Krypt3ia

(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)

Archive for the ‘A New Paradigm’ Category

The Widening Gyre: Putin’s Asset Sets Multinational Norms On Fire and Begets Global Negative Actions

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We are beginning to reap the whirlwind in the news cycle from the election of Trump and his breaking of norms that this country and the world have come to rely on. This is exactly what Putin wanted, a country in the midst of a political and social rift that takes our eye off the global ball and allows for negative actions to be carried out without sanction. We have seen Trump set the constitution on fire, the Judicial body of the United States, the Economic norms, and generally break up the balance of power in the world. This has allowed Putin to have greater freedom to act and in turn now others feel empowered.  China, North Korea, Syria, and most recently Saudi Arabia have taken actions that would in normal times, possibly not been acted on were the nations not at odds generally due to America’s abdication of its role.

Let’s cover some of the things going on…

RUSSIA:

Putin is still working the levers of power and in so doing he is still making moves on Ukraine all the while leveraging the problems in Syria as well. His actions are two fold, first to annex Ukraine altogether if he can. If he can’t then he will continue to fight with disinformation and active measures campaigns until he has more control over the area even if he cannot all out annex them back into Russia proper. Meanwhile, in Syria, Putin is leveraging Erdrogan and the battle there with da’esh to gain a foothold in the region and have a friendly dictator he can someday use as a proxy against others in the world.

Meanwhile, Putin keeps having his enemies killed off in interesting ways. The list has been topped off as of yesterday with an oligarch who ran afoul of him being found in a park choked to death by a dog leash.

…. A dog leash….

Now that is a metaphor huh? Putin will continue on liquidating his problems with impunity because the norms have all been broken because of Trump. The U.N. NATO, all of the normative bodies have been rebuffed by Trump and weakened. All that is lacking now is an assassination of a Putin enemy on American soil for his win to be complete. Putin pulled a master stroke in helping Trump win. Even so, don’t believe for a second that Putin isn’t also waiting to not only use Trump more, but if Trump begins to fail him he will continue to perform flyovers in our air space like he has been with the BEAR FOXTROTS over Alaska and likely will become more aggressive. I have yet to hear anything about SSN activity but be assured they are there… Waiting.

CHINA:

China has upped it’s espionage games since Trump started his little trade war with them. Recent events have shown a rise in hacking and phishing campaigns that had slowed down since the Xi and Obama agreement. That’s over now though and with the trade war heating things up, and rankles the core ideal of China to be an economic superpower, we are going to see not only more hacking and phishing with a side of theft of IP but also now classical espionage tradecraft to carry out the same goals. All of this will only escalate against the US as we move forward and likely set more things on fire by Trumps economic disaster plan.

MEANWHILE…. China feels empowered too because of all the fractiousness in the world’s governing bodies and has made the ex INTERPOL chief disappear while in China. Gee, China is now feeling like they can just disappear the head of an international investigative body.

Nice.

As all of this is going on we also have coincidentally, the arrest of an MSS asset in Belgium for economic espionage against the US aerospace community. Hmmmm gee, what a coincidence that this happens as the INTERPOL chief is disappeared. As you can see, and perhaps make the connections yourselves, it may be that the MSS is reacting to the impending arrest and or extradition of their asset by grabbing another as a warning?

Hmmm….

Yes, expect more to come out of China with the worsening of the trade wars as well as the eroding of the worlds norms on illegality.

Thanks Putin and Trump!

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention the whole South China sea thing too…

 

SAUDI ARABIA:

Next up, Saudi Arabia seems to have lured a Washington Post reporter to Saudi only to kill and perhaps dismember him in an embassy there. Saudi has never before been as bold and I directly point toward the breaking of all the norms and groups for this action too. It’s been pretty blatant and I suspect there will be no sanction over this. I mean, look, it’s Saudi right? OPEC, oil? Not to mention that Trump was basically setting himself up to be their stooge since the beginning. Nope, nothing will come of this and now the Saudi’s have killed an Saudi journalist working for an American news org.

I also want to mention the whole glossy magazine that was put out by Trump’s friend David Pecker back last summer. What was this all about? Well, it seems that that was a PR move to make the house of Saud more accessible to the US consumer? Put another way, the new crown prince wanted to look progressive and hip and with the help of Pecker they tried real hard. It’s just that this mark was missed with this publication. In fact it only made an already wary populace start asking questions as to why this happened and what kind of conspiracy was afoot. Expect more to come out of this Saudi reporters death and it will likely not be pretty. If they get away with this, and I think they will, then expect Saudi to pull some more stunts in the future as the crown prince get’s more bold.

TRUMP REPUBLICANS:

Finally, the TRUMP party, I really don’t consider them Republicans anymore, will continue to push the limits of the nations norms and laws until they are just removed from power. The events around the recent SCOTUS nomination and confirmation of Kavanaugh are a clear example of how the Trump party is abusing their control over the house and senate to get whatever they want over what the governed wants. The Kavanaugh thing is just the most naked misuse of their power though to date and I am sure more will be coming once Trump replaces Sessions with a minion under his control. This will set the trifecta into play; DOJ under his control, SCOTUS under his control, and Mueller with a new target painted on his back.

I fully expect that when this happens the Russia investigation will be liquidated and the Trump party will lock arms and say that this is not a constitutional crisis. Of course then the DOJ will agree and SCOTUS will concur. It will all disappear at least legally right? This is Trump’s greatest desire and it seems more and more likely that this can happen because of the Kavanaugh ascension. An alternate timeline to this would be that Trump allows the investigation to finish but then has Kavanaugh in his pocket to be the deciding vote on whether or not a sitting president can be indicted.

Either way, it seems that if Trump can replace Sessions with a partisan minion, we are all doomed.

Even more worrying is the upcoming mid term elections. If the Trump party continues to be in contol, expect to look fondly at the times of outrage over Trump’s mild bad actions because he will feel empowered to do even more bad things if he has total control.

Once again, thanks Putin.

We are at a tipping point here and not just with regard to climate change kids.

K.

Written by Krypt3ia

2018/10/11 at 13:38

Spies Using Social Media? No. Way. *Eyeroll*

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Screenshot from 2016-07-31 07-15-27

THIS rather breathlessly hyperbolic report on JTRIG using social media and hacking to spy on, or manipulate people, governments, and movements as well as gather INTEL on them had me eyerolling. Yes, this is new in that social media is new as is the Internet and hacking but really, the techniques of manipulating populaces for political and espionage advantage are nothing new. The spy agencies out in the world perform these PSYOPS and disinformation operations all the time and in the olden days kids they used to manipulate the press, then TV and the press, then INFOTAINMENT. There is nothing new here…

What you all have to realize is that now YOU are more easily hackable, your information more able to be stolen or accessed by writ of law, or YOU give it away by using applications that have been expressly created to give the agencies access to you as in this URL shortener that GCHQ used on the protesters in the Arab Spring. You all have to realize that unless you are code auditing everything you use on the net, then you too could easily fall prey to information leakage or outright compromise if you are a target of the “community” at large.

I would also like you all to take note that those who may support Wikileaks, or be a member of say Anonymous also were targeted and used in this operation by GCHQ as well so if you are an Anon, you too have been targeted rather directly (like the citation of Topiary’s conversations) so you too are not safe even if you are trying to use good OPSEC, which, it turned out, and I have written about in the past, you were not. Oddly enough though, the Snowden leaks on JTRIG also show how the same issues are at play for those operators within NSA/GCHQ as well. Trying to keep sock accounts straight, know the language and the patter, as well as the political issues is problematic when you are doing things on a larger scale (trust me I know) so at least you have that going for you right?

Heh.

Wake up people.

OPSEC… Live it.

Dr. K.

Written by Krypt3ia

2016/07/31 at 14:30

Leaderless Jihad and Open Source Jihad: A Marriage Made In Hell.

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In 2013 I wrote about leaderless jihad and the “Stand Alone Complex” Now we are seeing this type of leaderless, “inspired by” thought virus playing itself out on the national stage. Last nights attack using a lorrie was something that was presaged by two issues of Inspire Magazine back in 2010 and 2014. There isn’t much to it really to gather some weapons, steal a truck, and then plow it into a crowd but it has taken this long for the insidious idea to take root in the collective unconscious of the would be jihadi’s. The days of a more rigid and trained “jihad” are being eclipsed by would be unbalanced individuals seeking attention and reinforcement of their sick ideas through the media, the internet, and our collective inability to look away from a tragic scene on a glowing screen.

Screenshot from 2016-07-15 07:00:082014 Inspire

 

Screenshot from 2016-07-15 07:04:082010 Inspire 2 “Ultimate Mowing Machine”

 

Soft targets were always the preferred avenue of attack but now they are becoming seen as a top priority for security forces since the attacks in France and other places like Bangladesh. While Dahka on the face of it had a contingent of more trained individuals the attack last night is as simplistic as they come. This is what is really scaring the populace and the security services because now it seems that the authors and actors of these acts are in fact just one guy and not a cabal that they could perhaps track using pervasive surveillance. A cell of one is hard to track and certainly if they self radicalize by just downloading Inspire magazine and watching YouTube, well, what can one do? There are no easy answers here in the world of detection and prevention.

Screenshot from 2016-07-15 09:26:04

So here we have it, I have been pointing this out for a while and at first it was AQAP trying to inspire “OSJ” or Open Source Jihad. Now Dabiq and Da’esh are carrying it on and furthering it with the media zeitgeist that ensues with each attack. The net effect here is that these people are selfradicalizing with the help of the media’s obsession on covering ad nauseum these acts. The pervasive hand wringing and talking heads only serve to whet the appetite of the would be jihobbyist into action. Forget the Inspire magazines and the videos, just watch CNN and that is enough it seems. This all is very much like the plot line to “The Laughing Man” arc of Ghost In The Shell. An act carried out on the media instilled others to carry out like acts to be on the media and further the idea(l) as well as serve as a means to self fulfil the actors need for attention and satisfaction.

laughing-man

This is pure psychology at work and there are a host of reasons and syndromes that could likely be pointed at to rationalize it’s happening. The fact of the matter is that now we are seeing it play out rather bloodily on the streets of the world in furtherance of an idea and ideal set that lends itself to the like minded.. Or should I say mentally ill? Yes, I would say mentally ill. These actors are acting out and likely have some borderline tendencies to start with. These people feel outcast in their societies or out of place within the societies they are living in as a second generation citizen. It is a complex thing to nail down and I suggest that anyone who might want to delve into it further read “Leaderless Jihad” by Marc Sageman.

We need a more nuanced approach to the GWOT and I am afraid we won’t get that…

K.

 

The DARKNET: Operation Legitimacy?

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strongbox

gaiuaim ioi dui pln!

The DARKNETS…

The “Darknets” You’ve all heard of them. Some of you out there may have traversed their labyrinthine back alleys. However, have you ever thought that someday the darknet would be just as legitimate as the “clearnet” is today? With the recent bust of DPR and the Silk Road there has once again been great interest in the “Deep Web” and this interest was sparked once again for me too. It seems that the darknet is the new black once again and people are flocking to it just like onlookers at a traffic accident. Others though seem to be aiming to use the darknet technology (TOR and hidden services) to support free speech and to pass information as a legitimate whistle blower.

Still Mos Eisley but….

I loaded up TOR & Tails and took a trip once again into the digital Mos Eisley. It is still dark and full of crazy things and if you go there you too will see black market items, services like Assassinations for Bitcoins, and run of the mill blogs. You can (allegedly) buy just about any kind of drug in quantity just as easily as buying/mining bitcoins and paying for your drugs with them. All anonymously (once again allegedly as you can see from the DPR fiasco) via the Onion hidden services and backed by other services from anonymous email on TOR to bitcoin exchanges. However one can now see other sites out there that aren’t so black market oriented as well.

One such site is pictured above. The New Yorker decided post Ed Snowden’s revelations, that it was a good idea to put their new “secure dropbox” on the hidden services. This is a legit site that has been talked about on the clearnet as well as in the media a couple months ago. This is one of the first more legit sites I have seen out there that is offering a secure means to talk to reporters using the security that others on the darknets are using to carry out illegal activities. I have yet to really look at the site’s security but overall I see this one site being the key to showing others out there how the darknet can be used for something other than crime. Of course then again, if you ask the Obama Administration even this site could be considered illegal or an accessory to illegal leaking I guess. It’s really a matter of perspective.

Gentrification?

So what about other sites? What would you out there use the darknet for that is not “illicit” but requires some security and anonymity? I can foresee other sites popping up perhaps in the arena of free speech or even political movements that might like this model to pass their ideals on. I honestly think this is a turning point for the darknet. Of course this is all predicated on the darknet being “secure” after the revelations from the Snowden Archive of late. It seems the NSA is really trying pretty hard to de-anonymize anyone they want to and would love to have it just not anonymous at all. Well, let me re-phrase that.. Have them THINK it’s anonymous while it is not so much to the NSA.

Other sites out there include an online Koran as well as all kinds of other non criminal sites that are.. Well.. Kinda goofy or fringe. I think that perhaps now things might shift as the technology becomes easier to manage making it easier with global connectivity for us all to hang up a shingle in the darknet.

Time will tell though I guess…

K.

So here’s my thing….

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Face it.. We are all PWND six ways to Sunday

Every frigging day we hear more and more about how the NSA has been emptying our lives of privacy and subverting the laws of this land and others with their machinations. It’s true, and I have been saying as much since the day Mr. Klein came out of his telco closet and talked about how the NARUS system had been plugged into the MAE West back in the day. We are all well and truly fucked if we want any kind of privacy today kids and we all need to just sit back and think about that.

*ponder ponder ponder*

Ok, I have thought about it and I have tried to think of any way to protect myself from the encroachment of the NSA and all the big and little sisters out there. I am absolutely flummoxed to come up with any cogent means to really and truly protect my communications. Short of having access to the NSA supercloud and some cryptographers I don’t think that we will not truly have any privacy anymore. If you place it on the net, or in the air. We have reached in my opinion the very real possibility of the N-Dystopia I have talked about before in the Great Cyber Game post.

As the pundits like Schneier and others groan on and on about how the NSA is doing all of this to us all I have increasingly felt  the 5 stages of grief. I had the disbelief (ok not completely as you all know but the scope was incredible at each revelation) Then the anger came and washed over me, waves and waves of it as I saw the breadth and scope of the abuse. Soon though that anger went away and I was then feeling the bargaining phase begin. I started to bargain in my head with ideas that I could in fact create my own privacy with crypto and other OPSEC means. I thought I could just deny the government the data. I soon though began to understand that no matter what I did with the tools out there that it was likely they had already been back door’d. This came to be more than the case once the stories came out around how the NSA had been pressuring all kinds of tech companies to weaken standards or even build full back doors into their products under the guise of “National Security”

Over time the revelations have all lead to the inescapable truth that there is nothing really anyone can do to stop the nation state from mining our communications on a technological level. Once that had fully set in my mind the depression kicked in. Of late I have been more quiet online and more depressed about our current state as well as our future state with regard to surveillance and the cyberwarz. I came to the conclusion that no matter the railing and screaming I might do it would mean nothing to the rapidly approaching cyberpocalypse of our own creation arriving. ….In short, we can’t stop it and thus the last of the five stages for me has set in. I accept that there is nothing I can do, nay, nothing “we” can do to stop this short of a bloody coup on the government at large.

I now luxuriate in my apathy and were I to really care any more I would lose my fucking mind.

OPSEC! OPSEC! OPSEC!

Speaking of losing one’s mind.. Lately people all have been yelling that OPSEC is the only way! One (the gruqq) has been touting this and all kinds of counterintelligence as the panacea for the masses on these issues. Well, why? Why should we all have to be spies to just have a little privacy in our lives huh? I mean it’s one thing to be a shithead and just share every fucking stupid idea you have on FriendFace and Tweeter but really, if you can’t shut yourself up that is your problem right? No, I speak of the every day email to your mom telling her about your health status or maybe your decision to come out etc. Why should the government have the eminent domain digitally to look at all that shit now or later?

If you take measures to protect these transactions and those measures are already compromised by the government why then should you even attempt to protect them with overburdened measures such as OPSEC huh? I mean, really if you are that worried about that shit then go talk to someone personally huh? I know, quite the defeatist attitude I have there huh? The reality is that even though I claim not to be caring about it (re: apathy above) I actually do but I realize that we no longer have privacy even if we try to create it for ourselves with technical means. If the gov wants to see your shit they will make a way to do so without your knowing about it. I fully expect someday that they will just claim eminent domain over the internet completely.

Fuck OPSEC.. I want my government to do the right thing and not try to hide all their skirting of the law by making it classified and sending me an NSL that threatens to put me in jail for breaking the law.

Fuck this shit.

CYBERWARZ

Then we have the CYBERWARZ!! Oh yeah, the gubment, the military, and the private sector all have the CYBERWARZ fever. I cannot tell you how sick of that bullshit I am really. I am tired of all the hype and misdirection. Let me clear this up for you all right here and right now. THERE IS NO CYBERWAR! There is only snake oil and espionage. UNTIL such time as there is a full out kinetic war going on where systems have been destroyed or compromised just before tanks roll in or nukes hit us there is no cyberwar to speak of. There is only TALK OF cyber war.. Well more like masturbatory fantasies by the likes of Beitlich et al in reality. So back the fuck off of this shit mmkay? We do not live in the world of William Gibson and NO you are not Johnny Mnemonic ok!

Sick. And. Tired.

I really feel like that Shatner skit where he tells the Trekkies to get a life…

Awaiting the DERPOCALYPSE

All that is left for us all now is the DERPOCALYPSE. This is the end state of INFOSEC to me. We are all going to be co-opted into the cyberwarz and the privacy wars and none of us have a snowball’s chance in hell of doing anything productive with our lives. Some of us are breaking things because we love it. Others are trying to protect “ALL THE THINGS” from the breakers and the people who take their ideas and technologies and begin breaking all those things. It’s a vicious cycle of derp that really has no end. It’s an ouroboros of fail.

RAGE! RAGE! AGAINST THE DYING OF THE PRIVACY! is a nice sentiment but in reality we have no way to completely stop the juggernaut of the NSA and the government kids. We are all just pawns in a larger geopolitical game and we have to accept this. If we choose not to, and many have, then I suggest you gird your loins for the inevitable kick in the balls that you will receive from the government eventually. The same applies for all those companies out there aiding the government in their quest for the panopticon or the cyberwarz. Money talks and there is so much of it in this industry now that there is little to stop it’s abuse as well.

We are well and truly fucked.

So, if you too are feeling burned out by all of this take heart gentle reader. All you need do is just not care anymore. Come, join me in the pool of acceptance. Would you care for a lotus blossom perhaps? It’s all good once you have accepted the truth that there is nothing you can do and that if you do things that might secure you then you are now more of a target. So, do nothing…

Derp.

K.

Creating Your Own Privacy & ROI

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img courtesy of XKCD http://xkcd.com/

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Preamble

With all the alleged revelations over the drift net surveillance happening to us all by the government I and others have been pondering the processes needed to protect one’s communications online and over the phone. Wired and other venues have put out reasonably ok articles on this but generally I think they have lacked on the ROI factor for the varying degree’s of surveillance that has been carried out for some time now, not just the NSA with PRISM. The immensity of it all I think can put one off on the idea of being able to keep their privacy especially given the pains that one must take to keep it on the nation state scale. However, there is much that could be done to have a modicum of privacy but one just has to understand the idea of OPSEC and have some technical base to work from in order to use the technologies such as TOR or CRYPTO in the first place. It is another thing altogether to keep that mindset every day and to understand the import of their use and the cause and effect that comes from failing to use them.

PRISM and NATION STATE SURVEILLANCE

As Ali (@packetknife) alluded to on the “Loopcast” recently with me, the idea that someone can completely deny the nation state program of surveillance is a tough one to swallow today. We all are connected to the net in some way whether it be your smartphone or some other connected device that we carry with us 24/7. In the case of the smart phone the utter and total pwn that goes on there is spectacular to think about. There is no need for tinfoil hat conspiracies about barcode tattoo’s on one’s neck here, all you really need is an iPhone and connectivity to know quite a bit about a person. This is why the metadata issue is a big one and people are seemingly unable to comprehend it. Let me clarify this for you all by also saying that not only are the calls to and from being easily monitored and mined (stored later for perusal when needed) by the NSA it seems, but also the GPS data as well. Remember the hubbub over the Apple collection of GPS data on the phones a couple years back? Remember the outrage on some parts over this? Well, now look at that in relations to how much of that data is accessible by the government too in this program. More to the point and this has not really been talked about, but are they correlating that data as well in the phone surveillance being carried out? My assumption is yes but like I said that seems to have been dwarfed and drowned out by the PRISM revelations.

Ok so now we are being data mined and correlated on the phone calls we make (metadata). Of who we are calling, how long we are talking, and when as well as  the GPS (location) as well?  All of that data is very informational about the habits of a person alone but start to analyze it from a personal and psychological perspective and you can build quite the dossier on someone without even having to listen to their conversations. Which I hasten to add that there are rumors of the caching of conversations generally not just under warrant from FISA. At this level, the nation state level of surveillance, one cannot hope to really be secure in their communications using technologies as they are because of the access the government has built for themselves post 9/11 with the Patriot Act as it’s fulcrum. Access mind you that we are giving them by proxy of the devices we buy and the services that provide the connection because without them we have no way to communicate other than in person or pen to paper with the post offices help right?

All of this though does not mean that the government is spying on you now. What it means though is that the legalities have been created or bent to the will of the government to have the illusion that the wholesale collection of all kinds of data for later use of anyone using these systems is legal. It also means that no matter the protestation of the government and the law enforcement bodies that they take all due care not to collect/use/surveill you vis a vis your data that there is a chance that someone within the system “could” and “might” do so outside of the rules and that is the problem here … Well other than the Constitutional, moral, and ethical issues that is. Just because it is against the rules does not mean someone won’t do it if they have the access. You know.. Like EJ Snowden having access to highly classified data that perhaps he shouldn’t have? Or furthermore the availability of Mr. Snowden being able to insert a USB drive into systems and siphon off said data to give to the press or anyone who’d listen right?

PRIVATE SECTOR or THE LITTLE SISTERS

Another issue that seems to be taking a back seat here is the notion of the Little Sisters to Big Brother. This idea springs from something I alluded to above in that the corporations that offer you the services (Gmail/ATT/Facebook etc) all collect data on you every minute of every day. They use this data for advertising, data mining, selling that data to other companies to form synergies on how to sell you on things etc. It is this practice of collecting all this data on us and our complicity in it that has given rise to the drift net approach that the government has taken with the surveillance programs like PRISM. The government is simply leveraging the capacities that are already there in the first place! You want to blame someone for this mess? Look in the mirror as you have allowed your data to be collected in the first place. YOU have placed your minute details out there on the internet to start with in email or posts to Twitter and Facebook for example. YOU are the culprit because you fail to understand OPSEC (Operational Security) and just scattered it on the net for anyone to see.

Of course other bits are more arcane. Cookies, tracking data within browsers and the like also give away much data on who you are, what you like, and allow the marketers to tailor ads for you when you go to sites that pay for the services. The aggregate of all of this data makes a digital portrait of you that unless you take pains to disallow the collection, will be sold and used by the corporations to package YOU as the commodity. I mean, how do you think Facebook works? It’s a social contract to connect to others and allow Facebook to make money off of your habits. Zucky is not in this to win a Nobel Peace Prize here ya know.

So when you think about all this surveillance going on please remember that you are complicit in it every time you surf the web, make a facebook post, a tweet, or send an email unencrypted (Google analytics kids) because they are all sifting that data to “get to know you better” *cough* It’s just a friends with benefits thing as the government see’s it being able to just hit them with an NSL and plant a server in the infrastructure to cull the data they want. As long as it doesn’t effect the bottom line (money) for them I suspect their worries about privacy are, well, pretty low on average. I mean after all you have already signed away your rights have you not? The little sisters are insidious and subtle and I am afraid they have already become metasticized within the society body.

The Only Privacy You Can Have Is That Which You Make Yourselves

“The only privacy that you have today  is that which you make for yourself” is something I said a while back on a blog post or podcast and I still stand by it. It seems all the more relevant in the post Snowden world today. By creating privacy I mean leveraging technologies like encryption to keep your communications private and OPSEC to consider how you transmit information over the internet and telco. There are inherent problems though with all of these things as you can always make a mistake and end up leaking information either technically (an instance would be logging online with your own IP address to something) or process wise like putting your current location on Facebook and saying you’re on vacation for two weeks. It is all a matter of degree though and even if you are practicing OPSEC there are things outside of your control when the nation state is looking to spy on you. There are just no two ways about it, you can only fight the nation state so much with technology as they have more resources to defeat your measures eventually by end run or by brute force.

On the level of defeating the little sisters, well the same applies but with limitations. You can in fact surf the net on TOR with NOSCRIPT, cookies disallowed and on an inherently anonymized OS on a USB stick right? The little sisters can only do so much and they only interact when they see a profit in it. They after all are not looking to be voyeurs just for the fun of it. They want to sell you something or sell you as metadata right? However, if you start to anonymize yourself as much as you can and you are diligent about it you can stop the Little Sisters which in turn may minimize what the Big Brother can use too. The caveat is that you have to take pains to do this and you have to know what you are doing. There are no magic easy button offerings on the shelf that will hide you from them all and if you care then you will take the time to learn how to perform these measures.

ROI On Privacy

Finally, I would like to take stock of the fight here that you need to take on and what the ROI is for each adversary involved. In reality unless you go off the grid, change your identity and never touch another piece of technology ever again there is a high likelihood that your information will be tracked. One may in fact create a separate identity to pay bills with and use that one to surf online as well as other things but that is an extreme just like the idea of becoming a Luddite. There must be a middle road where you can feel that you are protecting a certain portion of your lives from the unblinking eye of the companies and governments that own or access the technologies that we use every day. You have to though, understand all of this and accept that in the end you may fail at keeping your privacy yours and yours alone. Come to grips with this and be smart and you can have a modicum of success if you are diligent.

A for instance of this ROI would be on the phones. If you TRULY want to be private then you have to lose your smartphone that you have billed to you and buy a burn phone. Cash is king and there is no information taken if you do it right. The unfortunate thing is that you then have to call only others who have the same burn phones out there without any metdata that ties it back to their real identities. You just try getting mom and dad to buy burn phones to talk to them on… It’s not that easy. So really, some of the ROI is minimized by the nuisance factor. The same can be said for the lay individual who is not going to go buy encryption products nor are they capable of installing a Linux system and running something like GPG. This is not going to work for everyone as well as not everyone is going to care about their privacy as the recent Pew poll showed where 56% of polled ok with surveillance program by NSA.

In the end it all comes back to the idea that you create your own privacy by your own actions. Do not trust that the government is going to protect your privacy and certainly don’t believe that the corporations will either. I mean, just look at how many spectacular fails there were on passwords that weren’t hashed or encrypted in any way by companies hacked by LulzSec. As well you should not trust the government, no matter how well intended, that they will be ABLE to protect your privacy as we have seen with recent events like Brad Manning’s theft of (S) data as well as now Snowden (TS/SCI) The actions of one person can be the downfall of every carefully crafted system.

So what is the ROI here? Well….

NATION STATE:

Crypto and anonymized traffic online will minimize your footprint but eventually they will break you if they want to. You have to be exceptional to fight the nation state level of surveillance. As for the driftnet out there well, unless you go luddite they have a lot of data to sift and commingle. They have a pretty good picture of who you are and much of that comes from the little sisters. Your ROI here is minimal because they have the power and the thing you MUST remember is that CRYPTO IS YOUR FRIEND!! Encrypt sessions for chat and emails and you will leave them with the task of either having to break that crypto or hack your endpoint to see the plain text. Make them work for it. Otherwise you may as well just BCC the NSA.GOV on each and every email today it seems.

LITTLE SISTERS:

The little sisters though are another thing. You can in fact obscure a lot of what you do online and through telco but you have to be diligent. It means time and sometimes money (burn phones or laptops in some cases) to obfuscate as much as you can. The ROI here is that IF you take these pains you are then able to deny them easy access to your habits and patterns. If you start using crypto in sessions and in communications like emails then you will be also geometrically heightening your privacy status. But you have to do it.. AND that seems to be the hard part for many whether it is laziness or apathy I am not sure.

Privacy is what you make of it… He says as he hits enter on a public blog post!

K.

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SHMOOCON 2013 ROUNDUP

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Takeaways:

Well another Shmoocon has come and gone. While much fun was to be had I could not help but notice that there was a definite theme going on in talks this year both on and off the stages. That theme was just how much we are all being screwed by the legal system today as well as how much damage could be done to anyone at any time because the laws are either being abused or are ill suited to apply to the crimes that people are being charged with. In many cases the talk this year centered around fundamental rights granted by the Constitution that are steadily being eroded or tossed out the window because the word cyber has been placed in front of the charges.

With stories like the DHS’ right to search any of your hardware within 100 miles of the border to seizures of domains without having to produce a reason why we should be talking about it. Frankly we should be doing more than just talking about it we should be assailing the government with questions and attempting to protect our rights. Unfortunately what we have seen is that even trying to protect our rights cannot be done easily without a great amount of money and time while lawyers bill you many hundreds of dollars an hour. Without money we have pretty much no hope of changing the laws even with the likes of EFF trying to do so.

This conference just seemed to show that we are realizing these things more overtly because of late the law has been making some rather harsh decisions against the innocent as well as the guilty. For me though, when I see misdemeanors turn into felonies because they are compounded together in order to have a bigger win in the press and to further a career I see the scales of justice as being broken. The realization, which we all have but we put away to lead our daily lives and keep our heads down is that the law only really serves those who have money. The more money you have, the more malleable you can force the law to be.

The Law Won’t Protect You:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

It seems that since 9/11 the 1st and 4rth Amendment have become trite in some ways to the government. From the moment that GW Bush said you better watch what you say to today’s full blown surveillance state we have seen these fundamental rules be put aside by the government. Sometimes this is overtly but mostly it is done in muted ways that people are not paying attention to. The instance of the DHS’ right to search any hardware you have within a 100 mile radius of the border is part and parcel to this idea that they can do whatever they wish in the name of anti terrorism. A review of the privacy record for DHS generated a report that once really read shows they had no issue with this and thought that it was not a privacy issue whatsoever.

Evidently, the 4rth Amendments statement on reasonable search and seizure is moot if some $10.00 an hour security guard feels that I am an imminent threat with that laptop. I guess though that’s just par for the course in a world where warrant-less wiretapping is the vogue and approved by the government even though they were mandated by law to get things like FISA warrants to do so. It’s interesting to note just how quickly the government was able to re-jigger the laws around that in their benefit to allow for this as well as say rationalizing torture too. It’s all a matter of who’s got the juice and the legal teams to wordsmith language to allow what they desire to become the rule of law. It seems today that the laws to protect you are just platitudes and if you believe in them you are deluding yourself to some extent.

The Law’s Allow Over-Reach and Companies Like Microsoft Are Abusing That:

Another talk by @theprez98 was about how Microsoft in particular but also the government were seizing domains inside as well as trying to outside the country. The cases where Microsoft has been taking liberty with the law surrounds the C&C’s for malware like Zeus. These takedowns make the news and Microsoft get’s a boost for being the whitehat here but in fact they are using their great wealth to manipulate the law in their favor to carry out these extra jurisdictional actions. What it amounts to is a private company seeking approval from a judge to carry out actions that the police really should be but are not.

In the case of the Zeus takedown they seized assets and domains of not only the botmasters but also innocent victims in the process. The same has happened with the government taking down domains under seal. This means that the collateral damage (aka other peoples sites that had nothing to do with this to start) end up losing their data, have no real means of seeking redress (sealed means secret) and in the end lose money and time because they happened to just be in the way. Of course lest we also forget that if their site happened to have some content that may be considered illegal in some way, then they too could be charged in another case because suddenly their data is considered “plain view” This means that since the government could see it even without a specified warrant they could then act upon it.

Microsoft has been prosecuting these cases with more frequency as they keep citing earlier cases that they won approval from the judge to prosecute and thus case law is made. This precedent makes it all the more possible for any other company to make the same case and as such more searches and seizures could happen by companies and not the law enforcement community. I guess my question then becomes how long until the government privatizes the “net police” ideal and places it in the hands of the likes of a Xe? Will we have letter of digital marque as well one wonders as it becomes more expedient for private companies to police things on the internet.

The Government Is Ill Equipped To Handle Technology and Create Law:

A second talk that focused on the law and how poorly it is equipped to deal with modern technological issues was presented by the EFF at Shmoocon. This talk focused on two cases, the first being the case of Aaron Swartz. Aaron took his own life recently and many believe that it was prompted by the judicial over-reach against him in the JSTOR case. While Aaron did a couple things that could warrant misdemeanors the prosecutors in the case concatenated them change these into felonies. In the end the releases by the prosecutors were claiming that Aaron could go to prison for 35 years after downloading too many documents from JSTOR.

In Aaron’s case as in Weeve’s the interpretation of the 1984 CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) allows for quite a bit of abuse and no substantive changes have been made to that law since it’s inception. As such the law is out of date and ill equipped to apply to much of anything that can happen today. Of course in the case with Weeve this is plainly shown because the data was publicly available and no escalation of privilege was carried out to get it. The access of the ATT data was as easy as tying in a URL yet ATT has made this a federal case and Weeve the target of some pretty hefty jail time as well as fines.

It was plainly seen in the presentation by EFF that the current laws are outdated and that the law makers are not very clueful on how things work today in a digital world. In a way one can infer that they like it this way because it leaves much more for interpretation and misuse but I don’t want to be too dark here. I guess I will just stick to the theory that they are all old and really do consider the internet to be a series of tubes. Either way unless we force change on this and get them to change the laws to reflect reality we all are subject to wrongful if not over prosecution because the current ones are too open to abuse by prosecutors seeking to make a name for themselves.

We Need To Know Who You Are So No Pseudonyms Allowed:

Evidently it’s also too hard for the government to know who’s who so there are pushes on to have a “Real ID” on the internet as well as AFK. Another talk at Shmoocon was about the idea of identity and how companies like Facebook as well as the government are seeking to apply rules on “Persistent ID” Since the lawmakers find technology so hard to understand and privacy is an antiquated idea they just seem to think that foisting a persistent ID on us will make it all better. Since you have persistence, you won’t do anything like troll anyone online will you? Sure, that’s going to work swimmingly don’t you think?

I am constantly surprised by these people and entities that seem to think that privacy is dead or that it is not needed. The reason people take up pseudonyms is because they wish to speak their mind not only to commit crime. In fact they are likely to really be afraid that the act of speaking their mind may in fact be a crime. You can see this going on in various countries today with authoritarian or theocratic governments. I myself have been taken to court over things I have said as well as have been warned not to rock the boat for fear of more litigation or other negative repercussions. I guess then that the 1st Amendment is just a piffle right?

Out of all of the talks this one scared me the most. This movement to mandate identity online is more venal than any talk of the government trying to erode the 2nd Amendment to me. Why you ask? Because this is something that the governments as well as corporations can get past people’s cognitive dissonance as opposed to taking their guns away. Just how much privacy have we already lost today with the likes of Facebook and others online? How much of your PII data circles the globe in databases showing connections to who you are, where you are, and what you buy? Think about it in the context of linked databases and you can start to see where I’m going here. We have already given up a lot so what’s the big deal in getting a drivers license on the net huh?

I guess the most astounding thing though to me is that the government as well as Facebook think that this will in fact end pseudonym use. If they try then those really seeking to be anonymous will just use someone else’s ID right? The person intent on doing so will just fabricate or steal another ID and thus the waters will be muddied once more. It is galling though that in today’s world we have entities like Instagram that want you to take a photo of your government issued ID to verify who you are and send it to them online.

HOLY WTF!

The Military Leaders Are Old and Do Not Understand The Technology:

Finally, I learned that the leaders of our government and the military on average tend to not understand “internet” I know shocking huh? A talk given at Shmoocon on cyberwar “Hacking As An Act of War” was enlightening to some in the room but for me it was status quo. The fact of the matter is that the people running the wars are old. Those actually prosecuting it are young though. As Mark Hardy said in his presentation “Once the older generation is out of control, the younger generation will be better able to make the changes needed to fight the next war online”  and I’m paraphrasing there but the sentiment is true.

The same goes for the policy makers where this is concerned as well. The paradigms have changed but those in charge have not nor have they tried to keep up with what’s going on. How many times have we all seen pieces in the news where some senator somewhere says something that clearly shows they have no clue what they are talking about? Now imagine that you are someone who’s an expert on that subject. All you can do is hang your head and walk away. I personally have tried with Senator Droopy Dawg to no avail to get across to him that his arguments are only crying wolf instead of being substantive and clued in. Of course nothing came of my trying, not even a response. …Even when I was nice about it.

Now consider the prosecution of war with a digital aspect. Mr. Hardy gave us some great information on the Tallinn manual as well as insight into NATO’s ideas on how to classify and prosecute the laws around digital or 5th domain warfare. At times they seemed to just be out of touch with reality but at least they are trying. The issue though is that this is all Terra Nova and the people trying to assess it are still locked into ideas that pre-date the internet. It’s akin to taking George Washington and placing him in the middle of a firefight in Viet Nam. I should think that George is not going to last long as a warfighter in such a scenario because he lacks the comprehension of the weapons of war for that era.

In other words we are screwed.

Final Thoughts:

Overall Shmoocon was a good time. Much more for the LobbyCon that was constantly going on than most of the presentations though. It was enlightening in many ways to talk to others about what was going on not only technically but moreover their concerns about the same issues as I have laid out here. We live in perilous times where the law and internet are concerned. Our ideals of privacy are at risk as well as our rights according to the Constitution. We are increasingly living our lives within the medium of the digital and yet we fail to see the machinations going on to spy on us with more regularity and impunity.

We are abdicating our privacy as well by allowing companies to keep have our data because we don’t read a EULA and encrypt our transmissions. In so many ways we will be the ones to blame when our data us used against us because we did not carry out the due diligence to protect it. We should not trust in Twitter to protect those conversations we have in DM because their EULA says that nothing you do there is private. … Even a direct message outside the Tweet stream. We need to either say no to these services or force them to change their EULAs to allow for some privacy. Failing that we need to protect ourselves with crypto. The question then becomes, as was intimated to me on a couple occasions this weekend, “Just how long until crypto becomes regulated as a munition again altogether?”

It’s a brave new world kids, best start paying attention.

K.

 

Written by Krypt3ia

2013/02/18 at 16:20