Tag Archives: Encryption

European Union Moves To Outlaw Encrypted Apps, by Eric Striker

Outlaw encryption and you’ve handed the keys to government for all communications. From Eric Striker at national-justice.com:

The European Union is moving to ban end-to-end encrypted communication.

An EU council of ministers resolution spearheaded by French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the conservative Austrian People’s Party would mandate that apps such as Telegram, Signal, and WhatsApp provide European intelligence services with backdoor access in order to allow them to better monitor the conversations of their citizens.

Encryption is an important tool used by dissidents, journalists and privacy conscious citizens around the world in an age of mass surveillance and strict social media censorship. Millions have started embracing the technology in the West as the rulers of the Anglosphere and Europe continue to lose public confidence and become more repressive.

The excuse being given for this effort is a spate of recent terrorist attacks in France and Austria committed by Islamic extremists. Rather than contend with the complex cultural, ethnic and immigration issues that lead to such violence, Macron, Kurz and the interests they represent see an opportunity to expand their eavesdropping power over their increasingly frightened population.

In recent years, laws passed by liberal governments under the guise of combating foreign Islamic terrorism have been utilized against citizens espousing nationalist, populist and dissident ideas, as well as adversarial political factions.

In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was founded after 9/11 to combat Al Qaeda operations domestically, but its unconstitutional powers today are largely focused on going after right-wing white men. The FBI’s CIA-like power granted to them in the name of counter-terrorism lowered the bar for surveillance via the secret FISA court and was used by permanent bureaucrats to entrap and spy on members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

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Under this new law, cryptocurrency could become illegal, by Simon Black

The US government has long sought back doors into encrypted systems and Congress is at it again. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

In early 1775, Benjamin Franklin and his European colleague, Charles Dumas, developed a secret method of communicating with each other.

Dumas had spent years gathering intelligence in Europe to assist the Americans in their revolt against Britain. But the two needed a secure way to pass information across the Atlantic.

So they developed a special cipher– a crude form of encryption where letters and words were substituted for numerals.

The decryption key changed with every letter; so, for example, in a letter from Franklin dated March 2, 1781, the word “MERCHANT” was written as “23. 3. 4. 13. 6. 14. 24. 18.”

At the same time, the physician James Jay (brother to the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay) developed an invisible ink so that revolutionary leaders could communicate in secret.

These encrypted communications became critical to the Revolution. And it’s safe to say there would probably not be a United States if they hadn’t developed a secure way to send information.

Ironically, politicians are trying to destroy modern methods of encryption.

Over the past few months while everyone has been in mandatory isolation, cowering in fear in their homes… and over the past few weeks while the Land of the Free has been consumed with rage. . .

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“Intelligence Coup Of The Century”: CIA Ran Global Spy Op Using Well-Known Swiss Encryption Company, by Tyler Durden

What better way to infiltrate a government’s computer systems than by selling them their encryption software. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

In a new bombshell report, The Washington Post reveals a massive covert operation which was ‘hidden in plain sight’ that seems straight out of Confessions of an Economic Hitman — it’s yet more ‘conspiracy theory’ of the past now definitively proven conspiracy fact.

For the past decades, the CIA owned and operated a front company based in Switzerland for the purpose of spying on secret government communications across the globe, whether they were allies or adversaries. This according to newly unearthed 280-pages of an internal CIA history of the operation obtained by the Post along with Swiss public broadcaster SRF and German broadcaster ZDF.

Crypto AG, a Switzerland-based communications encryption firm, was secretly purchased by the CIA and West German intelligence services in 1971. The company not only made millions by selling encryption equipment to over 120 countries into the 21st century, but used the very same equipment to infiltrate each host country’s communications in a ‘Trojan Horse’ style operation.

Crypto is headquareted in Steinhausen, Switzerland. Image source: Reuters.

Sentence First, Crime Later? by Ron Paul

The government is on the verge of penalizing and incarcerating people because they “might” commit a crime. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Attorney General William Barr recently sent a memo to law enforcement officials announcing a new federal initiative that would use techniques and tools developed in the war on terror, such as mass surveillance, to identify potential mass shooters. Those so identified would be targets of early interventions, which would include the disregarding of Second Amendment rights, as well as the imposing of mandatory counseling and involuntary commitment.

The program would likely match data collected via mass surveillance with algorithms designed to identify those with mental problems that would lead them to commit violent crimes. So, this program would deprive Americans of respect for their rights not because they committed, or even threaten to commit, a violent act but because their tweets, texts, or Facebook posts trigger a government algorithm.

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With Little Fanfare, William Barr Formally Announces Orwellian Pre-Crime Program, by Whitney Webb

“Pre-crime” is just about here. If you think a man bent on destroying our constitutional freedoms is actually going to take on the Deep State, you may want to reconsider. From Whitney Webb at mintpressnews.com:

A recent memorandum authored by Attorney General William Barr announced a new “pre-crime” program inspired by “War on Terror” tactics and is set to be implemented next year.

Last Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a memorandum to all U.S. attorneys, law enforcement agencies and top ranking Justice Department officials announcing the imminent implementation of a new “national disruption and early engagement program” aimed at detecting potential mass shooters before they commit any crime.

Per the memorandum, Barr has “directed the Department [of Justice] and the FBI to lead an effort to refine our ability to identify, assess and engage potential mass shooters before they strike.” The Attorney General further described the coming initiative, slated to be implemented early next year, as “an efficient, effective and programmatic strategy to disrupt individuals who are mobilizing towards violence, by all lawful means.” More specific information about the program is set to follow the recent memorandum, according to Barr, though it is unclear if that forthcoming document will be made public.

Barr also requested that those who received the memorandum send their “best and brightest” to a training conference at FBI headquarters this coming December where the DOJ, FBI and “private sector partners” will prepare for the full implementation of the new policy and will also be able to provide “new ideas” for inclusion in the program.

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William Barr Wants to Kill Privacy and Security ‘For the Children’, by Michael Krieger

This article might make you wonder if William Barr is really going to go after the perpetrators of Russiagate. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

U.S. Attorney General William Barr, along with co-conspirators in the UK and Australia, recently wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg requesting he not move forward with a plan to implement end-to-end encryption across Facebook’s messaging services. A draft of the letter was published earlier this month by Buzzfeed, and it’s worth examining in some detail.

What immediately strikes you is the letter’s emphasis on “protecting the children,” a talking point universally used by authoritarians throughout history to justify both a reduction of public liberty and a transfer of increased power to the state. Though this tactic is transparent and well understood by those paying attention, it’s nevertheless disturbing to observe Barr’s disingenuous and shameless use of it (the words ‘child’ and ‘children’ appear 17 times in the course of this brief letter).

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The Govt. Wants to OUTLAW Encrypted Messaging in iMessage, WhatsApp, Signal, Wickr, Telegram, Etc. by Daisy Luther

The government has been trying to get around private encryption for years. It looks like it may be close to doing so. From Daisy Luther at theorganicprepper.com:

If you ever use the encrypted messaging options on programs like iMessage, WhatsApp, Signal, Wickr, Telegram, or any other service, your time to discuss things privately over the phone may be running out. The US government doesn’t like for anything to get in the way of their ability to spy on investigate even the most mundane of conversations.

Instead of seeing privacy as a right, they see it as suspicious. Your devices are already being searched at quadruple the previous rate in airports. And the attack on free speech is now going as far as our private messages to our friends and family.

Because the only reason we’d want privacy is that we’re criminals

This was the topic of a National Security meeting last week.

The encryption challenge, which the government calls “going dark,” was the focus of a National Security Council meeting Wednesday morning that included the No. 2 officials from several key agencies, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Senior officials debated whether to ask Congress to effectively outlaw end-to-end encryption, which scrambles data so that only its sender and recipient can read it, these people told POLITICO. Tech companies like Apple, Google and Facebook have increasingly built end-to-end encryption into their products and software in recent years — billing it as a privacy and security feature but frustrating authorities investigating terrorism, drug trafficking and child pornography. (source)

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The Empire Will Strike Back, by Robert Gore

SLL WILL BE ON A BUSINESS TRIP FROM 3/2 TO 3/6 AND WILL BE UNABLE TO POST. POSTING WILL RESUME 3/7.

The populist revolt fueling non-mainstream political movements in both Europe and the US flows from a single source: you can not fool all the people all the time. The central lie of our time is that governments can and should forcibly assume control of individuals’ lives, in the name of vague and always shifting greater goods. The Command and Control Futility Principle holds that governments and central banks can control one, but not all variables in a multi-variable system. The number of variables global governments and central banks have arrogated to their purported control has grown beyond measure. Breakdowns are visible everywhere, and as those failures exact their ever-increasing toll on the masses, the masses are pushing back.

The last financial crisis was a watershed. Capitalism’s rough justice was obviously, and gallingly, not allowed to play out. Favored financial institutions didn’t face the consequences—insolvency and bankruptcy—of their promotion of various bubbles and their leveraged business models. They were bailed out with taxpayer funds. Especially galling was that they knew they were going to be bailed out. More salt on the wound: improvident homeowners and housing speculators who took on too much mortgage debt were, other than a few spotty government programs, not bailed out or even offered appreciable relief. Since the crisis passed, banks have operated on the assumption they will be bailed out again during the next crisis. Despite all the hype about improved capital ratios and cleaned up loan books, fractional reserve banking is still fractional reserve banking; a leveraged business model that is wiped out if enough loans and speculations go bad.

Still more salt: despite unprecedented government debt and spending, new programs, particularly Obamacare, central bank debt monetization, and ultra-low interest rates, the purported recovery is the weakest on record, with the labor force participation rate at a multi-decade low, the number of people on food stamps recently reaching a record high, and real incomes back where they were in the 1970s. Those ultra-low interest rates have destroyed the incentive to save and forced retirees back into the workforce (the one group whose labor force participation rate has increased), but provided cheap funding to the carry-trade set, stock options-laden corporate executives, and Silicon Valley moguls. Their trophy art, cars, mansions, and spouses grace the media. That’s beyond salt, it’s rubbing people’s noses in it.

The messes the globalist powers that be have made outside their jurisdictions are even larger than the ones inside. Led by the US, the Western powers have bestowed unending chaos on the Middle East and Northern Africa. They have achieved none of their goals, (see “How To Defeat Your Enemies”) but have created massive blowback with the spread of terrorism and the refugee inundation of Europe. Not only have the war-torn lands not been reordered along liberal democratic lines, but mountains of money and barrels of blood continue to be spent in perpetual war. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens in Western homelands, not the elites, are left to contend with terrorist attacks, refugees burdening already strained social welfare systems, and obnoxious and illegal behavior by some of the new entrants. The elites shun even acknowledging these problems.

It comes as a surprise only to the elites and their media mouthpieces that the peasants are revolting, tired of their prevarication, arrogance, and ineptitude. Don’t, however, expect them to pay attention to anything so insignificant as the popular will; they won’t go gentle into that good night. In the US, the establishment can live with Hillary, and if either Trump or Sanders—the revolution’s candidates—wins, the new president will soon learn who actually runs the government. Or he will have an unfortunate accident or heart attack. However, the Empire is leaving nothing to chance; it has already initiated a preemptive counterattack.

The counterattack has three overlapping fronts: war, the economy, and civil liberties. “The Quagmire to End All Quagmires” stated that “the US faces the danger of being dragged into World War III.” That phrasing may have been an error (SLL reserves the right, in perpetuity, to make mistakes, see “On Failure”). The US government most likely won’t get “dragged” into World War III; it will probably initiate it. If Turkey and Saudi Arabia invade Syria, assume they’ve been green-lighted by the US government, which will join them in the carnage.

As the economy goes down in flames, central bankers and the usual totalitarian creeps are embracing negative interest rates and bans on cash. Negative interest rates self-evidently destroy the incentive to save, the foundation of honest capitalism and progress. Many commentators have pointed out that negative rates lead to an increased demand for zero return cash, so the monetary Dr. Strangeloves have to ban it to drive money into the banking system. Although negative interest rates are patently absurd and counterproductive, always strong selling points for the Strangeloves, the real reason for locking money in the banking system is to prevent a systemic run. As in the last crisis, on a mark-to-market basis the leveraged banking system—with the largest US and European banks still massively exposed to derivatives—will be recognized as insolvent and subject to a run unless money is kept locked in the banks and expropriated.

This assault on financial freedom goes hand in hand with the war against civil liberties, a specious battleground in the concocted “War on Terrorism.” The mainstream media and even some of the non-mainstream blogosphere have been filled with articles about the “complexity” of the Apple-FBI standoff on encryption. The word “complexity” is often a tip-off that someone’s about to pull an intellectual fast one.

Encryption is simple. It’s one of those issues most people dread: an either-or. Either one’s computer communications are encrypted and safe from prying eyes, or they are not. There is no middle ground, and Apple is ostensibly cutting its throat asking Congress, of all people, to come up with one. Encryption that has been compromised, for any reason, is useless. At Apple and the rest of Big Tech’s behest an encryption “compromise” will emerge that fatally compromises encryption, cementing Big Tech’s partnership with government. Lovers of liberty and privacy will be left searching for quite possibly illegal encryption developed by smaller, guerrilla software outfits.

Many will say that deliberate war, economic destruction, and technological repression are inconceivable; such a strategy is contradictory, counterproductive, depraved, deranged, diabolic, deadly, pathologic, sociopathic, psychotic, and out-and-out evil. All of the above, but if that’s your reaction, read, or reread, “Life, Or Death?” SLL recently posted Matt Bracken’s “Burning Down the House in 2016.” Bracken shares SLL’s forebodings of impending disaster, and it’s an excellent article, but he makes a mistake: granting the destroyers their stated intentions.

The proto-Marxist Jacobins of the French Revolution put it this way: “Out of order, chaos.” But first the Jacobins had to create the chaos, with an artificially engineered grain shortage leading to food riots, which they exploited for their revolutionary ends. Vladimir Lenin put it this way, when told that bread riots were breaking out in Russia: “The worse, the better.” The better for creating the optimal revolutionary conditions. The Black Panthers, revolutionary Marxists of the 1960s, said, “Burn, baby, burn.”

The currently existing social compact has to be burnt to the ground before the new world economic order can be built up from the ashes. This will be as true in 2017 as it was in 1917.

Regardless of the rhetoric—Liberté, égalité, fraternité; Dictatorship of the Proletariat; The Thousand Year Reich; The New World Order—the truth is that the means—destruction and death—are the ends. Psychopaths kill millions of people because…they enjoy killing millions of people. As SLL posited in “Life, Or Death?”, citing Ayn Rand, a malevolent desire to kill others is, at root, a desire to kill one’s self. The slogans, the supposed omelets that justify cracking all those skulls eggs, are dross.

That imparts analytic clarity to the future. When one understands that one’s life is on the line, one must fight with everything one has. Or else.

PINNACLES AREN’T FOUND, THEY’RE BUILT

TGP_photo 2 FB

AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

JOHN MCAFEE: I’ll decrypt the San Bernardino phone free of charge so Apple doesn’t need to place a back door on its product

From John McAfee at businessinsider.com:

Cybersecurity expert John McAfee is running for president in the US as a member of the Libertarian Party. This is an op-ed article he wrote and gave us permission to run.

Using an obscure law, written in 1789 — the All Writs Act — the US government has ordered Apple to place a back door into its iOS software so the FBI can decrypt information on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

It has finally come to this. After years of arguments by virtually every industry specialist that back doors will be a bigger boon to hackers and to our nation’s enemies than publishing our nuclear codes and giving the keys to all of our military weapons to the Russians and the Chinese, our government has chosen, once again, not to listen to the minds that have created the glue that holds this world together.

This is a black day and the beginning of the end of the US as a world power. The government has ordered a disarmament of our already ancient cybersecurity and cyberdefense systems, and it is asking us to take a walk into that near horizon where cyberwar is unquestionably waiting, with nothing more than harsh words as a weapon and the hope that our enemies will take pity at our unarmed condition and treat us fairly.

Any student of world history will tell you that this is a dream. Would Hitler have stopped invading Poland if the Polish people had sweetly asked him not to do so? Those who think yes should stand strongly by Hillary Clinton’s side, whose cybersecurity platform includes negotiating with the Chinese so they will no longer launch cyberattacks against us.

The FBI, in a laughable and bizarre twist of logic, said the back door would be used only once and only in the San Bernardino case.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, replied:

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

No matter how you slice this pie, if the government succeeds in getting this back door, it will eventually get a back door into all encryption, and our world, as we know it, is over. In spite of the FBI’s claim that it would protect the back door, we all know that’s impossible. There are bad apples everywhere, and there only needs to be in the US government. Then a few million dollars, some beautiful women (or men), and a yacht trip to the Caribbean might be all it takes for our enemies to have full access to our secrets.

Cook said:

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

The fundamental question is this: Why can’t the FBI crack the encryption on its own? It has the full resources of the best the US government can provide.

To continue reading: JOHN MCAFEE: I’ll decrypt the San Bernardino phone free of charge so Apple doesn’t need to place a back door on its product

Upgrade Your iPhone Passcode to Defeat the FBI’s Backdoor Strategy, by Micah Lee

From Micah Lee, at theintercept.com:

YESTERDAY, APPLE CEO TIM COOK published an open letter opposing a court order to build the FBI a “backdoor” for the iPhone.

Cook wrote that the backdoor, which removes limitations on how often an attacker can incorrectly guess an iPhone passcode, would set a dangerous precedent and “would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession,” even though in this instance, the FBI is seeking to unlock a single iPhone belonging to one of the killers in a 14-victim mass shooting spree in San Bernardino, California, in December.

It’s true that ordering Apple to develop the backdoor will fundamentally undermine iPhone security, as Cook and other digital security advocates have argued. But it’s possible for individual iPhone users to protect themselves from government snooping by setting strong passcodes on their phones — passcodes the FBI would not be able to unlock even if it gets its iPhone backdoor.

The technical details of how the iPhone encrypts data, and how the FBI might circumvent this protection, are complex and convoluted, and are being thoroughly explored elsewhere on the internet. What I’m going to focus on here is how ordinary iPhone users can protect themselves.

The short version: If you’re worried about governments trying to access your phone, set your iPhone up with a random, 11-digit numeric passcode. What follows is an explanation of why that will protect you and how to actually do it.

If it sounds outlandish to worry about government agents trying to crack into your phone, consider that when you travel internationally, agents at the airport or other border crossings can seize, search, and temporarily retain your digital devices — even without any grounds for suspicion. And while a local police officer can’t search your iPhone without a warrant, cops have used their own digital devices to get search warrants within 15 minutes, as a Supreme Court opinion recently noted.

The most obvious way to try and crack into your iPhone, and what the FBI is trying to do in the San Bernardino case, is to simply run through every possible passcode until the correct one is discovered and the phone is unlocked. This is known as a “brute force” attack.

For example, let’s say you set a six-digit passcode on your iPhone. There are 10 possibilities for each digit in a numbers-based passcode, and so there are 106, or 1 million, possible combinations for a six-digit passcode as a whole. It is trivial for a computer to generate all of these possible codes. The difficulty comes in trying to test them.

One obstacle to testing all possible passcodes is that the iPhone intentionally slows down after you guess wrong a few times. An attacker can try four incorrect passcodes before she’s forced to wait one minute. If she continues to guess wrong, the time delay increases to five minutes, 15 minutes, and finally one hour. There’s even a setting to erase all data on the iPhone after 10 wrong guesses.

This is where the FBI’s requested backdoor comes into play. The FBI is demanding that Apple create a special version of the iPhone’s operating system, iOS, that removes the time delays and ignores the data erasure setting. The FBI could install this malicious software on the San Bernardino killer’s iPhone, brute force the passcode, unlock the phone, and access all of its data. And that process could hypothetically be repeated on anyone else’s iPhone.

(There’s also speculation that the government could make Apple alter the operation of a piece of iPhone hardware known as the Secure Enclave; for the purposes of this article, I assume the protections offered by this hardware, which would slow an attacker down even more, are not in place.)

Even if the FBI gets its way and can clear away iPhone safeguards against passcode guessing, it faces another obstacle, one that should help keep it from cracking passcodes of, say, 11 digits: It can only test potential passcodes for your iPhone using the iPhone itself; the FBI can’t use a supercomputer or a cluster of iPhones to speed up the guessing process. That’s because iPhone models, at least as far back as May 2012, have come with a Unique ID (UID) embedded in the device hardware. Each iPhone has a different UID fused to the phone, and, by design, no one can read it and copy it to another computer. The iPhone can only be unlocked when the owner’s passcode is combined with the the UID to derive an encryption key.

So the FBI is stuck using your iPhone to test passcodes. And it turns out that your iPhone is kind of slow at that: iPhones intentionally encrypt data in such a way that they must spend about 80 milliseconds doing the math needed to test a passcode, according to Apple. That limits them to testing 12.5 passcode guesses per second, which means that guessing a six-digit passcode would take, at most, just over 22 hours.

You can calculate the time for that task simply by dividing the 1 million possible six-digit passcodes by 12.5 per seconds. That’s 80,000 seconds, or 1,333 minutes, or 22 hours. But the attacker doesn’t have to try each passcode; she can stop when she finds one that successfully unlocks the device. On average, it will only take 11 hours for that to happen.

But the FBI would be happy to spend mere hours cracking your iPhone. What if you use a longer passcode? Here’s how long the FBI would need:

seven-digit passcodes will take up to 9.2 days, and on average 4.6 days, to crack
eight-digit passcodes will take up to three months, and on average 46 days, to crack
nine-digit passcodes will take up to 2.5 years, and on average 1.2 years, to crack
10-digit passcodes will take up to 25 years, and on average 12.6 years, to crack
11-digit passcodes will take up to 253 years, and on average 127 years, to crack
12-digit passcodes will take up to 2,536 years, and on average 1,268 years, to crack
13-digit passcodes will take up to 25,367 years, and on average 12,683 years, to crack

To continue reading: Upgrade Your iPhone Passcode to Defeat the FBI’s Backdoor Strategy