software. It's so easy, in fact, that you can use Iran's government-sanctioned payment gateways (Pardakht Net, Sharj Iran, Jahan Pay & Baz Pardakht) to buy the tools that'll beat the censors. To use these gateways, however, customers have to submit their Iranian bank account and identity, all but foregoing hopes of privacy or protection from authorities."
Encryption

TrueCrypt Audit Back On Track After Silence and Uncertainty 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the cryptic-silence dept.
itwbennett writes: In October 2013 Cryptography professor Matthew Green and security researcher Kenneth White launched a project to perform a professional security audit of TrueCrypt, partly prompted by the leaks from Edward Snowden that suggested the NSA was engaged in efforts to undermine encryption. Their report, published in April 2014, covered the first phase of the audit. Phase two was supposed to involve a formal review of the program's encryption functions, with the goal of uncovering any potential errors in the cryptographic implementations—but then the unexpected happened. In May 2014, the developers of TrueCrypt, who had remained anonymous over the years for privacy reasons, abruptly announced that they were discontinuing the project and advised users to switch to alternatives. Now, almost a year later, the project is back on track.
Cellphones

How NSA Spies Stole the Keys To the Encryption Castle 192

Posted by timothy
from the thanks-fellas-really-you've-done-enough dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes with this excerpt from The Intercept's explanation of just how it is the NSA weaseled its way into one important part of our communications: 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.
Encryption

Darkleaks: an Online Black Market For Selling Secrets 44

Posted by timothy
from the hey-bub-psssst dept.
An anonymous reader writes Whistleblowers and those individuals that are simply out to make a buck out of any confidential and valuable information, can now offer it for sale on Darkleaks, a decentralized, anonymous black market on the Internet. The Darkleaks project is built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, and can be used by downloading this software package (source code is open).
Bug

Duplicate SSH Keys Put Tens of Thousands of Home Routers At Risk 114

Posted by timothy
from the vewy-vewy-quiet dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes A setup mistake has apparently left hundreds of thousands of home routers running the SSH (Secure Shell) remote access tool with identical private and public keys. John Matherly, founder of a specialized search engine company whose technology is used for querying Internet-connected devices, found more than 250,000 devices that appear to be deployed by Telefónica de España sharing the same public SSH key. A different search found another 150,000 devices, mostly in China and Taiwan, that have the same problem. Matherly said in a phone interview on Wednesday it is possible the manufacturers copied the same operating system image to all of the routers.
Encryption

Samsung Smart TVs Don't Encrypt the Voice Data They Collect 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the even-worse dept.
itwbennett writes A week ago, the revelation that Samsung collects words spoken by consumers when they use the voice recognition feature in their smart TVs enraged privacy advocates, since according to Samsung's own privacy policy those words can in some cases include personal or sensitive information. Following the incident, David Lodge, a researcher with a U.K.-based security firm called Pen Test Partners, intercepted and analyzed the Internet traffic generated by a Samsung smart TV and found that Samsung does send captured voice data to a remote server using a connection on port 443, a port typically associated with encrypted HTTPS, but that the data was not encrypted. "It's not even HTTP data, it's a mix of XML and some custom binary data packet," said Lodge in a blog post.
Encryption

Obama Says He's 'A Strong Believer In Strong Encryption' 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the except-when-it-helps-the-terrists dept.
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Re/code recently on a variety of topics relating to technology. The talk included the president's thoughts on encryption, which has been a controversial subject in tech circles lately after government officials (including Obama himself) have publicly complained about default encryption in modern communication tools. In the interview, he says he's a "strong believer in strong encryption," adding, "I lean probably further on side of strong encryption than some in law enforcement." Obama puts it another way, more bluntly: "There's no scenario in which we don't want really strong encryption." However, the president says the public itself is driving concern for leaving law enforcement a way in: "The first time that an attack takes place in which it turns out that we had a lead and we couldn't follow up on it, the public's going to demand answers."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Portion of Developers Are Bad At What They Do? 809

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-small-shell-scripts dept.
ramoneThePoolGuy writes: We are looking to fill a senior developer/architect position in our firm. I am disappointed with the applicants thus far, and quite frankly it has me worried about the quality of developers/engineers available to us. For instance, today I asked an engineer with 20+ years of experience to describe to me the basic process of public/private key encryption. This engineer had no clue. I asked another applicant a similar question: "Suppose you wanted to send me a file with very sensitive information, how would you encrypt it in such a way that I would decrypt it?" The person started off by asking me if it was an excel file, a PDF, etc. In general, I'm finding that an overwhelming number of developers I've interviewed have poor understanding of key concepts, especially when it comes to securing data. Are other firms experiencing this same dilemma in finding qualified applicants? (Quite frankly it scares me that some of these developers are building sites that need to be secure)"
Encryption

New Encryption Method Fights Reverse Engineering 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the with-many-obfuscations,-all-bugs-are-deep dept.
New submitter Dharkfiber sends an article about the Hardened Anti-Reverse Engineering System (HARES), which is an encryption tool for software that doesn't allow the code to be decrypted until the last possible moment before it's executed. The purpose is to make applications as opaque as possible to malicious hackers trying to find vulnerabilities to exploit. It's likely to find work as an anti-piracy tool as well. To keep reverse engineering tools in the dark, HARES uses a hardware trick that’s possible with Intel and AMD chips called a Translation Lookaside Buffer (or TLB) Split. That TLB Split segregates the portion of a computer’s memory where a program stores its data from the portion where it stores its own code’s instructions. HARES keeps everything in that “instructions” portion of memory encrypted such that it can only be decrypted with a key that resides in the computer’s processor. (That means even sophisticated tricks like a “cold boot attack,” which literally freezes the data in a computer’s RAM, can’t pull the key out of memory.) When a common reverse engineering tool like IDA Pro reads the computer’s memory to find the program’s instructions, that TLB split redirects the reverse engineering tool to the section of memory that’s filled with encrypted, unreadable commands.
Encryption

Netatmo Weather Station Sends WPA Passwords In the Clear 37

Posted by samzenpus
from the out-in-the-open dept.
UnderAttack writes The SANS Internet Storm Center is writing that Netatmo weather stations will send the users WPA password in the clear back to Netatmo. Netatmo states that this is some forgotten debug code that was left in the device. Overall, the device doesn't bother with encryption, but sends all data, not just the password, in the clear. From the article: "After reporting the bug to Netatmo, the company responded, acknowledging that it does indeed dump all that data from the weather station’s memory unencrypted and that it would stop doing that the coming weeks."
Censorship

Russia Seeking To Ban Tor, VPNs and Other Anonymizing Tools 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-secrets dept.
An anonymous reader writes Three separate Russian authorities have spoken out in favor of banning online anonymizing tools since February 5th, with particular emphasis on Tor, which — despite its popularity with whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden and with online activists — Russia's Safe Internet League describes as an 'Anonymous network used primarily to commit crimes'. The three authorities involved are the Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications, powerful Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor and the Safe Internet League, comprising the country's top three network providers, including state telecoms provider Rostelecom. Roskomnadzor's press secretary Vadim Roskomnadzora Ampelonsky describes the obstacles to identifying and blocking Tor and VPN traffic as "difficult, but solvable."
Chrome

Google Chrome Will Adopt HTTP/2 In the Coming Weeks, Drop SPDY Support 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Google today announced it will add HTTP/2, the second major version of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), to Google Chrome. The company plans to gradually roll out support to the latest version of its browser, Chrome 40, "in the upcoming weeks." At the same time, Google says it will remove support for SPDY in early 2016. SPDY, which is not an acronym but just a short version for the word "speedy," is a protocol developed primarily at Google to improve browsing by forcing SSL encryption for all sites and speeding up page loads. Chrome will also lose support for the TLS extension NPN in favor of ALPN.
Bitcoin

The Technologies That Betrayed Silk Road's Anonymity 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the little-mistakes dept.
itwbennett writes Silk Road was based on an expectation of anonymity: Servers operated within an anonymous Tor network. Transactions between buyers and sellers were conducted in bitcoin. Everything was supposedly untraceable. Yet prosecutors presented a wealth of digital evidence to convince the jury that Ross Ulbricht was Dread Pirate Roberts, the handle used by the chief operator of the site. From Bitcoin to server logins and, yes, Facebook, here's a look at 5 technologies that tripped Ulbricht up.
Cloud

Ask Slashdot: With Whom Do You Entrust Your Long Term Data? 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-cloud-we-trust dept.
jppiiroinen writes: F-Secure, a company based in Finland, has sold its cloud storage business to a U.S. company (Synchronoss Technologies, Inc) speculated to have ties to the NSA. In previous, public announcements, they used arguments equivalent to, "trust us, your data will be safe." Now, it's likely F-Secure simply realized that competing against the big players, such as Google and Dropbox, didn't make much sense.

But it makes me wonder: Whom do you trust with your data? And who really owns it? What about in 3-6 years from now? How should I make sure that I retain access to today's data 20 years from now? Is storing things locally even a reasonable option for most people? I have a lot of floppies and old IDE disks from the 90s around here, but no means to access them, and some of the CDs and DVDs has gone bad as well.