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[liberationtech] The battle for your digital soul
spider at spiderwebz.nl
Thu Sep 12 09:49:58 PDT 2013
Article from SilentCircle, written by Mike Janke:
There have been so many disclosures, revelations and speculations since
Snowden fled and the media trickled out one tantalizing slide after the
next- that it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. It’s hard not to get angry.
Now that the sheer scope and massive worldwide surveillance of the NSA
has come to light over the last few months, it seems as if a veritable
cloud of “Privacy Depression” has set in lately among citizens and the
technology community at large. Adding to that hot mess is the willing
complicity of the tech giants, backbone providers and hardware
manufactures. Fuel to the fire.
Yes, there are some feigning outrage, some with true concern, and
others calling for heads-on-a-platter while western intelligence
agencies and big technology firms hunker down and hope it all goes away.
It won’t. It’s only going to get worse for them and the government.
Through the great work of The Guardian, New York Times, Washington
Post, ProPublica and Der Spiegel we now have a much clearer
understanding of what we are up against. Along with all of this new
information comes some confusion, wild speculation and some
understandable depression about society as a whole ever winning back
it’s basic right of privacy. Don’t buy into this thinking. Don’t drink
the “all is lost” Kool-Aid, because we are winning.
We at Silent Circle believe these revelations and disclosures are some
of the best things that could happen to the technology sector. In fact,
the battle for your digital soul has turned strongly towards Privacy’s
corner because we now know what we are up against. We are beginning to
define the capabilities and tactics of the world’s surveillance machine.
Before all of this -we speculated, guessed and hypothesized that it was
bad –we were all way off. It’s horrendous. It’s Orwell’s 1984 on
steroids. It doesn’t matter –we will win the war.
Last week we saw headlines about the NSA having made incredible
breakthroughs in cryptanalysis and being able to crack SSL and VPN’s.
Some media outlets that we spoke to were under the faulty impression
that “all encryption had been easily broken” by the NSA and they
possessed some magic black boxes that instantly decrypted everything.
Hence the deeper onset of Privacy Depression that set in around the
Don’t buy the hype. Trust the math and strong encryption. One of the
world’s greatest technology security experts, Bruce Schneier, wrote some
terrifically clear and concise articles about these revelations and is
perhaps in the best position to clarify what these recent disclosures
mean. He has reviewed all of Snowden’s documents. Here is a quote from
his article in The Guardian a few days ago that sums up the reality of
“Honestly, I’m skeptical. Whatever the NSA has up its top-secret
sleeves, the mathematics of cryptography will still be the most secure
part of any encryption system. I worry a lot more about poorly designed
cryptographic products, software bugs, bad passwords, companies that
collaborate with the NSA to leak all or part of the keys, and insecure
computers and networks. Those are where the real vulnerabilities are,
and where the NSA spends the bulk of its efforts.”
He is spot-on here in his comments. The security technology community
has known for a long time that the platforms are the weak link (Windows,
Mac, Android, browsers, IOS, Firefox OS, etc.) and we have known for
years that it’s wise to be skeptical of mass-produced hardware as well
(routers, servers, etc.). The fact that the NSA and the Chinese (Huawei)
have pressured hardware and phone makers to be “surveillance friendly”
is not new either, we just now have concrete proof right in front of our
collective faces. We are really lucky this information has come to
light. It’s a true gift. We are going to use it to set the government
surveillance machines back 7-10 years. Back to where they should be to
accomplish their responsibilities without violating those rights that
they are in place to protect.
A lot has been made about the “35,000 NSA employees and $11 Billion
spent annually on Department of Defense-wide Consolidated Cryptologic
Program” along with $440 Million spent annually on Research &
Technology. That is a hell of a lot of money and manpower. Good –I hope
they increase both, because it’s good for us. Why? Its called
bureaucratic, Red Tape, B and C grade talent, committees, focus groups,
audit committees, professional politics, backstabbing, budget fights,
and waste –in summary “Big, Bloated, Incompetent Government”.
I spent a good portion of my adult life in Special Operations –it’s an
environment of innovation, A+ talent, self-sufficiency, and zero
tolerance for bureaucracy. It’s about small teams of highly talented and
dedicated people with skill and daring outwitting huge clunky armies.
The NSA and the world’s government’s surveillance organizations are
huge, bloated clunky armies. If you ever worked in a large corporation
or government agency, then you know what I mean. It’s like the movie
“Office Space” all over again.
They can have their $11 Billion dollars and armies of C-grade talent. I
will put my money on people like Phil Zimmermann, Bruce Schneier, Jon
Callas, Moxie Marlinspike, Charlie Miller, Kim Dotcom, the guys from
Pirate Bay, Jacob Appelbaum, Chris Soghoian, and Nadim Kobeissi.
Freakishly talented people like The Grugq, Mike Kershaw, Mudge, Matthew
Green, Nick DePetrillo, and security researchers like Mark Dowd and
Steve Thomas. Add to this the hundreds of thousands of highly creative,
innovative and kick-ass new wave of smart hackers, coders and engineers
focused on finding vulnerabilities and building cool secure systems –
it’s not even a fair fight.
Small teams of highly experienced programmers can iterate builds, test
and get feedback from expert talent around the world literally overnight
– and produce groundbreaking innovations in secure communications and
technology faster than the NSA can hold a budget meeting.
Now that we are armed with the solid evidence of what the surveillance
state is doing and how they are doing it –sit back and watch as new
hardware and software comes out of small innovative companies that
disrupt entire multi-billion dollar cloud, communications, and
telecommunications industries – based upon secure architecture and
strategies learned from these disclosures.
Now that we know coercion, secret FISA courts, chummy-agreements with
giant tech firms, National Security Letters, trunk line tapping and
encryption standards-manipulation are the playing field – it’s game on.
We at Silent Circle feel it’s the dawn of a new age of secure
communication and the real innovators of the world are just getting
started. Simple secure phones, custom-made open source routers, servers,
new encryption standards and software are going to come out in droves.
The battle for your digital soul has now begun. Sit back, grab a drink
and watch this battle unfold from your back-doored computer, leaking
browser, cracked VPN, compromised operating system and zero-day infected
phone. My money is on the outraged innovators. This is going to be fun.
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