Encryption

  • CybersecurityShoring up Tor

    By Larry Hardesty

    With 2.5 million daily users, the Tor network is the world’s most popular system for protecting Internet users’ anonymity. For more than a decade, people living under repressive regimes have used Tor to conceal their Web-browsing habits from electronic surveillance, and Web sites hosting content that’s been deemed subversive have used it to hide the locations of their servers. Researchers have now demonstrated a vulnerability in Tor’s design, mounting successful attacks against popular anonymity network — and show how to prevent them.

  • EncryptionGiving government special access to data poses major security risks

    By Adam Conner-Simons

    In recent months, government officials in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries have made repeated calls for law-enforcement agencies to be able to access, upon due authorization, encrypted data to help them solve crimes. Beyond the ethical and political implications of such an approach, though, is a more practical question: If we want to maintain the security of user information, is this sort of access even technically possible? A report by cybersecurity and encryption experts says that whether “backdoor” or “front-door,” such mechanisms “pose far more grave security risks, imperil innovation on which the world’s economies depend, and raise more thorny policy issues than we could have imagined when the Internet was in its infancy.”

  • EncryptionPrivacy vs. security debate intensifies as more companies offer end-to-end-encryption

    A long running debate has now come to the fore with greater urgency. The tension between the privacy that encryption offers, and the need for law enforcement and national security agencies to have access to secured and encrypted e-mail, has become more acute in the last two years. The revelations of Edward Snowden about the post-9/11 reach and scope of surveillance by intelligence agencies and law enforcement, have caused some tech giants to offer encrypted services to their customers – encrypted services which enhance customers’ privacy protection, but which at the same time make it impossible for law enforcement and intelligence services to track and monitor terrorists and criminals. “Our job is to find needles in a nationwide haystack, needles that are increasingly invisible to us because of end-to-end encryption,” FBI director James Comey told lawmakers in recent hearing on the Hill.

  • EncryptionNew encryption method emulates the way parents talk to their children

    Encrypting e-mails can be tedious, difficult, and very confusing. Even for those who have mastered the process, it is useless unless the intended recipient has the correct software to decode the message. A researcher has now created an easier method — one that sounds familiar to parents who try to outsmart their 8-year-old child. The new technique gets rid of the complicated, mathematically generated messages that are typical of encryption software. Instead, the method transforms specific e-mails into ones that are vague by leaving out key words.

  • Encryption“Dark Internet” inhibits law enforcement’s ability to identify, track terrorists

    For several months, Islamic State militants have been using instant messaging apps which encrypt or destroy conversations immediately. This has inhibit U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies from identifying and monitoring suspected terrorists, even when a court order is granted, because messaging companies and app developers say they are unable to unlock the coded conversations and/or do not have a record of the conversations. “We’re past going dark in certain instances,” said Michael B. Steinbach, the FBI’s top counterterrorism official. “We are dark.”

  • EncryptionUSMobile launches Scrambl3 mobile, Top Secret communication-standard app

    Irvine, California-based USMobile, a developer of private mobile phone services, yesterday launched Scrambl3, a smartphone app that enables users to create their own Private Mobile Network. When Scrambl3 users communicate with each other, Scrambl3 creates a Dark Internet Tunnel between their smartphones. This Tunnel cloaks the calls and texts by making them invisible on the Internet. Scrambl3 App for Android-based phones is available for a 60-day free beta offering from the Google Play Store.

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  • EncryptionTech companies urge rejection of push by FBI, DOJ for electronic devices “backdoors”

    In a 19 May letter to President Barack Obama, a group of Silicon Valley tech companies, cyber-security experts, and privacy advocacy groups urged the president to reject the implementation of “backdoors” in smartphone and computer encryption. The letter offered evidence of the  strong objection of the tech industry to demands from the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to allow secret backdoor passages into consumer electronics, which would make it possible for law enforcement to read encrypted private communications and data.

  • Quantum encryptionQuantum cryptography one step closer as researchers design first all-photonic repeaters

    Imagine having your MRI results sent directly to your phone, with no concern over the security of your private health data. Or knowing your financial information was safe on a server halfway around the world. Or sending highly sensitive business correspondence, without worrying that it would fall into the wrong hands. Thanks to new research, these types of perfectly secure information exchanges are one step closer to reality, as researchers have designed the first all-photonic quantum repeaters — protocols that ensure data can be carried reliably and securely across longer distances when using quantum cryptography.

  • CybersecurityThwarting the next generation of cyberattacks

    The next generation of cyberattacks will be more sophisticated, more difficult to detect, and more capable of wreaking untold damage on the nation’s computer systems. So the U.S. Department of Defense has given a $3 million grant to a team of computer scientists from the University of Utah and University of California, Irvine, to develop software that can hunt down a new kind of vulnerability that is nearly impossible to find with today’s technology. The team is tasked with creating an analyzer that can thwart so-called algorithmic attacks that target the set of rules or calculations that a computer must follow to solve a problem.

  • CybersecurityPolice department pays ransom after hackers encrypt department’s data

    Last December, cyberterrorists hacked into servers belonging to the Tewksbury Police Department, encrypted the data stored, and later asked for a $500 bitcoin ransom to be paid before department officials could regain control of their files. The attack is known as the CryptoLocker ransomware virus, and it points to a new frontier in cyberterrorism.

  • EncryptionNew encryption code to take on toughest of cyber attacks

    Mathematicians have designed an encryption code capable of fending off the phenomenal hacking power of a quantum computer. Using high-level number theory and cryptography, the researchers reworked an infamous old cipher called the knapsack code to create an online security system better prepared for future demands.

  • EncryptionYahoo to offer user-friendly e-mail encryption service

    Yahoo has announced plans to create its own e-mail encryption plug-in for Yahoo Mail users this year, adding to already growing competition among Silicon Valley firms to capitalize on consumers increased privacy desires. The service will feature “end-to-end” encryption, or the locking up of message contents so that only the user and receiver have access to the information — typically a more advanced and time consuming process which involves specific software and encryption codes.

  • CryptographyIncreasing the efficiency of quantum cryptography systems

    Researchers have developed a way to transfer 2.05 bits per photon by using “twisted light.” This remarkable achievement is possible because the researchers used the orbital angular momentum of the photons to encode information, rather than the more commonly used polarization of light. The new approach doubles the 1 bit per photon that is possible with current systems that rely on light polarization and could help increase the efficiency of quantum cryptography systems.

  • EncryptionEncryption for the masses

    In the wake of the revelations that intelligence agencies have engaged in mass surveillance, both industry and society at large are looking for practicable encryption solutions which protect businesses and individuals. Previous technologies have failed in practice because they were too expensive or not user-friendly enough. German scientists have launched an open initiative called Volksverschlüsselung, which aims to bring end-to-end encryption to people.

  • EncryptionHackers exploit 1990s-era weak-encryption mandate

    Researchers have an old-new computer security vulnerability — the Factoring Attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys (FREAK), which affects SSL/TLS protocols used to encrypt data as it is transmitted over the Internet. The FREAK vulnerability goes back to an early 1990s U.S. restriction which limited software sold abroad to a maximum 512-bit code encryption. The mandate was set to allow U.S. federal intelligence agencies easily to spy on foreign software users.