They Should Have Used Freenet

Wednesday a blogger in Nuevo Laredo that was known on social networking sites only by his nickname – Rascatripas (or Belly Scratcher) became the fourth Mexican blogger since early September to be killed.

According to the news report that I read he helped moderate “En vivo” a site that posts news about shootouts and other illegal activities of the Zetas a narcotics and extortion gang that pretty much controls the city.

His head had been cut off

Why would somebody do this?  The answer to that is in a note that was found with his headless body.

“This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn’t report on the social networks,”

Simply put, the Zetas were trying to not only shut him up but also to send a message to anyone else that would report on their activities.

In late September another blogger who had also been beheaded was found in the same location.  Earlier that month a man and woman were hung from an overpass.  There was a sign left with them saying that they had been killed because of their activity in social media.

Had they used Fcon they might well all still be alive today.

Using Fcon (freenet classic opennet) they could have posted their information anonymously within the network where it could then have been picked up and re-posted by people operating outside the reach of the Zetas and the corrupt government officials that help them.

so if you’ve ever asked yourself why you should run Fcon, this is one good example.  Had Fcon been large enough and these people had known about it, using it could well have saved their lives and allowed them to continue working to expose the Zetas.

In memory of those murdered for their internet activities trying to expose and stop injustice, Download Fcon and get your node set up today.

Who knows, maybe your doing so will save a life.  Isn’t even the remote possibility of that worth the little bit of effort it takes to set up and run an Fcon node?  I certainly think so.

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Having recently announced the release of build 5110, the first new build of Freenet Classic Opennet (FCon) in well over two years it has occurred to me that it would be a good idea to put together a brief walkthrough of the installation process.

Because I’m a windows user and have never installed it on a Linux machine these directions are specifically for windows.  When I am able to I’ll do another walkthrough for Linux.

Freenet’s hardware requirements are, in modern terms, pretty mild.

Minimum:

400MHz Pentium 2, with at least 192MB of RAM.

Recommended:
1GHz or more processor with 256MB RAM or more.

As you can see most modern computers will far exeed these requirements.

*Note*

Back around 2004 I actually managed to run freenet on a 200mhz Pentium with only 64mb of ram running Windows 98.  It was very slow and sluggish but it worked enough to view freesites or use FIW to insert new editions of freesites

On my laptop with a 2.1ghz cpu and 2gb of ram I am able to run Freenet while running cpu intensive tasks like rendering high definition video and neither process will suffer any noticeable performance drop at all.

These steps should work the same on Windows 98, xp, and seven.  Windows Vista will probably be more of a pain but I don’t have a vista machine to test on.

1 get or already have Java JRE 7 from http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/index.jsp

2 download the distribution archive at this url:

http://peculiarplace.com/freenet/downloads/freenet-0.5-build-5110.zip

and extract the archive to c:\freenet (or whatever directory you want.  I’m using c:\freenet for this example.)

3 use a plain text editor like notepad to edit flaunch.ini change the JavaExec= and Javaw= lines to point to where java.exe and javaw.exe are located. If you used the default install they will probably be in C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.7\bin\

4 edit freenet.ini

*note* remove the % from the beginning of any line you edit or freenet will ignore the change

You only need to edit these entries:

ipaddress=

If freenet cannot determine your IP address by itself, you will need to set it here.

listenport=

the port number that freenet will use to listen for incoming connections from other freenet nodes. You can change this to any number you like as long as it’s higher than 1024 and lower than 65535.  Do not use the same port number as another application

storeSize=

The size of the local data store.  The more space you allocate here the better.  It defaults to one gigabyte (1G) however you can increase this to however much space you can spare.

At this point you can save freenet.ini and close the editor.  It’s very likely that you could never need to edit this file again.

4-a make sure that incoming TCP traffic on listenport is forwarded to the computer freenet is running on (see your router or firewall docs for how to do this)

4-b optional (but very convenient), get a http://dyn.com/dns/dyndns-free/ domain name & use dynupdate to keep it pointed at your IP address, then put that name in ipaddress in freenet.ini

5 create a shortcut to “freenet.exe” and put it on your desktop, program menu or if you want freenet to start when the computer boots, put the shortcut in the “StartUp” entry of the program menu.

Double click on the freenet.exe shortcut to start freenet.  When Freenet starts, you’ll see the blue rabbit icon in your system tray by the clock.  Right-Click on it to start and stop Freenet.

To open the Freenet web interface you can either double click on the rabbit icon in the system tray, right click and select “open gateway” or just type http://127.0.0.1:8888 into your web browser.

*NOTE* The “Configure” option on that right click menu will try to run a utility called “Nodeconfig.exe” You are infinitely better off to simply stop freenet temporarily and edit freenet.ini yourself instead.  In most cases editing that file will be a VERY rare need.  Once Freenet is working you may well never need to edit it.

Because in my experience the “Nodeconfig.exe” utility has caused more problems than it’s worth by overwriting perfectly good freenet.ini files when all I wanted to do was tweak a setting I have elected not to include it in this distribution.

As a result, clicking “configure” will result in an error message because the program isn’t there.  Just dismiss the error message and use a plain text editor like notepad to edit freenet.ini directly.

Technorati Tags: freenet classic opennet, freenet, freenet 0.5, internet, install freenet, privacy, install guide, anonymity, encryption, install fcon, freedom of speech, anonymous publishing, install walkthrough, freedom of speech online, fcon, install, anti-censorship, censorship proof, censorship

FCon Build 5110 Is Now Available

[Edit June 8, 2012: The Freenet 0.5 network is effectively dead (see this post for details).  While you are welcome to try to make this software work and revitalize it, I know of no currently operating nodes.  If you DO get a useable network up and running, DO let me know.]

A long overdue new build of FCon (Freenet Classic Opennet a.k.a. Freenet 0.5) is now finally available. 

This is largely a maintenance build that should have been done a couple of years ago.  The default bookmarks have been updated and certain links & email addresses have been replaced with new ones.  The old ones pointed to the 0.7.5 fork of freenet which has almost nothing to do with this 0.5 version.

**Note** In order to use this build You will need Java JRE 7, which you can get at this URL:
http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/index.jsp

If you are new to Freenet (Welcome!) This is the main distribution archive:
freenet-0.5-build-5110.zip

If you are simply upgrading an existing node you will need these two files:

freenet-stable-latest.jar and freenet-ext.jar

The source code for this build is here:

FCon-src-build-5110.zip

Other downloads:

Frost: Bulletin board and filesharing software that serves as the main public text messaging system within freenet.

frost-wot-10-17-2011.zip

It is also included in freenet-0.5-build-5110.zip.  Source code for Frost is located in the “source” sub directory of the frost Directory

If you’re starting up a new node you will need one of these

seednodes.ref

seednodes.ref.zip

seednodes.ref.bz2

They all contain the same data, the .Zip and .bz2 files are compressed to make the download quicker.  Use whichever flavor best suits your setup.

Technorati Tags: anti-censorship, censorship, freenet 0.5, anonymous publishing, anonymity, internet, update, freedom of speech, privacy, freenet classic opennet, fcon, freenet, encryption, freedom of speech online, censorship proof

Hardcopy Not As Secure As You Thought

I was going through some of my long neglected email this morning and among a collection of prototype 37c reviews, allegedly “breaking” news items about the antics of this or that sports figure and at least three people writing to say that they have discovered “the” secret to making money online and were willing to share it with me for anywhere from $47 to $597 there was a news item from CBS news that I very nearly overlooked.

It’s about the almost totally overlooked or ignored security risk of using copiers.  Not the risk that somebody in your office will use the copier to make copies of important proprietary company information.  Rather the risk that the contents of the copiers hard drive will fall into the wrong hands.

That’s right.  Copiers these days have hard drives just like computers do and every single copy that is made on that machine is stored as an image on that hard drive.  This may sound unrealistic but when you remember that the cost of disk space is dropping at an incredible rate these days it’s not unrealistic at all.

The problem, according to the article, is the fact that almost nobody even knows about the problem and of those that are aware of it, very few ever bother to take action to do something about it.  Read the article, you’ll find it and the accompanying video segment a real wake up call!

I strongly suggest that if you’re replacing a copier that it’s a VERY good idea to take some time and open up the old one, remove it’s hard drive and then connect it to a computer and use something like Eraser to thoroughly wipe the contents of it before allowing that copier to be sold, given away or even just thrown out.

Technorati Tags: hard drive, privacy, security, copier, digital copies, privacy leak

4th Amendment Protection Eliminated In E-mail

I just read something on Slashdot that should be a great big red flag to anyone that has any interest in email privacy at all.

The 11th Circuit court handed down a decision in Rehberg v. Paulk which severely limits how much fourth amendment protection there is for Email.  The decision was that constitutional protection in stored copies of e-mail held by third parties disappears as soon as any copy of the communication is delivered.

The problem with this is that because of how email works, Just because a copy of the message was delivered to you when your email program downloaded it from the server it doesn’t mean that the copy on the server instantly ceases to exist.  This means that the government or any Law Enforcement Agency can just wait until email is delivered and then snag a copy from the server it was delivered from.

If you’d like an in depth look at why this decision is wrong I suggest you have a look at this article.  The author goes into the legal nuts and bolts of why the 11th circuit court is wrong.

Regardless of whether it’s ever overturned or not, this case serves as a reminder that even with forth amendment protections, email is NOT very private at all unless you take steps to MAKE it private.

The only real answer to the problem of course is to use encryption.  And before you start going with the “If you haven’t got anything to hide then you have nothing to worry about” crap think about this.  For the average person (even law abiding people), it’s not a question of having “something to hide” so much as having privacy.  Back in the days when everybody used postal mail, if you didn’t want the contents of your message to be read then you would use a security envelope or perhaps even put it into a package that was much more difficult to open.

The same thing applies to email.  People send emails every day the contents of which they very much do NOT want to be read by anyone but the intended recipient.  Those emails can be literally anything from important business matters about a new secret project to you Aunt Jane’s secret collection of home remedies for acne.  The point is that you want them to be read only by the person that you’re sending them to and that anyone else reading them is an invasion of privacy.

This is where encryption comes in.  For example if you use Thunderbird as your email program it’s a small thing to get a plugin called Enigmail and a copy of GnuPG, take a few minutes to read some instructions about how to set them up and create a keypair, publish the public part of the key and you’re ready to begin encrypting your email.

Ok, Granted, it’s not much use to encrypt email unless the other party has the same kind of setup but that’s really easy.  All of the programs I just mentioned are free and take only minutes to set up.

I have personally been using encryption for years.  Even when I don’t encrypt emails I use Enigmail & GnuPG to digitally sign all of my emails so that the recipients can A, verify that it was me that sent it and B, they can tell if the message has been altered in any way.

If you want your email to be private the ONLY way to insure this is to use encryption.  I think that it’s long overdue for encryption to come into mainstream use.  It’s not hard to do and does something that regular, unencrypted, email can’t do: It guarantees that you have an “Expectation of privacy” because you have taken extra steps to make it clear to anyone looking at the message that you don’t want anyone but the intended recipient to read it.

Technorati Tags: email, encryption, gnupg, forth amendment, 11th circuit court, enigmail, privacy

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