Thursday, April 4, 2013

Life is Like a TV Program

                                My Game of Thrones

                Every morning I arise at sunrise to don my amour and prepare for life’s battles only to stand impatiently waiting at the gate for the call to arms but there no longer any battles to win; or maidens to save or dragons to slay.  So impatiently I wait till next Sunday night’s fictional episode of the Game of Thrones to dream the dream of the conquering hero. But wait I can watch a re-run of the Vikings or Justified.  

                                                                White Hats v Black Hats
                As a follow-up to my last post and mention of Justified; in my day, with the exception of Hop Cassidy, Zorro and Paladin, heroes wore white hats and the villains black. But somewhere the line got crossed and villains who were tired of being caught, shot or hung started coning the good guys out of those white hats.
                As history repeated itself, like the Indians who were tricked out of New York by a handful of beads the good guys were handed a handful of Zoloft, Lexapro, Prosaic and Ritalin, all testosterone altering drugs, handed a remote control and a joy stick and banished to the bunk house.
                There was some hope that the next generation of testosterone producing individual would be the coming grace but as soon as they enter the public school system they are judged by an alleged professional with one year of Introduction to Psychology to be ADHD and provided one of the aforementioned controlling substances handed an X-Box and/ or a Play Station and join their elders in the bunk house.
                 Those old Saturday Morning Heroes have been replaced by a sponge and a ferb. There are no more Saturday Morning white hats. They were ruled to violent by the ADHD crowd and they have been relegated to late night cable.
                Interestingly televised during an earlier hour for the ADHD crowd is a cunning psychotic sociopath who tricks a bumbling FBI Agent at every turn. No doubt the Hollywood ending for “The Following” will be that the villain gets to be President.
                Hey, if that guy was to ventured into Harlan County the duly elected County Constable wouldn’t have had to borrow Ryland Gibbon’s white hat to bring about justice.    

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Silent Phone App:

The Silent Phone App:

Courtesy of Silent Circle CEO Mike Janke

Back in October, the start up tech firm Silent Circle ruffled governments’ feathers with a “surveillance-proof” smartphone app to allow people to make secure phone calls and send texts easily. Now, the company is pushing things even further—with a groundbreaking encrypted data transfer app that will enable people to send files securely from a smartphone or tablet at the touch of a button. (For now, it’s just being released for iPhones and iPads, though Android versions should come soon.) That means photographs, videos, spread sheets, you name it—sent scrambled from one person to another in a matter of seconds.

The technology uses a sophisticated peer-to-peer encryption technique that allows users to send encrypted files of up to 60 megabytes through a “Silent Text” app. The sender of the file can set it on a timer so that it will automatically “burn”—deleting it from both devices after a set period of, say, seven minutes. Until now, sending encrypted documents has been frustratingly difficult for anyone who isn’t a sophisticated technology user, requiring knowledge of how to use and install various kinds of specialist software. What Silent Circle has done is to remove these hurdles, essentially democratizing encryption. It’s a game-changer that will almost certainly make life easier and safer for journalists, dissidents, diplomats, and companies trying to evade state surveillance or corporate espionage.
Governments pushing for more snooping powers, however, will not be pleased.

By design, Silent Circle’s server infrastructure stores minimal information about its users. The company, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., doesn’t retain metadata (such as times and dates calls are made using Silent Circle), and IP server logs showing who is visiting the Silent Circle website are currently held for only seven days. The same privacy-by-design approach will be adopted to protect the security of users’ encrypted files. When a user sends a picture or document, it will be encrypted, digitally “shredded” into thousands of pieces, and temporarily stored in a “Secure Cloud Broker” until it is transmitted to the recipient. Silent Circle, which charges $20 a month for its service, has no way of accessing the encrypted files because the “key” to open them is held on the users’ devices and then deleted after it has been used to open the files. Janke has also committed to making the source code of the new technology available publicly “as fast as we can,” which means its security can be independently audited by researchers.

The cryptographers behind this innovation may be the only ones who could have pulled it off. The team includes Phil Zimmermann, the creator of PGP encryption, which is still considered the standard for email security; Jon Callas, the man behind Apple’s whole-disk encryption, which is used to secure hard drives in Macs across the world; and Vincent Moscaritolo, a top cryptographic engineer who previously worked on PGP and for Apple. Together, their combined skills and expertise are setting new standards—with the results already being put to good use.
             The new Silent Circle encrypted data transfer capability hit the Apple’s App Store last month.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Latest GPS Rulings

On March 16, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed HB 1981, making it a Class 3 misdemeanor for any person to install or place an electronic tracking device without permission of the owner of the vehicle or causes an electronic tracking device to be installed and uses such device to track the location of any person. 

The new legislation contains some limited exceptions, including one for Virginia state registered private investigators. A caveat against such use by private investigators is that their client not be subject to a restraining order.

Nicole Bocra, ISPLA's executive committee member and a founder, worked closely with the Virginia Professional Investigators Political Action Committee and its lobbyist to achieve this result. Pertinent excerpts from the measure are: 

Unauthorized Use of electronic tracking device; penalty.

"Any person who installs or places an electronic tracking device through intentionally deceptive means and without consent, or causes an electronic tracking device to be installed or placed through intentionally deceptive means without consent, and uses such device to track the location of any person is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. 

The provisions of this section shall not apply to the installation, placement, or use of an electronic tracking device by:

...a registered private investigator. as defined in section 9.1 - 138, who is regulated in accordance with section 9.1-139 and is acting in the normal course of his business and with the consent of the owner of the property upon which the electronic tracking device is installed and placed. However, such exception shall not apply if the private investigator is working on behalf of a client who is subject to a protective order..., or if the private investigator knows or should reasonably know that the client seeks the private investigator's services to aid in the c