Security

ID theft, vulnerabilities, privacy issues, etc

Tor, trust and the NSA

Filed under
OSS
Security

Tor is an anonymizing network that’s designed to protect you by “bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.”

That’s cool, but does Tor really guarantee you what you think or assume it does? I can’t say for sure, but when facing a state-sponsored entity with time and resources on its side, you cannot be too careful. At least if pays to know what other people think about Tor, especially when what they have to say runs counter to what you know, or what you think you know.

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Avoid the Android vampire apps

Filed under
Android
Security

Some Android applications will drain your smartphone or tablet of battery life, storage or bandwidth like a blood-sucking fiend. Here's what's what with the worst of the worst.

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Snowden on Dropbox: It’s hostile to privacy

Filed under
Software
Security

Dropbox is a very popular Cloud storage services, but is it good for the privacy-conscious?

According to Edward Snowden, it’s not.

In an interviewed published on GuardianNews, Snowden described Dropbox as “hostile to privacy.”

So what are the better alternatives. Snowden recommended Cloud storage services with zero-knowledge as a key feature.

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How to use public PCs safely with Linux

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Security
HowTos

Public PCs aren't safe, so what's a PC user to do? Carry a Linux distribution on a USB stick in their backpocket of course!

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Announcing Project Zero

Filed under
Google
OSS
Security

Security is a top priority for Google. We've invested a lot in making our products secure, including strong SSL encryption by default for Search, Gmail and Drive, as well as encrypting data moving between our data centers. Beyond securing our own products, interested Googlers also spend some of their time on research that makes the Internet safer, leading to the discovery of bugs like Heartbleed.

The success of that part-time research has led us to create a new, well-staffed team called Project Zero.

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LibreSSL Portable Encounters Its First Release

Filed under
OSS
Security

OpenBSD developers have announced their first release of LibreSSL portable.

LibreSSL 2.0.0 is the release and is tested to build on Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, and FreeBSD systems. Bob Beck of OpenBSD explains, "This is intended as an initial release to allow the community to start using and providing feedback. We will be adding support for other platforms as time and resources permit."

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Samsung Nixes Knox: The Android Security Saga Continues

Filed under
Android
Security

Granted, Google has been updating handset issues at a quicker pace – particularly when it comes to security patches, via Play Services –and so far, the telcos have not played spoilers. But remember: Google has not initiated a move to push an entirely new OS directly to users except to those who own Google’s telco independent Nexus brand devices. Keep in mind that there’s a big difference between updating a feature or security patch and producing an entirely new OS. OS updates typically up the Kernel and the radios. It will be interesting (and historical) if the telcos continue to stay out of the way.

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[Fedora] Simple Patch Policy

Filed under
Red Hat
Security

Following the approval of the Simple Patch policy, all the necessary pieces are now in place.

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How Card.com Is Securing Itself and Its Users With Open Source

Filed under
OSS
Drupal
Security

"We're heavily involved in Drupal. I'm a member of the Drupal security team and the former lead of the team for over two years," Knaddison said. "So it's an area where we have a fair amount of expertise and depth, and we feel that our situation is best served by fixing vulnerabilities directly in the software itself."

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A Bundle of Tor

Filed under
OSS
Security
HowTos

NSA: Linux Journal is an "extremist forum" and its readers get flagged for extra surveillance

Filed under
Linux
Security

A new story published on the German site Tagesschau and followed up by BoingBoing and DasErste.de has uncovered some shocking details about who the NSA targets for surveillance including visitors to Linux Journal itself.

While it has been revealed before that the NSA captures just about all Internet traffic for a short time, the Tagesschau story provides new details about how the NSA's XKEYSCORE program decides which traffic to keep indefinitely. XKEYSCORE uses specific selectors to flag traffic, and the article reveals that Web searches for Tor and Tails--software I've covered here in Linux Journal that helps to protect a user's anonymity and privacy on the Internet--are among the selectors that will flag you as "extremist" and targeted for further surveillance. If you just consider how many Linux Journal readers have read our Tor and Tails coverage in the magazine, that alone would flag quite a few innocent people as extremist.

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Why You Shouldn’t Have To Buy The $630 Super-Secure Blackphone In Order To Protect Your Privacy

Filed under
Android
Security

Privacy focused Blackphone starts shipping

Filed under
Android
Security

Blackphone, an Android-based smartphone developed by Silent Circle, SGP Technologies and Geeksphone, is now shipping. The phone became a sensation during Mobile World Congress as it offered extreme privacy of communication. After the NSA revelations made by Edward Snowden, there is a huge demand for services or devices which offer privacy from NSA and other surveillance agencies. However even the Blackphone doesn’t offer any protection from NSA. Phil Zimmermann, one of the creators of the phone, said that Blackphone doesn’t make you NSA proof.

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Quality Software Costs Money - Heartbleed Was Free

Filed under
OSS
Security

About the only thing GNU Project founder Richard Stallman and I can agree on when it comes to software freedom is that it's "Free as in free speech, not free beer."

I really hope the Heartbleed vulnerability helps bring home the message to other communities that FOSS does not materialize out of empty space; it is written by people. We love what we do, which is why I'm sitting here, way past midnight on a Saturday evening, writing about it; but we are also real people with kids, cars, mortgages, leaky roofs, sick pets, infirm parents, and all kinds of other perfectly normal worries.

The only way to improve the quality of FOSS is to make it possible for these perfectly normal people to spend time on it. They need time to review patch submissions carefully, to write and run test cases, to respond to and fix bug reports, to code, and most of all, time just to think about the code and what should happen to it.

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5 Secure Alternatives to WhatsApp

Filed under
Software
Security

Ever since WhatsApp, a massively popular messaging app was acquired by Facebook, many of its users have started looking for alternatives to the service. Facebook, which itself, doesn't have a good track record when it comes to privacy, is the only reason users are on the lookout for good replacements to the service.

The landmark acquisition deal that happened several months ago shocked many people, especially those who used WhatsApp as a regular chatting tool. As part of the deal, Facebook offered WhatsApp a whopping $4 billion in cash and $12 billion worth of shares. Starting 2014 with a big bang, the deal is one of the biggest deals that have ever happened in the tech industry. Biggies like Google and Microsoft were keen on buying WhatsApp but finally Facebook managed to woo the emergent startup and make history. WhatsApp has over 450 million monthly users, 72% of whom use the app everyday.

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Exclusive: A review of the Blackphone, the Android for the paranoid

Filed under
Android
Reviews
Security

Based on some recent experience, I'm of the opinion that smartphones are about as private as a gas station bathroom. They're full of leaks, prone to surveillance, and what security they do have comes from using really awkward keys. While there are tools available to help improve the security and privacy of smartphones, they're generally intended for enterprise customers. No one has had a real one-stop solution: a smartphone pre-configured for privacy that anyone can use without being a cypherpunk.

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Review: Open source proxy servers are capable, but a bit rough around the edges

Filed under
Server
OSS
Security

Providing a common gateway for web services, caching web requests or providing anonymity are some of the ways organizations use proxy servers. Commercial proxy products, especially cloud offerings, are plentiful, but we wondered if open source or free products could provide enterprise-grade proxy services.

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World’s most secure Android phone finally starts shipping next month

Filed under
Android
Linux
Security
  • World’s most secure Android phone finally starts shipping next month

    Secure communications specialist Silent Circle recently set out to build the most secure Android phone in the world, and some have gone as far as to call the company’s Blackphone an “NSA-proof” smartphone. That statement can’t be confirmed, of course, since the NSA surely still has a few tricks up its sleeve that we don’t know about. What we can say, however, is that people concerned with keeping their mobile communications private will soon have a new option that is more secure than any publicly available Android phone currently on the market.

  • Silent Circle's Blackphone will ship out in three weeks

    Silent Circle in partnership with Geeksphone announced the Blackphone in January this year. The makers of the Blackphone claims that the handset is the world's first smartphone that gives its user total control of privacy.

    The upcoming smartphone is powered by a modified version of Android, PrivatOS, which is believed to be more security-oriented. The Blackphone will be carrier and vendor independent, which will ensure that individuals and businesses are able to make and receive secure phone calls, send texts, store files, browse the internet and more without compromising the privacy of the user.

  • Blackphone is about to sidle stealthily into the mainstream
  • NSA-Proof? Super-Secure Blackphone Shipping by July
  • Super-Secure Blackphone Shipping by July
  • Anti-forensic mobile OS gets your phone to lie for you

    In Android Anti-forensics: Modifying CyanogenMod Karl-Johan Karlsson and William Bradley Glisson present a version of the Cyanogenmod alternate operating system for Android devices, modified so that it generates plausible false data to foil forensic analysis by law enforcement. The idea is to create a mobile phone that "lies" for you so that adversaries who coerce you into letting them take a copy of its data can't find out where you've been, who you've been talking to, or what you've been talking about.

Tails interview

Filed under
Interviews
Security
Debian

Tails was built with two specific things in mind: sustainability and usability.
Sustainability refers to how this is a project that can be relied on by its users. The team goes on to explain the importance of usability: “We believe that the best security tool is of no use if people who really need it on the field cannot use it. Moreover, security tools must be hard to misuse, they should prevent you from doing critical mistakes, or ask you to make security decisions that you are not able to make.”

Tails has been around for a while as previously stated, however its notoriety was elevated after the Snowden revelations: “What really changed is the public awareness regarding those issues,” the team told us. “It is now hard to deny that internet security has to do with politics and not only with technology. The Snowden revelations also made it clear that online privacy is an issue for everyone, and not only for paranoid people. That point was still hard to make, even in the Linux world.”

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New Private Cloud Devices Aim to Block Cyber Spies

Filed under
Linux
Security

Suddenly, consumer-oriented private cloud storage devices are everywhere, with many -- if not most -- running Linux. The market segment has blossomed thanks to growing concerns over government cyber-spying, notably in the case of the U.S. National Security Agency and the Chinese military. There is also growing unease about sharing of user data by mobile carriers, financial firms, and high-tech companies, as well as fears about cyber-criminals.

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