Net Privacy and Anonymity
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Within weeks, I set up unique, complex passwords for every Web site, enabled two-step authentication for my e-mail accounts, and even covered up my computer’s Web camera with a piece of masking tape — a precaution that invited ridicule from friends and co-workers who suggested it was time to get my head checked. But recent episodes offered vindication. I removed the webcam tape — after a friend convinced me that it was a little much — only to see its light turn green a few days later, suggesting someone was in my computer and watching. More recently, I received a text message from Google with the two-step verification code for my Gmail account. That’s the string of numbers Google sends after you correctly enter the password to your Gmail account, and it serves as a second password.
Imagine if you turned on your computer and found your entire digital life was wiped: years of photos, emails, documents—gone. That happened to Wired writer Mat Honan last weekend, when hackers broke into his most important accounts. But it could have probably been prevented if he'd done one thing: Enabled "two-factor authentication" on his Gmail account.
As part of research into doing away with typed passwords, Google has built rings that not only adorn a finger but also can be used to log in to a computer or online account. The search and ad company first revealed its plans to put an end to passwords in an academic paper published online in January (see “ Google’s Alternative to the Password ”). The effort focused on having people plug a small USB key that provides their credentials into a computer. The possibility of using special jewelry in a similar manner was mentioned in that paper. At the RSA security conference in San Francisco last month, Mayank Upadhyay, a principal engineer at Google who specializes in security, became the first person at Google to speak in public about that research. He said that using personal hardware to log in would remove the dangers of people reusing passwords or writing them down.
Do Not Track mechanisms are features on browsers — like Mozilla’s Firefox — that give consumers the option of sending out digital signals asking companies to stop collecting information about their online activities for purposes of targeted advertising. First came a stern letter from nine members of the House of Representatives to the Federal Trade Commission, questioning its involvement with an international group called the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C , which is trying to work out global standards for the don’t-track-me features. The legislators said they were concerned that these options for consumers might restrict “the flow of data at the heart of the Internet’s success.” Next came an incensed open letter from the board of the Association of National Advertisers to Steve Ballmer, the C.E.O. of , and two other company officials.
Computer scientists have released a tool that disguises communications sent through the Tor anonymity service as Skype video calls, a cloak that's intended to prevent repressive governments from blocking the anonymous traffic. SkypeMorph, as the application is called, is designed to remedy a fundamental limitation of Tor : While the communications are cryptographically secured, unique characteristics of their individual data packets make them easy to identify as they travel over the networks. In the past, for example, the cryptographic key exchange was different in Tor transactions and the certificates used were typically valid for only a matter of hours, compared with as long as a year or two for certificates used by most Web servers. These fingerprints made it possible for government censors in Iran, China, and elsewhere to block data traveling over Tor while leaving the rest of the country's communications intact.
When confronted with a doomsday scenario where mainstream online file-sharing becomes a thing of the past, it’s not uncommon for people to refer to days gone by, when files were swapped freely offline using discs and other mediums. Now, an interesting and compact system can deliver the [g]olden days of data swapping with a modern twist, by turning any open space into a wireless and anonymous file-sharing system at a rock-bottom price. With the advent of the personal computer and with it the ability to endlessly copy data, the human desire to share has skyrocketed.
By Stephen C. Webster Wednesday, February 8, 2012 11:38 EDT Internet piracy has been a hot topic in recent weeks, but it’s about to heat up even more. With lawmakers all over the world struggling to agree upon copyright regimes that would disconnect people from the Internet, shut down websites simply for linking to infringing content and cut off whole advertising networks that support pirate domains, one might think the world was on the verge of plugging up the copied media loophole for good. But then, one would be wrong.
The only search engine that does not record your IP address. Your privacy is under attack! Every time you use a regular search engine, your search data is recorded .
Silent Circle CEO Mike Janke Courtesy of Silent Circle For the past few months, some of the world’s leading cryptographers have been keeping a closely guarded secret about a pioneering new invention. Today, they’ve decided it’s time to tell all. Back in October, the startup tech firm Silent Circle ruffled governments’ feathers with a “surveillance-proof” smartphone app to allow people to make secure phone calls and send texts easily. Now, the company is pushing things even further—with a groundbreaking encrypted data transfer app that will enable people to send files securely from a smartphone or tablet at the touch of a button.
Twenty-one-year-old college student Nadim Kobeissi is from Canada, Lebanon and the internet. He is the creator of Cryptocat , a project “to combine my love of cryptography and cats,” he explained to an overflowing audience of hackers at the HOPE conference on Saturday, July 14. The site, crypto.cat, has a chunky, 8-bit sensibility, with a big-eyed binary cat in the corner . The visitor has the option to name, then enter a chat. There’s some explanatory text, but little else.
It's no secret that Facebook isn't the best place for keeping secrets. Owen Campbell-Moore, a computer science student at Oxford University, designed a method to encrypt secret messages inside photos on the social networking site. It's called Secretbook — essentially, it's a Google Chrome extension that uses JPEG Steganography to encode data into photos by making virtually imperceptible changes to the image. The message is hidden in the digital makeup of the picture, not its pixels, so it's comparable to digital invisible ink. Campbell-Moore shared the news in a blog post Monday morning.
Hit one, countless others appear. Quickly. And the mallet is heavy and slow. Take as an example , where the Recording Industry Association of America almost rules with an iron fist, but doesn’t, because of deceptions like the one involving a cat .
WE who love the Internet love the fact that so many people contribute to it. It’s hard to believe that skeptics once worried about whether anyone would have anything worthwhile to say online. There is, however, an outdated brand of digital orthodoxy that ought to be retired. In this worldview, the Internet is a never-ending battle of good guys who love freedom against bad guys like old-fashioned Hollywood media moguls. The bad guys want to strengthen copyright law, and make it impossible to post anonymously copied videos and stories. The proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, which is being considered in the House while the Senate looks at a similar bill, is deemed the worst thing ever.
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, “The Dark Side of the Digital Revolution,” makes for very scary reading. It is not so much because of what he and co-author Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, have to say about how dictators can use new information technology to suppress dissent; we know those guys are evil. What is truly frightening is that the techniques of the totalitarian state are the same ones pioneered by so-called democracies where commercial companies, like Google, have made a hash of the individual’s constitutionally guaranteed right to be secure in his or her private space.