Help Secure Everyone’s Email by Encrypting
Previously I wrote about the protection I am adding to my mail by using PGP or GPG. You can find the article by clicking here. My involvement with the EFF and AVNation have also included comments about privacy: AVNation Privacy & EFF Mail Links.
Something I realized while thinking about this subject is that if one sends very few encrypted e-mails, the ones that are encrypted will stand out in the mail being sent. Now you might wonder what I am doing that requires encrypting. The previous blog post explains why I am encrypting my mail.
I have an additional reason now, confuse the government and anyone else monitoring traffic. This idea is discussed in Cory Doctorow’s book Little Brother http://craphound.com/littlebrother.The section below is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. This quote below came from line 1826 in the HTML version available on Mr. Doctorow’s website.
“So how come you weren’t on Xnet last night?”
I was grateful for the distraction. I explained it all to him, the Bayesian stuff and my fear that we couldn’t go on using Xnet the way we had been without getting nabbed. He listened thoughtfully.
“I see what you’re saying. The problem is that if there’s too much crypto in someone’s Internet connection, they’ll stand out as unusual. But if you don’t encrypt, you’ll make it easy for the bad guys to wiretap you.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’ve been trying to figure it out all day. Maybe we could slow the connection down, spread it out over more peoples’ accounts –“
“Won’t work,” he said. “To get it slow enough to vanish into the noise, you’d have to basically shut down the network, which isn’t an option.”
“You’re right,” I said. “But what else can we do?”
“What if we changed the definition of normal?”
And that was why Jolu got hired to work at Pigspleen when he was 12. Give him a problem with two bad solutions and he’d figure out a third totally different solution based on throwing away all your assumptions. I nodded vigorously. “Go on, tell me.”
“What if the average San Francisco Internet user had a lot more crypto in his average day on the Internet? If we could change the split so it’s more like fifty-fifty cleartext to ciphertext, then the users that supply the Xnet would just look like normal.”
“But how do we do that? People just don’t care enough about their privacy to surf the net through an encrypted link. They don’t see why it matters if eavesdroppers know what they’re googling for.”
“Yeah, but web-pages are small amounts of traffic. If we got people to routinely download a few giant encrypted files every day, that would create as much ciphertext as thousands of web-pages.”
This action is a relatively small action and is rather simple to do. However, the fact that it will change the traffic view could be helpful for others. It will prevent other PGP/GPG encrypted traffic from being such an outlier as to be noticed. As EFF posted on Data Privacy Day, privacy is a team sport. There are additional directions for how to do this task at https://ssd.eff.org/, hover over the tutorials section. If you want to test if it worked, My public key identifier is C93A52C6. You can download my public key from https://www.bradfordbenn.com/BradfordBenn-C93A52C6.asc
I also will freely admit, I am not sure if it will make a difference, but it could not hurt.
January 31, 2017
The Importance of Rights for All
Some of you may have noticed the new image I have added to the left-hand column of my website as well as below. It reads “I do solemnly swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States to ensure that the country protects the right of all. – Signed Bradford Benn” (You can create your own image at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Take the #PeoplesOath webpage.
Seems an odd thing to put on a website at times. It is important to indicate that I believe in the importance of the US Constitution. I believe it is important that all people have the same rights. Not just donors or members of the political elite or celebrities, everyone. I can go into all the reasons that I feel that this stance is necessary. It doesn’t matter why I feel this way, I do believe that it is important to protect everyone. As news is coming in about various changes in openness in information as well as accuracy, I think it is important to do something about it. The approach of removing data is preventing people from having the right to make up their own mind. If one’s personal opinion does not agree with the datum currently available, it does not mean censoring or removing the data.
While we may not all agree on everything, I want to believe that the majority of us will believe in treating people equally. That information is available to everyone especially if it uses public funding. That science is factual. That privacy is a right. The preamble to the US Constitution is an important guidepost often overlooked.
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
People appointed to national leadership positions must be knowledgeable about their role. Disagreeing with science while allowed, does not allow for the deletion or removal of information that disproves your stance; especially if you are a public servant. The story Scientists Racing to Archive Climate Data Before Denier-in-Chief Trump Takes Office provides an example.
Illegal surveillance is illegal.
I can go on, but the important thing is to know that the rights of all need protection. As the administration of the 45th President of the United States trundles forward I will probably be posting more of my views; I think that this post is a good start. All of us need to do what we think is right and important.
January 24, 2017