Tag Archives: Telegram

Russian Censorship of Telegram

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.

Putin Asked to Investigate Damage Caused By Telegram Web-Blocking

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.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

‘Anonymous’ Hackers Deface Russian Govt. Site to Protest Web-Blocking (NSFW)

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anonymous-hackers-deface-russian-govt-site-to-protest-web-blocking-nsfw-180512/

Last month, Russian authorities demonstrated that when an entity breaks local Internet rules, no stone will be left unturned to make them pay, whatever the cost.

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.

“Anus, block yourself Roscomnadzor”

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.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Russia Blocks 50 VPNs & Anonymizers in Telegram Crackdown, Viber Next

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…..

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Russia is Banning Telegram

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.

Telegram Founder Pledges Millions in Bitcoin For VPNs and “Digital Resistance”

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.

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.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Russia’s Encryption War: 1.8m Google & Amazon IPs Blocked to Silence Telegram

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.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Google & Apple Order Telegram to Nuke Channel Over Taylor Swift Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-apple-order-telegram-to-nuke-channel-over-taylor-swift-piracy-171123/

Financed by Russian Facebook (vKontakte) founder Pavel Durov, Telegram is a multi-platform messaging system that has grown from 100,000 daily users in 2013 to an impressive 100 million users in February 2016.

“Telegram is a messaging app with a focus on speed and security, it’s super-fast, simple and free. You can use Telegram on all your devices at the same time — your messages sync seamlessly across any number of your phones, tablets or computers,” the company’s marketing reads.

One of the attractive things about Telegram is that it allows users to communicate with each other using end-to-end encryption. In some cases, these systems are used for content piracy, of music and other smaller files in particular. This is compounded by the presence of user-programmed bots, which are able to search the web for illegal content and present it in a Telegram channel to which other users can subscribe.

While much of this sharing files under the radar when conducted privately, it periodically attracts attention from copyright holders when it takes place in public channels. That appears to have happened recently when popular channel “Any Suitable Pop” was completely disabled by Telegram, an apparent first following a copyright complaint.

According to channel creator Anton Vagin, the action by Telegram was probably due to the unauthorized recent sharing of the Taylor Swift album ‘Reputation’. However, it was the route of complaint that proves of most interest.

Rather than receiving a takedown notice directly from Big Machine Records, the label behind Swift’s releases, Telegram was forced into action after receiving threats from Apple and Google, the companies that distribute the Telegram app for iOS and Android respectively.

According to a message Vagin received from Telegram support, Apple and Google had received complaints about Swift’s album from Universal Music, the distributor of Big Machine Records. The suggestion was that if Telegram didn’t delete the infringing channel, distribution of the Telegram app via iTunes and Google Play would be at risk. Vagin received no warning notices from any of the companies involved.

Message from Telegram support

According to Russian news outlet VC.ru, which first reported the news, the channel was blocked in Telegram’s desktop applications, as well as in versions for Android, macOS and iOS. However, the channel still existed on the web and via Windows phone applications but all messages within had been deleted.

The fact that Google played a major role in the disappearing of the channel was subsequently confirmed by Telegram founder Pavel Durov, who commented that it was Google who “ultimately demanded the blocking of this channel.”

That Telegram finally caved into the demands of Google and/or Apple doesn’t really come as a surprise. In Telegram’s frequently asked questions section, the company specifically mentions the need to comply with copyright takedown demands in order to maintain distribution via the companies’ app marketplaces.

“Our mission is to provide a secure means of communication that works everywhere on the planet. To do this in the places where it is most needed (and to continue distributing Telegram through the App Store and Google Play), we have to process legitimate requests to take down illegal public content (sticker sets, bots, and channels) within the app,” the company notes.

Putting pressure on Telegram via Google and Apple over piracy isn’t a new development. In the past, representatives of the music industry threatened to complain to the companies over a channel operated by torrent site RuTracker, which was set up to share magnet links.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

"Responsible encryption" fallacies

Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original http://blog.erratasec.com/2017/10/responsible-encryption-fallacies.html

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave a speech recently calling for “Responsible Encryption” (aka. “Crypto Backdoors”). It’s full of dangerous ideas that need to be debunked.

The importance of law enforcement

The first third of the speech talks about the importance of law enforcement, as if it’s the only thing standing between us and chaos. It cites the 2016 Mirai attacks as an example of the chaos that will only get worse without stricter law enforcement.

But the Mira case demonstrated the opposite, how law enforcement is not needed. They made no arrests in the case. A year later, they still haven’t a clue who did it.

Conversely, we technologists have fixed the major infrastructure issues. Specifically, those affected by the DNS outage have moved to multiple DNS providers, including a high-capacity DNS provider like Google and Amazon who can handle such large attacks easily.

In other words, we the people fixed the major Mirai problem, and law-enforcement didn’t.

Moreover, instead being a solution to cyber threats, law enforcement has become a threat itself. The DNC didn’t have the FBI investigate the attacks from Russia likely because they didn’t want the FBI reading all their files, finding wrongdoing by the DNC. It’s not that they did anything actually wrong, but it’s more like that famous quote from Richelieu “Give me six words written by the most honest of men and I’ll find something to hang him by”. Give all your internal emails over to the FBI and I’m certain they’ll find something to hang you by, if they want.
Or consider the case of Andrew Auernheimer. He found AT&T’s website made public user accounts of the first iPad, so he copied some down and posted them to a news site. AT&T had denied the problem, so making the problem public was the only way to force them to fix it. Such access to the website was legal, because AT&T had made the data public. However, prosecutors disagreed. In order to protect the powerful, they twisted and perverted the law to put Auernheimer in jail.

It’s not that law enforcement is bad, it’s that it’s not the unalloyed good Rosenstein imagines. When law enforcement becomes the thing Rosenstein describes, it means we live in a police state.

Where law enforcement can’t go

Rosenstein repeats the frequent claim in the encryption debate:

Our society has never had a system where evidence of criminal wrongdoing was totally impervious to detection

Of course our society has places “impervious to detection”, protected by both legal and natural barriers.

An example of a legal barrier is how spouses can’t be forced to testify against each other. This barrier is impervious.

A better example, though, is how so much of government, intelligence, the military, and law enforcement itself is impervious. If prosecutors could gather evidence everywhere, then why isn’t Rosenstein prosecuting those guilty of CIA torture?

Oh, you say, government is a special exception. If that were the case, then why did Rosenstein dedicate a precious third of his speech discussing the “rule of law” and how it applies to everyone, “protecting people from abuse by the government”. It obviously doesn’t, there’s one rule of government and a different rule for the people, and the rule for government means there’s lots of places law enforcement can’t go to gather evidence.

Likewise, the crypto backdoor Rosenstein is demanding for citizens doesn’t apply to the President, Congress, the NSA, the Army, or Rosenstein himself.

Then there are the natural barriers. The police can’t read your mind. They can only get the evidence that is there, like partial fingerprints, which are far less reliable than full fingerprints. They can’t go backwards in time.

I mention this because encryption is a natural barrier. It’s their job to overcome this barrier if they can, to crack crypto and so forth. It’s not our job to do it for them.

It’s like the camera that increasingly comes with TVs for video conferencing, or the microphone on Alexa-style devices that are always recording. This suddenly creates evidence that the police want our help in gathering, such as having the camera turned on all the time, recording to disk, in case the police later gets a warrant, to peer backward in time what happened in our living rooms. The “nothing is impervious” argument applies here as well. And it’s equally bogus here. By not helping police by not recording our activities, we aren’t somehow breaking some long standing tradit

And this is the scary part. It’s not that we are breaking some ancient tradition that there’s no place the police can’t go (with a warrant). Instead, crypto backdoors breaking the tradition that never before have I been forced to help them eavesdrop on me, even before I’m a suspect, even before any crime has been committed. Sure, laws like CALEA force the phone companies to help the police against wrongdoers — but here Rosenstein is insisting I help the police against myself.

Balance between privacy and public safety

Rosenstein repeats the frequent claim that encryption upsets the balance between privacy/safety:

Warrant-proof encryption defeats the constitutional balance by elevating privacy above public safety.

This is laughable, because technology has swung the balance alarmingly in favor of law enforcement. Far from “Going Dark” as his side claims, the problem we are confronted with is “Going Light”, where the police state monitors our every action.

You are surrounded by recording devices. If you walk down the street in town, outdoor surveillance cameras feed police facial recognition systems. If you drive, automated license plate readers can track your route. If you make a phone call or use a credit card, the police get a record of the transaction. If you stay in a hotel, they demand your ID, for law enforcement purposes.

And that’s their stuff, which is nothing compared to your stuff. You are never far from a recording device you own, such as your mobile phone, TV, Alexa/Siri/OkGoogle device, laptop. Modern cars from the last few years increasingly have always-on cell connections and data recorders that record your every action (and location).

Even if you hike out into the country, when you get back, the FBI can subpoena your GPS device to track down your hidden weapon’s cache, or grab the photos from your camera.

And this is all offline. So much of what we do is now online. Of the photographs you own, fewer than 1% are printed out, the rest are on your computer or backed up to the cloud.

Your phone is also a GPS recorder of your exact position all the time, which if the government wins the Carpenter case, they police can grab without a warrant. Tagging all citizens with a recording device of their position is not “balance” but the premise for a novel more dystopic than 1984.

If suspected of a crime, which would you rather the police searched? Your person, houses, papers, and physical effects? Or your mobile phone, computer, email, and online/cloud accounts?

The balance of privacy and safety has swung so far in favor of law enforcement that rather than debating whether they should have crypto backdoors, we should be debating how to add more privacy protections.

“But it’s not conclusive”

Rosenstein defends the “going light” (“Golden Age of Surveillance”) by pointing out it’s not always enough for conviction. Nothing gives a conviction better than a person’s own words admitting to the crime that were captured by surveillance. This other data, while copious, often fails to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
This is nonsense. Police got along well enough before the digital age, before such widespread messaging. They solved terrorist and child abduction cases just fine in the 1980s. Sure, somebody’s GPS location isn’t by itself enough — until you go there and find all the buried bodies, which leads to a conviction. “Going dark” imagines that somehow, the evidence they’ve been gathering for centuries is going away. It isn’t. It’s still here, and matches up with even more digital evidence.
Conversely, a person’s own words are not as conclusive as you think. There’s always missing context. We quickly get back to the Richelieu “six words” problem, where captured communications are twisted to convict people, with defense lawyers trying to untwist them.

Rosenstein’s claim may be true, that a lot of criminals will go free because the other electronic data isn’t convincing enough. But I’d need to see that claim backed up with hard studies, not thrown out for emotional impact.

Terrorists and child molesters

You can always tell the lack of seriousness of law enforcement when they bring up terrorists and child molesters.
To be fair, sometimes we do need to talk about terrorists. There are things unique to terrorism where me may need to give government explicit powers to address those unique concerns. For example, the NSA buys mobile phone 0day exploits in order to hack terrorist leaders in tribal areas. This is a good thing.
But when terrorists use encryption the same way everyone else does, then it’s not a unique reason to sacrifice our freedoms to give the police extra powers. Either it’s a good idea for all crimes or no crimes — there’s nothing particular about terrorism that makes it an exceptional crime. Dead people are dead. Any rational view of the problem relegates terrorism to be a minor problem. More citizens have died since September 8, 2001 from their own furniture than from terrorism. According to studies, the hot water from the tap is more of a threat to you than terrorists.
Yes, government should do what they can to protect us from terrorists, but no, it’s not so bad of a threat that requires the imposition of a military/police state. When people use terrorism to justify their actions, it’s because they trying to form a military/police state.
A similar argument works with child porn. Here’s the thing: the pervs aren’t exchanging child porn using the services Rosenstein wants to backdoor, like Apple’s Facetime or Facebook’s WhatsApp. Instead, they are exchanging child porn using custom services they build themselves.
Again, I’m (mostly) on the side of the FBI. I support their idea of buying 0day exploits in order to hack the web browsers of visitors to the secret “PlayPen” site. This is something that’s narrow to this problem and doesn’t endanger the innocent. On the other hand, their calls for crypto backdoors endangers the innocent while doing effectively nothing to address child porn.
Terrorists and child molesters are a clichéd, non-serious excuse to appeal to our emotions to give up our rights. We should not give in to such emotions.

Definition of “backdoor”

Rosenstein claims that we shouldn’t call backdoors “backdoors”:

No one calls any of those functions [like key recovery] a “back door.”  In fact, those capabilities are marketed and sought out by many users.

He’s partly right in that we rarely refer to PGP’s key escrow feature as a “backdoor”.

But that’s because the term “backdoor” refers less to how it’s done and more to who is doing it. If I set up a recovery password with Apple, I’m the one doing it to myself, so we don’t call it a backdoor. If it’s the police, spies, hackers, or criminals, then we call it a “backdoor” — even it’s identical technology.

Wikipedia uses the key escrow feature of the 1990s Clipper Chip as a prime example of what everyone means by “backdoor“. By “no one”, Rosenstein is including Wikipedia, which is obviously incorrect.

Though in truth, it’s not going to be the same technology. The needs of law enforcement are different than my personal key escrow/backup needs. In particular, there are unsolvable problems, such as a backdoor that works for the “legitimate” law enforcement in the United States but not for the “illegitimate” police states like Russia and China.

I feel for Rosenstein, because the term “backdoor” does have a pejorative connotation, which can be considered unfair. But that’s like saying the word “murder” is a pejorative term for killing people, or “torture” is a pejorative term for torture. The bad connotation exists because we don’t like government surveillance. I mean, honestly calling this feature “government surveillance feature” is likewise pejorative, and likewise exactly what it is that we are talking about.

Providers

Rosenstein focuses his arguments on “providers”, like Snapchat or Apple. But this isn’t the question.

The question is whether a “provider” like Telegram, a Russian company beyond US law, provides this feature. Or, by extension, whether individuals should be free to install whatever software they want, regardless of provider.

Telegram is a Russian company that provides end-to-end encryption. Anybody can download their software in order to communicate so that American law enforcement can’t eavesdrop. They aren’t going to put in a backdoor for the U.S. If we succeed in putting backdoors in Apple and WhatsApp, all this means is that criminals are going to install Telegram.

If the, for some reason, the US is able to convince all such providers (including Telegram) to install a backdoor, then it still doesn’t solve the problem, as uses can just build their own end-to-end encryption app that has no provider. It’s like email: some use the major providers like GMail, others setup their own email server.

Ultimately, this means that any law mandating “crypto backdoors” is going to target users not providers. Rosenstein tries to make a comparison with what plain-old telephone companies have to do under old laws like CALEA, but that’s not what’s happening here. Instead, for such rules to have any effect, they have to punish users for what they install, not providers.

This continues the argument I made above. Government backdoors is not something that forces Internet services to eavesdrop on us — it forces us to help the government spy on ourselves.
Rosenstein tries to address this by pointing out that it’s still a win if major providers like Apple and Facetime are forced to add backdoors, because they are the most popular, and some terrorists/criminals won’t move to alternate platforms. This is false. People with good intentions, who are unfairly targeted by a police state, the ones where police abuse is rampant, are the ones who use the backdoored products. Those with bad intentions, who know they are guilty, will move to the safe products. Indeed, Telegram is already popular among terrorists because they believe American services are already all backdoored. 
Rosenstein is essentially demanding the innocent get backdoored while the guilty don’t. This seems backwards. This is backwards.

Apple is morally weak

The reason I’m writing this post is because Rosenstein makes a few claims that cannot be ignored. One of them is how he describes Apple’s response to government insistence on weakening encryption doing the opposite, strengthening encryption. He reasons this happens because:

Of course they [Apple] do. They are in the business of selling products and making money. 

We [the DoJ] use a different measure of success. We are in the business of preventing crime and saving lives. 

He swells in importance. His condescending tone ennobles himself while debasing others. But this isn’t how things work. He’s not some white knight above the peasantry, protecting us. He’s a beat cop, a civil servant, who serves us.

A better phrasing would have been:

They are in the business of giving customers what they want.

We are in the business of giving voters what they want.

Both sides are doing the same, giving people what they want. Yes, voters want safety, but they also want privacy. Rosenstein imagines that he’s free to ignore our demands for privacy as long has he’s fulfilling his duty to protect us. He has explicitly rejected what people want, “we use a different measure of success”. He imagines it’s his job to tell us where the balance between privacy and safety lies. That’s not his job, that’s our job. We, the people (and our representatives), make that decision, and it’s his job is to do what he’s told. His measure of success is how well he fulfills our wishes, not how well he satisfies his imagined criteria.

That’s why those of us on this side of the debate doubt the good intentions of those like Rosenstein. He criticizes Apple for wanting to protect our rights/freedoms, and declare they measure success differently.

They are willing to be vile

Rosenstein makes this argument:

Companies are willing to make accommodations when required by the government. Recent media reports suggest that a major American technology company developed a tool to suppress online posts in certain geographic areas in order to embrace a foreign government’s censorship policies. 

Let me translate this for you:

Companies are willing to acquiesce to vile requests made by police-states. Therefore, they should acquiesce to our vile police-state requests.

It’s Rosenstein who is admitting here is that his requests are those of a police-state.

Constitutional Rights

Rosenstein says:

There is no constitutional right to sell warrant-proof encryption.

Maybe. It’s something the courts will have to decide. There are many 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Amendment issues here.
The reason we have the Bill of Rights is because of the abuses of the British Government. For example, they quartered troops in our homes, as a way of punishing us, and as a way of forcing us to help in our own oppression. The troops weren’t there to defend us against the French, but to defend us against ourselves, to shoot us if we got out of line.

And that’s what crypto backdoors do. We are forced to be agents of our own oppression. The principles enumerated by Rosenstein apply to a wide range of even additional surveillance. With little change to his speech, it can equally argue why the constant TV video surveillance from 1984 should be made law.

Let’s go back and look at Apple. It is not some base company exploiting consumers for profit. Apple doesn’t have guns, they cannot make people buy their product. If Apple doesn’t provide customers what they want, then customers vote with their feet, and go buy an Android phone. Apple isn’t providing encryption/security in order to make a profit — it’s giving customers what they want in order to stay in business.
Conversely, if we citizens don’t like what the government does, tough luck, they’ve got the guns to enforce their edicts. We can’t easily vote with our feet and walk to another country. A “democracy” is far less democratic than capitalism. Apple is a minority, selling phones to 45% of the population, and that’s fine, the minority get the phones they want. In a Democracy, where citizens vote on the issue, those 45% are screwed, as the 55% impose their will unwanted onto the remainder.

That’s why we have the Bill of Rights, to protect the 49% against abuse by the 51%. Regardless whether the Supreme Court agrees the current Constitution, it is the sort right that might exist regardless of what the Constitution says. 

Obliged to speak the truth

Here is the another part of his speech that I feel cannot be ignored. We have to discuss this:

Those of us who swear to protect the rule of law have a different motivation.  We are obliged to speak the truth.

The truth is that “going dark” threatens to disable law enforcement and enable criminals and terrorists to operate with impunity.

This is not true. Sure, he’s obliged to say the absolute truth, in court. He’s also obliged to be truthful in general about facts in his personal life, such as not lying on his tax return (the sort of thing that can get lawyers disbarred).

But he’s not obliged to tell his spouse his honest opinion whether that new outfit makes them look fat. Likewise, Rosenstein knows his opinion on public policy doesn’t fall into this category. He can say with impunity that either global warming doesn’t exist, or that it’ll cause a biblical deluge within 5 years. Both are factually untrue, but it’s not going to get him fired.

And this particular claim is also exaggerated bunk. While everyone agrees encryption makes law enforcement’s job harder than with backdoors, nobody honestly believes it can “disable” law enforcement. While everyone agrees that encryption helps terrorists, nobody believes it can enable them to act with “impunity”.

I feel bad here. It’s a terrible thing to question your opponent’s character this way. But Rosenstein made this unavoidable when he clearly, with no ambiguity, put his integrity as Deputy Attorney General on the line behind the statement that “going dark threatens to disable law enforcement and enable criminals and terrorists to operate with impunity”. I feel it’s a bald face lie, but you don’t need to take my word for it. Read his own words yourself and judge his integrity.

Conclusion

Rosenstein’s speech includes repeated references to ideas like “oath”, “honor”, and “duty”. It reminds me of Col. Jessup’s speech in the movie “A Few Good Men”.

If you’ll recall, it was rousing speech, “you want me on that wall” and “you use words like honor as a punchline”. Of course, since he was violating his oath and sending two privates to death row in order to avoid being held accountable, it was Jessup himself who was crapping on the concepts of “honor”, “oath”, and “duty”.

And so is Rosenstein. He imagines himself on that wall, doing albeit terrible things, justified by his duty to protect citizens. He imagines that it’s he who is honorable, while the rest of us not, even has he utters bald faced lies to further his own power and authority.

We activists oppose crypto backdoors not because we lack honor, or because we are criminals, or because we support terrorists and child molesters. It’s because we value privacy and government officials who get corrupted by power. It’s not that we fear Trump becoming a dictator, it’s that we fear bureaucrats at Rosenstein’s level becoming drunk on authority — which Rosenstein demonstrably has. His speech is a long train of corrupt ideas pursuing the same object of despotism — a despotism we oppose.

In other words, we oppose crypto backdoors because it’s not a tool of law enforcement, but a tool of despotism.

Не, ГДБОП няма да ви шпионира чатовете

Post Syndicated from Bozho original https://blog.bozho.net/blog/2851

Тези дни се пови новина, че „ГДБОП вече може да шпионира „Вайбър“, „Фейсбук“ и „Скайп““. Разбира се, това не е вярно. ГДБОП няма да може да шпионира нищо. Самата статия също отбелязва, че от спецификацията не става ясно дали става дума за иззети мобилни устройства, или за следенето им в реално време. Заглавието обаче е гръмко и предполага шпиониране.

От спецификацията все пак става сравнително ясно, а когато разгледаме спечелилия софтуер (Oxygen Forensic), съвсем ясно, че става въпрос за извличане на информация от устройства, които са под физическия контрол на разследващите органи (т.е. иззети като доказателства). Софтуерът позволява извличане на контакти и съобщения (не е ясно с каква успеваемост, тъй като ФБР се затрудни доста в извличането на криптирани данни от iPhone наскоро).

Следене на тази комуникация, без устройството да е физически под контрола на органите, е възможно единствено ако на него е инсталиран шпионски софтуер. Oxygen Forensics (както подсказва и името), не е такъв. А инсталирането на шпионски софтуер е по същество СРС и изисква съдебно решение. Т.е. дори съдът да ги подписва на килограм (както по времето на Цветанов), масово следене не може да има. Освен това няма гаранция, че ще телефонът ви ще бъде заразен, особено ако имате добра потребителска култура. Също така, шпионски софтуер не би бил купен с открита обществена поръчка, най-малкото защото Apple и Google веднага биха запушили евентуални дупки в сигурността като разберат, че е възможно устройствата да се „шпионират“.

Четенето на съобщения „в движение“, т.е. чрез прихващане на комуникацията между устройствата и сървърите, е невъзможна, поне при най-популярните приложения. Всички използват криптирана връзка със сървъра, като някои (като Signal, WhatsApp и Telegram) криптират връзката „от край до край“ – т.е. дори сървърът, през който минават съобщенията, няма как да прочете какво пише в съобщенията. Единствено изпращачът и получателят могат. Защо да няма как? Защото математическите задачи, които са в основата на това криптиране (или „шифриране“), са нерешими със съвременните компютри (поне не в разумни периоди от време).

Защо трябва да се явявам като пиар на ГДБОП, вместо те да разяснят случая с прессъобщение, е друга тема. Но темата за защитата на личното пространство е важна. От тази гледна точка е чудесно, че медиите я следят. От друга гледна точка, не е добре заглавието да е дезинформиращо.

Та – ГДБОП няма да може да ни шпионира чатовете. Не че не биха искали – просто няма технологична възможност. Но е важно да следим както поръчките, така и законодателството – защото през годините имаше не един и два опита в Закона за електронните съобщения да бъдат прокарани текстове, с които органите и службите да могат да получават информация от мобилни и интернет доставчици. До момента тези опити без особен успех, но ще продължат, под претекста „национална сигурност“.

Всъщност, миналата есен бяха приети изменения в Закона за защита при бедствия, които на практика бяха изменения на Закона за електронните съобщения и дадоха възможност на „Пожарна безопасност“ да изисква трафични данни в случай на бедстващо лице (например, ако се загуби в планината). Измененията бяха приети по бързата процедура (в рамките на едно пленарно заседание). На пръв поглед проблем няма, тъй като в такива случаи наистина би било животоспасяващо мобилните оператори да дадат бързо информация за последното местоположение на дадена SIM-карта. Въпросът, както винаги е, дали няма как да се злоупотреби.

И накрая една препоръка – най-сигурните приложения за изпращане на съобщения са Signal и WhatsApp (който използва същия протокол като Signal), следвани от Telegram и Viber (макар при тях да има известни спорове (Telegram, Viber).

A kindly lesson for you non-techies about encryption

Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original http://blog.erratasec.com/2017/06/a-kindly-lesson-for-you-non-techies.html

The following tweets need to be debunked:

The answer to John Schindler’s question is:

every expert in cryptography doesn’t know this

Oh, sure, you can find fringe wacko who also knows crypto that agrees with you but all the sane members of the security community will not.

Telegram is not trustworthy because it’s partially closed-source. We can’t see how it works. We don’t know if they’ve made accidental mistakes that can be hacked. We don’t know if they’ve been bribed by the NSA or Russia to put backdoors in their program. In contrast, PGP and Signal are open-source. We can read exactly what the software does. Indeed, thousands of people have been reviewing their software looking for mistakes and backdoors. Being open-source doesn’t automatically make software better, but it does make hiding secret backdoors much harder.

Telegram is not trustworthy because we aren’t certain the crypto is done properly. Signal, and especially PGP, are done properly.

The thing about encryption is that when done properly, it works. Neither the NSA nor the Russians can break properly encrypted content. There’s no such thing as “military grade” encryption that is better than consumer grade. There’s only encryption that nobody can hack vs. encryption that your neighbor’s teenage kid can easily hack. Those scenes in TV/movies about breaking encryption is as realistic as sound in space: good for dramatic presentation, but not how things work in the real world.

In particular, end-to-end encryption works. Sure, in the past, such apps only encrypted as far as the server, so whoever ran the server could read your messages. Modern chat apps, though, are end-to-end: the servers have absolutely no ability to decrypt what’s on them, unless they can get the decryption keys from the phones. But some tasks, like encrypted messages to a group of people, can be hard to do properly.

Thus, in contrast to what John Schindler says, while we techies have doubts about Telegram, we don’t have doubts about Russia authorities having access to Signal and PGP messages.

Snowden hatred has become the anti-vax of crypto. Sure, there’s no particular reason to trust Snowden — people should really stop treating him as some sort of privacy-Jesus. But there’s no particular reason to distrust him, either. His bland statements on crypto are indistinguishable from any other crypto-enthusiast statements. If he’s a Russian pawn, then so too is the bulk of the crypto community.

With all this said, using Signal doesn’t make you perfectly safe. The person you are chatting with could be a secret agent — especially in group chat. There could be cameras/microphones in the room where you are using the app. The Russians can also hack into your phone, and likewise eavesdrop on everything you do with the phone, regardless of which app you use. And they probably have hacked specific people’s phones. On the other hand, if the NSA or Russians were widely hacking phones, we’d detect that this was happening. We haven’t.

Signal is therefore not a guarantee of safety, because nothing is, and if your life depends on it, you can’t trust any simple advice like “use Signal”. But, for the bulk of us, it’s pretty damn secure, and I trust neither the Russians nor the NSA are reading my Signal or PGP messages.

At first blush, this @20committee tweet appears to be non-experts opining on things outside their expertise. But in reality, it’s just obtuse partisanship, where truth and expertise doesn’t matter. Nothing you or I say can change some people’s minds on this matter, no matter how much our expertise gives weight to our words. This post is instead for bystanders, who don’t know enough to judge whether these crazy statements have merit.


Bonus:

So let’s talk about “every crypto expert“. It’s, of course, impossible to speak for every crypto expert. It’s like saying how the consensus among climate scientists is that mankind is warming the globe, while at the same time, ignoring the wide spread disagreement on how much warming that is.

The same is true here. You’ll get a widespread different set of responses from experts about the above tweet. Some, for example, will stress my point at the bottom that hacking the endpoint (the phone) breaks all the apps, and thus justify the above tweet from that point of view. Others will point out that all software has bugs, and it’s quite possible that Signal has some unknown bug that the Russians are exploiting.

So I’m not attempting to speak for what all experts might say here in the general case and what long lecture they can opine about. I am, though, pointing out the basics that virtually everyone agrees on, the consensus of open-source and working crypto.

Grafana 4.2 Release

Post Syndicated from Blogs on Grafana Labs Blog original https://grafana.com/blog/2017/03/22/grafana-4.2-release/

Grafana v4.2 Stable is now available for download.
Just like the last release this one contains lots bug fixes and minor improvements.
We are very happy to say that 41 of 53 issues was closed by pull requests from the community.
Big thumbs up!

Release Highlights

  • Hipchat: Adds support for sending alert notifications to hipchat #6451, thx @jregovic
  • Telegram: Added Telegram alert notifier #7098, thx @leonoff
  • LINE: Add LINE as alerting notification channel #7301, thx @huydx
  • Templating: Make $__interval and $__interval_ms global built in variables that can be used in by any datasource (in panel queries), closes #7190, closes #6582
  • Alerting: Adds deduping of alert notifications #7632
  • Alerting: Better information about why an alert triggered #7035
  • Orgs: Sharing dashboards using Grafana share feature will now redirect to correct org. #6948
  • Full changelog

New alert notification channels

This release adds five new alert notifications channels, all of them contributed by the community.

  • Hipchat
  • Telegram
  • LINE
  • Pushover
  • Threema

Templating

We added two new global built in variables in grafana. $__interval and $__interval_ms are now reserved template names in grafana and can be used by any datasource.
We might add more global built in variables in the future and if we do we will prefix them with $__. So please avoid using that in your template variables.

Dedupe alert notifications when running multiple servers

In this release we will dedupe alert notificiations when you are running multiple servers.
This makes it possible to run alerting on multiple servers and only get one notification.

We currently solve this with sql transactions which puts some limitations for how many servers you can use to execute the same rules.
3-5 servers should not be a problem but as always, it depends on how many alerts you have and how frequently they execute.

Next up for a better HA situation is to add support for workload balancing between Grafana servers.

Alerting more info

You can now see the reason why an alert triggered in the alert history. Its also easier to detect when an alert is set to alerting due to the no_data option.

Improved support for multi-org setup

When loading dashboards we now set an query parameter called orgId. So we can detect from which org an user shared a dashboard.
This makes it possible for users to share dashboards between orgs without changing org first.

We aim to introduce dashboard groups sometime in the future which will introduce access control and user groups within one org.
Making it possible to have users in multiple groups and have detailed access control.

Upgrade & Breaking changes

If your using https in grafana we now force you to use tls 1.2 and the most secure ciphers.
We think its better to be secure by default rather then making it configurable.
If you want to run https with lower versions of tls we suggest you put a reserve proxy in front of grafana.

If you have template variables name $__interval or $__interval_ms they will no longer work since these keywords
are reserved as global built in variables. We might add more global built in variables in the future and if we do, we will prefix them with $__. So please avoid using that in your template variables.

Changelog

Checkout the CHANGELOG.md file for a complete list
of new features, changes, and bug fixes.

Download

Head to v4.2 download page for download links & instructions.

Thanks

A big thanks to all the Grafana users who contribute by submitting PRs, bug reports & feedback!

Make a PIR speaker system

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/make-a-pir-speaker-system/

I enjoy projects that can be made using items from around the home. Add a Raspberry Pi and a few lines of code, and great joy can be had from producing something smart, connected and/or just plain silly.

The concept of the IoT Smart Lobby Welcoming Music System fits into this category. Take a speaker, add a Raspberry Pi and a PIR sensor (both staples of any maker household, and worthwhile investments for the budding builder), and you can create a motion-sensor welcome system for your home or office.

[DIY] Make a smart lobby music system for your office or home

With this project, you will be able to automate a welcoming music for either your smart home or your smart office. As long as someone is around, the music will keep playing your favorite playlist at home or a welcome music to greet your customers or business partners while they wait in the lobby of your office.

The Naran Build

IoT makers Naran have published their Smart Lobby build on Instructables, where you’ll find all the code and information you need to get making. You’ll also find their original walkthrough of how to use their free Prota OS for Raspberry Pi, which allows you to turn your Pi into a Smart Home hub.

Naran Prota IoT Sensor Speaker System

Their build allows you to use Telegram Bot to control the music played through their speaker. The music begins when movement is sensed, and you can control what happens next.

Telegram Bot for a Sensor Speaker System

It’s a great build for playing information for visitors or alerting you to an intrusion.

Tim Peake Welcoming Committee

A few months back, I made something similar in the lobby at Pi Towers:  I hid a sensor under our cardboard cutout of ESA astronaut Tim Peake. Visitors walking into the lobby triggered the sensor, and were treated to the opening music from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Sadly, with the meeting rooms across the lobby in constant use, the prank didn’t last long.

Alex J’rassic on Twitter

In honour of the #Principia anniversary, I pimped out cardboard @astro_timpeake at @Raspberry_Pi Towers. Listen. https://t.co/MBUOjrARtI

If you’re curious, the Christmas tree should be a clue as to why Tim is dressed like a nativity angel.

The Homebrew Edition

If you’re like me, you learn best by doing. Our free resources allow you to develop new skills as you build. You can then blend the skills you have learned to create your own interesting projects. I was very new to digital making when I put together the music sensor in the lobby. The skills I had developed by following step-by-step project tutorials provided the foundations for something new and original.

Why not make your own welcoming system? The process could teach you new skills, and develop your understanding of the Raspberry Pi. If you’d like to have a go, I’d suggest trying out the Parent Detector. This will show you how to use a PIR sensor with your Raspberry Pi. Once you understand that process, try the Burping Jelly Baby project. This will teach you how to tell your Raspberry Pi when to play an MP3 based on a trigger, such as the poke of a finger or the detection of movement.

From there, you should have all the tools you need to make a speaker system that plays an MP3 when someone or something approaches. Why not have a go this weekend? If you do, tell us about your final build in the comments below.

The post Make a PIR speaker system appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

WikiLeaks Releases CIA Hacking Tools

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/03/wikileaks_relea.html

WikiLeaks just released a cache of 8,761 classified CIA documents from 2012 to 2016, including details of its offensive Internet operations.

I have not read through any of them yet. If you see something interesting, tell us in the comments.

EDITED TO ADD: There’s a lot in here. Many of the hacking tools are redacted, with the tar files and zip archives replaced with messages like:

::: THIS ARCHIVE FILE IS STILL BEING EXAMINED BY WIKILEAKS. :::

::: IT MAY BE RELEASED IN THE NEAR FUTURE. WHAT FOLLOWS IS :::
::: AN AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED LIST OF ITS CONTENTS: :::

Hopefully we’ll get them eventually. The documents say that the CIA — and other intelligence services — can bypass Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. It seems to be by hacking the end-user devices and grabbing the traffic before and after encryption, not by breaking the encryption.

New York Times article.

EDITED TO ADD: Some details from The Guardian:

According to the documents:

  • CIA hackers targeted smartphones and computers.
  • The Center for Cyber Intelligence is based at the CIA headquarters in Virginia but it has a second covert base in the US consulate in Frankfurt which covers Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
  • A programme called Weeping Angel describes how to attack a Samsung F8000 TV set so that it appears to be off but can still be used for monitoring.

I just noticed this from the WikiLeaks page:

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

So it sounds like this cache of documents wasn’t taken from the CIA and given to WikiLeaks for publication, but has been passed around the community for a while — and incidentally some part of the cache was passed to WikiLeaks. So there are more documents out there, and others may release them in unredacted form.

Wired article. Slashdot thread. Two articles from the Washington Post.

EDITED TO ADD: This document talks about Comodo version 5.X and version 6.X. Version 6 was released in Feb 2013. Version 7 was released in Apr 2014. This gives us a time window of that page, and the cache in general. (WikiLeaks says that the documents cover 2013 to 2016.)

If these tools are a few years out of date, it’s similar to the NSA tools released by the “Shadow Brokers.” Most of us thought the Shadow Brokers were the Russians, specifically releasing older NSA tools that had diminished value as secrets. Could this be the Russians as well?

EDITED TO ADD: Nicholas Weaver comments.

EDITED TO ADD (3/8): These documents are interesting:

The CIA’s hand crafted hacking techniques pose a problem for the agency. Each technique it has created forms a “fingerprint” that can be used by forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks to the same entity.

This is analogous to finding the same distinctive knife wound on multiple separate murder victims. The unique wounding style creates suspicion that a single murderer is responsible. As soon one murder in the set is solved then the other murders also find likely attribution.

The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch‘s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.

UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.

This is being spun in the press as the CIA is pretending to be Russia. I’m not convinced that the documents support these allegations. Can someone else look at the documents. I don’t like my conclusion that WikiLeaks is using this document dump as a way to push their own bias.

Grafana 4.2 Beta Release

Post Syndicated from Blogs on Grafana Labs Blog original https://grafana.com/blog/2017/02/27/grafana-4.2-beta-release/

Grafana v4.2 beta

Grafana v4.2 Beta is now available for download.
Just like the last release this one contains lots bug fixes and minor improvements.
We are very happy to say that 27 of 40 issues was closed by pull requests from the community.
Big thumbs up!

Release Highlights

  • Hipchat: Adds support for sending alert notifications to hipchat #6451, thx @jregovic
  • Telegram: Added Telegram alert notifier #7098, thx @leonoff
  • LINE: Add LINE as alerting notification channel #7301, thx @huydx
  • Templating: Make $__interval and $__interval_ms global built in variables that can be used in by any datasource (in panel queries), closes #7190, closes #6582
  • Alerting: Adds deduping of alert notifications #7632
  • Alerting: Better information about why an alert triggered #7035
  • Orgs: Sharing dashboards using Grafana share feature will now redirect to correct org. #6948
  • Full changelog

New alert notification channels

This release adds five new alert notifications channels, all of them contributed by the community.

  • Hipchat
  • Telegram
  • LINE
  • Pushover
  • Threema

Templating

We added two new global built in variables in grafana. $__interval and $__interval_ms are now reserved template names in grafana and can be used by any datasource.
We might add more global built in variables in the future and if we do we will prefix them with $__. So please avoid using that in your template variables.

Dedupe alert notifications when running multiple servers

In this release we will dedupe alert notificiations when you are running multiple servers.
This makes it possible to run alerting on multiple servers and only get one notification.

We currently solve this with sql transactions which puts some limitations for how many servers you can use to execute the same rules.
3-5 servers should not be a problem but as always, it depends on how many alerts you have and how frequently they execute.

Next up for a better HA situation is to add support for workload balancing between Grafana servers.

Alerting more info

You can now see the reason why an alert triggered in the alert history. Its also easier to detect when an alert is set to alerting due to the no_data option.

Improved support for multi-org setup

When loading dashboards we now set an query parameter called orgId. So we can detect from which org an user shared a dashboard.
This makes it possible for users to share dashboards between orgs without changing org first.

We aim to introduce dashboard groups sometime in the future which will introduce access control and user groups within one org.
Making it possible to have users in multiple groups and have detailed access control.

Upgrade & Breaking changes

If your using https in grafana we now force you to use tls 1.2 and the most secure ciphers.
We think its better to be secure by default rather then making it configurable.
If you want to run https with lower versions of tls we suggest you put a reserve proxy in front of grafana.

If you have template variables name $__interval or $__interval_ms they will no longer work since these keywords
are reserved as global built in variables. We might add more global built in variables in the future and if we do, we will prefix them with $__. So please avoid using that in your template variables.

Changelog

Checkout the CHANGELOG.md file for a complete list
of new features, changes, and bug fixes.

Download

Head to v4.2-beta download page for download links & instructions.

Thanks

A big thanks to all the Grafana users who contribute by submitting PRs, bug reports & feedback!

AWS Week in Review – October 24, 2016

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-week-in-review-october-24-2016/

Another busy week in AWS-land! Today’s post included submissions from 21 internal and external contributors, along with material from my RSS feeds, my inbox, and other things that come my way. To join in the fun, create (or find) some awesome AWS-related content and submit a pull request!

Monday

October 24

Tuesday

October 25

Wednesday

October 26

Thursday

October 27

Friday

October 28

Saturday

October 29

Sunday

October 30

New & Notable Open Source

  • aws-git-backed-static-website is a Git-backed static website generator powered entirely by AWS.
  • rds-pgbadger fetches log files from an Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL instance and generates a beautiful pgBadger report.
  • aws-lambda-redshift-copy is an AWS Lambda function that automates the copy command in Redshift.
  • VarnishAutoScalingCluster contains code and instructions for setting up a shared, horizontally scalable Varnish cluster that scales up and down using Auto Scaling groups.
  • aws-base-setup contains starter templates for developing AWS CloudFormation-based AWS stacks.
  • terraform_f5 contains Terraform scripts to instantiate a Big IP in AWS.
  • claudia-bot-builder creates chat bots for Facebook, Slack, Skype, Telegram, GroupMe, Kik, and Twilio and deploys them to AWS Lambda in minutes.
  • aws-iam-ssh-auth is a set of scripts used to authenticate users connecting to EC2 via SSH with IAM.
  • go-serverless sets up a go.cd server for serverless application deployment in AWS.
  • awsq is a helper script to run batch jobs on AWS using SQS.
  • respawn generates CloudFormation templates from YAML specifications.

New SlideShare Presentations

New Customer Success Stories

  • AlbemaTV – AbemaTV is an Internet media-services company that operates one of Japan’s leading streaming platforms, FRESH! by AbemaTV. The company built its microservices platform on Amazon EC2 Container Service and uses an Amazon Aurora data store for its write-intensive microservices—such as timelines and chat—and a MySQL database on Amazon RDS for the remaining microservices APIs. By using AWS, AbemaTV has been able to quickly deploy its new platform at scale with minimal engineering effort.
  • Celgene – Celgene uses AWS to enable secure collaboration between internal and external researchers, allow individual scientists to launch hundreds of compute nodes, and reduce the time it takes to do computational jobs from weeks or months to less than a day. Celgene is a global biopharmaceutical company that creates drugs that fight cancer and other diseases and disorders. Celgene runs its high-performance computing research clusters, as well as its research collaboration environment, on AWS.
  • Under Armour – Under Armour can scale its Connected Fitness apps to meet the demands of more than 180 million global users, innovate and deliver new products and features more quickly, and expand internationally by taking advantage of the reliability and high availability of AWS. The company is a global leader in performance footwear, apparel, and equipment. Under Armour runs its growing Connected Fitness app platform on the AWS Cloud.

New YouTube Videos

Upcoming Events

Help Wanted

Stay tuned for next week! In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and subscribe to the RSS feed.

Telegram Hack – Possible Nation State Attack By Iran

Post Syndicated from Darknet original http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/darknethackers/~3/NATE__J1uuA/

So there’s been a lot of news lately about the Telegram hack and how 15 million accounts were compromised, which is not technically true. There’s 2 vectors of attack at play here, both of which regard Iranian users, but are not connected (other than the attackers probably being the same group). So the two attacks […]

The post Telegram Hack…

Read the full post at darknet.org.uk

Create and Deploy a Chat Bot to AWS Lambda in Five Minutes

Post Syndicated from Bryan Liston original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/create-and-deploy-a-chat-bot-to-aws-lambda-in-five-minutes/

This is a guest post by Gojko Adzic, creator of ClaudiaJS

 

The new Claudia.JS Bot Builder project helps JavaScript developers to easily create chat-bots for Facebook, Telegram, Skype, and Slack, and deploy them to AWS Lambda and Amazon API Gateway in minutes.

The key idea behind this project is to remove all the boilerplate code and common infrastructure tasks, so you can focus on writing the really important part of the bot — your business workflows. Everything else is handled by the Claudia Bot Builder.

The Claudia Bot Builder library simplifies messaging workflows, automatically sets up the correct web hooks, and guides you through configuration steps, so you don’t have to research individual implementation protocols. It automatically converts the incoming messages from various platforms into a common format, so you can handle them easily. It also automatically packages the responses into the correct templates, so you do not have to worry about different message response formats. This means that you can write and deploy a single bot with just a few lines of code, and operate it on various bot platforms using AWS Lambda. Check out the two-minute video Create chat-bots easily using Claudia Bot Builder to see how easy it is to set up a bot on AWS using the new tool.

Here’s a simple example:

Prerequisites

The Claudia Bot Builder works with the Node.JS 4.3.2 AWS Lambda installation. It requires using the Claudia.JS deployment tool, which you can install using NPM:

npm install claudia -g

If you already have Claudia installed, make sure it’s up to date. The Claudia Bot Builder support requires version 1.4.0 or later.

Creating a simple text bot

First, create an empty folder, and a new NPM project inside it. Make sure to give it a descriptive name:

npm init

Then, add the claudia-bot-builder library as a project dependency:

npm install claudia-bot-builder -S

For this particular bot, generate some dynamic content using the huh excuse generator. Add that as a project dependency:

npm install huh -S

Now create the bot. Create a file called bot.js and paste the following content:

var botBuilder = require('claudia-bot-builder'),
    excuse = require('huh');

module.exports = botBuilder(function (request) {
  return 'Thanks for sending ' + request.text  + 
      '. Your message is very important to us, but ' + 
      excuse.get();
});

That’s pretty much it. You can now deploy the bot to AWS and configure it for Facebook Messenger, by using Claudia:

claudia create --region us-east-1 --api-module bot --configure-fb-bot

Now would be a good time to configure a new Facebook page and a messenger application, as explained in the Facebook Messenger Getting Started Guide. The bot installer prints the web hook URL and the verification token, which you can copy to your Facebook Messenger configuration page. You can then generate the page access token from Facebook. Copy that back to Claudia when asked, and you’re almost done.

In a few moments, your bot will be live, and you can talk to it from the page you created. That was easy, wasn’t it?

If you’d like other Facebook users to talk to it as well, submit it for application review from the Facebook App Developer page.

Deploying to other platforms

The Claudia Bot Builder can also help you set up this bot for all the other platforms. Just run claudia update and provide the additional configuration option:

  • For Slack slash commands, use –configure-slack-slash-command
  • For Skype, use –configure-skype-bot
  • For Telegram, use –configure-telegram-bot

More complex workflows

The example bot just responds with silly excuses so for homework, do something more interesting with it.

The request object passed into the message handling function contains the entire message in the text field, but it also has some other pieces of data for more complex work. The sender field identifies the user sending the message, so you can create threads of continuity and sessions. The type field contains the identifier of the bot endpoint that received the message (for example, skype or facebook) so you can respond differently to different bot systems. The originalRequest field contains the entire unparsed original message, so you can handle platform-specific requests and go beyond simple text.

For examples, check out:

  • Fact Bot, which looks up facts about topics on WikiData and creates Facebook Messenger menus.
  • Space Explorer Bot, A small FB Messenger chat bot using NASA API

Although it’s enough just to return a string value for simple cases, and the Bot Builder packages it correctly for individual bot engines, you can return a more complex object and get platform-specific features, for example, Facebook buttons. In that case, make sure to use the type field of the request to decide on additional features.

For asynchronous workflows, send back a Promise object, and resolve it with the response later. The convention is the same: if the promise gets resolved with a string, the Claudia Bot Builder automatically packages it into the correct template based on the bot endpoint that received a message. Reply with an object instead of a string, and the Bot Builder will not do any specific parsing, letting you take advantage of more advanced bot features for individual platforms. Remember to configure your Lambda function for longer execution if you plan to use asynchronous replies; by default, AWS limits this to 3 seconds.

Try it out live

You can see this bot in action and play with it live from the GitHub Claudia Examples repository.

More information

For more information on the Claudia Bot Builder, and some nice example projects, check out the Claudia Bot Builder GitHub project repository. For questions and suggestions, visit the Claudia project chat room on Gitter.