Freenet Archives

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:

SSK@eaYn7lrnws~202trApiznva4-QkPAgM,r45BnHpoDlD-r2ozUE7I6g/TI83+OS//
(*note* you must be running Freenet 0.5 on 127.0.0.1:8888 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: texas instruments, signing key cracked, ti 83 calculator, 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

http://fcon.sourceforge.net
or
http://peculiarplace.com/freenet

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

Good News For Downloaders

A team of Microsoft engineers consisting of Peter Biddle, Paul England, Marcus Peinado, and Bryan Willman set out to “investigate the darknet – a collection of networks and technologies used to share digital content”.  their conclusions were published in the report known as “Darknet Assumptions“.

Those assumptions boil down to three basic points.

1.) Any widely distributed object will be available to a fraction of users in a form that permits copying.

2.) Users will copy objects if it is possible and interesting to do so.

3.) Users are connected by high-bandwidth channels.

Recently the EFF took a year end look at those assumptions and came to the conclusions that the Darknet Assumptions are indeed true.

For assumption 1, we see that while 2008 saw music moving en mass to DRM free ways of doing things, movies and in particular, software are still fighting tooth and nail to continue the DRM battle.  One infamous example of this is the Electronic Arts game “Spore” with it’s use of SecuROM DRM.

People all over responded to EA by posting cracked versions of the game all over the place.  It quickly became the most pirated game ever.  In fact, many users even complained that even if they bought a legitimate copy of the game, it would not run properly unless they used a cracked version that had the DRM removed or disabled.

Personally, I’ve seen ads for Spore.  It looks interesting.  However I will NEVER touch a copy of it (or anything else) that has SecuROM on it.  That kind of invasive DRM is going over the line and I won’t have it infecting my system.

For assumption 2, In spite of, or perhaps partly TO spite, content providers that insist on using DRM.  P2P use has continued to increase in 2008.  The EFF correctly points out that it’s not easy to get accurate numbers on P2P useage, however if sites like Pirate Bay claiming 22 million users is any indication, it looks like P2P is definitely on the rise.  Not only that, the results of some informal polls also tend to support the idea that P2P is definitely becoming mainstream.

For assumption 3, All you have to do is look at the ever expanding availability of high bandwidth connections to the average user.  Combine this with the continuing surge in the popularity of high bandwidth internet services, VOIP, video on demand, Etc.  Video sites like YouTube continue to grow in popularity and gain content every day.  Add to that the fact that many of them are now beginning to include High Definition versions of their video players and you have even more demand for bandwidth.

The RIAA, MPAA are not unaware of this, as they are now pushing for ISP’s to filter content.  This has to be a major pain in the ass for them since that means Deep Packet Inspection of every single packet passing through their networks.  Besides which, that sort of filtering would (in my opinion) change them from carriers to editors, making them at least partly responsible for anything they either miss or incorrectly identify as “bad” content.  In spite of this, The RIAA, MPAA and “big content” continue to push ISP’s to get into this filtering and are even trying to push for laws that require it.

The “Darknet Assumptions” document also talks about various file sharing systems and Darknets, including Freenet.  Because I’m more familiar with it than any of the others, I can only comment about Freenet’s Darkenet.

While I’m still a proponent of Freenet 0.5 because of the simple fact that I believe it’s the most stable version in use today, Freenet 0.7 does have some features that, when it reaches a point of stability, will make it the single most secure “bulletproof” anonymous network to date.  It’s strong point is the Darknet.  When running it in Darknet mode, you only exchange node references with people you trust.  Your node then only connects to those nodes and no others.

Once premix routing is implemented, it will become very nearly impossible for nodes connected to you to determine what you are inserting or requesting from the network.

Not that doing so is at all easy now by any stretch of the imagination, it isn’t, not by a long shot.  From what I understand, it would take several evil nodes connected to the same good node to be able to study the traffic going into and out of that good node and some very involved statistical analysis before they could even say that node xyz is *probably* inserting or downloading file x.  Even then they couldn’t be certain.

Premix routing, when it’s implemented, will mean that the first three or four hops outbound from any node will be encrypted with multiple layers of encryption so that immediate neighbor nodes will have no ability to analyze your node traffic and figure out what you’re downloading or inserting.

I have no doubt at all that as Freenet gets closer to 1.0, more and more people will begin using it for their file sharing needs.  Yes, Freenet is slower than other networks.  That’s because of the use of encryption on several levels and the high security built into it’s transport and storage systems.  Then again, as the network continues to grow, it’s performance will continue to improve.  In the meantime there is a growing number of people who have decided that anonymity and security are worth the slower downloads.

The Freenet Project officially discourages piracy and the sharing of illegally copied content on it’s network and will refuse to provide support to or even communicate with people that admit to using it for such.

While they’ve got very good reasons for taking that stance, there will be (and in fact I believe there are now) plenty of Freenet users who have no such policy and will in fact be glad to do anything they can, given Freenet’s absolute anonymity, to support those who are having problems.

It’s also important to point out that Freenet is not just about file sharing.  It also features text messaging systems and the ability of any user to create a Freesite (Freenet website) that is inserted into the network and can then be viewed by anyone who has the link to it which in most cases can be found on a number of indexes located within the network.

One thing that Either version of Freenet has hands down over any other file sharing system that I’ve seen is that once you insert a file into the network, it is possible to shut down your node and the file will still be available.  In fact, once something is inserted into the network, it’s actually impossible to remove it.  Especially since the mere act of requesting a file helps to spread it around the network even more.

Technically, files can “fall out” of Freenet. If they go long enough without being requested and a node needs the space for a more popular file, it’ll get deleted to make room.  In actual practice however, I don’t think this happens much anymore.  Most Freenet users have data stores of 20 or 30 gigabytes or more.  I personally inserted a Freesite back in early 2004 that can still be retrieved today.

Technorati Tags: riaa, securom, premix routing, spore, bullet proof anonymity, darknet, eff, big content, p2p, drm, mpaa, file sharing, anonymity, freenet darknet, freenet 0.7, anonymous file sharing, electronic arts, darknet assumptions

Owner Free File System

I’ve been interested in p2p file sharing for some time.  I quickly grew tired of things like Kazaa, gnutella, emule and bittorrent file sharing systems for a number of reasons.  The biggest complaint was that just about anytime I wanted to download something, suddenly all of the sources would dry up and disappear, leaving me with an unfinished download.

Then several years ago I discovered Freenet.  It was near the end of the 0.4 version and even though it was still, like a teenager with acne, had a lot of problems, I saw immense potential for it.  Especially when it came to distributed storage.  A distributed storage system has a big advantage in that files are available even if the node that provides it is off line.  Over the years Freenet has grown into a pretty large network that continues to be quietly successful both for file sharing and for anonymity.

Once in a while I hear about new file sharing systems or concepts and I’ll at least do some reading about them to see how they stack up against Freenet.  OFF, the Owner Free File system is the latest one.

It’s based on the idea that since everything that’s uploaded into the OFF network is broken into chunks which are then XORed (exclusive OR) with random blocks of data, that those random blocks can be transferred without the need to hide them or be anonymous.

The idea is that those randomized blocks are not copyrighted material even if they were created by XORing the copyrighted stuff against random blocks.  Also, because random blocks get used as parts of several target files, that is supposed to further muddy the waters so to speak, making it harder to determine what somebody is downloading.

I see a problem with this kind of system.  It’s not anonymous and doesn’t even pretend to be.  It’s relying on an assumption that data that is derived from copyrighted data is not copyrighted.  I personally have trouble getting this one past the “grin test”, let alone believing that it will fly in court.

Just for the heck of it though, I got the OFF System and tried it.  I found it slower than Freenet for both inserting and downloading files and I also found that while it’s searchable like most p2p systems, It was slow in getting even a few dozen file listings in my searches.

My conclusion is that it’s a cool experiment but the first time somebody takes an OFF System user to court over copyrighted material being downloaded it’s going to fall apart.  Even if the data being transferred from note to node doesn’t qualify as copyrighted works or a derivative of copyrighted works, the reconstructed file being downloaded from the network certainly would retain it’s copyright status.  That, combined with the fact that because OFF System doesn’t make any effort to anonymize connections, it is certainly possible to determine who is downloading what and what neighbor nodes any given user is connected to.

I think that Freenet 0.5 is not only WAY more secure but also faster for inserts and downloads than OFF System is ever going to be.  Freenet 0.7 tries to gain more security by having a darknet system and Freenet 0.8 will be even more secure by adding premix routing which will anonymize inter-node connections even more.

Technorati Tags: darknet, brightnet, p2p, file sharing, distributed storage, freenet 0.5, freenet

Blogging In Iran Can Get You The Death Penalty

There’s a bit of news on iafrica.com that should cause every freedom of speech loving blogger to take notice and be thankful that they live in countries where it’s safer to blog that it is in Iran.  Also, if you’re a blogger that’s even thinking about traveling to Iran and doing some blogging while you’re there, you’ll want to double or even triple your travel insurance, particularly your life insurance policies.

Just in case you thought China was the only country doing stuff like this, they’re not.  The Iranian government is working on a law that’s going to “toughen punishment for harming mental security in society” (translation: give the government more license to kill people that openly disagree with it.) They’re already blocking websites that either have sexual content, anything religious that does not agree with Islamic doctrines, and of course, anything that doesn’t agree with government approved politics.

Crimes like murder, rape, armed robbery have been on the death penalty list for a long time along with apostasy which means the act of leaving or turning away from a religion.  In Islam, deciding to quit the religion gets you the death penalty.

The bill they’re working on now is adding more to the list of death penalty crimes.  One of them is “establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy”.  This means that if an Iranian puts up a blog or a website and the government decides that it does any of those things, that person can be sentenced to death.

The language leaves them a pretty wide latitude since even if a website doesn’t touch prostitution or apostasy, they can decide to claim that absolutely anything they don’t like or that is critical or in opposition to the government constitutes corruption and again the person responsible gets the death sentence.  Thankfully, there’s ways for people in Iran to continue blogging and speaking out against the government there or even just plain speaking freely without fear of reprisals like the death penalty.

One very effective answer is Anonymous Blogging, writing a blog using anonymity tools so that the blog’s content cannot be traced back to the person writing it.  One very effective tool is to use TorBrowser.  It’s a copy of Firefox that has had it’s settings fine tuned to maximize privacy and anonymity.  It also includes a copy of TOR and all of TorBrowser’s connections are routed through TOR.

One can create an anonymous email address and use TorBrowser to create a blog on free sites such as blogger or WordPress.com.  As long as the blogger only connects to the blogging site with TorBrowser and is careful about what they write, insuring that they don’t give away any information that could be used to identify them, they can safely blog away without fear of reprisals.

Another option, and in my opinion the best option, is to use Freenet.  By publishing within Freenet anyone can be completely anonymous given care about identifying clues in the content.  They can then ask other Freenet users to copy their material and publish it on the regular web where it’s available to the whole world and not traceable back to the one who wrote it.

Either of these methods of anonymous publishing are slower and generally have a higher learning curve but the benefit is a greater degree of anonymity and untraceability.  I admit that The Freenet option is the more involved of the two however it also yields the best overall security for the anonymous publisher.  The TorBrowser option on the other hand does have the advantage that it can be installed on flash drive which can be easily hidden and used on any computer with a USB 2.0 port.

Technorati Tags: iran, anonymous blogging, blogging, death penalty, freenet, anonymous email, anonymity, censorship, torbrowser

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