Encryption Archives

Kaspersky CEO Wants To End Online Anonymity

I just saw this little gem on Slashdot this morning:

Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of well-known computer security
company Kaspersky Labs, is calling for an end to the anonymity of the
Internet, and for the creation of mandatory ‘Internet passports’ for
anyone who wishes to browse the Web

The very first thought I had after reading this and the articles on The Register and ZDNet Asia that it referred to was “This guy must have had an overdose of diet pills and they’ve caused his brain to shrivel up into something the size of a piece of buckshot.”  Then again of course there’s reason for him to think like that.  Just looking up the Wikipedia entry on him gives the first clue:

Kaspersky graduated from the Institute of Cryptography, Telecommunications and Computer Science, an institute co-sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Defence and the KGB in 1987

Given his history, I suppose it’s no wonder that he wants to eliminate anonymity but it’s obvious to me that he’s not thinking quite clearly here.  You see, while it is true that there’s a lot of people that abuse anonymity either to harass people or for criminal purposes that number is actually a small but extremely vocal minority.  Those who most need to make use of anonymity are, by definition, absolutely not interested in being noticed.

I’ve seen it said many times “If you’re not doing anything illegal then you have nothing to worry about.” or words to that effect and to that I respond Bullshit!, some things are just nobody’s flipping business!

Anonymity is necessary in order to have true freedom of speech.  It is the one way that unpopular speech can truly be protected and lets be clear about something.  Just because something is unpopular doesn’t mean that it’s wrong or that somebody doesn’t have the right to say it.  They do however, have the right to express themselves without fear of reprisal from oppressive governments, corporate entities, or just plain crazy people who might decide to oppress their speech with a shotgun if they knew their identity.

Everything is NOT everybody’s business.  That old reporter’s saw “The people have a right to know everything about everyone” is a damned lie straight from the pits of hell.  I myself frequently use both anonymity and encryption tools to conceal some of my activities online, not because I’m doing (or planning) anything illegal or that I’m being an ugly troll on some message board or blog, instead it’s but because what websites I visit, whom I communicate with and what I say to them is quite simply none of anybody’s business but mine and I want to keep it that way.

Others require anonymity in order to be safe from retaliation because they made the mistake of telling the truth about what some governments have been up to.  A very good read on the subject is “Dissent Made Safer: How anonymity technology could save free speech on the Internet.“.  You can also find more on the TOR website’s “Who Uses TOR?” page, the TOR Overview page also goes into detail about Why we need Tor and the Electronic Frontier Foundation is another source of plenty of reasons why anonymity is important.

“Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind.” Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60, 64 (1960). Great works of literature have frequently been produced by authors writing under assumed names.  Despite readers’ curiosity and the public’s interest in identifying the creator of a work of art, an author is generally free to decide whether or not to disclose his or her true identity. The decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely by a desire to preserve as much of one’s privacy as possible. Whatever the motivation may be…the interest in having anonymous works enter the marketplace of ideas unquestionably outweighs any public interest in requiring disclosure as a condition of entry. Accordingly, an author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.” — US Supreme Court McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm

In closing I’ll say that I actually found it quite entertaining to read the comments on Slashdot about this story and I don’t doubt that Mr. Kaspersky has quite probably signed the virtual death warrant of his company because I have no doubt at all that this will inspire many sysadmins and IT people to look elsewhere for their security software solutions.  I know *I* will never buy his stuff.

Technorati Tags: privacy, tor, anonymity, fear of retaliation, not your business, kaspersky, freedom of speech, oppressive governments

TI Upset Because Hobbyists Cracked The 83+ OS Signing Key

Texas Instruments (TI) calculators have for a long time been a subject of hobbyist interest.  In particular is the TI-83.  However TI has long been known to be very uncooperative to say the least.  Recently news came out that somebody has managed to crack the RSA signing key for the programmable calculator’s operating system.

This development means that it will now be a LOT easier for people to load new custom operating systems into the calculator.  Unfortunately, TI seems to have a problem with this.  According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, some TI execs have decided from the comfort of their fancy barcelona chairs that this is not tolerable and they have since been issuing DMCA takedown notices in an effort to suppress any mention of or links to the keys in question.

Fortunately for TI hobbyists, those keys are going to be very difficult to suppress.  Not only have preserved on Wikileaks and other sites, they have also been posted on a Freenet 0.5 “freesite” the URL to which is:

(*note* you must be running Freenet 0.5 on for this link to work.)

Even if TI manages to get those keys totally suppressed and removed from Internet sites, which I think it’s already too late, They’ll never get it removed from Freenet, If only because once something is inserted into Freenet you CAN’T delete it, ever.

Technorati Tags: ti 83 calculator, signing key cracked, texas instruments, ti signing key

What Is Freenet Classic OpenNet?

I’ve talked about Freenet here occasionally and while I think it’s easy enough to understand I still get occasional questions about just exactly what it is.  That, combined with the recent fork of Freenet Classic OpenNet from the original Freenet 0.5 project has prompted me to create this video that gives a basic overview of what Freenet is and how it operates.

In upcoming videos I’ll be covering how to install and use Freenet Classic OpenNet as well as several Freenet applications.  Frost, creating basic freesites and inserting them with the Freesite Insertion Wizard, Freenet Utility for Queued Inserts and Downloads and using Thingamablog to create flogs (that’s a blog within Freenet).

You can download Freenet Classic OpenNet or FCON from either


Technorati Tags: freenet video, anonymous, anti-censorship, oppressive government, freedom of speech, p2p, unblockable, facilitate communication, censorship, share files, freenet, repressive regimes, freenet applications, freenet overview, encrypted, censor proof, file sharing

There’s No Information Like Mis-Information

I saw a story on the Boston Herald site recently that’s a prime example of some of the things that people believe about how much of what information can be retrieved from a computer.

The article mentioned briefly an investigation involving the 1982 Tylenol killings in which police recently obtained evidence that included an older model Mac.

The part of it that stuck out was a quote from a detective who is a computer forensics expert:

Anything (on a computer) that can contain information can be examined no matter how old it is, including hard drives and disks.

One of the first things I thought about was how much, if any, information anyone expects to recover from the system memory of that old Mac?  Answer, since it apparently belonged to somebody who was convicted in that 1982 case which means that the machine’s probably been turned off for quite a while… Nothing.

It’s entirely possible to recover quite a lot from the hard drive and floppies given a machine that can read them in the first place.

The problem with this is that it gives people the wrong impression.  Take a modern computer that somebody is using in some illegal venture and it’s entirely probable that they’re aware of what the information on that machine could do to them in court and would therefore take steps to make it very difficult if not actually impossible to recover.

You see, the expert’s statement doesn’t take into account encrypted files, containers or even the entire hard drive being encrypted.  Nor does it allow for the use of utilities that can securely delete files by overwriting them many times with patterns of data that make recovering anything impossible.

Then there’s the folks who keep everything on a flash drive that can be destroyed with a hammer, beating it into small enough pieces to make any recovery impossible.  For that matter, I understand that five or ten minutes in a microwave oven on high will do a pretty respectable job of rendering the device unreadable by anybody.

I understand that law enforcement feels they have a need for people to believe that they can recover anything but while they can do quite a lot but being able to “typically retrieve any and all information from computers” contains more than a little exaggeration.

Technorati Tags: Prime Example, Floppies, Flash Drive, Respectable Job, encrypted Containers, Detective, Computer Forensics Expert, Hard Drives, Boston Herald, Microwave Oven, Hard Drive, System Memory, Tylenol, Modern Computer, Wrong Impression, Killings

New Version of MMS Released

It’s been a long time since I did anything with MMS (Mixminion Message Sender) but I’ve finally gotten back to it.

MMS Finally has word wrap, which means there shouldn’t be anymore of those really ugly long lines.

There are also now three distributions.  The original which only contains MMS itself, a second that includes Mixminion and a third that includes Mixminion 0.0.8alpha3

The official download page is here: http://peculiarplace.com/mixminion-message-sender

Here’s the current changelog entry with all of the details:

02/10/09 -1.2.6
Removed Beta designation.  Over 3 years is more than long
enough for “beta” (yikes! has it been THAT long?!)

Added LineWrap code contributed by drsnoid.  Messages are now
word wrapped at 65 characters / line.

Added “Word wrap on send” checkbox. Checked by default

Created a third distribution using a copy of Mixminion
0.0.8alpha3 built and contributed by “Antonio from Italy” for
those who want to use a win32 version of the most recent
Mixminion release.  I have been using this build since
5/23/2008 without any problems.

Changed max newsgroups to 3 to prevent msgs from being lost
in m2n’s that only allow 3 since more and more are making
this change in efforts to reduce excessive cross posting by

Changed processing of the references line to make certain
that message id’s are separated by only one space character
by removing all space and tab characters and replacing them
with single space characters.

Added Richtx32.ocx v6.0 to program directory so that MMS will
work on Vista Note: this is un-tested on vista because the
one vista machine I had access to refuses to boot anymore.

Changed Mixminion command line to force mixminionrc to stay
in the Mixminion program directory instead of it’s default.
This change makes MMS portable. I have tested it on Windows XP
running it from a flash drive.  I’ll appreciate any reports
from people who can try it out on vista.  No testing done on
Win 98, also because I don’t have a win 98 machine available,
however it should work fine.

Technorati Tags: anonymity, mms, privacy, software, mixminion message sender, windows mixminion gui, freeware, anonymous email, open source, mixminion, anonymity software

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