Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/10/was_the_triton_.html
I don’t know. FireEye likes to attribute all sorts of things to Russia, but the evidence here look pretty good.
Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/10/was_the_triton_.html
I don’t know. FireEye likes to attribute all sorts of things to Russia, but the evidence here look pretty good.
Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/10/cell_phone_secu_1.html
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that the Russians and the Chinese were eavesdropping on President Donald Trump’s personal cell phone and using the information gleaned to better influence his behavior. This should surprise no one. Security experts have been talking about the potential security vulnerabilities in Trump’s cell phone use since he became president. And President Barack Obama bristled at — but acquiesced to — the security rules prohibiting him from using a “regular” cell phone throughout his presidency.
Three broader questions obviously emerge from the story. Who else is listening in on Trump’s cell phone calls? What about the cell phones of other world leaders and senior government officials? And — most personal of all — what about my cell phone calls?
There are two basic places to eavesdrop on pretty much any communications system: at the end points and during transmission. This means that a cell phone attacker can either compromise one of the two phones or eavesdrop on the cellular network. Both approaches have their benefits and drawbacks. The NSA seems to prefer bulk eavesdropping on the planet’s major communications links and then picking out individuals of interest. In 2016, WikiLeaks published a series of classified documents listing “target selectors”: phone numbers the NSA searches for and records. These included senior government officials of Germany — among them Chancellor Angela Merkel — France, Japan, and other countries.
Other countries don’t have the same worldwide reach that the NSA has, and must use other methods to intercept cell phone calls. We don’t know details of which countries do what, but we know a lot about the vulnerabilities. Insecurities in the phone network itself are so easily exploited that 60 Minutes eavesdropped on a US congressman’s phone live on camera in 2016. Back in 2005, unknown attackers targeted the cell phones of many Greek politicians by hacking the country’s phone network and turning on an already-installed eavesdropping capability. The NSA even implanted eavesdropping capabilities in networking equipment destined for the Syrian Telephone Company.
Alternatively, an attacker could intercept the radio signals between a cell phone and a tower. Encryption ranges from very weak to possibly strong, depending on which flavor the system uses. Don’t think the attacker has to put his eavesdropping antenna on the White House lawn; the Russian Embassy is close enough.
The other way to eavesdrop on a cell phone is by hacking the phone itself. This is the technique favored by countries with less sophisticated intelligence capabilities. In 2017, the public-interest forensics group Citizen Lab uncovered an extensive eavesdropping campaign against Mexican lawyers, journalists, and opposition politicians — presumably run by the government. Just last month, the same group found eavesdropping capabilities in products from the Israeli cyberweapons manufacturer NSO Group operating in Algeria, Bangladesh, Greece, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, South Africa — 45 countries in all.
These attacks generally involve downloading malware onto a smartphone that then records calls, text messages, and other user activities, and forwards them to some central controller. Here, it matters which phone is being targeted. iPhones are harder to hack, which is reflected in the prices companies pay for new exploit capabilities. In 2016, the vulnerability broker Zerodium offered $1.5 million for an unknown iOS exploit and only $200 for a similar Android exploit. Earlier this year, a new Dubai start-up announced even higher prices. These vulnerabilities are resold to governments and cyberweapons manufacturers.
Some of the price difference is due to the ways the two operating systems are designed and used. Apple has much more control over the software on an iPhone than Google does on an Android phone. Also, Android phones are generally designed, built, and sold by third parties, which means they are much less likely to get timely security updates. This is changing. Google now has its own phone — Pixel — that gets security updates quickly and regularly, and Google is now trying to pressure Android-phone manufacturers to update their phones more regularly. (President Trump reportedly uses an iPhone.)
Another way to hack a cell phone is to install a backdoor during the design process. This is a real fear; earlier this year, US intelligence officials warned that phones made by the Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei might be compromised by that government, and the Pentagon ordered stores on military bases to stop selling them. This is why China’s recommendation that if Trump wanted security, he should use a Huawei phone, was an amusing bit of trolling.
Given the wealth of insecurities and the array of eavesdropping techniques, it’s safe to say that lots of countries are spying on the phones of both foreign officials and their own citizens. Many of these techniques are within the capabilities of criminal groups, terrorist organizations, and hackers. If I were guessing, I’d say that the major international powers like China and Russia are using the more passive interception techniques to spy on Trump, and that the smaller countries are too scared of getting caught to try to plant malware on his phone.
It’s safe to say that President Trump is not the only one being targeted; so are members of Congress, judges, and other senior officials — especially because no one is trying to tell any of them to stop using their cell phones (although cell phones still are not allowed on either the House or the Senate floor).
As for the rest of us, it depends on how interesting we are. It’s easy to imagine a criminal group eavesdropping on a CEO’s phone to gain an advantage in the stock market, or a country doing the same thing for an advantage in a trade negotiation. We’ve seen governments use these tools against dissidents, reporters, and other political enemies. The Chinese and Russian governments are already targeting the US power grid; it makes sense for them to target the phones of those in charge of that grid.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to improve the security of your cell phone. Unlike computer networks, for which you can buy antivirus software, network firewalls, and the like, your phone is largely controlled by others. You’re at the mercy of the company that makes your phone, the company that provides your cellular service, and the communications protocols developed when none of this was a problem. If one of those companies doesn’t want to bother with security, you’re vulnerable.
This is why the current debate about phone privacy, with the FBI on one side wanting the ability to eavesdrop on communications and unlock devices, and users on the other side wanting secure devices, is so important. Yes, there are security benefits to the FBI being able to use this information to help solve crimes, but there are far greater benefits to the phones and networks being so secure that all the potential eavesdroppers — including the FBI — can’t access them. We can give law enforcement other forensics tools, but we must keep foreign governments, criminal groups, terrorists, and everyone else out of everyone’s phones. The president may be taking heat for his love of his insecure phone, but each of us is using just as insecure a phone. And for a surprising number of us, making those phones more private is a matter of national security.
This essay previously appeared in the Atlantic.
Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/08/notpetya.html
Andy Greenberg wrote a fascinating account of the Russian NotPetya worm, with an emphasis on its effects on the company Maersk.
Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/06/russian_censors.html
Internet censors have a new strategy in their bid to block applications and websites: pressuring the large cloud providers that host them. These providers have concerns that are much broader than the targets of censorship efforts, so they have the choice of either standing up to the censors or capitulating in order to maximize their business. Today’s Internet largely reflects the dominance of a handful of companies behind the cloud services, search engines and mobile platforms that underpin the technology landscape. This new centralization radically tips the balance between those who want to censor parts of the Internet and those trying to evade censorship. When the profitable answer is for a software giant to acquiesce to censors’ demands, how long can Internet freedom last?
The recent battle between the Russian government and the Telegram messaging app illustrates one way this might play out. Russia has been trying to block Telegram since April, when a Moscow court banned it after the company refused to give Russian authorities access to user messages. Telegram, which is widely used in Russia, works on both iPhone and Android, and there are Windows and Mac desktop versions available. The app offers optional end-to-end encryption, meaning that all messages are encrypted on the sender’s phone and decrypted on the receiver’s phone; no part of the network can eavesdrop on the messages.
Since then, Telegram has been playing cat-and-mouse with the Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor by varying the IP address the app uses to communicate. Because Telegram isn’t a fixed website, it doesn’t need a fixed IP address. Telegram bought tens of thousands of IP addresses and has been quickly rotating through them, staying a step ahead of censors. Cleverly, this tactic is invisible to users. The app never sees the change, or the entire list of IP addresses, and the censor has no clear way to block them all.
A week after the court ban, Roskomnadzor countered with an unprecedented move of its own: blocking 19 million IP addresses, many on Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. The collateral damage was widespread: The action inadvertently broke many other web services that use those platforms, and Roskomnadzor scaled back after it became clear that its action had affected services critical for Russian business. Even so, the censor is still blocking millions of IP addresses.
More recently, Russia has been pressuring Apple not to offer the Telegram app in its iPhone App Store. As of this writing, Apple has not complied, and the company has allowed Telegram to download a critical software update to iPhone users (after what the app’s founder called a delay last month). Roskomnadzor could further pressure Apple, though, including by threatening to turn off its entire iPhone app business in Russia.
Telegram might seem a weird app for Russia to focus on. Those of us who work in security don’t recommend the program, primarily because of the nature of its cryptographic protocols. In general, proprietary cryptography has numerous fatal security flaws. We generally recommend Signal for secure SMS messaging, or, if having that program on your computer is somehow incriminating, WhatsApp. (More than 1.5 billion people worldwide use WhatsApp.) What Telegram has going for it is that it works really well on lousy networks. That’s why it is so popular in places like Iran and Afghanistan. (Iran is also trying to ban the app.)
What the Russian government doesn’t like about Telegram is its anonymous broadcast feature — channel capability and chats — which makes it an effective platform for political debate and citizen journalism. The Russians might not like that Telegram is encrypted, but odds are good that they can simply break the encryption. Telegram’s role in facilitating uncontrolled journalism is the real issue.
Iran attempts to block Telegram have been more successful than Russia’s, less because Iran’s censorship technology is more sophisticated but because Telegram is not willing to go as far to defend Iranian users. The reasons are not rooted in business decisions. Simply put, Telegram is a Russian product and the designers are more motivated to poke Russia in the eye. Pavel Durov, Telegram’s founder, has pledged millions of dollars to help fight Russian censorship.
For the moment, Russia has lost. But this battle is far from over. Russia could easily come back with more targeted pressure on Google, Amazon and Apple. A year earlier, Zello used the same trick Telegram is using to evade Russian censors. Then, Roskomnadzor threatened to block all of Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud; and in that instance, both companies forced Zello to stop its IP-hopping censorship-evasion tactic.
Russia could also further develop its censorship infrastructure. If its capabilities were as finely honed as China’s, it would be able to more effectively block Telegram from operating. Right now, Russia can block only specific IP addresses, which is too coarse a tool for this issue. Telegram’s voice capabilities in Russia are significantly degraded, however, probably because high-capacity IP addresses are easier to block.
Whatever its current frustrations, Russia might well win in the long term. By demonstrating its willingness to suffer the temporary collateral damage of blocking major cloud providers, it prompted cloud providers to block another and more effective anti-censorship tactic, or at least accelerated the process. In April, Google and Amazon banned — and technically blocked — the practice of “domain fronting,” a trick anti-censorship tools use to get around Internet censors by pretending to be other kinds of traffic. Developers would use popular websites as a proxy, routing traffic to their own servers through another website — in this case Google.com — to fool censors into believing the traffic was intended for Google.com. The anonymous web-browsing tool Tor has used domain fronting since 2014. Signal, since 2016. Eliminating the capability is a boon to censors worldwide.
Tech giants have gotten embroiled in censorship battles for years. Sometimes they fight and sometimes they fold, but until now there have always been options. What this particular fight highlights is that Internet freedom is increasingly in the hands of the world’s largest Internet companies. And while freedom may have its advocates — the American Civil Liberties Union has tweeted its support for those companies, and some 12,000 people in Moscow protested against the Telegram ban — actions such as disallowing domain fronting illustrate that getting the big tech companies to sacrifice their near-term commercial interests will be an uphill battle. Apple has already removed anti-censorship apps from its Chinese app store.
In 1993, John Gilmore famously said that “The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” That was technically true when he said it but only because the routing structure of the Internet was so distributed. As centralization increases, the Internet loses that robustness, and censorship by governments and companies becomes easier.
This essay previously appeared on Lawfare.com.
Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/06/router_vulnerab.html
On May 25, the FBI asked us all to reboot our routers. The story behind this request is one of sophisticated malware and unsophisticated home-network security, and it’s a harbinger of the sorts of pervasive threats from nation-states, criminals and hackers that we should expect in coming years.
VPNFilter is a sophisticated piece of malware that infects mostly older home and small-office routers made by Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, QNAP and TP-Link. (For a list of specific models, click here.) It’s an impressive piece of work. It can eavesdrop on traffic passing through the router specifically, log-in credentials and SCADA traffic, which is a networking protocol that controls power plants, chemical plants and industrial systems attack other targets on the Internet and destructively “kill” its infected device. It is one of a very few pieces of malware that can survive a reboot, even though that’s what the FBI has requested. It has a number of other capabilities, and it can be remotely updated to provide still others. More than 500,000 routers in at least 54 countries have been infected since 2016.
Because of the malware’s sophistication, VPNFilter is believed to be the work of a government. The FBI suggested the Russian government was involved for two circumstantial reasons. One, a piece of the code is identical to one found in another piece of malware, called BlackEnergy, that was used in the December 2015 attack against Ukraine’s power grid. Russia is believed to be behind that attack. And two, the majority of those 500,000 infections are in Ukraine and controlled by a separate command-and-control server. There might also be classified evidence, as an FBI affidavit in this matter identifies the group behind VPNFilter as Sofacy, also known as APT28 and Fancy Bear. That’s the group behind a long list of attacks, including the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee.
Two companies, Cisco and Symantec, seem to have been working with the FBI during the past two years to track this malware as it infected ever more routers. The infection mechanism isn’t known, but we believe it targets known vulnerabilities in these older routers. Pretty much no one patches their routers, so the vulnerabilities have remained, even if they were fixed in new models from the same manufacturers.
On May 30, the FBI seized control of toknowall.com, a critical VPNFilter command-and-control server. This is called “sinkholing,” and serves to disrupt a critical part of this system. When infected routers contact toknowall.com, they will no longer be contacting a server owned by the malware’s creators; instead, they’ll be contacting a server owned by the FBI. This doesn’t entirely neutralize the malware, though. It will stay on the infected routers through reboot, and the underlying vulnerabilities remain, making the routers susceptible to reinfection with a variant controlled by a different server.
If you want to make sure your router is no longer infected, you need to do more than reboot it, the FBI’s warning notwithstanding. You need to reset the router to its factory settings. That means you need to reconfigure it for your network, which can be a pain if you’re not sophisticated in these matters. If you want to make sure your router cannot be reinfected, you need to update the firmware with any security patches from the manufacturer. This is harder to do and may strain your technical capabilities, though it’s ridiculous that routers don’t automatically download and install firmware updates on their own. Some of these models probably do not even have security patches available. Honestly, the best thing to do if you have one of the vulnerable models is to throw it away and get a new one. (Your ISP will probably send you a new one free if you claim that it’s not working properly. And you should have a new one, because if your current one is on the list, it’s at least 10 years old.)
So if it won’t clear out the malware, why is the FBI asking us to reboot our routers? It’s mostly just to get a sense of how bad the problem is. The FBI now controls toknowall.com. When an infected router gets rebooted, it connects to that server to get fully reinfected, and when it does, the FBI will know. Rebooting will give it a better idea of how many devices out there are infected.
Should you do it? It can’t hurt.
Internet of Things malware isn’t new. The 2016 Mirai botnet, for example, created by a lone hacker and not a government, targeted vulnerabilities in Internet-connected digital video recorders and webcams. Other malware has targeted Internet-connected thermostats. Lots of malware targets home routers. These devices are particularly vulnerable because they are often designed by ad hoc teams without a lot of security expertise, stay around in networks far longer than our computers and phones, and have no easy way to patch them.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Russians targeted routers to build a network of infected computers for follow-on cyber operations. I’m sure many governments are doing the same. As long as we allow these insecure devices on the Internet and short of security regulations, there’s no way to stop them we’re going to be vulnerable to this kind of malware.
And next time, the command-and-control server won’t be so easy to disrupt.
This essay previously appeared in the Washington Post
EDITED TO ADD: The malware is more capable than we previously thought.
Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/06/an_example_of_d.html
In 2016, the US was successfully deterred from attacking Russia in cyberspace because of fears of Russian capabilities against the US.
I have two citations for this. The first is from the book Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. Here’s the quote:
The principals did discuss cyber responses. The prospect of hitting back with cyber caused trepidation within the deputies and principals meetings. The United States was telling Russia this sort of meddling was unacceptable. If Washington engaged in the same type of covert combat, some of the principals believed, Washington’s demand would mean nothing, and there could be an escalation in cyber warfare. There were concerns that the United States would have more to lose in all-out cyberwar.
“If we got into a tit-for-tat on cyber with the Russians, it would not be to our advantage,” a participant later remarked. “They could do more to damage us in a cyber war or have a greater impact.” In one of the meetings, Clapper said he was worried that Russia might respond with cyberattacks against America’s critical infrastructure — and possibly shut down the electrical grid.
Mr. Rhodes writes he did not learn about the F.B.I. investigation until after leaving office, and then from the news media. Mr. Obama did not impose sanctions on Russia in retaliation for the meddling before the election because he believed it might prompt Moscow into hacking into Election Day vote tabulations. Mr. Obama did impose sanctions after the election but Mr. Rhodes’s suggestion that the targets include President Vladimir V. Putin was rebuffed on the theory that such a move would go too far.
Strasbourg Observers традиционно обявяват най-добро и най-лошо решение на ЕСПЧ всяка година. За най-лошо решение от 2017 г. е обявено особеното мнение по делото Bayev v. Russia относно закона за анти-гей-пропагандата в Русия: “Хомофобският характер на несъгласието на съдията от Русия относно така наречения гей пропаганден закон беше толкова шокиращ за нашите читатели, че спечели наградата за най-лошото решение, въпреки че технически не е самостоятелно решение, а само особено мнение”.
Това е добра причина да се представи решението на ЕСПЧ от 2017, така както е представено от Strasbourg Observers:
Делото се отнася до молбите на руски активисти за правата на хомосексуалните, всеки от които е признат за виновен за административното нарушение на “обществени дейности, насочени към насърчаване на хомосексуалността сред малолетните и непълнолетните”. Първият жалбоподател е провел демонстрация пред средно училище с две знамена, на които пише “Хомосексуализмът е нормален” и “Гордея се с моята хомосексуалност”. Вторият и третият кандидат демонстрират пред детска библиотека с банери, на които е написано, че “Русия има най-високата степен на тийнейджърско самоубийство в света, вкл. хомосексуалисти предприемат тази стъпка поради липсата на информация. Депутатите са убийци на деца. Хомосексуализмът е добър! ” и “Децата имат право да знаят. Големите хора също са понякога хомосексуални. Хомосексуалните също стават страхотни. Хомосексуалността е естествена и нормална “.
Жалбоподателите твърдят пред ЕСПЧ, че руското законодателство нарушава член 10 от ЕКПЧ и е дискриминационно, тъй като не се прилагат подобни ограничения по отношение на хетеросексуалното мнозинство.
Намеса в свободата на изразяване съществува, чл.10.2 ЕКПЧ предвижда възможност за намеса поради причини, свързани с морала и здравето, ЕСПЧ прави оценка дали в случая намесата има легитимна цел.
ЕСПЧ не вижда причина социалното приемане на хомосексуалността да е несъвместимо с поддържането на семейни ценности. Както е посочено в решението по делото Kozak v Полша, няма приет правилен начин за лицата да водят личния си семеен или личен живот.
Неприемливи са опитите да се правят паралели между хомосексуалността и педофилията. Дори мнозинството от руснаците да имат отрицателно мнение за хомосексуалността, би било несъвместимо с основните ценности на Конвенцията, ако упражняването на права от малцинствена група е обусловено от приемането й от мнозинството.
Правителството твърди, че насърчаването на взаимоотношения между лица от един и същ пол трябва да бъде забранено, тъй като отношенията между тях са риск за общественото здраве и демографското развитие. ЕСПЧ не вижда как подобен закон би могъл да помогне за постигането на желаните демографски цели или как липсата на такъв закон би ги засегнала неблагоприятно.
Правителството не е доказало и как педофилията и порнографията сред малолетните и непълнолетните (независимо от сексуалната ориентация на засегнатите лица) са свързани с хомосексуалността и с този закон.
Въпросните правни разпоредби не служат за постигане на легитимната цел на защитата на морала, защита на здравето и защита на правата на другите. Чрез приемането на такива закони властите засилват стигмата и предразсъдъците и насърчават хомофобията, която е несъвместима с понятията за равенство, плурализъм и толерантност, присъщи на едно демократично общество. Нарушение на член 10 от ЕКПЧ.
Особеното мнение може да се прочете на сайта на ЕСПЧ. Според него децата трябва да се консултират предимно с родителите си или близки членове на семейството, вместо да получават информация за секса от плакати на улицата, а също се твърди, че ЕСПЧ не е взел сериозно предвид факта, че личният живот на децата е по-важен от свободата на изразяване на хомосексуалистите.
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/putin-asked-to-investigate-damage-caused-by-telegram-web-blocking-180526/
After a Moscow court gave the go-ahead for Telegram to be banned in Russia last month, the Internet became a battleground.
On the instructions of telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, ISPs across Russia tried to block Telegram by blackholing millions of IP addresses. The effect was both dramatic and pathetic. While Telegram remained stubbornly online, countless completely innocent services suffered outages as Roscomnadzor charged ahead with its mission.
Over the past several weeks, Roscomnadzor has gone some way to clean up the mess, partly by removing innocent Google and Amazon IP addresses from Russia’s blacklist. However, the collateral damage was so widespread it’s called into question the watchdog’s entire approach to web-blockades and whether they should be carried out at any cost.
This week, thanks to an annual report presented to President Vladimir Putin by business ombudsman Boris Titov, the matter looks set to be escalated. ‘The Book of Complaints and Suggestions of Russian Business’ contains comments from Internet ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev, who says that the Prosecutor General’s Office should launch an investigation into Roscomnadzor’s actions.
Marinichev said that when attempting to take down Telegram using aggressive technical means, Roscomnadzor relied upon “its own interpretation of court decisions” to provide guidance, TASS reports.
“When carrying out blockades of information resources, Roskomnadzor did not assess the related damage caused to them,” he said.
More than 15 million IP addresses were blocked, many of them with functions completely unrelated to the operations of Telegram. Marinichev said that the consequences were very real for those who suffered collateral damage.
“[The blocking led] to a temporary inaccessibility of Internet resources of a number of Russian enterprises in the Internet sector, including several banks and government information resources,” he reported.
In advice to the President, Marinichev suggests that the Prosecutor General’s Office should look into “the legality and validity of Roskomnadzor’s actions” which led to the “violation of availability of information resources of commercial companies” and “threatened the integrity, sustainability, and functioning of the unified telecommunications network of the Russian Federation and its critical information infrastructure.”
Early May, it was reported that in addition to various web services, around 50 VPN, proxy and anonymization platforms had been blocked for providing access to Telegram. In a May 22 report, that number had swelled to more than 80 although 10 were later unblocked after they stopped providing access to the messaging platform.
This week, Roscomnadzor has continued with efforts to block access to torrent and streaming platforms. In a new wave of action, the telecoms watchdog ordered ISPs to block at least 47 mirrors and proxies providing access to previously blocked sites.
Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original https://blog.erratasec.com/2018/05/the-devil-wears-pravda.html
Classic Bond villain, Elon Musk, has a new plan to create a website dedicated to measuring the credibility and adherence to “core truth” of journalists. He is, without any sense of irony, going to call this “Pravda”. This is not simply wrong but evil.
Musk has a point. Journalists do suck, and many suck consistently. I see this in my own industry, cybersecurity, and I frequently criticize them for their suckage.
But what he’s doing here is not correcting them when they make mistakes (or what Musk sees as mistakes), but questioning their legitimacy. This legitimacy isn’t measured by whether they follow established journalism ethics, but whether their “core truths” agree with Musk’s “core truths”.
An example of the problem is how the press fixates on Tesla car crashes due to its “autopilot” feature. Pretty much every autopilot crash makes national headlines, while the press ignores the other 40,000 car crashes that happen in the United States each year. Musk spies on Tesla drivers (hello, classic Bond villain everyone) so he can see the dip in autopilot usage every time such a news story breaks. He’s got good reason to be concerned about this.
He argues that autopilot is safer than humans driving, and he’s got the statistics and government studies to back this up. Therefore, the press’s fixation on Tesla crashes is illegitimate “fake news”, titillating the audience with distorted truth.
But here’s the thing: that’s still only Musk’s version of the truth. Yes, on a mile-per-mile basis, autopilot is safer, but there’s nuance here. Autopilot is used primarily on freeways, which already have a low mile-per-mile accident rate. People choose autopilot only when conditions are incredibly safe and drivers are unlikely to have an accident anyway. Musk is therefore being intentionally deceptive comparing apples to oranges. Autopilot may still be safer, it’s just that the numbers Musk uses don’t demonstrate this.
And then there is the truth calling it “autopilot” to begin with, because it isn’t. The public is overrating the capabilities of the feature. It’s little different than “lane keeping” and “adaptive cruise control” you can now find in other cars. In many ways, the technology is behind — my Tesla doesn’t beep at me when a pedestrian walks behind my car while backing up, but virtually every new car on the market does.
Yes, the press unduly covers Tesla autopilot crashes, but Musk has only himself to blame by unduly exaggerating his car’s capabilities by calling it “autopilot”.
What’s “core truth” is thus rather difficult to obtain. What the press satisfies itself with instead is smaller truths, what they can document. The facts are in such cases that the accident happened, and they try to get Tesla or Musk to comment on it.
What you can criticize a journalist for is therefore not “core truth” but whether they did journalism correctly. When such stories criticize “autopilot”, but don’t do their diligence in getting Tesla’s side of the story, then that’s a violation of journalistic practice. When I criticize journalists for their poor handling of stories in my industry, I try to focus on which journalistic principles they get wrong. For example, the NYTimes reporters do a lot of stories quoting anonymous government sources in clear violation of journalistic principles.
If “credibility” is the concern, then it’s the classic Bond villain here that’s the problem: Musk himself. His track record on business statements is abysmal. For example, when he announced the Model 3 he claimed production targets that every Wall Street analyst claimed were absurd. He didn’t make those targets, he didn’t come close. Model 3 production is still lagging behind Musk’s twice adjusted targets.
So who has a credibility gap here, the press, or Musk himself?
Not only is Musk’s credibility problem ironic, so is the name he chose, “Pravada”, the Russian word for truth that was the name of the Soviet Union Communist Party’s official newspaper. This is so absurd this has to be a joke, yet Musk claims to be serious about all this.
Yes, the press has a lot of problems, and if Musk were some journalism professor concerned about journalists meeting the objective standards of their industry (e.g. abusing anonymous sources), then this would be a fine thing. But it’s not. It’s Musk who is upset the press’s version of “core truth” does not agree with his version — a version that he’s proven time and time again differs from “real truth”.
Just in case Musk is serious, I’ve already registered “www.antipravda.com” to start measuring the credibility of statements by billionaire playboy CEOs. Let’s see who blinks first.
The devil wears Pravda
— Guillaume (@gepeto42) May 23, 2018
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anonymous-hackers-deface-russian-govt-site-to-protest-web-blocking-nsfw-180512/
The disaster waiting to happen began when encrypted messaging service Telegram refused to hand over its encryption keys to the state. In response, the Federal Security Service filed a lawsuit, which it won, compelling it Telegram do so. With no response, Roscomnadzor obtained a court order to have Telegram blocked.
In a massive response, Russian ISPs – at Roscomnadzor’s behest – began mass-blocking IP addresses on a massive scale. Millions of IP addresses belong to Amazon, Google and other innocent parties were rendered inaccessible in Russia, causing chaos online.
Even VPN providers were targeted for facilitating access to Telegram but while the service strained under the pressure, it never went down and continues to function today.
In the wake of the operation there has been some attempt at a cleanup job, with Roscomnadzor announcing this week that it had unblocked millions of IP addresses belonging to Google.
“As part of a package of the measures to enforce the court’s decision on Telegram, Roskomnadzor has removed six Google subnets (more than 3.7 million IP-addresses) from the blocklist,” the telecoms watchdog said in a statement.
“In this case, the IP addresses of Telegram, which are part of these subnets, are fully installed and blocked. Subnets are unblocked in order to ensure the correct operation of third-party Internet resources.”
But while Roscomnadzor attempts to calm the seas, those angered by Russia’s carpet-bombing of the Internet were determined to make their voices heard. Hackers attacked the website of the Federal Agency for International Cooperation this week, defacing it with scathing criticism combined with NSFW suggestions and imagery.
“Greetings, Roskomnadzor,” the message began.
“Your recent destructive actions towards the Russian internet sector have led us to believe that you are nothing but a bunch of incompetent mindless worms. You shall not be able to continue this pointless vandalism any further.”
Signing off with advice to consider the defacement as a “final warning”, the hackers disappeared into the night after leaving a simple signature.
“Yours, Anonymous,” they wrote.
But the hackers weren’t done yet. In a NSFW cartoon strip that probably explains itself, ‘Anonymous’ suggested that Roscomnadzor should perhaps consider blocking itself, with the implement depicted in the final frame.
But while Russia’s attack on Telegram raises eyebrows worldwide, the actions of those in authority continue to baffle.
Last week, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s press secretary, Natalia Timakova, publicly advised a colleague to circumvent the Telegram blockade using a VPN, effectively undermining the massive efforts of the authorities. This week the head of Roscomnadzor only added to the confusion.
Effectively quashing rumors that he’d resigned due to the Telegram fiasco, Alexander Zharov had a conversation with the editor-in-chief of radio station ‘Says Moscow’.
During the liason, which took place during the Victory Parade in Red Square, Zharov was asked how he could be contacted. When Telegram was presented as a potential method, Zharov confirmed that he could be reached via the platform.
Finally, in a move that’s hoped could bring an end to the attack on the platform and others like it, Telegram filed an appeal this week challenging a decision by the Supreme Court of Russia which allows the Federal Security Service to demand access to encryption keys.
Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/05/supply-chain_se.html
Earlier this month, the Pentagon stopped selling phones made by the Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei on military bases because they might be used to spy on their users.
It’s a legitimate fear, and perhaps a prudent action. But it’s just one instance of the much larger issue of securing our supply chains.
All of our computerized systems are deeply international, and we have no choice but to trust the companies and governments that touch those systems. And while we can ban a few specific products, services or companies, no country can isolate itself from potential foreign interference.
In this specific case, the Pentagon is concerned that the Chinese government demanded that ZTE and Huawei add “backdoors” to their phones that could be surreptitiously turned on by government spies or cause them to fail during some future political conflict. This tampering is possible because the software in these phones is incredibly complex. It’s relatively easy for programmers to hide these capabilities, and correspondingly difficult to detect them.
This isn’t the first time the United States has taken action against foreign software suspected to contain hidden features that can be used against us. Last December, President Trump signed into law a bill banning software from the Russian company Kaspersky from being used within the US government. In 2012, the focus was on Chinese-made Internet routers. Then, the House Intelligence Committee concluded: “Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems.”
Nor is the United States the only country worried about these threats. In 2014, China reportedly banned antivirus products from both Kaspersky and the US company Symantec, based on similar fears. In 2017, the Indian government identified 42 smartphone apps that China subverted. Back in 1997, the Israeli company Check Point was dogged by rumors that its government added backdoors into its products; other of that country’s tech companies have been suspected of the same thing. Even al-Qaeda was concerned; ten years ago, a sympathizer released the encryption software Mujahedeen Secrets, claimed to be free of Western influence and backdoors. If a country doesn’t trust another country, then it can’t trust that country’s computer products.
But this trust isn’t limited to the country where the company is based. We have to trust the country where the software is written — and the countries where all the components are manufactured. In 2016, researchers discovered that many different models of cheap Android phones were sending information back to China. The phones might be American-made, but the software was from China. In 2016, researchers demonstrated an even more devious technique, where a backdoor could be added at the computer chip level in the factory that made the chips without the knowledge of, and undetectable by, the engineers who designed the chips in the first place. Pretty much every US technology company manufactures its hardware in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Taiwan.
We also have to trust the programmers. Today’s large software programs are written by teams of hundreds of programmers scattered around the globe. Backdoors, put there by we-have-no-idea-who, have been discovered in Juniper firewalls and D-Link routers, both of which are US companies. In 2003, someone almost slipped a very clever backdoor into Linux. Think of how many countries’ citizens are writing software for Apple or Microsoft or Google.
We can go even farther down the rabbit hole. We have to trust the distribution systems for our hardware and software. Documents disclosed by Edward Snowden showed the National Security Agency installing backdoors into Cisco routers being shipped to the Syrian telephone company. There are fake apps in the Google Play store that eavesdrop on you. Russian hackers subverted the update mechanism of a popular brand of Ukrainian accounting software to spread the NotPetya malware.
In 2017, researchers demonstrated that a smartphone can be subverted by installing a malicious replacement screen.
I could go on. Supply-chain security is an incredibly complex problem. US-only design and manufacturing isn’t an option; the tech world is far too internationally interdependent for that. We can’t trust anyone, yet we have no choice but to trust everyone. Our phones, computers, software and cloud systems are touched by citizens of dozens of different countries, any one of whom could subvert them at the demand of their government. And just as Russia is penetrating the US power grid so they have that capability in the event of hostilities, many countries are almost certainly doing the same thing at the consumer level.
We don’t know whether the risk of Huawei and ZTE equipment is great enough to warrant the ban. We don’t know what classified intelligence the United States has, and what it implies. But we do know that this is just a minor fix for a much larger problem. It’s doubtful that this ban will have any real effect. Members of the military, and everyone else, can still buy the phones. They just can’t buy them on US military bases. And while the US might block the occasional merger or acquisition, or ban the occasional hardware or software product, we’re largely ignoring that larger issue. Solving it borders on somewhere between incredibly expensive and realistically impossible.
Perhaps someday, global norms and international treaties will render this sort of device-level tampering off-limits. But until then, all we can do is hope that this particular arms race doesn’t get too far out of control.
This essay previously appeared in the Washington Post.
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blocks-50-vpns-anonymizers-in-telegram-crackdown-viber-next-180504/
Any entity operating an encrypted messaging service in Russia needs to register with local authorities. They must also hand over their encryption keys when requested to do so, so that users can be monitored.
Messaging giant Telegram refused to give in to Russian pressure. Founder Pavel Durov said that he would not compromise the privacy of Telegram’s 200m monthly users, despite losing a lawsuit against the Federal Security Service which compelled him to do so. In response, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor filed a lawsuit to degrade Telegram via web-blocking.
After a Moscow court gave the go-ahead for Telegram to be banned in Russia last month, chaos broke out. ISPs around the country tried to block the service, which was using Amazon and Google to provide connectivity. Millions of IP addresses belonging to both companies were blocked and countless other companies and individuals had their services blocked too.
But despite the Russian carpet-bombing of Telegram, the service steadfastly remained online. People had problems accessing the service at times, of course, but their determination coupled with that of Telegram and other facilitators largely kept communications flowing.
Part of the huge counter-offensive was mounted by various VPN and anonymizer services that allowed people to bypass ISP blocks. However, they too have found themselves in trouble, with Russian authorities blocking them for facilitating access to Telegram. In an announcement Thursday, the telecoms watchdog revealed the scale of the crackdown.
Deputy Head of Roskomnadzor told TASS that dozens of VPNs and similar services had been blocked while hinting at yet more to come.
“Fifty for the time being,” Subbotin said.
With VPN providers taking a hit on behalf of Telegram, there could be yet more chaos looming on the horizon. It’s feared that other encrypted services, which have also failed to hand over their keys to the FSB, could be targeted next.
Ministry of Communications chief Nikolai Nikiforov told reporters this week that if Viber doesn’t fall into line, it could suffer the same fate as Telegram.
“This is a matter for the Federal Security Service, because the authority with regard to such specific issues in the execution of the order for the provision of encryption keys is the authority of the FSB,” Nikiforov said.
“If they have problems with the provision of encryption keys, they can also apply to the court and obtain a similar court decision,” the minister said, responding to questions about the Japanese-owned, Luxembourg-based communications app.
With plenty of chaos apparent online, there are also reports of problems from within Roscomnadzor itself. For the past several days, rumors have been circulating in Russian media that Roskomnadzor chief Alexander Zharov has resigned, perhaps in response to the huge over-blocking that took place when Telegram was targeted.
When questioned by reporters this week, Ministry of Communications chief Nikolai Nikiforov refused to provide any further information, stating that such a matter would be for the prime minister to handle.
“I would not like to comment on this. If the chairman of the government takes this decision, I recall that the heads of services are appointed by the decision of the prime minister and personnel decisions are never commented on,” he said.
Whether Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will make a statement is yet to be seen, but this week his office has been dealing with a blocking – or rather unblocking – controversy of its own.
In a public post on Facebook May 1, Duma deputy Natalya Kostenko revealed that she was having problems due to the Telegram blockades.
“Dear friends, do not write to me on Telegram, I’m not getting your messages. Use other channels to contact me,” Kostenko wrote.
In response, Dmitry Medvedev’s press secretary, Natalia Timakova, told her colleague to circumvent the blockade so that she could access Telegram once again.
“Use a VPN! It’s simple. And it works almost all the time,” Timakov wrote.
Until those get blocked too, of course…..
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/former-judge-accuses-ip-court-of-using-pirate-microsoft-software-180429/
For many years, software such as Photoshop has been pirated on a grand scale and around the world, millions of computers rely on cracked and unlicensed copies of Microsoft’s Windows software.
One of the key drivers of this kind of piracy is the relative expense of software. Open source variants are nearly always available but big brand names always seem more popular due to their market penetration and perceived ease of use.
While using pirated software very rarely gets individuals into trouble, the same cannot be said of unlicensed commercial operators. That appears to be the case in Russia where somewhat ironically the Court for Intellectual Property Rights stands accused of copyright infringement.
A complaint filed by the Paragon law firm at the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Court for Intellectual Property Rights (CIP) alleges that the Court is illegally using Microsoft software, something which has the potential to affect the outcome of court cases involving the US-based software giant.
Paragon is representing Alexander Shmuratov, who is a former Assistant Judge at the Court for Intellectual Property Rights. Shmuratov worked at the Court for several years and claims that the computers there were being operated with expired licenses.
Shmuratov himself told Kommersant that he “saw the notice of an activation failure every day when using MS Office products” in intellectual property court.
A representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed that a complaint had been received but said it had been forwarded to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
In respect of the counterfeit software claims, CIP categorically denies the allegations. CIP says that licenses for all Russian courts were purchased back in 2008 and remained in force until 2011. In 2013, Microsoft agreed to an extension.
Only adding more intrigue to the story, CIP Assistant chairman Catherine Ulyanova said that the initator of the complaint, former judge Alexander Shmuratov, was dismissed from the CIP because he provided false information about income. He later mounted a challenge against his dismissal but was unsuccessful.
Ulyanova said that Microsoft licensed all courts from 2006 for use of Windows and MS Office. The licenses were acquired through a third-party company and more licenses than necessary were purchased, with some licenses being redistributed for use by CIP in later years with the consent of Microsoft.
Kommersant was unable to confirm how licenses were paid for beyond December 2011 but apparently an “official confirmation letter from the Irish headquarters of Microsoft, which does not object to the transfer of CIP licenses” had been sent to the Court.
Responding to Shmuratov’s allegations that software he used hadn’t been activated, Ulyanova said that technical problems had no relationship with the existence of software licenses.
The question of whether the Court is properly licensed will be determined at a later date but observers are already raising questions concerning CIP’s historical dealings with Microsoft not only in terms of licensing, but in cases it handled.
In the period 2014-2017, the Court for Intellectual Property Rights handled around 80 cases involving Microsoft and claims of between 50 thousand ($800) and several million rubles.
Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original https://blog.erratasec.com/2018/04/no-ray-ozzie-hasnt-solved-crypto.html
According to this Wired article, Ray Ozzie may have a solution to the crypto backdoor problem. No, he hasn’t. He’s only solving the part we already know how to solve. He’s deliberately ignoring the stuff we don’t know how to solve. We know how to make backdoors, we just don’t know how to secure them.
The vault doesn’t scale
Yes, Apple has a vault where they’ve successfully protected important keys. No, it doesn’t mean this vault scales. The more people and the more often you have to touch the vault, the less secure it becomes. We are talking thousands of requests per day from 100,000 different law enforcement agencies around the world. We are unlikely to protect this against incompetence and mistakes. We are definitely unable to secure this against deliberate attack.
A good analogy to Ozzie’s solution is LetsEncrypt for getting SSL certificates for your website, which is fairly scalable, using a private key locked in a vault for signing hundreds of thousands of certificates. That this scales seems to validate Ozzie’s proposal.
But at the same time, LetsEncrypt is easily subverted. LetsEncrypt uses DNS to verify your identity. But spoofing DNS is easy, as was recently shown in the recent BGP attack against a cryptocurrency. Attackers can create fraudulent SSL certificates with enough effort. We’ve got other protections against this, such as discovering and revoking the SSL bad certificate, so while damaging, it’s not catastrophic.
But with Ozzie’s scheme, equivalent attacks would be catastrophic, as it would lead to unlocking the phone and stealing all of somebody’s secrets.
In particular, consider what would happen if LetsEncrypt’s certificate was stolen (as Matthew Green points out). The consequence is that this would be detected and mass revocations would occur. If Ozzie’s master key were stolen, nothing would happen. Nobody would know, and evildoers would be able to freely decrypt phones. Ozzie claims his scheme can work because SSL works — but then his scheme includes none of the many protections necessary to make SSL work.
What I’m trying to show here is that in a lab, it all looks nice and pretty, but when attacked at scale, things break down — quickly. We have so much experience with failure at scale that we can judge Ozzie’s scheme as woefully incomplete. It’s not even up to the standard of SSL, and we have a long list of SSL problems.
Cryptography is about people more than math
We have a mathematically pure encryption algorithm called the “One Time Pad”. It can’t ever be broken, provably so with mathematics.
It’s also perfectly useless, as it’s not something humans can use. That’s why we use AES, which is vastly less secure (anything you encrypt today can probably be decrypted in 100 years). AES can be used by humans whereas One Time Pads cannot be. (I learned the fallacy of One Time Pad’s on my grandfather’s knee — he was a WW II codebreaker who broke German messages trying to futz with One Time Pads).
The same is true with Ozzie’s scheme. It focuses on the mathematical model but ignores the human element. We already know how to solve the mathematical problem in a hundred different ways. The part we don’t know how to secure is the human element.
How do we know the law enforcement person is who they say they are? How do we know the “trusted Apple employee” can’t be bribed? How can the law enforcement agent communicate securely with the Apple employee?
You think these things are theoretical, but they aren’t. Consider financial transactions. It used to be common that you could just email your bank/broker to wire funds into an account for such things as buying a house. Hackers have subverted that, intercepting messages, changing account numbers, and stealing millions. Most banks/brokers require additional verification before doing such transfers.
Let me repeat: Ozzie has only solved the part we already know how to solve. He hasn’t addressed these issues that confound us.
We still can’t secure security, much less secure backdoors
We already know how to decrypt iPhones: just wait a year or two for somebody to discover a vulnerability. FBI claims it’s “going dark”, but that’s only for timely decryption of phones. If they are willing to wait a year or two a vulnerability will eventually be found that allows decryption.
That’s what’s happened with the “GrayKey” device that’s been all over the news lately. Apple is fixing it so that it won’t work on new phones, but it works on old phones.
Ozzie’s solution is based on the assumption that iPhones are already secure against things like GrayKey. Like his assumption “if Apple already has a vault for private keys, then we have such vaults for backdoor keys”, Ozzie is saying “if Apple already had secure hardware/software to secure the phone, then we can use the same stuff to secure the backdoors”. But we don’t really have secure vaults and we don’t really have secure hardware/software to secure the phone.
Again, to stress this point, Ozzie is solving the part we already know how to solve, but ignoring the stuff we don’t know how to solve. His solution is insecure for the same reason phones are already insecure.
Locked phones aren’t the problem
Phones are general purpose computers. That means anybody can install an encryption app on the phone regardless of whatever other security the phone might provide. The police are powerless to stop this. Even if they make such encryption crime, then criminals will still use encryption.
That leads to a strange situation that the only data the FBI will be able to decrypt is that of people who believe they are innocent. Those who know they are guilty will install encryption apps like Signal that have no backdoors.
In the past this was rare, as people found learning new apps a barrier. These days, apps like Signal are so easy even drug dealers can figure out how to use them.
We know how to get Apple to give us a backdoor, just pass a law forcing them to. It may look like Ozzie’s scheme, it may be something more secure designed by Apple’s engineers. Sure, it will weaken security on the phone for everyone, but those who truly care will just install Signal. But again we are back to the problem that Ozzie’s solving the problem we know how to solve while ignoring the much larger problem, that of preventing people from installing their own encryption.
The FBI isn’t necessarily the problem
Ozzie phrases his solution in terms of U.S. law enforcement. Well, what about Europe? What about Russia? What about China? What about North Korea?
Technology is borderless. A solution in the United States that allows “legitimate” law enforcement requests will inevitably be used by repressive states for what we believe would be “illegitimate” law enforcement requests.
Ozzie sees himself as the hero helping law enforcement protect 300 million American citizens. He doesn’t see himself what he really is, the villain helping oppress 1.4 billion Chinese, 144 million Russians, and another couple billion living in oppressive governments around the world.
Ozzie pretends the problem is political, that he’s created a solution that appeases both sides. He hasn’t. He’s solved the problem we already know how to solve. He’s ignored all the problems we struggle with, the problems we claim make secure backdoors essentially impossible. I’ve listed some in this post, but there are many more. Any famous person can create a solution that convinces fawning editors at Wired Magazine, but if Ozzie wants to move forward he’s going to have to work harder to appease doubting cryptographers.
Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/04/russia_is_banni.html
Russia has banned the secure messaging app Telegram. It’s making an absolute mess of the ban — blocking 16 million IP addresses, many belonging to the Amazon and Google clouds — and it’s not even clear that it’s working. But, more importantly, I’m not convinced Telegram is secure in the first place.
Such a weird story. If you want secure messaging, use Signal. If you’re concerned that having Signal on your phone will itself arouse suspicion, use WhatsApp.
Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original https://blog.erratasec.com/2018/04/omg-stupid-it-burns.html
This article, pointed out by @TheGrugq, is stupid enough that it’s worth rebutting.
“The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the positions of the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.” <- I sincerely hope so…
“the cyber guns of August” https://t.co/xdybbr5B0E
— the grugq (@thegrugq) April 22, 2018
I had low expectations. It failed to meet them.
— the grugq (@thegrugq) April 22, 2018
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blacklists-250-pirate-sites-for-displaying-gambling-ads-180421/
In Europe, the process is becoming easier, largely thanks to an EU ruling that permits blocking on copyright grounds.
As reported over the past several years, Russia is taking its blocking processes very seriously. Copyright holders can now have sites blocked in just a few days, if they can show their operators as being unresponsive to takedown demands.
This week, however, Russian authorities have again shown that copyright infringement doesn’t have to be the only Achilles’ heel of pirate sites.
Back in 2006, online gambling was completely banned in Russia. Three years later in 2009, land-based gambling was also made illegal in all but four specified regions. Then, in 2012, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that ISPs must block access to gambling sites, something they had previously refused to do.
That same year, telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor began publishing a list of banned domains and within those appeared some of the biggest names in gambling. Many shut down access to customers located in Russia but others did not. In response, Rozcomnadzor also began targeting sites that simply offered information on gambling.
Fast forward more than six years and Russia is still taking a hard line against gambling operators. However, it now finds itself in a position where the existence of gambling material can also assist the state in its quest to take down pirate sites.
Following a complaint from the Federal Tax Service of Russia, Rozcomnadzor has again added a large number of ‘pirate’ sites to the country’s official blocklist after they advertised gambling-related products and services.
“Rozkomnadzor, at the request of the Federal Tax Service of Russia, added more than 250 pirate online cinemas and torrent trackers to the unified register of banned information, which hosted illegal advertising of online casinos and bookmakers,” the telecoms watchdog reported.
Almost immediately, 200 of the sites were blocked by local ISPs since they failed to remove the advertising when told to do so. For the remaining 50 sites, breathing space is still available. Their bans can be suspended if the offending ads are removed within a timeframe specified by the authorities, which has not yet run out.
“Information on a significant number of pirate resources with illegal advertising was received by Rozcomnadzor from citizens and organizations through a hotline that operates on the site of the Unified Register of Prohibited Information, all of which were sent to the Federal Tax Service for making decisions on restricting access,” the watchdog revealed.
Links between pirate sites and gambling companies have traditionally been close over the years, with advertising for many top-tier brands appearing on portals large and small. However, in recent times the prevalence of gambling ads has diminished, in part due to campaigns conducted in the United States, Europe, and the UK.
For pirate site operators in Russia, the decision to carry gambling ads now comes with the added risk of being blocked. Only time will tell whether any reduction in traffic is considered serious enough to warrant a gambling boycott of their own.
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/telegram-founder-pledges-millions-in-bitcoin-for-vpns-and-digital-resistance-180418/
Starting yesterday, Russia went to war with free cross-platform messaging app Telegram. Authorities including the FSB wanted access to Telegram’s encryption keys, but the service refused to hand them over.
As a result, the service – which serviced 200,000,000 people in March alone – came under massive attack. Supported by a court ruling obtained last Friday, authorities ordered ISPs to block huge numbers of IP addresses in an effort to shut Telegram down.
Amazon and Google, whose services Telegram uses, were both hit with censorship measures, with around 1.8 million IP addresses belonging to the Internet giants blocked in an initial wave of action. But the government was just getting warmed up.
In an updated posted by Pavel Durov to Twitter from Switzerland late last night, the Telegram founder confirmed that Russia had massively stepped up the fight against his encrypted messaging platform.
Within the last two days, Russia blocked over 15 million IP addresses in attempts to ban Telegram on its territory. Regardless, Telegram remained available for the majority of Russia’s residents #digitalresistance https://t.co/2syVbVzXPg
— Pavel Durov (@durov) April 17, 2018
Of course, 15 million IP addresses is a huge volume, particularly since ‘just’ 14 million of Telegram’s users are located in Russia – that’s more than one IP address for each of them. As a result, there are reports of completed unrelated services being affected by the ban, which is to be expected given its widespread nature. But Russia doesn’t want to stop there.
According to Reuters, local telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor asked both Google and Apple [Update: and APKMirror] to remove Telegram from their app stores, to prevent local citizens from gaining access to the software itself. It is unclear whether either company intends to comply but as yet, neither has responded publicly nor taken any noticeable action.
An announcement from Durov last night thanked the companies for not complying with the Russian government’s demands, noting that the efforts so far had proven mostly futile.
“Despite the ban, we haven’t seen a significant drop in user engagement so far, since Russians tend to bypass the ban with VPNs and proxies. We also have been relying on third-party cloud services to remain partly available for our users there,” Durov wrote on Telegram.
“Thank you for your support and loyalty, Russian users of Telegram. Thank you, Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft – for not taking part in political censorship.”
Durov noted that Russia accounts for around 7% of Telegram’s userbase, a figure that could be compensated for with organic growth in just a couple of months, even if Telegram lost access to the entire market. However, the action only appears to have lit a fire under the serial entrepreneur, who now has declared a war of his own against censorship.
“To support internet freedoms in Russia and elsewhere I started giving out bitcoin grants to individuals and companies who run socks5 proxies and VPN,” Durov said.
“I am happy to donate millions of dollars this year to this cause, and hope that other people will follow. I called this Digital Resistance – a decentralized movement standing for digital freedoms and progress globally.”
As founder of not only Telegram but also vKontakte, Russia’s answer to Facebook, Durov is a force to be reckoned with. As such, his promises are unlikely to be hollow ones. While Russia has drawn a line in the sand on encryption, it appears to have energized Durov to take a stand, one that could have a positive effect on anti-censorship measures both in Russia and further afield.
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russias-encryption-war-1-8m-google-amazon-ips-blocked-to-silence-telegram-180417/
The rules in Russia are clear. Entities operating an encrypted messaging service need to register with the authorities. They also need to hand over their encryption keys so that if law enforcement sees fit, users can be spied on.
Free cross-platform messaging app Telegram isn’t playing ball. An impressive 200,000,000 people used the software in March (including a growing number for piracy purposes) and founder Pavel Durov says he will not compromise their security, despite losing a lawsuit against the Federal Security Service which compels him to do so.
“Telegram doesn’t have shareholders or advertisers to report to. We don’t do deals with marketers, data miners or government agencies. Since the day we launched in August 2013 we haven’t disclosed a single byte of our users’ private data to third parties,” Durov said.
“Above all, we at Telegram believe in people. We believe that humans are inherently intelligent and benevolent beings that deserve to be trusted; trusted with freedom to share their thoughts, freedom to communicate privately, freedom to create tools. This philosophy defines everything we do.”
But by not handing over its keys, Telegram is in trouble with Russia. The FSB says it needs access to Telegram messages to combat terrorism so, in response to its non-compliance, telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor filed a lawsuit to degrade Telegram via web-blocking. Last Friday, that process ended in the state’s favor.
After an 18-minute hearing, a Moscow court gave the go-ahead for Telegram to be banned in Russia. The hearing was scheduled just the day before, giving Telegram little time to prepare. In protest, its lawyers didn’t even turn up to argue the company’s position.
Instead, Durov took to his VKontakte account to announce that Telegram would take counter-measures.
“Telegram will use built-in methods to bypass blocks, which do not require actions from users, but 100% availability of the service without a VPN is not guaranteed,” Durov wrote.
Telegram can appeal the blocking decision but Russian authorities aren’t waiting around for a response. They are clearly prepared to match Durov’s efforts, no matter what the cost.
In instructions sent out yesterday nationwide, Rozomnadzor ordered ISPs to block Telegram. The response was immediate and massive. Telegram was using both Amazon and Google to provide service to its users so, within hours, huge numbers of IP addresses belonging to both companies were targeted.
Initially, 655,352 Amazon IP addresses were placed on Russia’s nationwide blacklist. It was later reported that a further 131,000 IP addresses were added to that total. But the Russians were just getting started.
Servers.ru reports that a further 1,048,574 IP addresses belonging to Google were also targeted Monday. Rozcomnadzor said the court ruling against Telegram compelled it to take whatever action is needed to take Telegram down but with at least 1,834,996 addresses now confirmed blocked, it remains unclear what effect it’s had on the service.
Friday’s court ruling states that restrictions against Telegram can be lifted provided that the service hands over its encryption keys to the FSB. However, Durov responded by insisting that “confidentiality is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised because of fear or greed.”
But of course, money is still part of the Telegram equation. While its business model in terms of privacy stands in stark contrast to that of Facebook, Telegram is also involved in the world’s biggest initial coin offering (ICO). According to media reports, it has raised $1.7 billion in pre-sales thus far.
This week’s action against Telegram is the latest in Russia’s war on ‘unauthorized’ encryption.
At the end of March, authorities suggested that around 15 million IP addresses (13.5 million belonging to Amazon) could be blocked to target chat software Zello. While those measures were averted, a further 500 domains belonging to Google were caught in the dragnet.
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-music-biz-wants-app-blocking-too-180415/
In some way, shape or form, Internet piracy has always been carried out through some kind of application. Whether that’s a peer-to-peer client utilizing BitTorrent or eD2K, or a Usenet or FTP tool taking things back to their roots, software has always played a crucial role.
Of course, the nature of the Internet beast means that software usage is unavoidable but in recent years piracy has swung more towards the regular web browser, meaning that sites and services offering pirated content are largely easy to locate, identify and block, if authorities so choose.
As revealed this week by the MPA, thousands of platforms around the world are now targeted for blocking, with 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains blocked in Europe alone.
However, as the Kodi phenomenon has shown, web-based content doesn’t always have to be accessed via a standard web browser. Clever but potentially illegal addons and third-party apps are able to scrape web-based resources and present links to content on a wide range of devices, from mobile phones and tablets to set-top boxes.
While it’s still possible to block the resources upon which these addons rely, the scattered nature of the content makes the process much more difficult. One can’t simply block a whole platform because a few movies are illegally hosted there and even Google has found itself hosting thousands of infringing titles, a situation that’s ruthlessly exploited by addon and app developers alike.
Needless to say, the situation hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment has spent the last year (1,2,3) targeting many people involved in the addon and app scene, hoping they’ll take their tools and run, rather than further develop a rapidly evolving piracy ecosystem.
Over in Russia, a country that will happily block hundreds or millions of IP addresses if it suits them, the topic of infringing apps was raised this week. It happened during the International Strategic Forum on Intellectual Property, a gathering of 500 experts from more than 30 countries. There were strong calls for yet more tools and measures to deal with films and music being made available via ‘pirate’ apps.
The forum heard that in response to widespread website blocking, people behind pirate sites have begun creating applications for mobile devices to achieve the same ends – the provision of illegal content. This, key players in the music industry say, means that the law needs to be further tightened to tackle the rising threat.
“Consumption of content is now going into the mobile sector and due to this we plan to prevent mass migration of ‘pirates’ to the mobile sector,” said Leonid Agronov, general director of the National Federation of the Music Industry.
The same concerns were echoed by Alexander Blinov, CEO of Warner Music Russia. According to TASS, the powerful industry player said that while recent revenues had been positively affected by site-blocking, it’s now time to start taking more action against apps.
“I agree with all speakers that we can not stop at what has been achieved so far. The music industry has a fight against illegal content in mobile applications on the agenda,” Blinov said.
And if Blinov is to be believed, music in Russia is doing particularly well at the moment. Attributing successes to efforts by parliament, the Ministry of Communications, and copyright holders, Blinov said the local music market has doubled in the past two years.
“We are now in the top three fastest growing markets in the world, behind only China and South Korea,” Blinov said.
While some apps can work in the same manner as a basic web interface, others rely on more complex mechanisms, ‘scraping’ content from diverse sources that can be easily and readily changed if mitigation measures kick in. It will be very interesting to see how Russia deals with this threat and whether it will opt for highly technical solutions or the nuclear options demonstrated recently.
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