encryption

MESSAGE SAFELY WITH SESAME
August 3, 2016 9:48 am

In a post by Edward Snowden, privacy can mean the world to some people. I don’t know about you, but between the regular run of the mill paranoia and the media hyped overplayed Orwellian way in which the government seems to have control over our information, I am honestly a bit scared.

A bit. Not too much. That’s probably because things are so bad that I might’ve just gotten used to it.

Regardless, privacy is a big concern to a lot of people nowadays. It is something that companies try their hardest to maintain. The Apple vs. FBI case earlier this year goes to show the extent to which a company will stand their ground in order to keep some sense of reliability with their customers. If privacy is your worry, check out Sesame.

Sesame is an encrypted messaging app. While Messenger from apple is very good as is, it is not enough sometimes. The paranoid tin hat wearing version of me never thinks general encryption is enough. I have to stop watching Mr. Robot.

Sesame works just as you would think, they promote your right to “own all of your data and messages.” The app is great, you can customize little things, you can change who can and cannot save your messages, it has end to end security encryption so that both users are protected, a feature that Facebook JUST added that we talked about earlier this week.

It also has one of the best features that I have ever seen on any app, ever. The “unsend” button. No matter how far back you send a message, you can unsend it. Fantastic isn’t it? It’s everyone’s dream button. How many times have you sent something and you wish you hadn’t. Let Sesame make that dream a reality, and in doing so, save you from getting in a lot of trouble.

The app is only available for from the App Store for now, but if you are lucky enough to have an iPhone, make sure to keep your information protected from the government fat cats and the oligarchs trying to destroy our society. As of the time of this post, it has been taken down an you can sign up to be put on a wait list for it here.

FACEBOOK MESSENGER ADDS END-TO-END ENCRYPTION
August 2, 2016 11:16 am

Encrypted web browsers and online privacy protection services are steadily increasing in popularity.  Many people browsing the web now wish to keep all of their online activity private. Tools like Tor and DuckDuckGo are used by many as a full substitute for more popular browsers and search engines. (i.e. Chrome, Google, Safari, etc.)  Naturally, messaging applications are incorporating methods for maintaining privacy as well.

Messaging services like WhatsApp and Signal have been on the tech scene for some time.  Now, Facebook Messenger is joining the ranks with the addition of Secret Conversations

According to Facebook, Secret Conversations in Messenger employs end-to-end encryption. This means that the messages you send will not be able to be accessed other than on the phone they are sent from and the phone on which they are opened.

End-to-end encryption can prevent numerous potential privacy dangers, including things like unwanted surveillance, malicious third-party intrusions and tampering with data. Without the cryptographic key, the encrypted information is extremely difficult to access. Theoretically, this means that even Facebook would not be able to access your messages, regardless if they are in the Facebook Messenger App.  Even with all that, even end-to-end encryption does not absolutely guarantee that these messages will not be leaked according to Facebook.

Keep in mind that the person you’re messaging could choose to share the conversation with others (ex: a screenshot).  -Facebook

Facebook has incorporated a function called “device keys” in which you can compare a key with the other person in the Secret Conversation, in order to make sure that the conversation will remain encrypted. There are some limitations to what you can send in a Secret Conversations, including the fact that as of yet, the new feature does not support group messages.

Secret conversations don’t support group messages, gifs, videos, voice or video calling or payments.  -Facebook

According to Facebook, the service is still in the preliminary phases and is being released on a “limited test basis.  That said, now that widely used messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger are incorporating end-to-end encryption as a primary feature, this may become the industry standard for messaging services developed in the future.

Featured Image Source – TechCrunch

TOR PROJECT COMBINES WITH HOME ASSISTANT TO PROTECT INTERNET OF THINGS
July 26, 2016 11:58 am

Many people know of Tor, and the Tor Network, as a way to preserve anonymity online.  What is less known is that Tor began as a U.S intelligence communications tool, but was repurposed in 2006 by the nonprofit The Tor Project

Since this transition, Tor has developed into a service that is used by multitudes of internet users across the globe.  Tor users can download The Tor Browser, which is free and open-source, to connect to the Tor Network and browse the web, or send messages, while keeping their information private and anonymous. 

Some people associate Tor with the dark web, and people who wish to browse hidden, unmonitored areas of webspace for official purposes, whether malicious or benevolent.  In actuality, many people that use Tor are simply normal, everyday individuals surfing the web.  The reasons behind using Tor are many: protecting against identity theft, maintaining online privacy, avoiding censorship, discussing socially sensitive information, etc.

According to The Tor Project FAQ, regular users include, but are not limited to: journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, military officials, business owners, bloggers, IT professionals, whistleblowers and many more. 

Using Tor protects you against a common form of Internet surveillance known as “traffic analysis.” Traffic analysis can be used to infer who is talking to whom over a public network. Knowing the source and destination of your Internet traffic allows others to track your behavior and interests. – The Tor Project

Now, The Tor Project is expanding its functionality to include privacy for “The Internet of Things” (IoT).  The Internet of Things is a term used to reference the interconnection of anything that has the potential to be connected to the internet, or that functions in a digital space.

“The Internet of Things” is the remote control and networking of everyday devices ranging from a family’s lawn sprinkler or babycam to a corporation’s entire HVAC system.” – The Tor Project

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By using Home Assistant, an automation platform that runs on the programming language Python 3, Tor is incorporating privacy technology into everyday life, rather than exclusively online. In regard to the digitization of everyday tasks, jobs and items, as well as the IoT, taking measures to ensure privacy now demands attention beyond monitoring your web presence.

This project was developed by Nathan Freitas, Executive Director of The Guardian Project, which also focuses on maintaining privacy through mobile device customization and the development of encrypted mobile applications.

Too many ‘Things’ in our homes, at our hospitals, in our businesses and throughout our lives are exposed to the public Internet without the ability to protect their communication. Tor provides this, for free, with real-world hard ended, open-source software and strong, state of the art cryptography. – Nathan Freitas

It may be a while before Tor users and people browsing regularly on the Tor Browser rival the number of people using more popular web browsers like Chrome, Safari or Firefox. That said, in regard to the speed at which technology changes, the development of Tor Home Assistant may be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ensuring privacy for everything, not just your computer.

For more information check out the Home Assistant page for Tor setup, dubbed “Home Assistant Cookbook.”