NSA

Book: Information security for journalists - V1.1

With journalist Silkie Carlo I have co-authored a 'handbook' on practical information security for journalists commissioned by the UK Centre for Investigative Journalism. The CIJ handbook 'Information Security for Journalists' was launched at the CIJ Summer School 2014 in London. The book will be forever freely available in a range of electronic formats - see download links below. In the four months after the initial publication in we have rewritten certain parts based on feedback from the initial readers and updated other parts to stay current with the latest software changes. Many thanks to all who gave us valuable feedback.

Altough this book was originally written for investigative journalists most of the described concepts and technical solutions are just as usable by lawyers or advisors protecting communications with their clients, doctors protecting medical privacy and of course politicians, activists or anyone else who engages powerful state and corporate organisations. Really, we're all journalists now. Inside the book is a mailadres for getting in touch, please let us know how your are using it and what we can do better.

If you have reasons to suspect your online movements are already under some form of surveilance you should not download this book using a computer or netwpork associated with your identity (such as your home or work systems).

Several participants of journalist training programs have written articles: Information security for journalists: staying secure online by Alastair Reid (from journalism.co.uk) - A day with the surveillance expert by Jason Murdock, Offtherecord.in - Valentina Novak wrote this interview after a lecture & workshop in Slovenia last November.

On Tuesday July 8th 2014 I was once more a guest on Max Keiser's programme 'The Keiser Report' to discuss the book. Video here on my blog, here on RT site and here on Youtube.

From the 'backflap' of the book:

Book: Information security for journalists

With journalist Silkie Carlo I have co-authored a 'handbook' on practical information security for journalists commissioned by the UK Centre for Investigative Journalism. The CIJ handbook 'Information Security for Journalists' was launched at the CIJ Summer School 2014 last weekend in London. The book will be freely available in electronic format and in print after the summer. Just like last year I gave lectures (slides) and ran a hands-on workshop to get journalists 'tooled-up' so they can better protect their sources, themselves and their stories in a post-Snowden world.

From the 'backflap' of the book:

This handbook is a very important practical tool for journalists. And it is of particular importance to investigative reporters. For the first time journalists are now aware that virtually every electronic communication we make or receive is being recorded, stored and subject to analysis and action. As this surveillance is being conducted in secret, without scrutiny, transparency or any realistic form of accountability, our sources, our stories and our professional work itself is under threat.

After Snowden’s disclosures we know that there are real safeguards and real counter measures available. The CIJ’s latest handbook, Information Security for Journalists, lays out the most effective means of keeping your work private and safe from spying. It explains how to write safely, how to think about security and how to safely receive, store and send information that a government or powerful corporation may be keen for you not to know, to have or to share. To ensure your privacy and the safety of your sources, Information Security for Journalists will help you to make your communications indecipherable, untraceable and anonymous.

Although this handbook is largely about how to use your computer, you don’t need to have a computer science degree to use it. Its authors, and the experts advising the project are ensuring its practical accuracy and usability, and work with the latest technology.

Gavin MacFadyen,
Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism

This handbook is being translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Portugese, Spanish, and other languages

On Tuesday July 8th 2014 I was once more a guest on Max Keiser's programme 'The Keiser Report' to discuss the book. Video here on my blog, here on RT site and here on Youtube.

De andere IT van een ander Nederland

Onderstaande column is het vervolg op een artikel dat ik schreef in de eerste week van het Snowden/NSA schandaal in juni 2013. Waar dat artikel de concrete problemen beschreef beschrijf ik hieronder de andere keuzen de gemaakt hadden kunnen worden en nog steeds gemaakt worden en de voordelen voor Nederland en Europa ten opzicht van het huidige 'beleid'.

Ook gepubliceerd in het Engels op Consortium News en de Huffington Post

De afgelopen 10-15 jaar heeft de IT in Nederland zich niet ontwikkeld in lijn met publieke belangen en het garanderen van grondrechten van de burgers van Nederland. Ook zijn er enorme kansen op het gebied van economische ontwikkeling en werkgelegenheid gemist. Nederland besteedt veel IT uit aan buitenlandse partijen wat niet alleen tientallen miljarden Euro's (1-2% BNP) aan lokale economische groei/werkgelegenheid kost maar de samenleving ook de-facto uitlevert aan buitenlandse spionage op bestuurlijke instanties, bedrijfsleven en alle individuele burgers. Hoewel voor deze risico's al ruim 15 jaar werd gewaarschuwd is dit laatste aspect het afgelopen jaar door de onthullingen van Edward Snowden onweerlegbaar en zijn volle omvang aangetoond. 12 maanden later is er in Nederland geen spoor van een reactie op deze problematiek.

Het had ook anders gekund...

In de eerste 21 maanden van de 21ste eeuw barstte de dotcom bubbel en storten er drie wolkenkrabbers in elkaar in New York. Tussen deze twee gebeurtenissen in verscheen in de zomer van 2001 een grotendeels vergeten rapport aan het Europese Parlement dat de schaal en impact van elektronische spionage beschreef op Europa door de VS en haar 'Echelon' partners (Canada, het VK, Australië en Nieuw Zeeland). Naast een gedetailleerde probleem-analyse gaf het rapport ook concrete voorbeelden van beleidsmaatregelen op IT gebied die overheden konden nemen om buitenlandse inlichtingendiensten het bespioneren van Europa een stuk moeilijker te maken.

In dezelfde periode had de Amerikaanse overheid had een van de grootste anti-trust zaken in haar geschiedenis, tegen Microsoft, gewonnen en de EU was naar aanleiding van deze overwinning een vergelijkbare zaak gestart die ook tot een veroordeling en de hoogste boete in de geschiedenis van de EU zou leiden.

Het was tegen deze achtergrond dat het nadenken over de strategische versus operationele aspecten van IT in de publieke sector veranderde. Het rapport over Echelon maakte duidelijk dat het reduceren van IT tot een instrumentele zaak rampzalige consequenties had op de soevereiniteit van Europese staten te opzichte van, met name, de VS (en wellicht in de toekomst China, andere technisch capabele landen of niet-statelijke organisaties). Ook de economische gevolgen van industriële spionage tegen bedrijven werd een punt van zorg voor de overheid.

Kerckhoffs lecture: what Europe needs to do after Snowden

At 12:30 on Friday 13th of June 2014 I will give the Kerckhoff Lecture at the Radboud Universities Kerckhoffs Institute for information security in Nijmegen in room HG00.068. For an audience of students and faculty who probably know more about the maths of cryptography than myself I will talk about the tech-policy implications of the Snowden revelations and why Europe has been doing so very, very little.

Imagine a whistleblower releasing detailed documentary proof of a group of organisations that dump large volumes of toxic mixed chemical waste in European rivers and lakes. The documents describe in detail how often (daily) and how toxic (very). Now imagine journalists, civic organisations and elected representatives all starting furious discussions about how bad this is and what the possible horrible consequences theoretically could be for european citizens.

Now imagine that this debate goes on and on for months as slowly more documentation is published showing ever more detailed descriptions of the various compounds in the toxic chemicals and what rivers and lakes precisely they are being dumped into.

Now imagine that no journalist, civic organisation or elected representative comes up with a single concrete and actionable proposal to stop the actual and ongoing toxic dumping or to prevent future organisations getting into the habit of illegal dumping.

Imagine also that both governments and public-sector organisations, including the ones responsable for health- and environmental matters continue not only to procure products and services from above organisations but also continue to give them the licences they need to operate.

Imagine that this goes on for month after month after month for a full year.

Now Imagine it turns out that the Government not only already knew about this 13 years before but also had a detailed report on practical solutions to clean up the mess and prevent future poisoning.

Imagine that.

Sounds incredible does it not?

Except this is precisely how Europe has been not-dealing with the revelations by Edward Snowden on industrialised mass-surveillance of our government & civic institutions, companies and citizens.

The EU has spent most of a year holding meetings and hearings to 'understand' the problem but has not produced a single word on what concrete actions could regain the right to privacy for its citizens now. This while a July 2001 report on Echelon, the NSA/GCHQ precursor program to the current alphabet soup, explained the scope of the problem of electronic dragnet surveillance and made practical and detailed recomendations that would have protected Europeans and their institutions had they been implemented. Currently only Germany has seen the beginnings of policies that will offer some protection for its citizens.

On Friday the 13th of June I will discuss the full scope of the NSA surveillance problem, the available technological and policy solutions and some suggestions about why they have not and are not being implemented (or even discussed).

Slides from lecture are here in ODF and PDF

Speaking at Dataharvest+ conference

I will be speaking and workshopping at the 2014 Dataharvest+ conference in Brussels. This conference brings together investigative journalists, (big)data wranglers, coders & hackers to kick journalism into the 21st century.

My contribution will be a series of presentations about applied information security for investigative journalists and hands-on workshops to get security tools working on laptops. So bring yours! Slides I used are here: PPT, PDF. Some tips and links to tools. A video from a comparable worshop last year, since then the situation has turned out to be much more dire.

Many thanks to the Centre For Investigative Journalism for making this possible. Happy to be working with them again!

Ask Snowden op BRN radio

Op 23 januari Gaf Edward Snowden in een live-chat antwoorden op vragen die hem per twitter gesteld waren. BRN vroeg Brenno de Winter, Bits of Freedom en mij naar onze vraag aan Edward Snowden.

Mijn vraag aan Snowden (die ik ook al eerder in mijn London Real interview stelde): gaan alle verdere onthullingen ook over de technische capaciteiten van de NSA of krijgen we wellicht ook een kijkje in de inlichtingen die de NSA heeft vezameld de afgelopen 50 jaar? Ik ben benieuwd naar eventuele informatie over belangrijke historische gebeurtenissen waar de NSA wellicht belangrijke informatie over heeft die wij (nog) niet hebben. Opnames van telefoontjes tussen Tony Blair en Balkenende in de 9 maanden voor de Irak oorlog, nog meer Nixon-tapes, gestolen ontwerpen van Britisch Aerospace die plotseling bij Boeing lagen. Men kan zich zo wat sappige krantenkoppen voorstellen.

Ik ben daar wel benieuwd naar.

Hier op het BNR archief, hier als mp3.

'Tinfoil Is The New Black', Keiser Report interview

I was a guest on Max Keiser's programme 'The Keiser Report' last Thursday jan. 16th for the second time. Max is a former Wall Street trader who foresaw the current economic crisis a decade ago.

Full Keiserreport episode here on RT site and here on Youtube.

Max caught me be susprise by asking about the NSA TURMOIL and TURBINE programs. I confused them with other programs (there are many). The TURMOIL and TURBINE programs are part of the 'Targeted Acces Operations' family (see this Spiegel article). These are programs for gaining acces to systems by other means than abusing their built-in weaknesses over internet connections (the NSA's favourite method because it can be automated to spy on everyone at very low cost). Targeted Accces Operations (TAO) deals with everything from intercepting & modifying electronic devices that people order online to the use of microwave beam weapons to identify, hack, break and manipulate computer systems from great distance. The latter method has also been used for targeting drone strikes. The talk by Jacob Appelbaum I mention in the beginning of the interview is here. Many more talks from the 2013 CCC conference in Hamburg can be found here.

The US Declaration Of Independence is one of the greatest political writings in history and can be re-written for more contemporary political problems as I did here. Accoring to US academics the US declaration was inspired by the Dutch declaration that preceded it by almost two centuries.

Blogpost on a previous interview last year.

Interview on London Real

Last year during my December visit on London I gave a 1 hour interview to London Real. This is great new free-form 1+ hr completly unscripted interview program that is available on Youtube and as a podcast. Tired of the superficial 3-minute interviews that stop just when things get interesting? London Real is your channel. If you want to keep up to date on the London startup/tech scene then checkout Silicon Real.

I was honored to be in a lineup that includes several of my current heroes including Max Keiser, Jared Diamond, Annie Machon and Rick Falkvinge.

Brian Rose and me spoke about NSA-spying, the nature of privacy, copyright, bitcoin and much more. The interview begins at 7:48. For more check out the London Real site. Compact mp3 for download here.

Christmas message Edward Snowden

On December 25th 2013 Edward Snowden delivered an alternative Christmas message on the UK's channel 4 TV station. Before the broadcast a short version of the speech was leaked and immediatly uploaded to youtube. That upload was immediatly blocked but many re-uploads made the clip available everywhere. This is one of those places. If you want to thank Edward Snowden for giving up his relationship, familiy, job and any chance of a normal life to inform us all go here and donate. Or spread his message. And do something with it. Because if something is done all of Edward's sacrifices have meaning.

Cryptoparty in de Arnhemse Hackerspace Hack42

Op 20 december gaf ik de inleidende lezing op de Cryptoparty in de Hackerspace in Arnhem Hack42. Cryptoparties zijn informele en openbare bijeenkomsten waar iedereen in een dagdeel kan leren hoe je je data en communicatie kan beschermen tegen spionerende overheden, enge bedrijven of mafiosi. Zie hier voor de eerstvolgende bij jou in de buurt.

Sinds de onthullingen van Edward Snowden over de schaal van wereldwijde spionage door westerse inlichtingen diensten is er steeds meer interesse in het zelf regelen van hun privacy met technische middelen. Zelfs Geenstijl is om en omarmt de hackers.

Privacy 'howto' artikel voor Geenstijl

<geschreven op uitnodiging van Geenstijl.nl en dus in een wat andere stijl dan mijn gebruikelijke. Niet dat Geenstijl dus geen stijl heeft maar wel anders dus. Dat dan weer wel.>

Je kan je boos maken over je overheid die je mail wil lezen, je kan ook wat doen om te zorgen dat dat heel moeilijk wordt. Hieronder een stoomcursus email-beveiliging voor iedereen die niet wil wachten tot BOF en Brenno de glorieuze eindoverwinning behalen. Artikel 12 van de Universele Verklaring voor de Rechten van de Mens is tenslotte er niet alleen om je pr0n-habits te verbergen. Tenzij je blank, man, Europees en nazaat-van-een-adelijke-familie-met-grondbezit bent zijn jou burgerrechten bevochten door mensen die dat konden doen omdat ze niet in een stasi-achtige 'uberwachungs staat' leefden. Zonder privacy geen vrijheid van meningsuiting of zelfs maar meningsvorming en dus geen maatschappelijke verandering (zoals afschaffing van de slavernij, kinderarbeid of invoeren algemeen kiesrecht). Maar geloof mij niet, deze ex CIA/NSA/FBI/DoJ/MI5 medewerkers legden het afgelopen zomer nog even uit.

Als je privacy minder belangrijk vindt dat de hoeveelheid tijd die je per weekend TV reclames kijkt dan is dit stuk niet voor jou. Want het kost een beetje moeite, intelligentie en een aandachtsspanne groter dan die van een Gordonoudvis. OK, inmiddels zijn we 60% van de lezers kwijt. Da's jammer maar niet iedereen is te helpen. En als je echt niks te verbergen hebt laat je dan eens 15 min door Hans Teeuwen op live TV interviewen over je seksleven. Afschrikwekkende voorbeelden hebben tenslotte ook nut en het houdt de dumpert vol.

Tips hoe je Big Brother kunt omzeilen

<ook op Sargasso.nl>

Op 6 juli 2013 publiceerde de Britse krant The Guardian het eerste interview met Edward Snowden, tot dat moment systeembeheerder voor het Amerikaanse National Security Agency. Snowden kreeg door zijn werkzaamheden een gedetailleerd beeld van de mate waarin de NSA een wereldwijde Big Brother-staat in het inrichten was. Vrijwel alle elektronische communicatie wereldwijd werd realtime getapt, telefoons, laptops en servers werden gekraakt en softwarebedrijven werden gedwongen hun systemen met lekken op te leveren om dit mogelijk te maken.

Vermoedens van dergelijke activiteiten door onder meer Amerikaanse veiligheidsdiensten bestonden al decennia (zie dit artikel uit 1999) maar de schaal van de onthullingen die Snowden naar buiten brengt doet zelfs de meest paranoia-experts de rillingen over de rug lopen. Een korte opsomming en wat je er als burger aan kan doen.

Eben Moglen talks on Snowden & the future of Freedom

Update May 28th 2014: The Guardian just published a written summary of the talks below. For those with less time or a preference for text as opposed to video.

Over the last month Prof. Eben Moglen held a series of lectures on the implications of the documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden. More than any other article or interview these talks give a clear analysis of the meaning of this information and what it is we all need to do as citizens if we want a future where freedom and civil liberties still has some meaning. Original video's, audio recordings and transcriptions of the talks can be found at http://snowdenandthefuture.info/.

NSA intell goldmine, who else has access?

<ook op Sargasso.nl en HuffPo UK>

The War Room, Dr. Strangelove - 1965 Shortly after the initial release of some documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden I wrote a little summary about the IT-policy implications for Europe based on earlier columns. A lot of additional documents have come out since then and we can basically conclude that almost every computer system on the planet is fully broken or at least very vulnerable to NSA interference or manipulation.

Nobody, including the NSA, Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald has a total oversight of all the in the tens of thousands of documents let alone the political or strategic implications of the info contained in them. Most of the news keeps focusing on the 'scandal' aspect and/or the person of Snowden. Being angry at the US government (practised by most opponents) and attacking the person of Snowden (a favorite of apologists of the US regime) distracts from defining adequate policy responses and so far there have been precisely none in Europe. This constitutes a massive failure of the various EU governments to protect their citizens' rights and the economic sovereignty of their nations. It is also strange in light of the fact that an adequate policy response had already been formulated in July 2001 and really just needs to be implemented.

But every now and them the disinfo spread by some apologists for the behaviors of the NSA is useful for understanding how much worse the situation may just turn out to be. This article by a former NSA employee is a nice example of an attempt at smearing the whistleblower while actually digging the hole the NSA (and the US regime) is in much, much deeper. The piece claims Snowden secretly worked for Russian intelligence all along. While I do not share the authors views on Snowden's motivations or allegiances the suggestion that outside organisations could have agents inside the NSA has some interesting implications.

Info security workshop Centre for Investigative Journalism

The UK Centre for Investigative Journalism is a non-profit organisation dedicated to educating and training journalists to benefit the quality of journalism and thus public debates on important topics in society. Every year the CIJ holds a 3-day summer school where journalists can follow lectures, participate in workshops and meet with some of the foremost professionals in their field. Several months ago, when the CIJ asked me to help set up a workshop in information security, we had no idea then how hot the subject would become after the revelations by former NSA-contractor Edward Snowden. I was very happy to see the room at London City University was packed with journalists eager to learn both theory and practice of securing their communications and protecting their data. An overview of theory & tools for those who missed it, slides here, video below.

Being in London for a few days also allowed me to contribute to a cryptoparty (a workshop for teaching info security basics to anyone interested) that was kindly hosted and wonderfully supported by the London Hackerspace. Dozens of people from all walks of life showed up and we had a great time.

If you would like to attend such a workshop contact your local hackerspace and join or look at this list of upcoming cryptoparties. If nothing is planned in your area start a group yourself. The time for it has never been more propitious. The links above can get you started. If you get stuck mail me and I'll be happy to put you in contact with people near you.

Below a recording of the theory introduction part of the workshop at the 2013 summer school. After this intro the whole class worked together for several hours setting up software tools for email-encryption, anonymous browsing and testing these new capabilities with colleagues. By the end of the day over 30 journalists were tooled up to receive scoops from high-risk whistleblowers.

OHM and other Three-Letter-Agencies

<originally a column for OHM2013.org - also on HuffPo UK> - video of The Great Spook Panel below this post

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” - Mahatma Gandhi

This summer the Dutch hacker community, with help from friends all over the world, will organise the seventh hacker festival in a series that started in 1989 with the Galactic Hacker Party. The world has changed massively since then (we'll get to that) but the goal of these gatherings remains the same: to share knowledge and ideas about technology and its implications for our world, have heated discussions on what we should do about the problems we see (sometimes well before many others see them), generally have fun in communicating without keyboards, and being excellent to each other.

Four years ago a somewhat unknown Australian hacker with some new ideas about the future of journalism gave the opening keynote at HAR2009. His site was called Wikileaks and some of us had a hunch that this concept might be going places. We had no idea just how far that would be...

Not long after the first gathering in the Netherlands in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. While we can claim no connection, the interminable Cold War had finally ended and many of us felt, with the optimism so typical of youth, that world peace might just be possible in our lifetimes. We would go back to making rockets that went up instead of straight-and-level and other great things would follow.