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[liberationtech] The security and ethics of mapping in repressive environments

Jacob Appelbaum jacob at appelbaum.net
Tue Feb 8 18:19:40 PST 2011


On 02/08/2011 01:29 PM, Katrin Verclas wrote:
> Would love to hear what the list thinks of this post:
> 
> http://blog.standbytaskforce.com/?p=259

Just quickly skimming, I see a ton of stuff that made me slap my forehead.

They suggest not using gmail because of "hacking fears" but in reality,
gmail is probably the best from a security standpoint of any public or
free webmail/email provider. The cost of gmail is your privacy and in
return you're given targeted ads. This is probably an improvement over
leaking lots of data to the local network where the targeting is violence.

They suggest hushmail - I can't impress on people how bad that advice
is! Use PGP and gmail before using hushmail. Hushmail has proven
themselves to be untrustworthy (in architecture and perhaps personally)
for the only thing that made them special:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hushmail#Controversy

Their advice on passphrases is OK, I guess.

They suggest using Skype for sensitive content - this is a horrible
idea. Skype is absolute garbage if you're worried about state sponsored
attackers. It's probably absolute garbage if you're worried about some
people from the Chaos Computer Club too.

If you have to use non-free software, I suggest zfone, redphone, or
another system that at least has an open specification or behaves in a
manner that could be vetted by a third party.

zfone:
http://zfoneproject.com/

redphone:
http://www.whispersys.com/

Otherwise, I'd suggest some free software with ZRTP:

zrtp:
http://zfoneproject.com/prod_asterisk.html

Gnu ZRTP (probably not ready for prime time)
http://www.gnutelephony.org/index.php/GNU_ZRTP

People who do not require encrypted voice and video would be better
served by using OTR in the chat client of their choice:
http://www.cypherpunks.ca/otr/

They also suggest using HTTPS when possible - I'd suggest the EFF
project HTTPS-everywhere:
https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

I'd suggest (as Tor developers do) using the Tor Browser Bundle:
https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html

Personally, I think all of the data being sent by an activist in the
field should go over Tor. If you're in an area where the traffic is
being recorded, a failure to anonymize anything could be a seriously
dangerous failure in the long run.

> 
> My take:  It does not go far enough to secure certain communications
> mentioned there.  Also, as an aside, the Ushahidi SMS Anonymizer is
> totally and misleadingly misnamed.
> 

Probably anything with SMS in the name is going to be misleading if it
also has Anonymous or Anonymizer in the name. SMS but specifically SMS
and GSM are a total privacy nightmare. With only a phone number it is
usually possible to track someone globally.

All the best,
Jacob



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