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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.”
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.
Today we're joining our allies at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in kicking off the Tor Challenge, an effort to strengthen the global Tor network that protects Internet traffic from surveillance.
Tor is a publicly accessible, free software-based system for anonymizing Internet traffic. Tor relies on thousands of computers around the world called relays, which route traffic in tricky ways to dodge spying. The more relays, the stronger and faster the network.
There are a lot of tools and applications available to security researchers to conduct penetration testing. Many of those tools run on the open-source Linux operating system, though not every distribution is properly configured to be a proper platform for security research. That's where the Kali Linux distribution comes into play as an optimized Linux distribution built for security researchers. The Kali Linux 1.0.7 distribution was officially released on May 27, providing users with a number of new features. Kali Linux was originally known as Backtrack Linux, before being renamed and rebuilt in March 2013. One of the primary new features in Version 1.0.7 is the introduction of encrypted USB persistence for Live images. With that feature, Kali Linux can be installed onto a USB storage key, with user storage that can be updated and fully encrypted. One of the key benefits of Kali Linux is that it assembles in one place many tools that security researchers need. Tools for information gathering, vulnerability analysis, Web applications, password attacks, stress testing and even hardware hacking are all included. In this slide show, eWEEK takes a look at some of the features of the Kali Linux 1.0.7 release.
OpenSSL 1.0.0m and OpenSSL 0.9.8za also contain a fix for CVE-2014-0076: Fix for the attack described in the paper "Recovering OpenSSL ECDSA Nonces Using the FLUSH+RELOAD Cache Side-channel Attack" Reported by Yuval Yarom and Naomi Benger. This issue was previously fixed in OpenSSL 1.0.1g.
OSSEC is a cross-platform host intrusion detection system. Hence it’s also known as OSSEC HIDS. It is Free software released under the GNU General Public License, and features log analysis, file integrity monitoring, rootkit detection and real-time active responses. If you intend to run a server anywhere, this is one of the first applications you want to install on it.
OSSEC is a much better security application than Fail2ban, another popular host intrusion prevention application. OSSEC offers a centralized management server with support for agent and agentless monitoring. A complete description of its features are available here.