Kvě 16

Amendment To Ban End-to-End Encryption Passed By Hungarian Parliament

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Hungarian Parliament

Discussions about encryption are becoming more of a norm than the exception these days, and the situation is only getting direr in certain regions. The Hungarian Parliament is in favour to ban end-to-end encryption in the not-so-distant future.

Also read: Vaultoro Celebrates Anniversary With 50% Trading Discount

Hungary Takes on End-to-End Encryption

According to local sources, the Hungarian parliament voted on an amendment which prohibits end-to-end encryption in the country. Similar to most other countries in the world taking an aggressive stance on encryption, they label this decision as part of the “ongoing war on terrorism in Hungary”.

As a result of this ruling, providers offering end-to-end encryption would have to provide information to the Hungarian government when they file a request. Moreover, any applications used full encryption would be rendered pointless in the country, which may force companies such as WhatsApp to pull out of the region in the future.

However, Cabinet Chief Lazar wants to make it clear that services using encryption are not banned in Hungary, yet intelligence agencies would ask providers to monitor communication flows when there is a credible threat of terrorism. No details were provided as to what would be classified as a “credible threat”, though.

But that is not all, as this amendment would allow government officials to restrict public gatherings and install recording devices in areas of importance to protect national security. France has proposed a similar approach to fight terrorism several months ago, yet that proposal was shut down quickly.

Now that the legislation of this amendment has passed in Parliament, end-to-end encryption is coming under severe pressure in Hungary. It is worth noting this amendment is a less severe version of the original draft, which would see end-to-end encryption users being jailed for using this method of communication. Additionally, developers will not need to install backdoors for government monitoring either. However, officials may ask developers to decrypt particular communications, which is a different means to the same end.

What are your thoughts on this legislation passing the Hungarian Parliament? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: BBJ

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikipedia

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Amendment To Ban End-to-End Encryption Passed By Hungarian Parliament

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Kvě 12

FBI Director: “Encryption is Essential Tradecraft of Terrorist Groups”

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Encryption

Law enforcement has been making a lot of media headlines as of late in their “war’ on encryption. FBI Director James Comey mentioned how encryption is “essential tradecraft” of terrorist groups, and more requests to access electronic devices will be part of the future.

Also read: Talking Crix with Founder Dmitry Koval

FBI Still Wants To Gain Access To Encrypted Devices

Although it is not the first time debate ensues over what the FBI wants to do, and what consumers feel they should have access to, it looks like there is no end in sight for these discussions. In fact, things may be taken to the next level, as FBI Director James Comey mentioned how there will be “more US government Litigation over accessing electronic devices”.

But that is not all, as Comey feels tech companies can be compelled to unlock personal devices in the interest of national security. Some people may argue that encrypted forms of communication facilitate terrorist groups to coordinate their attacks, but at the same time, this type of encryption provides all consumers with privacy protection.

Comey even went as far as saying how WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is affecting the criminal work of the FBI in huge ways. However, there are no plans to take matters to court just yet,  which may not bode well for the future. So far, the Bureau has been able to unlock close to 500 out of 4,000 examined devices, which is a higher percentage than most people may have anticipated.

Perhaps the most interesting statement made by Comley is the following:

“Encryption is an essential tradecraft of terrorist groups, such as Islamic State. The number of Americans trying to join Islamic state has dropped to one per month since August of 2015, compared to between six and 10 per month in the previous 18 months. I think the ISIL brand has lost significant power in the United States.”

One thing worth noting is how none of the unlocked devices have the same model and operating system as the iPhone used in the San Bernardino case. That being said, the FBI will is still actively working on a way to use the same tool used in that case in an attempt to unlock other devices by different manufacturers.

What are your thoughts on the FBI’s crusade against end-to-end encryption? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Reuters

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, FBI

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Dub 20

Law Enforcement Shuts Down Blackberry PGP Communication Network

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Blackberry

The war between law enforcement and encryption is far from over by the look of things. Yesterday afternoon, the Dutch police and government officials shut down a communication network using PGP encryption. According to the official statement, this system was used by criminals, although it remains to be seen whether or not his is the case.

Also read: Bitcoin Wallets of the Future: Secure Hardware Needed Sooner Than Later

PGP Network and Dedicated Encrypted Smartphones

With all of the recent focus on governments trying to break consumer encryption to prevent “terrorist attacks”, it only seems normal people are starting to take their privacy more seriously. This creates new business opportunities for companies as well, as one company – called Ennetcom –  located in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, started selling smartphones which supported PGP encryption for all communication.

Additionally, several new communication networks have been created based on PGP encryption, allowing users to communicate freely with each other. This has been a thorn in the eye of the Dutch government for quite some time now, as they strongly feel such platforms facilitate criminal activity. The smartphone company used their servers for this type of encrypted communication, keeping all information safe from prying government eyes.

However, it didn’t take all that long for law enforcement to dig deeper into these servers, and they have – allegedly – uncovered a substantial amount of information related to criminal activity. Moreover, law enforcement officials claim this PGP encryption service had over 19,000 registered users, all of whom have been notified regarding the pending police investigation.

To make matters even more enticing, the Ennetcom company owner – who sold these PGP encryption devices for up to 1,500 EUR each – has been arrested and money laundering claims have been made against him. At the time of writing, no further details were released to the public regarding these allegations.

What we do know is how the Dutch law enforcement collaborated with the Toronto Police to shut down this PGP-encrypted network. One of the servers was located in Canada and has been taken offline by Canadian officials. It appears these efforts were part of the ongoing “war’ against Blackberry users who keep their communication encrypted. Just last week, news broke how Canadian law enforcement agencies acquired a BlackBerry master key to decrypt ping-to-ping messaging.

What are your thoughts on these actions by law enforcement to shut down encrypted communication networks? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Tweakers (Dutch)

Images courtesy of Blackberry, Roger Wendell

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Dub 12

Security Experts Create Solution For Petya Bitcoin Ransomware

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Petya Ransomware

Petya is one of the most recent strains of Bitcoin ransomware that has been wreaking havoc in various countries. But that may be coming to an end, now that security experts from Leostone have come up with a software solution to bypass the ransom demand.

Also read: Porn Ransomware on Android Does Not Demand Bitcoin Payment

Bypassing The Petya Bitcoin Ransom Demand

Despite only being in circulation for little over two weeks so far, the Petya Bitcoin ransomware has proven to be particularly nasty so far. Not only does this malware encrypt files on the computer itself, but it performs the same action on any backups the user might have. In the end, this forces users to pay the Bitcoin ransom, or completely format a computer and lose data.

Security experts have been working hard to come up with solutions to the looming Bitcoin ransomware threats. However, considering how every individual strain seems to bring something different to the table, it is incredibly difficult to create a solution for all types. Some types of malware even use completely random encryption methods when infecting computers, making it all but impossible to find a pattern.

But in the case of Petya, things are coming to change. Leostone has come up with a software solution that bypasses the ransom demand completely, and it can create the decryption password needed to restore file access.  However, there is a catch, as the process is a lot more complicated than it sounds.

For this solution to work, users infected with the Petya Bitcoin ransomware will need to remove the hard drive from their computer, and connect it to a non-infected machine. Once that is done, the user needs to use a particular web application to “conjure up” the password to restore file access.  Doing so should allow for the decryption of the master boot file, and restore computer access.

It is positive to see security experts coming up with software solutions to fight Petya. However, the process involved is rather complicated, and might be a bit too technical for the average computer user. However, it might learn people a valuable lesson or two about being more cautious when using their computer on a daily basis.

What are your thoughts on this web app to get rid of Petya ransomware? Do you know someone who has been infected? Let us know in the comments below!

Source; Engadget

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Úno 11

Encryption is Keeping Global Leaders In the ‘Dark’

Source: bitcoin

Encryption is Keeping Global Leaders In the ‘Dark’

February 11, 2016 The use of encryption whether in messaging applications, using Bitcoin and other methods of privacy-centric technology continues to bother global leaders. Some of these technical advances have given authorities the opinion that they are being kept in the “dark.” Now Government officials in the U.S. are proposing to increase their funding to crack today’s encryption methods and enhance security. The Obama administration’s latest proposal the “Cybersecurity National Action Plan” details that the president believes cybersecurity is a difficult challenge for America.

Also Read: Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong Announces Switch to Bitcoin Classic

The White House is just one group of authority figures who wants to up cybersecurity funding. The FBI according to their recent memo would like to add $38 million more to their budget to help crack encryption. In the report, it mentions how encryption is on the rise and this, in turn, is making data collection harder. In a section called “Going Dark” addressing the issue the paper reads in request for the $38 million in funding:

 

Going Dark: $38.3 million — The requested funding will counter the threat of Going Dark, which includes the inability to access data because of challenges related to encryption, mobility, anonymization, and more. The FBI will develop and acquire tools for electronic device analysis, cryptanalytic capability, and forensic tools.” — Federal Bureau of Investigation

Since the Paris attacks and other unfortunate events bureaucrats have been promoting the idea that encryption should be breakable by government officials. Many bureaucrats such as the U.K.’s David Cameron, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and others have objected against strong encryption. Officials over the past year have pressed technology related businesses to allow authorities access to cracking device encryption. Executives like Apple’s current CEO and many others have been against this approach of handing over inaccessible data over to federal agents. However in its latest press release, the Obama administration’s statement on cybersecurity says they will be partnering with giant tech companies to advance the government’s goals. Firms such as Google, Facebook, DropBox, and Microsoft are mentioned in the White House brief. However, the Obama administration bolsters the use of two-factor authentication to be used by citizens and organizations within the nation and is mentioned multiple times. But due to increased levels of malicious hacking, identity theft and terrorism the White House wants to boost funding to fight against these crimes. The press release reads:

“The Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is increasing funding for cybersecurity-related activities by more than 23 percent to improve their capabilities to identify, disrupt, and apprehend malicious cyber actors.” — White House Cybersecurity Action Plan

In a recent article from the publication, Motherboard Vice an FBI official explains that the increased funding will be used for hacking tools. In an encrypted chat Christopher Soghoian, a technologist from the American Civil Liberties Union told the online magazine, “The days of reliable wiretaps are vanishing. [Hacking] is the next best thing for the FBI.” Officials are finding that they have to compete with the level of technology to apprehend these types of criminals. The FBI believes their request for increased funding is valid and empowers their services to keep up with the technological times. The FBI states:

“This combination of authorities gives the FBI the unique ability to address national security and criminal threats that are increasingly intertwined and to shift between the use of intelligence tools, such as surveillance or recruiting sources, and law enforcement tools of arrest and prosecution. The FBI can shift seamlessly between intelligence collection and action allowing the agency to continue gathering intelligence on a subject to learn more about his social and financial network, and shift gears quickly to make an arrest if harm to an innocent person appears imminent.” — Federal Bureau of Investigation

Encryption is growing popular and governments all across the globe are feeling kept in the dark. These new proposals and policy regulations may affect technology like cryptocurrency, private messaging, and anything with a level of encryption. Many people believe that cryptography has protected our private affairs and civil liberties, so this war against the use of it will not happen without a fight.

What do you think about the federal government’s increased measures to stay ahead of encryption? Let us know in the comments below.   


Images courtesy of Pixbay, Shutterstock and Wiki Commons

 

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Led 21

New California Bill Aims To Weaken Smartphone Encryption

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Legislation

Smartphone encryption has been a topic of heavy debate over the past few months, and the opinions are divided to say the least. Both users and manufacturers want to preserve encryption or even add additional layers to protect user data. But on the other hand, various government officials are proposing bills to have encryption on smartphones weakened by default.

Also read: Satoshi Labs Upgrades The Trezor Interface

Weakening Smartphone Encryption To Fight Human Trafficking

A little while ago, one US state lawmaker proposed a new bill to weaken smartphone encryption by default, to avoid its use cases for terrorism and other illegal use cases. At that time, the reason for this bill was how weakened smartphone encryption would help government officials fight terrorism, such as during the recent Paris attacks.

It looks like that person is not the only government official pushing for less strong encryption measures on mobile devices. California Assemblymember Jim Cooper proposed a very similar bill, but rather than proposing this concept to fight terrorism, he wants to bring an end to human trafficking on a global scale.

In the end, both bills are looking to achieve the same goal: weaken smartphone encryption on a large scale to decrypt and unlock stored information by the manufacturer or operating system provider. Needless to say, if either of these bills would come to pass, user data would no longer be safe from prying eyes, and give government officials even more insights as to how consumers use their devices.

While it is certainly true government officials and law enforcement can obtain a warrant for bank accounts, house, or just about anything, mobile devices are not on that list. By proposing a weaker smartphone encryption bill, Cooper hopes to bring an end to criminals relying on mobile devices to conduct their business and communication.

At the same time, there are some issues with both proposals. Not only is weaker encryption not the best way to solve human trafficking, but it will also harm the overall security of the Internet. Including backdoors is fundamentally insecure and it would create vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and other criminals.

Furthermore, there is the question whether or not these ideas are even technically feasible. Distinguishing between legal and illegal decryption of information stored on mobile devices is all but impossible. Security of the population is of the utmost importance, but it should not be at the cost of freedom by any means.

Lack of Technology Understanding Leads To Strange Proposals

Both of these bills go to show how little government officials understand about encryption and the technology keeping customer data safe. Trying to unravel technology people do not understand lead to proposals that will do more harm than good in the long run. Weakening encryption is never the answer to solving a crime, especially not where mobile devices are concerned.

In fact, the number of cases investigated for illegal activity due to smartphone encryption is nearly non-existent. This begs the question as to what policymakers hope to achieve by pushing these bills through, as the premise of fighting crime does not seem to hold up. It remains unclear as to what type of information government officials hope to gather from weakening encryption, but it does not look like they have the consumer’s best interests at heart.

What are your thoughts on weakening smartphone encryption? What are governments trying to achieve? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Ars Technica

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Computerworld

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New California Bill Aims To Weaken Smartphone Encryption

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