Something Feral

Digging up the flower-beds.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Concealment does not equal cover

From the technological front:

- An ounce of prevention:

If you are logging in to your Gmail account from different locations and you would like to benefit from this option only when you are using unsecured networks, you can force it by manually typing before you log in. This will access the SSL version of Gmail and it will be persistent over your entire session and not only during authentication.

Just a word to the wise for all the Gmail users out there.

- An argument about the conditional-application of the Fifth Amendment:

... U.S. v. Boucher could become a landmark case. The question of whether a criminal defendant can be legally compelled to cough up his encryption passphrase remains an unsettled one, with law review articles for the last decade arguing the merits of either approach. (A U.S. Justice Department attorney wrote an article in 1996, for instance, titled "Compelled Production of Plaintext and Keys.")

My advice: Use Linux. (Yeah, I couldn't help myself.) Grab TrueCrypt. Use it, use it, use it. Of course, I don't condone using this for evil purposes, but use of it is to exercise and to affirm the inviolable right every citizen has:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Use a strong password, and it is unlikely that even an fully-funded government cracking-attempt would recover the key before the next millennium.


Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

https:// prefix works with all Google services and provides the SSL encryption for data. There are also a number of Firefox addons you can use to greatly increase security / anonymity. I'd recommend the following:

Adblock Plus - General advertisement blocker
Adblock Filterset.G - List of ads for the Adblock addon updated every few days automatically.
CustomizeGoogle - Allows customization all sorts of Google access functions like blocking Google ads and enforcing SSL connections.
NoScript - Blocks all scripts visible and hidden. Single click allow on any script you deem worthy of gracing your browser.

The Tor network ( is a great way to encrypt and make all packet transactions anonymous, such as browsing to a website, or sending an instant message. Most linux applications have built in Tor abilities, but must be enabled manually. Firefox users can use an addon called TorButton, which allows instant access. Linux users can set their default gnome / kde proxy to use the Tor network all the time.

Something Feral said...

+1 on the Tor Network. I read an article about a week ago on adapting a USB thumb-drive to initialize an operating environment on Windows machines (I believe) that provides a measure of strong anonymity. The focus of the article was fighting government censorship practices in China, which are a recurring source of frustration in the geek circuit online.

I'll post with the article if I find it again.

Triton said...

The easiest way to use all that stuff is to download the XeroBank browser. It is already configured with Tor, NoScript, and who knows what all else.

I read an article about a week ago on adapting a USB thumb-drive to initialize an operating environment on Windows machines (I believe) that provides a measure of strong anonymity.

I haven't tried it, but I think the xB browser on a flash drive can get around firewalls.

Also, XeroBank has an anonymous virtual machine called xB Machine. I can't get it to work on Vista without also using VMWare, and I haven't really played around with it much because I don't know much about using Linux. But you Linux experts might want to give it a try.

Something Feral said...

Come to think of it, I had earmarked xB on the desktop, but I didn't write a comment to remind myself of what it was.

Triton, I'll take a look at it when I get back to my home machine, and I'll write a post or send you an email.

Triton said...

I don't work for XeroBank, nor do I know much programming, so I have no real idea about how effective those programs are. But I figured you Linux guys would enjoy playing around with them.