Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Pin

There's a squid pin on Kickstarter.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.

Posted on February 16, 2018 at 4:08 PM • 208 Comments

Comments

hmmFebruary 16, 2018 5:03 PM

https://heavy.com/news/2018/02/richard-ricky-pinedo-bio-charges-russians/

Ricky Pinedo pleads guilty to facilitating identity theft to facilitate the Russia social campaign.
His crimes would have carried a 15 year minimum sentence ++ so probably a wise career move in all.

https://www.justice.gov/file/1035547/download

https://www.justice.gov/file/1035542/download

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-troll-farm-13-suspects-indicted-for-interference-in-us-election/2018/02/16/2504de5e-1342-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html

The 'witch hunt' seems to be turning up admitted and plea-dealing witches left and right.
Donald В чужой монастырь со своим уставом не ходят, Komrade!

Ross site riftingFebruary 16, 2018 6:12 PM

All squids agree: Mueller has big hands, Huge hands. Trump has little hands. Tiny hands.

What does this mean ?

DoiFebruary 16, 2018 6:25 PM

Yeah, the genius of this scare-quoted witch hunt is that it managed to make Americans briefly value their worthless rigged fake democracy in which kleptocrats buy the politicians you can vote for, and the parties systematically destroy unauthorized candidates.

https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/

https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/

Because brainwashed American chumps want Koch, Gates, and Zuck to rig their election, not Russian statesmen advocating rights and rule of law.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Indicators/Pages/HRIndicatorsIndex.aspx

EvilKiruFebruary 16, 2018 11:06 PM

@bttb: James Risen shows a lack of understanding of the US Constitution's definition of Treason, despite quoting it.

Even the Rosenbergs didn't commit Treason. They were prosecuted for and convicted of Espionage. Every person prosecuted for Treason in the US to date was prosecuted for acts committed during war time.

Think about it: The US and Russia are not at war with each other. Ipso facto, no US citizen can be legitimately charged with Treason, regardless of their relationship with Russia.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 12:13 AM

@EvilKiru

We've actually been over this here. The only thing preventing this scenario from being treason is a named enemy and a declared war. Cold war adversary doesn't quite do it.

Same goes for the Rosenbergs, they were traitors in all ways but for named enemy at war.
In fact at their sentencing the judge said words to that effect, noting that.


@ Doi

The big problem with calling it a 'witch hunt' is all the folks pleading guilty to being witches rather than easily defending themselves of the charges if they weren't guilty.

Admittedly our electoral system has major problems. You don't fix a one by turning full traitor.
People still defending what is already proven to be a crime need to get their heads examined.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 12:31 AM

@Bttb

James Risen's answer is "Yes, if we consider hacking elections an actual act of war."
By law it can be. Words to that effect have been said in Congress. Just a declaration required.

Would it be worth declaring war to get these traitors what they deserve? Of course not.
But we'll get them sorted either way.

Paul Ryan is borderline a traitor along with McConnell and Nunez in a very similar vein.
They knowingly are shielding someone who has provably committed treason were we at war, and there is evidence that Nunez is already under investigation himself.

Mueller is just getting started and he won't be the last special prosecutor either. Popcorn time.


Clive RobinsonFebruary 17, 2018 2:45 AM

@ Anders,

That "Crash out an iPhone with a single character" story you linked to... Sounds like a prank just in time for 1st of April...

Just saying ;-)

Clive RobinsonFebruary 17, 2018 4:15 AM

@ bttb,

James Risen asks "Is Donald Trump a Traitor?" in Trump and Russia, Part 1

I'm sorry but the article is a pile of "bovine organic fertilizer" stacked high and steaming.

If you read down the article that is trying so overly hard to be dramatic and thus making it embarrassing for any sane person to read you get to this gem of "faux import",

    In January 2017, just days before Trump took office, a remarkable report from the CIA, FBI, and NSA was made public, plunging the U.S. intelligence community into American politics in an unprecedented way. Its aftershocks continue to reverberate a year later.

To anyone who has read it's drear 25pages DNI ICA_2017_01, was a useless thus worse than worthless document put together to rubber stamp the findings of the DNC selected "consultants" in order to deflect bad press (look back in this blog to see more). Billing it as "a remarkable report" and saying "Its aftershocks continue to reverberate a year later" is a compleat an utter load.

In fact I would make a small bet that more people remember "Father Charles Coughlin" and his rabid radio National socialist output than remember anything about that report (he is after all taught about in history much like "Lord haw haw" not just because of his National Socialst content but also the fact he was in effect the first "shock jock").

I could go on about the articles failings but it just reads like a DNC fluff piece trying to cover up not just the DNC failings to secure information when Hillary was under investigation for sending secret and above information to the Clinton unsecure email server but also all the dirty little secrets about campaign funding and the like.

Lets be abundantly clear it was the emails revealing H.R.Clinton and supporters impropriety that caused any harm to her campaign, not the persons who released them. Thus the whole thing is a "shoot the messenger" excercise, to cover up the seedy low life behaviour.

But as for "evidence" it suffers from a number of problems.

Firstly such as it was it was obtained illegaly by an IC entity doing more or less exactly the same as the ywo APT groups are accused of.

Secondly as they accessed those computer systems we do not know what else they were upto inside them. Nore for that matter what happened to those and other systems by that IC, other IC entities or others with the requisit skills.

Thus any real court case would die with the "fruit of the poisoned vine".

But there is also the issue of getting that 2/3rds majority vote in the house... I realy don't think that's going to happen any time soon... It is only nine months to the Mid-terms... But ask yourself a question, if Trump does get impeached, do you realy want the stable mate to step in the breach? I suspect the majority answer would be no.

If you want to know a bit more about and just how the US has once again "burnt an alies 'methods and sources'" have a look at,

https://nos.nl/nieuwsuur/artikel/2213767-dutch-intelligence-first-to-alert-u-s-about-russian-hack-of-democratic-party.html

Oh and if the US go on burning alies methods and sources they may end up with no alies fairly quickly...

JFFebruary 17, 2018 7:29 AM

@Doi
"their worthless rigged fake democracy in which kleptocrats buy the politicians you can vote for" - Well, we certainly have a kleptocrat president now, an aspiring fascist as well. I recommend a small book "On Tyranny - Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century" by Timothy Snyder.

"...not Russian statesmen advocating rights and rule of law." Ha! That is rich.

echoFebruary 17, 2018 7:54 AM

There has recently been a flood of security related links on popular sites - almost too many to list. I cannot remember anyone last week posting the IBM survey on consumers now prefering security over convenience so posting today.

After partially watching Michael Moore's 'Where to Invade Next" by concidence an article on Finland's governance popped up. The article contains no security specific items but I felt the look and feel of Finlands goevrnance may help inform discussion about how different forms of governance may help de-escalate tensions and move away from conflict orientated economies.

Consumers prefer security over convenience for the first time ever, IBM Security report finds
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/ibm-security-report-security-now-outweighs-convenience/

Safe, happy and free: does Finland have all the answers?
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/12/safe-happy-and-free-does-finland-have-all-the-answers

also

Finland’s egalitarian Eden has a dark side
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/15/finland-egalitarian-eden-has-a-dark-side

DoiFebruary 17, 2018 8:49 AM

@hmm if you knew your rights, you would know that Russians, like Americans, are protected by the supreme law of the land with which all domestic law must conform, Article 19, which guarantees their freedom of expression (forget your first amendment, it's obsolete crap, and anyway it's gone, you're not getting it back. CIA revoked it.) And traitor is a silly word in your context - Governments have obligations. Humans have rights. So the government's the only traitor here.

http://www.unz.com/proberts/the-result-of-muellers-investigation-nothing/

Surely you know by now not to fall for stuff the US Government proves. Perhaps all the illegal CIA war propaganda has got you confused.

DoiFebruary 17, 2018 9:12 AM

@JF I hate to break it to you, but Ha! is not super convincing to persons who are properly educated and stuff. Use your words, snookums! Use your facts! Below are the facts. Feel free to try and make your case for whatever Ha means.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/USIndex.aspx
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/RUIndex.aspx

Once you try that, you will see that Russians get a much better deal than Americans from their state. The Russian government meets the minimal standards of the civilized world. The USA does not. You're getting screwed. Bust free of the patriotic CIA brainwashing that makes you deny it.

If you don't have the attention span for all those icky, scary facts, here are pretty pictures in bright colors showing exactly how the USA fails to meet acknowledged world standards.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Indicators/Pages/HRIndicatorsIndex.aspx

Snyder's a typical Ivy League mediocrity saying what he has to say. Trump can't undermine democracy, Trump is a figurehead, CIA's puppet ruler. And he can't undermine democracy because there's been no such thing since 1949, when CIA imposed impunity in municipal law.

Thessa ArndtwelfFebruary 17, 2018 10:07 AM

OHCHR ?

One has to be skeptical of anything published under the auspices of the UN. It is the department of global progressivism, essentially an ideological body.

Jan van ProoijenFebruary 17, 2018 10:38 AM

Are you interested in this story? A guy notified a retail chain about their leaking of client data of telcos. Two years later, time for a new phone and not much has changed.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 10:43 AM

@Clive

"I could go on about the articles failings but it just reads like a DNC fluff piece trying to cover up not just the DNC failings to secure information"

Well I can agree about that article perhaps, but you yourself are one to be swayed only by evidence the fact that both the DNC and RNC were infiltrated by these related hacks and a selection of that data was secretly given in advance to one of the two candidates, not both, and the combination of those now-established FACTS does much to chip away at your premises drawn here.

In the end data from one and not the other was publicly released, no less after the candidate being credibly accused of colluding with Russian actors (despite his most convincing attempts at competent acting) and calling out in a public TV address for "Russia if you're listening" to do exactly that just a matter of days prior.

Regardless if you believe HRC damaged her own campaign, which she did, *(and I do believe of course to the point of not voting for her myself), via those emails and the ultimate responsibility for their contents falls on her, the fact that they were released through illicit means and in possibly coordination with the Trump campaign and Russian state-sponsored efforts to undermine our elections is a serious criminal charge. Very serious.

Now you seem to want to put all of this back on the DNC and HRC, and there's plenty of time for books documenting each individual misstep or half-baked political position, but right now THIS news is about proven links between Russian disruption efforts and the altogether-too-willing adoption of their fruits by the Trump campaign and ultimately Trump administration. The denials have been proven false over, and over, and over again.

We have multiple people pleading guilty to crimes and offering what they know to investigators. Their information is being compared with facts gathered from other means, and a cross-reference of what is true is being created by someone with unimpeachable credentials compared to any involved, and as acknowledged by both sides.

There is no more plausible reason for you to be pretending that none of this is real.

" it was it was obtained illegaly by an IC entity doing more or less exactly the same "
-FALSE

" as they accessed those computer systems we do not know what else they were upto "
-That's not evidence of wrongdoing on their part nor a credible allegation of it.

"Fruit of the poison tree" = something actually obtained illegally.

In this case they have multiple overlapping trees, many of which are perfectly legit.
They had a sanctioned investigation going at the time with evidence in hand.
You can't touch it with your armchair analysis of what is legal or not.

You haven't even seen it yet. Hundreds or thousands of legal professionals have, and signed off.

" if Trump does get impeached, do you realy want the stable mate to step in "

Pence is going to be part of the legal proceeding himself. He also obstructed justice provably.
As did Jeff Sessions, as did Trump's legal counsel, as did a host of involved individuals.
They're all your "poisoned fruit" here. They're in the woodchipper also.

"if the US go on burning alies methods and sources they may end up with no alies fairly quickly..."

I agree with you, the US ought to be more careful about blowing away allies' efforts.

But by your own criteria...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/16/world/middleeast/israel-trump-classified-intelligence-russia.html

Donald Trump is a proven liar, a provable traitor, and the folks in Congress who have seen the evidence of it and continue to stall and stonewall and deliver Trump information are in effect colluding with the obstruction of justice in the case.

The swamp will be drained one way or another. Julian Assange was right, it will be the response to Trump by the American people that will make him the "best" candidate - because HRC's wrongdoings would have been a lot more subtle and less glaringly obvious.

I gently would encourage you to not flop so stridently for a traitor's concerns if you do not now hold American citizenship or wish to maintain an accurate and complete ledger of the events in the case. That would be a bit like me going back and forth out of my way to defend Kim Philby or something. Pretty ridiculous given the facts at hand.

And yes, if Mike Pence was exonerated by the entire investigation?

Then I WOULD want him in the seat. Because that's the law, and that's the determinant, not what I personally would wish to see as a politically minded citizen. The law must come first. That's why we're getting rid of Donald Trump. Not just because he's an idiot.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 10:47 AM

And I might add, if HRC committed crimes she should face even justice under the law also.

The reason investigations into her seemed to go nowhere was not because the allegations were unproven, they were, but because they were not rising beyond a bar for which other folks had not been prosecuted. Colin Powell, Jeb Bush, Condi Rice, lots of people would have had to have been prosecuted previously for the 14th Amendment not to apply with equal justice under the law. Many administrations have been accused of carelessness, negligence, even criminal negligence. There's a wide berth given for them to accomplish their duties, a comparable lot of leeway given compared to the average.

This is the first sitting President credibly accused of doing it deliberately for an adversary, either for quid pro quo or because he was/is being blackmailed, as the results of this investigation will be laid out before him in charges of our highest crimes.

Popcorn, Clive? I mean since this is all fiction according to you, you might as well enjoy it.

Happy Saturday.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 10:59 AM

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/02/17/mcmaster-fbi-indictments-prove-russia-meddled-in-us-elections.html

When even General McMaster (OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AND A REPUBLICAN) agrees with something like this in direct contravention of the all-too-obviously lying President, that ought to be a bit of a clue that it's not a "witchhunt" or partisan exercise entirely.

Some don't want to see that, they want to throw out fruit they designate poison without evidence.
Let them see what they wish. Just don't count on their narration without checking into it.

The facts are overwhelming and not illegally obtained as some would have you believe, without evidence.

CallMeLateForSupperFebruary 17, 2018 11:07 AM

As for:
IBM survey on consumers now prefering security over convenience

I read (part of) an article about that yesterday. What I read was disappointing because I had previously concluded that consumers do not value security over convenience and the article presented nothing that persuaded me I was mistaken.

At each crisis dejour during the past several years, if I judged that news coverage was misleading or confusing or insufficient or just plain wrong, I took it upon myself to gently educate the persons closest to me about it, via email. I always paid particular attention to explaining how "this" did indeed touch each of them on a personal level and what they could do to mitigate. I got virtual eye-rolls. No, it just felt like that. What I actually got was worse: dead silence; zero responses; zero questions.

It has become clear that they want their cellphones and "apps" and online banking. They want their social media. They want to browse web sites with the same abandon that they browse shopping malls. They discuss personal and financial matters via in-the-clear SMS and email. While they probably would say, like IBM's survey targets, that they *prefer* security to convenience, their actions say very loudly that what they *value* above all is convenience.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 12:26 PM

@ Peanuts

Evidence is required, good luck with that! :D

Enjoy the indictments! America is becoming great again by finally tackling corruption in government.

Starting at the top. Popcorn? We don't put mayo on it in America though, sorry.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 12:33 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/world/europe/russia-meddling-mcmaster.html

Do you need to hear it from a Republican General and member of Trump's staff?

I guess the truth hurts (your ideology)

In addition to Clive's fervent denial of fact and the 'peanut' gallery's 1 word contribution...
Lavrov, Kislyak and even Putin are once again crying Russophobia too.

None of them really want to deal with the factual record, so I guess they don't factor into it either.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 1:01 PM

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/russia-indictments-more-to-come_us_5a87a4bbe4b004fc31923d91

They're charging (and may convict in absentia via strong and in fact "incontrovertible" evidence - according to General McMaster) these 13 Russian actors in a preamble to further charges against known enablers and obstructionists in America. This is going to be bigger than simply the Administration itself or some subset of bad actors in the west wing.

This is going to be a long and detailed affair lasting years to decades.
You might want to pace yourselves, denialists. Plenty to come. :)


albertFebruary 17, 2018 1:08 PM

@Clive,
It's apparent that the Hil'ryites haven't gotten over her loss. She didn't lose because of election interference, or her shabby treatment of Sanders, or Russian meddling, or whatever BS excuses they come up with. She lost because of a high non-voter count in states that would have favored a Democrat. She lost because the Republicans have, over many years, gerrymandered districts and prioritized local and state elections. Why are most states governors Republican? That should have been a clue. Perhaps these folks are too young, too naive, or too stupid see what a farce US Presidential elections are. Chris Hedges put it better than I: "Our two parties are really one party, the corporate party." It's political theatre. It's bogus entertainment for the masses, which exactly reflects the 'reality' TV shows and the 'fake news', if not the obsession with violence and fantasy in games and movies.
Trump is continuing the Prime Directive of the Corporate State: US hegemony world-wide. Just as Hil'ry would have done, or any other candidate provided by the CS.
..
@CallMeLateForSupper,
It's not just consumers who want convenience, it's also the -corporations- who provide all the crap that we buy from them. What's the point of having PC management systems baked into the CPU if not for the IT professionals who manage the systems. Part of the problem is the fact that, modern PCs suffer from bloated operating systems and applications. I can handle one PC sitting on my desk, but what about 500 PCs sitting in an office building, each with the power of one server of old. And they still have huge servers anyway. The more complex the system, the more that can go wrong, and the less secure it is. It's like a flat roof. You can patch and keep putting new layers on, but eventually you gotta tear it off and start over with a new one. I believe we are past the point of patching.
..
Don't anyone get bogged down in the details. Trump and Sanders provided a watershed moment in US politics, where the US reached its "Naked Lunch"* moment.

----------
*"...[William] Burroughs states in his introduction that Jack Kerouac suggested the title. "The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork."..." - Wikipedia
. .. . .. --- ....

AnuraFebruary 17, 2018 1:35 PM

@albert

Yes, if you are a middle class white male, there is absolutely no difference between Clinton and Trump or Republicans and Democrats if you don't actually pay attention to most issues.

AnuraFebruary 17, 2018 1:52 PM

@Pedro

Two questions that need to be answered first:

1) How many of these types of threats do they get vs how many are acted on
2) If they determined the threats were credible, what could they have done about it

My guess is the answer to #1 is a lot, and the answer to #2 is very little. Most law enforcement agencies can't do anything if no crime has actually been committed.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 1:57 PM

"How hard should we judge the FBI's failure to investigate Nikolas Cruz after receiving these warnings?"

Well, he's accused of making threats right? That's all they knew about.
They did look, they couldn't easily find, they let it fall through cracks.

It's more common than not for lesser crimes, proving threats are actionable is not trivial.

The gun issue, where he can buy an AR15 without any check finding any issue with him, that's not FBI.
You decide which more provably caused the incident.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 1:58 PM

*Or rather, failed to foresee and stop it.

It's unreasonable to expect the FBI to stop all things.

It's not unreasonable for lawmakers to stop kids from buying military style rifles without a check.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 2:02 PM

"It's apparent that the Hil'ryites haven't gotten over her loss"

If that's directed at me, I voted for Bernard Sanders and would never vote for any Clinton.

So that's a big hole in your ad hominem. I see HRC as absolutely unelectably tainted also.
If she reciprocally cut a deal with porn stars to blackmail or discredit Trump? Lock her up. Yep.
She should face charges for her email server in my view, but so should all provably guilty of it.
That didn't happen for Colin Powell, Condo Rice, or Jeb Bush. That's not a minor point.

Until you have a mote of evidence in your favor, all I can say is stay tuned for more indictments.
We'll see who's right in the end whether we can all admit that - which is the underlying issue here.

Who?February 17, 2018 2:14 PM

@ Ross site rifting

All squids agree: Mueller has big hands, Huge hands. Trump has little hands. Tiny hands. What does this mean?

Than a single squid has more hands than Mueller and Trump togheter?

Sorry, a very bad joke but some sense of humour is the only way to survive to Meltdown and Spectre, and whatever comes next.

By the way, I have updated microcode on my workstation and an operating system that has experimental patches against all three variants of Meltdown and Spectre. This script,

https://github.com/speed47/spectre-meltdown-checker

shows that my computer is protected against all these variants (first and third by means of software patches, second one by means of microcode's IBRS and software patches). Then, why some Spectre and Metdown PoC are working yet on it?

Who?February 17, 2018 2:25 PM

Before you ask, indeed, this machine is running Linux right now. I will move to OpenBSD in the next months, and put it on my real network, but right now I prefer running the operating system provided by the manufacturer just in case there is something wrong on it and I need to contact technical service. Once the Meltdown and Spectre firmware updates settle, be confident hardware works as expected, and there are some patches on OpenBSD (perhaps on next May) I will move to it.

bttbFebruary 17, 2018 4:54 PM

@EvilKiru
“James Risen shows a lack of understanding of the US Constitution's definition of Treason, despite quoting it.
Even the Rosenbergs didn't commit Treason. They were prosecuted for and convicted of Espionage. Every person prosecuted for Treason in the US to date was prosecuted for acts committed during war time.
Think about it: The US and Russia are not at war with each other. Ipso facto, no US citizen can be legitimately charged with Treason, regardless of their relationship with Russia.”

ianal, but most of what I get in the way of legal stuff on this topic is from emptywheel.net. “bmaz” there frequently proceeds with something like whack a mole when the “T” word comes up.

“Trip” recently started a sub-thread on Risen’s Article https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/02/15/the-gates-flip-and-the-404b-delay/#comment-726778

where a few comments down “dalloway” says

“Risen’s piece is interesting, but we don’t have to get into the thorny issue of treason — Drumpf’s criminal exposure is vast enough without it.  I think Mueller probably has evidence of multiple violations of the Espionage Act, working for a foreign power against the U.S. and taking money for it, by multiple people in Drumpf’s orbit, up to and including him.  That’s enough to put him in prison for the rest of his life, without even considering his other crimes, like money-laundering, tax evasion, conspiracy and obstruction.  It’s more than enough to impeach him.  The rub, of course, is that Drumpf will try to make a deal:  total immunity from all criminal prosecution, including state charges, in exchange for his stubby little hands being permanently removed from the nuclear codes via his resignation.   Ryan and McConnell would make that deal.   That’s why Democrats need to take control of Congress, to make sure this boil on the butt of our republic, gets lanced.  If not, the infection may kill our  whole democracy.”
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/02/15/the-gates-flip-and-the-404b-delay/#comment-726806

Hypothetical Question:
Would Trump be provided with Secret Service protection, presumably as an ex-president, in either prison or jail?

AnuraFebruary 17, 2018 4:58 PM

I'd guess someone like Trump would be placed under house arrest if it came to it, and would probably still receive protection.

bttbFebruary 17, 2018 5:58 PM

@Clive Robinson

“But there is also the issue of getting that 2/3rds majority vote in the house... I realy don't think that's going to happen any time soon... It is only nine months to the Mid-terms... But ask yourself a question, if Trump does get impeached, do you realy want the stable mate to step in the breach?”

That’s a fly in the ointment.

In general, I enjoy reading Risen. For example, I enjoyed both Risen’s book “Bearden, Milton, and James Risen. The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB. New York: Random House, 2004. ISBN 0-345-47250-0 (10). ISBN 978-0-345-47250-2 (13). (Also available as an E-book.)”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Risen
https://www.amazon.com/Main-Enemy-Inside-Story-Showdown/dp/0345472500 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/212459.The_Main_Enemy
and from the main adversaries point of view, Cherkashin's 2005 "Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer. The True Story of The Man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen & Aldrich Ames Basic. ISBN 0-465-00968-9."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Cherkashin
https://www.amazon.com/Spy-Handler-Officer-Recruited-Hanssen/dp/0465009697
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/156336.Victor_Cherkashin

"To anyone who has read it's drear 25pages DNI ICA_2017_01, was a useless thus worse than worthless document put together to rubber stamp the findings of the DNC selected "consultants" in order to deflect bad press (look back in this blog to see more)."

You reminded me of something to read; this 14 page USG report
https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf
and a similar version that I think you might have referred to
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3254229-ICA-2017-01.html

Sancho_PFebruary 17, 2018 6:33 PM

@maqp

Sorry for the late reply, I’m now back on landline. Due to a minor landslide our ISP’s satellite dish was displaced and fibre cables damaged, about 20k connections down for a week, mobile overloaded - no fun.

Re broad threat model, “most likely” and “should be” + entire books and links: TL;DR, what I’m missing is your / TFC’s specific goal, short and sharply defined, what is the intended audience, the adversary, where are the limits.
Re complexity: Yes, the system is too complex for my simple mind, but would I be the only idiot to botch it up at the first attempt to use it?
My thinking is about a tamper-evident box with three ports, data in, data out and key, likely some buttons / a display (if absolutely needed). To change the program some HW inside has to be changed. Data in and key port may be interchangeable. The box would only encrypt / decrypt, but never reveal (or know) whether the decryption was successful or not, only the user would know (connect two boxes in series …). The box would check if the output is somehow random and not in correlation to input or key port.
You want to send data as chat? Fine. Send (or store) 700 kB of encrypted CAD file, locally or Cloud? Yep. The box is agnostic, feed it and take the output as file or stream. The box is between two insecure computer systems. It is a data diode plus. Encryption is decryption.

This leads to my other point, the dedicated HW data diode (mind you, I’d insist of a galvanic decoupling at all ports, for several reasons).
At your TxM / RxM machines the single transmission line is already the logical data diode. There is no return channel, so why adding the HW?
The trick is the simple communication principle: The sender is broadcasting but doesn’t know if there is any receiver, and it will not accept any feedback.
Again: The simple communication, one way.
Ethernet is dangerous because (when) it relies on feedback, plus the vast complexity baked into the endpoint chips, FW and protocol.
Simple serial ends in a HW shift register + buffer, your SW decides data or command. Reprogram your system via serial? Possible, but only when your SW permits, and it is not easy to achieve.

With that in mind I challenge your TxM / RxM separation, because in principle it is one device that could be switched (or even turned around) from send to receive and back.

I’m still a fan of good old OTP, but even with complex encryption you’d need a key, don’t you? Again, complexity …
So I have to confess I couldn’t follow your story with the “local Destination Computer”, a sketch might help, but now we are back at the issue to discuss in a security forum.

So you don’t follow email, don’t like structured discussion, and don’t address all according nicks in your postings in the first line.
You want to discuss source code, but print “Hello World” is all I can do in Python.
Boy, that would be a difficult task!

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 6:52 PM

@ bttm

Just the fact that #17 is a "mystery prosecutor" no doubt strikes fear into the hearts of mortal men.

Alyer Babtu February 17, 2018 7:09 PM

I’m not getting the indictments. Yes, some Russians, probably, given the extent of oversight in Russia, with at least the acquiescence of their government, made efforts to influence US politics. Throw the book at them as scofflaws and mischief makers by all means. But what effect did they have election-wise ? Practically none. It’s not credible any serious number of people changed their minds because of these actions. Look at the election results by county, or consider the election rally attendance by candidates. However, the operation did produce a year in which the functions of government were frustrated by recriminations. Maybe that was the real point ?

EvilKiruFebruary 17, 2018 7:12 PM

@bttb: There's a difference between being an accused traitor and actually being a traitor. If you only almost meet the Constitution's definition of treason, you're not an actual traitor, no matter how much the accuser wants you to be one.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 7:19 PM

@ Evilkiru

The fact that we have to accuse people of being traitors after all we know is awfully formal, given the circumstances are someone we can prove committed treason with the obvious caveat that we aren't at war with Russia.

I think you can admit there's a difference between telling the truth and getting continually countermanded by evidence over and over and over and over to the point that some counts have this administration well over 2000 major public lies.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/14/opinion/sunday/trump-lies-obama-who-is-worse.html

Now there's no law against lying. There's a law against treason. Proof exists of both.
If you want to go all the way through a mock court hearing here, no.

Some folks need to get their heads right and read the existing provable record, the official record,
before they start citing the Constitution of all pieces of paper in the world.

AnuraFebruary 17, 2018 7:32 PM

@Alyer Babtu

Propaganda works, and it doesn't matter if you believe it or not. Trump won by a hundred thousand votes across three states; that's an extremely thin margin and there's good reason to believe that Russian propaganda efforts were decisive.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 17, 2018 8:02 PM

@ hmm,

FALSE

Show me where in Russian law the Dutch are alowed to hack into computers within Russian jurisdiction?

If you can not then it was an illegal act plain and simple.

Knowing that it was obtained illegaly means it is not admissible in the normal US court system.

Arguing otherwise is a bit daft. If however you wish to argue that it might be used in an impeachment vote in the house... That's slightly different.

As for Trump "Stating the nearly obvious to the Russians about Israel", how do I put this tactfully I fully expect the Russians already knew, they are after all not daft when it comes to this sort of thing and have kind of run rings around all the Five-Eye countries for three score years and ten atleast. Thus the change in the "PC's on planes" rule several days befor hand would have given them a heads up if they had not probably known before hand.

I suspect what has upset the Israelis rather more is the leaks that supposadly one of the Israeli SigInt agencies had gained access to Russian Government officials using a back door into Kaspersky labs systems...

Which I think even you would have to acknowledge is a lot more serious than Trump "tooting his horn" about that which was already out in the open.

Oh and like it or not I gather it is the US Presidents call to decide what can and can not be said, all be it under advisment.

I find it curious that his predecessor flapped his gums, stamped his feet and said people had been very naughty and even produced ludicrous indictments against serving Chinese Officers. Which "take your best shot Muller" has just done again with some Russians, with no evidence after how many months that anyone of any import was involved...

It's especially ironic as it's usually the US IC caught with it's trousers around it's ankles.

Tell me what is the US Government going to do if other nations "follow the US lead" and set up indictments against NSA/CIA serving officers... Are they going to hand them over, no of course they are not, no way the US Gov has given themselves powers to militarily intercead if any US Personnel get hauled up on war crimes etc.

For some strange reason way to many American's think there is something important about the US that makes them "exceptional" guess what there is not.

Oh as for the large number of lawyers you have claimed have signed off on things, I rather think you are exaggerating to put it mildly. I have no idea where you pulled the number from, but I suggest it probably needs to be cleaned up a bit.

As for the rest of your comments I guess they've not exactly seen the light of day before either.

But just to be clear on it I suspect that certainly in Scotland a greater percentage of the population dislike the current US President than in the US (I've mentioned this before and nobody apprared to disagre). As for England well enough protested that he should be banned for various good reasons, that he had to come up with an excuse about not liking the eye sore that is the new US Embassy. So please don't think we like him at all. Personnaly I was hoping that "Starman" in the cherry red Tessler would have been "Dear Dho'gnarled" but I geuess Elon could not talk him into it.

But people in the US realy need to ask themselves a question "Who was the last US President that actually did something for the ordinary US citizen without strings being attached for the 1% of the 1%?".

As others have noted and I've said umpteen times on this blog US Politicos are "bought and payed for" by those the US citizens have no control over. After all where did those $6-10billion to pay for a seat in the house etc come from?. Thus US citizens are mostly all in a bad place, to quote the words of the song you "are another day older and deeper in debt", thus should be praying "Saint Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go, I owe my soul to the corporate claw"...

Thus why you are all getting so het up about what your President has supposadly done, you realy are missing the more important things / bigger picture. But keep banging that drum and waving that flag, but remember they don't put food on the table or a roof over your head, nor keep the repo-man away from your door, as most of the politicos vote you into penury and steal your assets and rights, just so they can feather their own nests.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 8:17 PM

"Show me where in Russian law"

Irrelevant. Sorry. That's not where the evidence comes from entirely.

If you're trying to play the OJ angle, we're well beyond ill-fitting gloves sir.

Stop denying the premise that you could be wrong please, I admit I could be.

And we will see, won't we?

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 8:22 PM

"If you can not then it was an illegal act plain and simple."

Cannot. And wrong. Why you need to end things in "plain and simple" when they clearly are not...
There's a lot of grey and I'm willing to admit individual points.

Clive I want to help you out here. Stop backing a dead horse with your own flesh.

The beatings will continue long after the joke is over.

AnuraFebruary 17, 2018 8:24 PM

But people in the US realy need to ask themselves a question "Who was the last US President that actually did something for the ordinary US citizen without strings being attached for the 1% of the 1%?".

Barack Obama. Next question, please. Seriously, you have one party that believes that corporations should have absolutely no oversight or regulation and seeks to make that happen, and one party that actually does things to help the averages citizen. Obama was blocked from accomplishing anything in his administration, but he used executive orders regularly to help the average citizen, he kept net neutrality alive... Democrats have repeatedly pushed for higher minimum wage, higher welfare, higher corporate taxes. Democrats are willing to do things that help the average citizen at the expense of corporations.

You have blinders on; you pay attention to your handful of issues, and ignore everything else.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2013/11/23/1257892/-Obama-accomplishments

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 8:28 PM

" I rather think you are exaggerating to put it mildly. I have no idea where you pulled the number from, but I suggest it probably needs to be cleaned up a bit."

Well ok.

I'm assuming everyone at the upper echelon of the Justice Dept have seen it, including some unknown percentage of staffers and proofers, experts on individual compartmentalized points, obviously the defense lawyers and all their staffers... I can easily see that being between 99 and 9,999.

Am I way off? How so.

HmmFebruary 17, 2018 8:38 PM

"Which I think even you would have to acknowledge is a lot more serious than Trump "tooting his horn" about that which was already out in the open."

Granted.

"It's especially ironic as it's usually the US IC caught with it's trousers around it's ankles."

It's != its.

"Are they going to hand them over, no of course they are not, no way the US Gov has given themselves powers to militarily intercead if any US Personnel get hauled up on war crimes etc."

Correct.

"For some strange reason way to many American's think there is something important about the US that makes them "exceptional" guess what there is not."

Unrelated Anti-American rant, to be honest, but as an American I can agree. Yep I do.

"But just to be clear on it I suspect that certainly in Scotland a greater percentage of the population dislike the current US President than in the US"

I've never underestimated the intelligence of Scotland.

"Who was the last US President that actually did something for the ordinary US citizen without strings being attached for the 1% of the 1%?"."

That's a complex question that our legislative process doesn't help facilitate.

"As others have noted and I've said umpteen times on this blog US Politicos are "bought and payed for"

Absolutely goddam right. And it's something that we should rail against with all due might.
People using Donald Trump as their standard bearer in this regard are his children - or idiots.

", you realy are missing the more important things / bigger picture. '

We ALL ARE.

This is a massive distraction campaign and it has utterly succeeded.

The progenitor of it is laughing in his Moscow duchy as we speak, there is little question!

I would be. He's a fucking mastermind by comparison. It's embarrassing. It's demoralizing nationally, and what's more the implement of his control in our system is continuing to REPLACE OUR INSTITUTIONS WITH CHARADES THAT UNDERMINE THEIR STATED MISSIONS DIRECTLY.

IT IS TREASON.

You think there's something more important to world security right now than an unaccountable bought American government that makes no pretense of its former apologist self?

THEN I ACCUSE YOU OF UNDER-THINKING IT, given what you have said here today alone!

Clive let us all work together towards something better, no?

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 9:13 PM

I believe everyone in the world could be better served.

Including his backers. Prove me wrong.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 17, 2018 9:25 PM

@ hmm,

Clive I want to help you out here. Stop backing a dead horse with your own flesh.

I'm not nor have I been, it's a point you don't appear to understand.

All I've ever said is be cautious about things and wait for real evidence. I don't know how old you are but I've lived through this nonsense atleast twice befor. There is always a tooting of horns people leaping up on soap boxes and the talking heads start spouting the corporate line, and actually call it wrong more often than right.

And at the end of the day supprise supprise not very much actually happens.

It's most the people leaping up and down claiming "Treason" etc and the like who are putting to much flesh in the game.

As I've indicated it's only nine months to the mid terms. If they had anything like real evidence they would have done a lot more than issue a hand full of indictments on a few people nobody has ever heard of by now.

As for what people "plea deal" it is always at best questionable at the best of times. As for bringing down the entire GOP etc, don't hold your breath.

As for "evidence" as I pointed out a long time ago I do not regard what can not be submitted into open court and cross examined for it's veracity real evidence, because it's not.

Likewise when it comes to APT and various cyber-attacks I advise caution, because it's based on way to many assumptions to be sound.

As others have pointed out if Russia realy were "hacking the election" then the NSA should have known about it. Well if they do they have certainly not said very much of anything. Which is what has made it easy for people to get carried away.

What I suspect will happen is more froth more bluster, a few more "He says, She says" type plea deals that lack substance, the mid terms to keep things not much changed and Trumps elbows still polishing the desk in the oval office. Heck it's even possible he will see the term out and pardon people before he goes...

The current reality is there is a lot of noise but darn little happening and nobody realy knows where things are going let alone if they will ever get anywhere.

So sit back and relax get neither excited or upset, it realy is not worth it either way.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 9:27 PM

"and wait for real evidence"

Is it not evidence that 6 people have plead guilty and 13 Russian nationals indicted for this?

Or are you denying the facts. Indictments on this level REQUIRE EVIDENCE CLIVE.

RatioFebruary 17, 2018 9:28 PM

Very Serious People might want to consider how well their earlier comments on this topic have aged.

This stuff has been obvious for (many) months, but still there were Very Serious Denials.


@hmm,

This is a massive distraction campaign [...]

So don’t play along. (And it’s not just that.)

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 9:32 PM

"As for bringing down the entire GOP etc,"

I have argued for more parties not fewer Clive.

"As for what people "plea deal" it is always at best questionable at the best of times."

Guilty isn't questionable. They plead guilty. Maybe you need a refresher?

"Likewise when it comes to APT and various cyber-attacks I advise caution"

Good advice. Stop backing their efforts.

"As others have pointed out if Russia realy were "hacking the election" then the NSA should have known about it."

You can't have it both ways, because the US government DID KNOW ABOUT IT.

"Well if they do they have certainly not said very much of anything."

You ARE familiar with the NSA, are you?

"What I suspect will happen is more froth more bluster"

You are in control of your own emissions.

"If they had anything like real evidence they would have ..."

Your premise is that you know what they would have done, without evidence.

Clive you need to stop doing that. That's proving my point for me.

hmmFebruary 17, 2018 9:34 PM

"The current reality is there is a lot of noise but darn little happening"

If 13 indictments and a guilty plea in a day are nothing, I'll cede to your point.

I believe you're making a case for something that obviously isn't supportable Clive.

MarkFebruary 17, 2018 10:21 PM

Greetings

42 ?

Deep thought provided that answer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2rS-ha8DbE 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassenaar_Arrangement

42 countries adopted the ‘Wassenaar Arrangement’

How many agreed to send people to jail for creating cryptology ?

FooCrypt, A Tale of Cynical Cyclical Encryption : FooCrypt,0.0.1,Core,10.11.0,Darwin  http://www.foocrypt.net/foocrypt001core10110.html

On the eve of the first sitting of the Australian Parliament for the calendar year 2018, FooCrypt, A Tale of Cynical Cyclical Encryption : FooCrypt,0.0.1,Core,10.11.0,Darwin   http://www.foocrypt.net/foocrypt001core10110.html has been published in accordance with the criminalization of cryptology in Australia.

Feel free to Buy, Download, Use, in accordance with your countries criminalization of cryptology.

Feel Free to pass on if you believe in privacy and education.

FooCrypt, A Tale of Cynical Cyclical Encryption : FooCrypt,0.0.1,Core,10.11.0,Darwin  http://www.foocrypt.net/foocrypt001core10110.html

echoFebruary 18, 2018 1:40 AM

proecting and tribalism can be very persistent. I'm sure the Russians (and other stateactors) have their ongoing operations as would be expected of any nation state. As for whether US allegations of Russian state involvement are true or not like Clive says we have been here before. Give a dog a bad name...

If it wasn't for US hysteria over terrorism and rogue states I wouldn't get to hear a lot about America. Iphones and Microsoft and Intel? Maybe Spacex and Tesla. Not much beyond this. The EU has enough happening to keep anyone busy plus after the Asian financial crash most of Asia insultated itself from a failure of the US financial system so is fairly standalone too.

America is a lovely country with many fine people who have contributed much to the world but I am tiring of America.

hmmFebruary 18, 2018 2:11 AM

Ignore at your peril. "I tire of doichland!"

Some thing must be stood up to, I tire of it also but what's the alternative.

Wesley ParishFebruary 18, 2018 2:34 AM

With all the outrage of the latest mass shooting in Florida, what's the likeliehood that the NRA will propose a simple, market-driven "cure" to the problem?

Marhaen Sukarno In Las Vegas
ht tps://antisf.com/the-stories/marhaen-sukarno-in-las-vegas

Though quite how that would pan out in the school situation I don't quite know. Maybe the NRA would issue an NRA Book of Martyrs, dedicated to the martyrs to the cause of a rifle in every hand and a hand-gun in every pocket, to those martyrs who gave their lives so that others yet might also be slaughtered.

(I'd love to be able to award a prize to the first reader who connects Marhaen Sukarno with his favourite band. First hint: ploughmen are generally not seen near piers, wharves or such. Second hint: Sukarno alleged that an individual of this name gave him food for much thought.)

GrauhutFebruary 18, 2018 5:14 AM

@Hmm: "IT IS TREASON."

Just post some links to real, irrefutable raw evidence here and maybe the readers here will believe in your prejudgment. Ill will be pleased to fire up forensic tools and look at it.

Trump is an even worse actor than Reagan, but this doesn't make him a traitor, even if you want him to be one. :)

GrauhutFebruary 18, 2018 5:22 AM

The brave new world of AI has a problem...

Missing data hinder replication of artificial intelligence studies

By Matthew HutsonFeb. 15, 2018 , 12:30 PM

...The booming field of artificial intelligence (AI) is grappling with a replication crisis.... AI researchers have found it difficult to reproduce many key results... "I think people outside the field might assume that because we have code, reproducibility is kind of guaranteed," says Nicolas Rougier, a computational neuroscientist at France's National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation in Bordeaux. "Far from it."


This will open new fields for lawyers in the area of scoring algos for instance.

"How did your self learning algo learn this bullshit?"

"We dont know!"

GrauhutFebruary 18, 2018 5:43 AM

@hmm "If 13 indictments and a guilty plea in a day are nothing, I'll cede to your point."

I am a little underwhelmed, i thought after Flynns guilty plea they would find at least a little more than a darknet dealer dealing black market data with darknet buyers he didnt know. :)


California Man Pleads Guilty in Russia Probe | Time
time.com › Politics › Russia Investigation
vor 2 Tagen - California man Richard Pinedo has pleaded guilty to unwittingly selling bank accounts to Russians meddling in the US elections.


Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty to Lying to the F.B.I. and Will Cooperate ...
https://www.nytimes.com/.../michael-flynn-guilty-russia-investiga...

01.12.2017 - The guilty plea by President Trump's former national security adviser brings the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election into Mr. Trump's inner circle.

CallMeLateForSupperFebruary 18, 2018 10:55 AM

"IDEA is a series of nonverbal algorithm assembly instructions by Sándor P. Fekete, Sebastian Morr, and Sebastian Stiller."

If you have ever assembled an IKEA product, IDEA "instructions" will be familiar.
Instruction sheet re: public key cryptography is here:
https://idea-instructions.com/public-key/
You can D/L in PDF and PNG there as well.

TojoFebruary 18, 2018 11:28 AM

@echo, most of the people in America are tiring of America. It's been irredeemably sickened by almost 7 decades of a criminal US regime based on CIA impunity. It would be very beneficial to break America into less dangerous successor states. No less a realist than George Kennan said so. Since the US government fails to meet world standards for a sovereign state, any constituent people or region could exert their right to self-determination by assuming the responsibility of sovereignty: accede to the UN Charter, the Rome Statute, the International Bill of Human Rights.

When the Soviet bloc collapsed we dismantled it: knocked it over, ripped it apart, wrecked its defense industrial base. That ultimately did Russians a world of good. Now its time to do it to the NATO bloc. The USSR is gone. Time for the USA to go. It's nothing but CIA with a finger up the butt of some presidential puppet ruler.

albertFebruary 18, 2018 3:11 PM

@Anura,
Pray tell, what issues should I be paying attention too? In your dream world, the Republicans are the bad guys, and the Democrats are the good guys. When Bush got elected, I got an $800 'tax refund' check, and it wasn't from the IRS. I didn't support him or vote for him. I'll paraphrase Trump, during his campaign: "I give to Republicans and Democrats, and when I heed something, they come." There's a war going on right now, and it's not between the Dems and the Reps. It's between the 1% and the rest of us. The 1% control the govt, the banks, and the corporations. We don't control -anything- and votes don't mean jack-____. Let's resume our discussion after the next crash. In the meantime, please consider some progressive journalism, like Counterpunch.com.

@Everyone,
It's never ceases to amaze me how folks get hung up on the most trivial 'issues' here (of which this blog is, at times, dishearteningly close to the general population). In my business, I get to socialize with people from many countries, not all friendly to US. I've not heard a single one criticise me for being an American. Why is this so?r I think it's because they realize that our govt is like theirs, that is, they have have little or no control over what their state leaders decide. 'Regular people' are shockingly similar the world around. This applies to sociopaths and psychopaths as well {:o

Have a nice day, everyone (in whatever country you reside).
. .. . .. --- ....

hmmFebruary 18, 2018 3:19 PM

@ Grauhut

All in good time, Frau Grau.

Let's hold our ovations until the end. Mueller's symphony is building towards a grand crescendo soon.


AnuraFebruary 18, 2018 3:52 PM

@albert

Top ten off the top of my head:

1) Giving larger tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations increases inequality - the short term effects of tax cuts are lost in the long run due to inflationary effects. On top of that, a major cause of our economic problems is large corporations locally owned businesses - when businesses are locally owned, cash stays in the communities, when they are centrally owned, cash leaves the communities. Throwing money at corporations leads to more and more centralization of wealth and poorer communities

2) Republicans voted to massively increase the deficit which they are now calling to cut welfare, and even Medicare, just to close the gap

3) Minimum wage hasn't even been keeping up with inflation, leading to less money going in to local communities and more money going out

4) Cutting environmental regulations for the sake of making a quick buck hurts our economy in the long run

5) Regulatory Capture - pretty much every head of any regulatory agency appointed by Republicans are people who don't want to enforce regulations

6) Education

7) Voting Rights

8) LGBT rights

9) Net Neutrality

10) Even on the NSA, Dems have a much better voting record.

So please list the top ten issues you care about and tell me where both parties stand on the issues. Politics is a spectrum, and rendering everything to a binary issue to say "both sides are the corporate party" is just silly. On pretty much every issue, Republicans support much less help for the poor, much less oversight for corporations, and much less taxes for the very wealthy. Yes, they are both capitalists, both are authoritarian, which I'm not happy about either, and no side will get rid of the two party system - but it's a hell of a lot more complicated than that.

AnuraFebruary 18, 2018 3:59 PM

In general, Democrats are pragmatists and Republicans are extremist ideologues - that's the main difference in pretty much every issue.

TheUSCodeFebruary 18, 2018 4:59 PM

Just imagine if "the Russians" put on the "Russia First" ball cap again, for another round, and with something besides elections:)

Sancho_PFebruary 18, 2018 5:08 PM

@hmm, re (DNC and other) leaks

Why oh why is it always the messenger who gets the attention?

Regardless who, why and how did it:
It is the content that matters.

1) Is it true?
2) For fairness it would be mandatory to hear some context then.
3) What consequences should we draw from the leak?

Probably the first consequence would be to secure our IT?

Sancho_PFebruary 18, 2018 5:12 PM

Oh these friendly Russians:

… with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general. (Rod Rosenstein, from Reuters)

If this is true the Americans should be thankful to the Russian group,
it was 5 to 12 for that wake up call.

Unfortunately most did not hear it.


Btw., Mueller is a top gun, indeed. He failed the target, but had 14 other hits.
I’d love him to investigate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZunZuneo
and Piramideo.

hmmFebruary 18, 2018 5:28 PM

@ Sancho

I'd say that the leak "itself" was not the biggest part of the story. Leaks happen.
The best way to not have "bad" emails surface is never to write them in the first place.

But IMO the biggest part was the blatant willingness of an US major-party campaign to solicit this known-illegal service (as I think even the most staunch supporter of the BS can admit that they weren't talking about adoptions by now...) while intentionally undermining related US policy. To unilaterally block sanctions on Russia is just too damn obvious, the Senate voted 98-2. And that's 52 Republicans mind you.

We've had Presidents investigated for things before, but never have they called the entire system of law enforcement and judicial prudence in this country "a sham" or offered so many thousands of baldfaced and obvious lies to try to cover their tracks so poorly.

The billionaire moron is used to buying his way out of problems. Like Pam Bondi.
http://www.politifact.com/florida/article/2016/sep/21/donald-trump-pam-bondi-and-25k-was-it-pay-play/

Mueller's axe can't fall fast enough. It's about time.

AnuraFebruary 18, 2018 5:37 PM

@Sancho_P

The problem was not the leak in and of itself, it's the way it's presented (there really wasn't that much there), and the fact that it was only one side that was targeted. It's not just about truth, it's about what truths you are presented and which are kept hidden. If you are only presented the facts that one side wants you to see, you are not making an informed decision - you are just being influenced by propaganda. Do you really think the Democratic party is more corrupt than the Republican party?

Making a big deal about the party supporting Clinton was ridiculous, either way - of course the party supported Clinton; a lot more Democrats supported Clinton over Sanders from the beginning, and Sanders wasn't even a member of the party until he started his campaign. Sanders didn't have a chance, superdelagates or not, and why would a party be loyal to someone that showed no loyalty to them? He's not the bastion of progressivism that people made him out to be, anyway, and he lacked support from minority voters because of his blindness to racial inequality.

maqpFebruary 18, 2018 6:03 PM

@Sancho_P

TL;DR, what I’m missing is your / TFC’s specific goal

The readme starts with "Tinfoil Chat (TFC) is a high assurance encrypted messaging system that operates on top of existing IM clients. The free and open source software is used together with free hardware to protect users from passive eavesdropping, active MITM attacks and remote CNE practised by organized crime and nation state attackers."

what is the intended audience

The FAQ says: TFC is for everyone who consider it necessary to assess their threat model: adversaries that hack endpoints.

(This should be more clearly stated, but the readme implies it as well.)

the adversary, where are the limits.

Threat model tackles the adversary and limitations.

Re complexity: Yes, the system is too complex for my simple mind, but would I be the only idiot to botch it up at the first attempt to use it?"

Assuming you're able to follow the instructions, no you wouldn't.

My thinking is about a tamper-evident box with three ports, data in, data out and key, likely some buttons / a display (if absolutely needed).

Sounds like more work and building for the user. Where does the data come in? It's either a) a system connected to network: That's as secure as standard CA cert signing where remote compromise of automated certificate creation might allow production of rogue certs. Or b) it's a dedicated airgapped computer taking input from user and feeding it through data in, you might as well trust that system to run the code that manages keys and encrypts messages that get output to network. TFC is already doing that. I don't think user should be making any more hardware than they already have to.

I don't think the system should be taking a stream because real time communication with Tor is too slow. Also, having unauthenticated stream would be dangerous, and bundling 24-byte counter and 16-byte MAC for small chunks of data causes overhead for serial. The decryption device should tell the user if encryption fails because that implies tampering.

Encryption is decryption

In a way, XChaCha20 is a stream cipher so you XOR with same keystream, but what do you mean?

At your TxM / RxM machines the single transmission line is already the logical data diode. There is no return channel, so why adding the HW?

Quoting Security Design:

While serial interfaces most likely have more than just rule-based limitations on Tx/Rx pin assignment, more assurance should be sought. To guarantee unidirectional behavior, a simple hardware device called data diode is required in between sending and receiving serial interface.

The trick is the simple communication principle: The sender is broadcasting but doesn’t know if there is any receiver, and it will not accept any feedback.

That is true for the Transmitter Computer. However, the Networked and Receiver Computers might have vulnerabilities that add receiver functionality to Networked Computer and sender functionality to Receiver computer. The malware on Receiver computer can then leak keys and/or plaintexts. Malware could theoretically remap Rx-pin on Receiver Computer's serial interface to send for some specific time period; It's impossible to inspect what the controller can or can not do. All you can do is distribute trust on what enforces unidirectionality. You can use optocouplers, or even dumber components where logical components are near impossible to hide.

Ethernet is dangerous because (when) it relies on feedback

Quoting Security Design: "features such as auto MDI-X make it impossible to enforce unidirectional UDP transmission over Ethernet"

Simple serial ends in a HW shift register + buffer

I'm not sure if you're talking about the same thing, but e.g. here is an example of buffer based unidirectional link. It's a bit simpler in design but not nearly as trustworthy as the optocoupler. There is very little added inconvenience from the bread board data diode design, so I don't think it's worth it.
Let me know if I misunderstood what you meant.

Reprogram your system via serial? Possible, but only when your SW permits, and it is not easy to achieve.

So the question is, does the NSA know of a zero day in serial interface's firmware? I don't know but I'm trying to design a system that assumes they do yet remains secure exfiltration-wise.

With that in mind I challenge your TxM / RxM separation, because in principle it is one device that could be switched (or even turned around) from send to receive and back.

If you're going to be moving data back and forth from airgapped system to single system, you might as well use airgapped computer and e.g. PGP, and move data across the gap via serial where transmitter is on only when you output (and when stuxnet style malware chooses to transmit). This issue is discussed in the threat model.

I’m still a fan of good old OTP, but even with complex encryption you’d need a key, don’t you?

TFC-OTP could have (but never did) encrypted the key pad with symmetric encryption before it touched Transmitter/Receiver Computer disk. The problem there was I would've either had to encrypt the key in blocks, or I would've had to encrypt the entire pad every time a chunk from the pad was used and needed to be overwritten.

Of course given the key exfiltration security, symmetric encryption wasn't such a major weak link I might have just as well used symmetric crypto. I went with symmetric because the Post-Snowden paranoia of what to trust and what to not trust settled a bit and I learned a lot about cryptography and that you can trust 256-bit symmetric crypto without too many reservations: attacks lie elsewhere.

So I have to confess I couldn’t follow your story with the “local Destination Computer”, a sketch might help, but now we are back at the issue to discuss in a security forum.

A sketch is worthless if you don't bother taking a look at the existing 3D renders I've made for the wiki that explain HW layout, key exchanges etc complexity graphically ;) Furthermore, most of what you wondered were discussed in the wiki which is quite structured. Judging by your emails, you have read at least a part of it, so what's going on here? I don't have time to repeat myself -- I quoted the wiki only this time to make my point clear: a lot of the the information is there. I'd rather spend my time working on that wiki -- to add what isn't there, to make it more readable, and eventually to make it useful for everyone here, and even to the novice end-user. If you're not familiar with Python that's OK, the wiki has barely any code in it.

JonKnowsNothingFebruary 18, 2018 6:49 PM

I recently came across a public website that uses something called a Preloader. It loads up a spinning icon and the whole pages just hangs after that. From what I gathered it's supposed to be a method of dumping stuff/images into the browser via a pre-cache so the page "looks" seamless.

The curious thing is this: I disabled JavaScript a long time ago and I rarely see a public page hang this way. If I go to some store site that uses extensive scripting I may get a hang page but often the only determent has been some off-set formatting.

This seems to be something newish? The site is a Godaddy one and of course Google junk is there too but Hang the Page over a spinner?

There also doesn't seem to be any way around the spinner. I believe it's a repetitive banner item.

So those of us who haven't a clue (ME) wonder... WHY NOW?

Also, any idea about how to by pass this animation? Is this something HTML5-ish that attempts to burrow into a browser in spite of settings? Anything that is dropping "an unknown" load of graphics into a browser would seem to be a security issue but there are plenty of DDG results indicating this is a common practice.


hmmFebruary 18, 2018 8:15 PM

@ Grauhut

This indictment was about the 13 Russians. It wasn't trying to link to US officials - yet.
It made no mention of specific US officials for that reason. That comes later.

If you're somehow thinking this is the last indictment coming, I have but hearty gut laughs for you.

Anonymous2cFebruary 18, 2018 8:16 PM

Wish list:
1) have Windows and MacIntoshes be able to print via ethernet cable to a network connected printer.
2) willing to sacrifice functionality for security (example:print Portrait mode only).
3) currently there is neither file nor printer sharing on this soho setup. I'm trying to minimize malware from moving laterally.

So Far:
1) Have only used software drivers, afaik, from Apple or Microsoft for this printer on the Computers
2) A MacIntosh sometimes functions as a Tor Relay
3) Currently the Printer prints test pages from a MacIntosh ("Generic PCL Laser Printer"; "Driver version 2.1") (Firewall on; "Automatically allow built-in software to receive incoming connections." is checked; Allow tor to receive incoming connections is enabled)
4) wifi (Airprint) printing is not planned, although the usb printer that is connected to the airport router can support it
5) the printer has a female ethernet port, although I haven't been planning to use it
6) At present the Printer connected to the Apple router using usb doesn't appear to have a network IP address assigned to it.

Hardware:
windows 7 and up PCs
macOS PCs (supported versions)
optional future Linux or BSD
Apple Airport Router (supported version)
Printer connected to the USB connector on the Apple Router

Questions:
1) Do i need to use Bonjour on the MacIntosh, should I do this with a IP address for the printer, or other?
2) How to print from the Windows PCs to the printer? Below is what I am planning
https://blog.engelke.com/2012/12/27/windows-printing-to-an-airport-extreme-connected-printer/
https://mallibone.com/post/airport-extreme-printing-via-windows-8-and-8.1
3) Best ideas for near term use of ethernet networked Linux or BSD PCs.
4) Does it make sense to try to stay away from "deluxe" drivers from printer manufacturers if they are not open source? Is it hard to download printer drivers securely? Should I look for open source drivers instead of using drivers from Apple and Microsoft if their drivers aren't open source?
5) Is it better to have one printer per one computer instead from a security perspective?

hmmFebruary 18, 2018 8:20 PM

@Jonknows

"any idea about how to by pass this animation?"

Block the element with an adblocker and see if the rest loads after that?

Carm-elFebruary 18, 2018 10:01 PM

Anonymous2c


consider old school infrared instead of ethernet, as discussed on Squid previously (try a search). It will minimise your attack surface considerably. drivers may need some manual labour.


https://jcs.org/2017/09/01/thinkpad_x1c

This is vaguely offtopic but the Lenovo Thinkpad has been acknowledged by a few here as a leading laptop for InfoSec, including Dirk Praet and apology to those I've forgotten.
The above article is a deconstruct on running OpenBSD on one and why its so well designed to run OpenBSD

tyrFebruary 18, 2018 10:35 PM


@Tojo

Stop by the library and ask for a
book on the US Civil War fought in
the 1860s.

Breaking up USA is a lot harder than
it looks to folks who are historically
illiterate.

The same thing applies to getting rid
of a sitting president. That's what
all of the checks and balances are for
otherwise USA would just be a banana
republic run by odd cartels of the
worthless. With the checks they have
to work at ruining things.

MarkHFebruary 19, 2018 12:52 AM

Well, a certain fellow who reflexively defends helpless Russia from its cruel American persecutors reacted just as I knew he would.

Still sputtering about his personal grievance that US intelligence was so protective of sources and methods that they failed to meet his personal criteria for criminal court conviction -- how dare they!

The new indictment provides -- in startling detail -- an account of evidence of Russian interference in the U.S. election. But those who've committed themselves (however unwittingly) to defending the Kremlin will never stop shouting "there's no evidence!!!"

It's a waste of time, "hmm," to debate what another sees as a faith commitment.

There's a dreary (and anti-scientific) creed among such folks:

"I hope to God I'm right, because I'll never change my mind!"

65535February 19, 2018 3:27 AM

@ maqp

Your TFC looks like it is solidifying nicely. I notice that your “Optical repeater inside the optocoupler of the data diode” is based off of Sancho_P’s optical coupler/diode with your modifications. I am I understanding that your design is close to ShanchoPs design? Maybe that is why he is questioning the project. If not just say so.

“…design of the data diode and this document are based on USB-TTL-USB Data Diode (version 16.10.a) by pseudonym Sancho_P.”

https://github.com/maqp/tfc/wiki/TTL-Data-Diode-(perfboard)

I do like the relatively simple design of the bread board optocoupler/datadiode but you warn not to buy the parts such as HCPL7723 optocoupler They may be inderdicted/altered.

I see in Broadcom's data sheet of the HCPL-7723 optocoupler, page 4, under Ordering Information they are sold in tubes of 50 or higher. I have seen tubes of CPUs in tubes of 15 P4s and above so I assume that is normal. How can I get just three to six of them without going on the internet and buying them? Do you have a way of getting them individually and in-expensively?

Broadcom 7723 optocoupler data sheet:
https://docs.broadcom.com/docs/AV02-0643EN

Next, the building of your datadiode seems somewhat cumbersome for those of us who have not used a soldering iron for a while. Is there a way to build it with out the use of a soldering iron?

Could you direct us to individuals who may build these boards and sell them to us in the east coast of the USA? I would drive the distance to buy one.

Next, are the three machines [or laptops] that are shown in your diagrams full computers. Are these small Raspberry Pi units? I do see a lot of R-Pi units with wifi and Bluetooth - which could be a negative. What about Beaglebone or other single board computers?

If we have to buy three used laptops which ones would you recommend? I am willing to give it a go.

Lastly, could this entire 3 computer setup be done on VMware or Virtualbox? Maybe to actual boxes with 3 virtual machines on each box and your optocoupler/datadiode connecting them… and possible testing the whole setup? I would like to hear your ideas on testing your setup on VMs.

Thanks maqp your work is important.

maqpFebruary 19, 2018 6:20 AM

@65535

@Sancho_P was the one who picked the components and created the original schematics. My modifications are only minor, I just added a second optocoupler making one of the three FT232R adapters able to both send (to Destination Computer) and to receive (from Source Computer).

I don't think @Sancho_P is questioning the project, just that it's not immediately clear why some things are done the way they are.

This project has been an exceptional challenge to explain. Some people just want to know how it works, they're fine with the 10,000 feet picture. Others immediately raise eye-brows and question why it's done like that, which is great, because that means they want to understand the design rationale. At that point you have to bore into the details, but that will make the 10k feet people's eyes hurt. And once you've explained the details, some will understand, others will ask/suggest doing otherwise, and then you have to further explain why alternatives are not good.

I think I managed to cram all that into the security design section on local key exchange. And in the future I'll try to expand that on all other topics as well. I recently stumbled upon collapsible markdown so I'll be able to rewrite each topic with "What? How? Why? Why not do X instead?" style documentation where you can choose the detail to read about it. I think that will satisfy everyone's needs: It'll allow you to choose whether you want to increase level of detail after reading about the topic, or after you've read the higher level description of the entire project.

HCPL7723 interdiction: This is a problem indeed. But since at no point I've been able to provide instructions about how to build data diode with LEDs/photodiodes, I might as well get rid of other problems like the slow baudrate CNY75 optocoupler (I originally used) had.
I do realize 7723 might include more complex logic with it's DC power supply, but I don't think CNY75 couldn't also hide a HW backdoor. There simply isn't a good fix to this problem. I've been thinking about linking to other projects that also use 7723 so that users can mask the purpose until they receive the parts. It's a tough problem. Another point of failure is ordering the USB-to-serial adapters. OTOH those are less specific components and stocked by more local HW stores.

One good thing here is the HCPL7723 uses DC through and throgh, so you could replace the jump wiring with standard diodes to force the direction of current flow. Since TTL voltages are not AC but DC, it's possible to enforce current flow direction, meaning Rx-pin of Destination Computer can't send current to the optocoupler, which in turn can't send current to Tx-pin of Networked Computer.

Do you have a way of getting them individually and in-expensively?

You should ask the local HW store to stock them, and advertise them as an easy way to protect SoCs from over-voltage when working on GPIO projects. People buy more boards for more projects when they succeed, not when they fry the first and get the jitters.

"Is there a way to build it with out the use of a soldering iron? "

The bread board model doesn't require any kind of soldering. (The USB-to-TTL adapter does but you can order models where the adapter is baked into the USB connector, and instead of pins, you have wires that you can just (strip and) pluck into the bread board.) So you can build it without ever touching soldering iron, so no, there's no need for local expert.

I'm using cheap netbooks for the project. Those still come with standard removable mini PCIe network cards. The SoCs like RPi come with integrated wireless so I've put those aside for now. If you're willing to donate me a beaglebone, I can look into creating a configuration for that. This project doesn't have any funding, everything has come from my own pocket so it's natural HW support isn't broad.

It's hard to give recommendations to what specific laptops you buy, but if it runs Ubuntu 17.10 and allows you to remove wireless interfaces, webcams, mics etc. it should be fine.
https://www.amazon.com/Dell-Inspiron-i3162-0003BLU-Laptop-Celeron/dp/B01L8PENTO would probably do as it comes with 32GB flash drive and Ubuntu takes about 10GB. Also, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LrhFq7xh_k shows the wireless card is removable.

"Lastly, could this entire 3 computer setup be done on VMware or Virtualbox?"

Yes it can. Install Ubuntu 17.10 on a virtual machine, and just copy paste the following to terminal

wget https://cs.helsinki.fi/u/oottela/tfc/install.sh && bash install.sh lt

Then enter password when prompted and the installation takes care of itself. You don't need to even try this with three VMs per simulated user. The local testing configuration the command above installs simulates three computers inside multiplexed terminal emulator called Terminator. You need one VM for Alice, another VM for Bob.

echoFebruary 19, 2018 8:22 AM

@Clive

I liken the new US embassy to a contraption made of wire coathangers and used condoms. I understand it has won architecture awards which for the life of me I cannot imagine why.

@albert

Yes we can forget other people are people too even politicians and monsters.

It seems America is liberalising even in the more kneejerk states. To some degree this kind of liberalising is also true within the UK and I daresay other countries too.

https://qz.com/1189388/conservative-californians-are-moving-to-texas-for-the-home-prices-and-politics/

TojoFebruary 19, 2018 8:27 AM

@tyr, yes, your fine American history lessons are wont to fixate on the civil war, aren't they? That is a substrate of American indoctrination: free-floating anxiety over the reductive dichotomy of arbitrary state repression XOR violent anarchy. Keeps you timid and submissive. The doctrinal complement, your poignant faith in long-gone checks and balances, brings a tear to my eye. The bribed and blackmailed pedos of your congress and your courts do not protect you.

The ancient slave state of antebellum America is long gone, as is the Lieber Code it spawned. You now live in a totalitarian kleptocracy much more similar to the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany (look up Operation Paperclip, since your historical literacy is evidently heavy on state religion.)

Do you remember the sanguinary civil wars of the COMECON breakup? No, you do not. Remember how the dreaded Stasi drove the restive German population into their meticulously-prepared Schild detention camps? No, you do not, they were too busy shredding the evidence of their crimes to intern dissidents. Slovenia, Slovakia, the USSR, the DDR, that is your trajectory. Don't be scared of mummy Jefferson Davis.

The only other possibility is the somewhat less pacific process that brought the original Nazis to heel. Your choice: dismantle the criminal US state, or lose a world war.

echoFebruary 19, 2018 9:07 AM

@Carm-el

I bought two identical used Thinkpads (and docking stations). One as a new desktop and a second as a backup/portable. On the second laptop I will be disconecting the camera, microphone, and wifi which is very easy with this model. (Hurrah!) I will be reconnecting them later when I replace the motherboard with a new one on order because I blew the old one when upgrading the screen after I forgot to take the battery out. (Doh!)

I have upgraded the firmware and AMT (and switched AMT off) which mitigates issues. I noticed not many retailers update firmware and one of the laptops was still on the first version of firmware whcih contained a few severe exploits patched with later versions. I must also remember to block AMT ports when I buy a new router with a none Intel CPU. I'm not happy about Meltdown and Spectre exploits but there is little I can do apart from practice good web browser hygiene.

I also bought a new memory stick. I didn't know new memory sticks got so fast! I will use this as a backup media to run Linux and experiment with performance/reliability/security settings.

JonKnowsNothingFebruary 19, 2018 9:20 AM

@ hmm

"any idea about how to by pass this animation?"

Block the element with an adblocker and see if the rest loads after that?

Thank you!

That "fixed" it.

I am not sure I understand why someone would put such a thing on their site as (in this case) this is a public site and the company definitely wants the public to come visit.

I can only guess that given the museum quality of my system that this "style" is the "new designer view" rather like those card-graphic blocks meant to be used on a smart-phone-not screen or phablet but look like carpet squares on a decent size monitor.

As this is embedded in the page banner the block has to be done on every page. Perhaps this sort of thing will become yet another tick-box item to auto skip.

div class="page-preloader preloader-wrapp"


CallMeLateForSupperFebruary 19, 2018 10:07 AM

@JonKnowsNothing

You didn't specify the offending page.

Here, the home page seemed to fully load. I saw no spinner.
Firefox 58.0.2
JavaScript DISabled in Firefox
Privacy Badger 2018.2.5

echoFebruary 19, 2018 10:16 AM

The alleged sonic attacks on US (and Candian) diplomats in Cuba is a big mystery and the new data showing symptoms like concussion without impact trauma only adds to the mystery. I cannot imagine what motive Cuba would have for an attack. It all seems very odd.

Doctors Release Details on The Illness US Diplomats Suffered in Cuba, And It Gets Weirder
"This is concussion without blunt head trauma."
https://www.sciencealert.com/doctors-release-first-details-on-sound-that-harmed-us-diplomats-in-cuba-sonic-weapon

Clive RobinsonFebruary 19, 2018 10:39 AM

@ echo,

"This is concussion without blunt head trauma."

The easy way to do that is with "hydrodynamic force". In essence you put somebodies head in a "working fluid" then hit then with a close range column/jet of the fluid.

It's not to dissimilar to being hit with a shockwave. The thing is that air generally behaves aerodynamicaly not hydrodynamicaly. It's only when the speed of the force compresses the aerodynamic working fluid (air) into a hydrodynamic working fluid. Which generally requires of air over 300m/s wavefront speed.

There may be other ways to achive the effect but off the top of my head I'm currently not drawing anything to conscious memory.

albertFebruary 19, 2018 12:00 PM

@Anura,

It's a shame you spent so much time on your reply.

The only difference between the Reps and the Dems is the Reps are out in front with their goals and objectives, never more so than with Trump. This is one reason why he's hated by 'moderate' Reps. Both sides want a little subtlety in their machinations.

Trump demonstrated that people get the kind of government they deserve. Sanders showed that people are fed up with the existing system. Ralph Nader showed that -both- Democrats -and- Republicans agree on certain issues; in some cases up to 70% (IIRC) of the population.

We're still gonna be screwed, either way.

That's the bottom line.
. .. . .. --- ....

hmmFebruary 19, 2018 12:09 PM

@ Albert

That's not really a political analysis, that's just casual nihilism.

I don't blame you for giving up on politics.
But you ought to give up on fortune telling.

hmmFebruary 19, 2018 12:28 PM

@Johnknows

Well that's how I combat these things other than running away at top speed. More and more sites seem to be putting these insanely slow ad banners up (maybe checking for adblocking themselves, who knows) to the point where you can't even begin to navigate away or even close the window for several seconds, 10 maybe. They have declared war on my eyeballs wittingly or not.

I do not understand who decided it was OK to piss off all possible readers pre-emptively for ad money, but whoever they are I've got a bead on 4 horses ready to run in different directions while tied to their limbs. Some sites I've just had to give up going to, no amount of wildcard ad blocking makes them worth visiting anymore.

We need to name and shame these people. Salon.com mines monero if you're using an adblocker.
Whatever I thought of their content, they are dead to me. Never again.

No more victimizing the browser!

albertFebruary 19, 2018 3:53 PM

@Clive, @echo,

Don't assume that the symptoms are the result of a 'concussion'. The report (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2673168) states: "...These individuals appeared to have sustained injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma...."

Based on my cursory analysis, and given the source of the audio, I find ~8kHz "base" frequency, amplitude-modulated at about 400Hz, in a rough fashion. 8,000Hz is beyond the highest 'fundamental' frequency of orchestral instruments(about 4,000Hz)

The effects of sounds of any type, noise, music, single or multiple tones are a psycho-acoustical phenomena. I'm not talking about military sound levels (loud enough to hurt someone).

Resonances have been found in temples and other man-made construction. The frequencies of interest are the range of human hearing and the range the human voice can produce. This approach allows the study of human cultures that predate musical instruments. It happens that research has been done on human subjects. The frequency studied was 110Hz. As it happens, 110Hz is the frequency of the guitars 5th string; 'A' in standard tuning. You can replicate the test easily. Using a tone generator*, record about 10 minutes of a 110Hz sine wave and listen on good speakers, or circumaural headphones of good quality, at sensible volume level. Isolate yourself from background noise if possible. The test must be the only thing you hear. You should experience some effects. A better test would be to use different test frequencies, like 100, 110, 120, as the researchers did. The subject doesn't know what frequencies are being played. (I would avoid subjects with perfect pitch:)

Sound therapy is being used everywhere, but as with other 'therapies', quacks abound. It's not -music- therapy, it's single sine wave tones.

All of that said, I wonder what kind of military or IC. research is being done on this. If positive results can be had, what about negative ones?

The Cuban Affair is very interesting. I'm (no surprise) suspicious. Why would they do something that would harm US diplomats? It seems stupid. Were they working for someone else, like Russia? That seems really stupid. How many years did the US officials put up with the microwave bombardment of our embassy in Moscow? (23). Were they victims of their own propaganda, that MW radiation is harmless? Dig the frequencies they used: 2.5 and 4 GHz. The Russians -knew- those frequencies would do some damage.

I expect they know more about sounds effects on the body than we do. What makes sense is that a US TLA is behind this. What better way to make Cuba an enemy? Of course I have no proof of this; it's just a theory. One of very few possibilities. I probably should mention China and the DPRK:) The CIA has a long and distinguished history in researching how to f--up peoples brains, so I nominate them as the best bet, -if- it's not a non-local state actor.

Of course, all this depends on the sound being the -cause- of these problems. This may not be the case.

Who really knows the truth? We don't!

Happy Listening!

---------
*I use Audacity, but I'd be surprised if smartphone apps didn't exist.
. .. . .. --- ....

JG4February 19, 2018 4:59 PM


@albert and others

thanks for the good discussion. you jogged my memory and made me think of another possibility. direct conversion of microwave energy to acoustic waves in flesh and bone. a microwave beam of modest power transiting the victims head could produce cyclic heating at a resonance frequency of the skull itself and/or the contents of the skull. if the Q-factor of the skull and/or contents is high enough, the sound intensity could reach the level of side-channel inputs to thought and sensory processes. anyone who has received a hardwood shampoo is likely to have experienced flashing lights very close to the moments of impact. I met a guy in jail who had been hit in the head with a baseball bat. he was on anti-seizure meds, as the brain damage had left him susceptible to some kind of siezures that memory does not permit me to recall. we didn't get around to discussing the flashing light effects of brain trauma, but he was a fascinating character in spite of the wear and tear. btw, the potassium/magnesium hypothesis is working out well and I will post some links when Clive and/or Rachel drive the bus off the road into the weeds related to nutrition.

my related comments in September are here:

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/09/friday_squid_bl_592.html#c6760509

I forgot to mention then that the loud sound in my dream was caused by the expanding rock vapor. my subconscious had worked out that the movies are wrong. in September, it had not occurred to me that you could produce high intensity sound waves by exploiting acoustic resonance to amplify a much lower input power. the term of art for acoustic phenomena generated by heating from electromagnetic energy is photoacoustic and/or photothermal.

if this and all of the other threat models in play doesn't make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, you don't understand what is happening. anyone can carry out attacks like this and countless others too devious to mention. even the anarchists and rabid libertarians will be begging for government to step in before this is over.


Sancho_PFebruary 19, 2018 6:14 PM

@maqp, @Clive Robinson

Now we are in troubled waters here, I wanted to avoid that.
So I’ll try to be short, please apologize, shouldn’t sound rude:

- You think what you wrote is clear, I think most people will not understand respectively stop reading it.

- It’s b), a dedicated energy gapped (forget air gap, said Clive R., and he is right) computer.
OK, that’s not fully (gap) true, but a machine which is used for confident work, never directly connected to the Internet [btw. this is a serious and increasing problem nowadays].

- To transfer data from and to this machine via Internet the box would be used.
No, the same machine can’t be used to manage keys and encryption, because compromising the workhorse by updates (IDE, CAD, …) must be taken into account. Never combine e.g. Win$$$ and security SW.

I’d challenge your ”The decryption device should tell the user if encryption fails because that implies tampering.”.
a) Encryption fail doesn’t always mean tampering, that conclusion would be paranoid.
b) In my opinion it is wrong when the decryption device knows anything.
E.g. Truecrypt got it wrong when it said “wrong key” or something like that, refusing to decrypt (mount) with the wrong key, this is the ideal hint for an attacker.
==> Brute force attack made easy.
No. The device decrypts to it’s best knowledge, only the user (a real person, if that can be achieved) can decide about success or fail.

Re: Encryption is decryption: Yes, I think it’s the same device, same SW.

Re HW data diode (I repeat: It is absolutely necessary as galvanic isolator, for several reasons):
Quoting the security design doesn’t answer the question. TFC has (rightly) a dedicated tamper evident HW for the serial transmission, so what is the talking about pin reassignment? The socket pin is the pin, one is the input, the other the output. It does not accept code from that pin, not at boot or later, only data. Data is (HW) shifted into a shift register and buffer, depending on speed setting, agnostic to bits and bytes, it is your SW that makes use of it.
Think of the tamper evident black box, it is yours, until you rely on dubious libraries …

Forget about the NH, it is compromised by default.
But the RxM is the same as the TxM and it is not until someone popped it open. No malware on RxM. Only your SW - Um, are you hinting at some irregularities? A kind of serial “knock knock, I’m your master, let me reprogram now” feature in your SW ;-) ?

Yes, I think you should have a deeper look into serial HW. The example you’ve linked to is funny, CD4050 completely obsolete, free of function.

For example, the older RasPi had only one serial port, a real one (with HW). The newer (3) has a faster chip but also only one real serial, only they had now to designate it to the new Bluetooth part (for speed), the now (user, pin) available serial port is a SW serial, but can’t have the same transfer rate and it will depend on your OS and the use of system resources (RTOS, …). Many have complained about. If you don’t Bluetooth you still can use the HW serial for your stuff, but you have to trust Bluetooth and WiFi is off anyway.
Simpler chips sometimes have advantages.
I’ll see if I find a good serial HW description, maybe @Clive Robinson has a hint and / or would share his opinion in general?

Airgapped (energygapped) computer running PGP is a very bad idea, it’s never tamperproof and nearly fully open to the world because of mandatory updates, from FW, OS to applications and customs (if you travel with it). No go!

Yea, the wiki - I’ve read it all, believe me, but what you don’t know is that I’m sitting on the horse viewing at it’s back, so I can’t see where it goes to …

Sancho_PFebruary 19, 2018 6:18 PM

@maqp, 65535 re interdiction TFC optocoupler

No chance the coupler could be harmful, only encrypted data are there to read, and the sending of garbage / malcode can not harm the receiving system, because it is only undertstood as data, never as (boot-) code.
OK, probably at HM, but NH is compromised be default.

The coupler is a mechanical security, btw. you could test them before inserting (malfunction of the isolation may be dangerous).

You can cheaply order them from Mouser in any quantity.

TatütataFebruary 19, 2018 6:59 PM

That "Crash out an iPhone with a single character" story you linked to... Sounds like a prank just in time for 1st of April...

A few decades ago I managed to bring down a dual IBM 4341 installation with only one character.

I was poking around trying to write directly to a 3279 graphics display. About 1-2 seconds after I pressed ENTER, the whole terminal room suddenly became very quiet. The silence from the habitually screaming chain printer was especially eerie. I think hit managed to crash VM, taking everything else with it, including MVS.

After a few moments the expletives began to fuse from all the other users. I inconspicuously packed my stuff and silently left. Never tried it again.

JonKnowsNothingFebruary 19, 2018 8:43 PM

@ CallMeLateForSupper

You didn't specify the offending page.

I did not post the name of the site which belongs to small company because I did not think it was appropriate and might be seen as "advertising".

@ hmmm

More and more sites seem to be putting these insanely slow ad banners up
...
No more victimizing the browser!

This was my direct concern: That this is a new behavior for websites.

I have not read anything "good" about HTML5 or the various browser makers capitulating to the demands of DRM checks and allowing 3d party code insertion (ala google) into non-google browser code bases. I have read about and seen some HTML5 video without user controls and bypassing blocks for GIF images/animations.

In the sense of "security" the browser is becoming less and less reliable and few to none of the providers appear to understand exactly what's at stake.

  1. The infrastructure of the internet is broken. Anyone can tap any cable anywhere.
  2. The packet and protocols are broken. Anyone can hack a pack. (SWIFT got nailed yet again).
  3. The browser is all that stands between the user and all of the broken pieces.

At some point the roads will have too many pot holes and the garbage piles too deep. People will move on to something else. Books, as in physical books, are making a comeback.

Captain Picard was an advanced user.

Margot R francaisFebruary 19, 2018 10:46 PM

Mark H

'a certain fellow whom reflexively defends helpless Russia'

if you really do insist in going down that road would be more helpful if you stated who you mean rather than being so opaque in a backhanded or passive aggressive fashion. Do you mean Clive Robinson?
I am sure I am not the only reader entirely bored senseless by the US politics carry on by people who otherwise have quality things to contribute and if I am being optimistic I would imagine they should know better. (Not referring to Clive Robinson) It's not like Bruce is posting this shit up as clickbait up for general discussion. A moratarium on US politics that doesn't involve regulation,legislation or anything technical related would be ideal. Moderator?

Bruce and Everyone

There is a browswer ad-on called noizy.com that adds random data to ones browsing habits in hope of greater opacity.
Bruce you have touched upon this topic in your books. Care to comment?
Anyone else care to offer a more technical assessment of it utility or lack there?

Clive RobinsonFebruary 20, 2018 12:52 AM

@ Albert, JG4,

With regards,

"...These individuals appeared to have sustained injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma...."

Implies that "work" has been done in some way. That is energy has been applied over a period of time. Whether it's the drip drip drip of rain that over millenia that reduces mountains to mud, or sticks of blasting powder that blows the mountain into chunks of rock, the end result is the mountain is brought down by "work" it can not defend it's self against.

The thing is that the energy/time product is rarely a linear trade off. That is from an engineering perspective there is a "sweet spot" where the product of energy/time is at a one or more minima.

That said the human body, even the brain renews it's self in some way over a period of time. That is it is continuously in a state of flux, guided by an "evolving blue print" of some form.

This is problematic, because it is increasingly clear biological processes are "programmed" in some way[1], which means "minimum physical work" to produce a desired change requires only the equivalent of an "informational change"... That in effects works like a catalyst in a chemical reaction[2] or other minimal manner.

Thus bio-engineering could in theory make highly toxic poisons that are triggered by a persons DNA etc.

One thing Cuba is known for is it's disproportianate medical abilities.

Thus finding the root cause of these injuries may not happen untill after one or more of those effected die.

[1] I know this is a "puff piece" and it contains a couple of errors in terminology but it will give you an indication of where bio-engineering will be heading over the next decade or three,

https://www.asimov.io/blog/2017/12/19/the-circuitry-in-our-cells

[2] There are for instance poisons out there where barely measurable quantities of their molecules will kill a creature by disrupting it's life processes. One such is Dimethylmercury (CH3)2Hg, which inhibits essential oxidative and photosynthetic pathways. Another is polonium 210 where it's radioactive emission of alpha particles shoots lumps off of DNA etc. Oh and also "the darling of party goers" botox where it's effects are easily identifiable with just a few picograms (pg, 1E-12)

MarkHFebruary 20, 2018 1:01 AM

@Margot:

Identity is not relevant to the observation I offered -- it's NOT personal. The exemplar I had in mind has not been unique among the commenters here, and I know counterparts personally.

It's a pattern of thought and belief that seems to be "cloned" among quite a lot of people with uncanny precision. To the extent that it leads them to transparently wrong interpretations, I think it of considerable importance.

Please note that I did not introduce the political theme to this thread, but rather responded to a conversation on that theme that had gone quite a few rounds already.

Please note also that I don't understand how a question of international relations is US politics.

Finally, this is the squid post ... Bruce (as usual) posted whimsical stuff about squid as an opening to a thread for ... general discussion.

Detailed disclosure of a covert attack by one UN member state against another, and the interpretation of the significance of that disclosure, is actually a big deal on the topic of SECURITY.

tyrFebruary 20, 2018 2:17 AM

OT

@Clive

What is this KFC closure about ? I was
certain that the UK grew some poultry.

I also saw that the Internet Czar of
China has been dismissed for dreadful
antisocial behaviors.

@Tojo

Yawn.

ЯЫСС1АИFebruary 20, 2018 4:44 AM

@Tojo

When the Soviet bloc collapsed we dismantled it: knocked it over, ripped it apart, wrecked its defense industrial base. That ultimately did Russians a world of good.

Are you mad?

90s were proper nice in Russia. Perhaps you should get a taste of your own medicine too someday.

65535February 20, 2018 5:22 AM

@ maqp and Sancho_P

“I recently stumbled upon collapsible markdown so I'll be able to rewrite each topic with "What? How? Why? Why not do X instead?" style documentation where you can choose the detail to read about it. I think that will satisfy everyone's needs” –maqp

That is a great idea.

“I've been thinking about linking to other projects that also use 7723 so that users can mask the purpose until they receive the parts.”- maqp

That is an interesting idea. I think Sancho_P has solution. Mouser.

https://www.mouser.com/

and I see at least 10 models if I am reading the site coreectly. Which one is best?

https://www.mouser.com/_/?Keyword=HCPL-7723

@ Sancho_P

Thanks for the Mouser store idea.

@ maqp

“The bread board model doesn't require any kind of soldering. (The USB-to-TTL adapter does but you can order models where the adapter is baked into the USB connector, and instead of pins, you have wires that you can just (strip and) pluck into the bread board.) So you can build it without ever touching soldering iron, so no, there's no need for local expert.”-maqp

That is a good.

“The SoCs like RPi come with integrated wireless so I've put those aside for now. If you're willing to donate me a beaglebone, I can look into creating a configuration for that. This project doesn't have any funding, everything has come from my own pocket so it's natural HW support isn't broad.”-maqp

I hear you on the funding problem. We need a finance guy to get this up and running. Maybe some Crowdfunding or a grant from a large non-profit entity. But, things can get tricky when money men are involved.

I have had little success when my associates and I tried out a early model RPI before the onboard GPU and larger RAM. It crashed every hour using a 14 inch LCD display. The same with Beaglebone later. The new R-Pi’s are better.

I think the Dell laptops would be the best. They are more durable.I can remove radio and other parts on older dells [dual core] with some difficulty but it can be done. I need to digest more information on this project.

[VM testing]

"Yes it can. Install Ubuntu 17.10 on a virtual machine, and just copy paste the following to terminal

'wget https://cs.helsinki.fi/u/oottela/tfc/install.sh && bash install.sh lt'

“Then enter password when prompted and the installation takes care of itself. You don't need to even try this with three VMs per simulated user. The local testing configuration the command above installs simulates three computers inside multiplexed terminal emulator called Terminator. You need one VM for Alice, another VM for Bob.”-maqp

This sounds good. Will this test the "optocoupler/datadiode" which is at the heart of your project?

Good work maqp. This looks likes a viable project. Again, I have to digest more information before I start ordering parts and buying laptops.Thanks for your reply.

@ Sancho_P

+1 for the Mouser parts store.

“No chance the coupler could be harmful, only encrypted data are there to read, and the sending of garbage / malcode can not harm the receiving system, because it is only understood as data, never as (boot-) code. OK, probably at HM, but NH is compromised be default… at NH, NH, NH !!!”-ingSancho_P

I am not quite sure what you are driving at. Are you saying the Network Handler Device be it multifunctional router, Server Router, or other device is always going to be compromised?

Here is the description maqp wiki provides:

“Network handler (NH)
“TFC is designed with the assumption NH is compromised by attacker immediately. As the IM client running on NH only relays public keys and signed ciphertexts, the harsh (and often deserved) critique received by libpurple is not a security issue the same way confidentiality of PGP ciphertexts do not depend on whether attacker controls email servers; NH is not part of the TCB, it is part of the ciphertext routing network. There is however a lot more to security than just encryption. NH is problematic in terms of anonymity: If the device is compromised, any files, hardware IDs, public IP addresses and data collected by sensors such as webcams, microphones and Wi-Fi cards that can be attributed to the user, can reveal user's real life identity to the attacker.”-TFC wiki by maqp

https://github.com/maqp/tfc/wiki/Security-design

I get the idea that the Network Handler or Internet relay machine is considered compromised but it only handles encrypted packets so the danger is low. The danger is not zero but low.

Is that what you are driving at?

JG4February 20, 2018 6:23 AM


@Clive - Thanks for your helpful comments. I am a fan of Asimov and I was pleased to see here some months ago the discussion of empire from his trilogy. I think that he was on the record that he regretted adding the fourth book to the series.

The acoustic and visual effects experienced by the victims in Cuba point to a rather concentrated energy input leaking into sensory channels via a sidechannel, which could be acoustic/shockwave, microwave/electromagnetic or something else that we've missed. Your point is spot on that very small inputs, such as the traces of plasticizers, flame retardants and free monomers that we breathe/ingest/sleep in every day can produce cancer over decades. Ditto for the microwaves from cell phones. It appears that the trauma in Cuba was a very concentrated input. We could point to other systems where a small concentrated energy input is destructive. Diamonds fail from impact, because very little energy is required to break all of the chemical bonds in a single cleavage plane, and yet diamonds rank among the strongest materials on your planet. Their melting or sublimation point also ranks very high, although they would erode rapidly in air or oxygen at elevated temperatures.

Have we mentioned Billy Joel's work here? When I was a cold war kid, I thought that the Russians were bent to evil. And I was suspicious of Germans for having embraced Hitler and committed various genocides. As I began to understand more of the history, I realized the role that the US played in causing those events, as the same time coming to a much more sympathetic view that they are just humans who live with the same conflicts of interest as everyone else on the old blue marble of entropy maximization. One of the conflicts of interest is our need to put psychopaths in the bus drivers seat, to be sure that mayhem can be visited on the neighboring tribe. Never stopping to consider that the mayhem can be directed anywhere.

I will point to Billy Joel's work as a turning point in my education. I had some inkling how bitter the siege at Stalingrad had been. The French, Germans and Russians have forgotten more about war than the US ever knew.

Billy Joel - Leningrad
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgD_-dRZPgs

Around the same time, there was a George Clooney movie that cast the Russians in a sympathetic light. I think that I'm on the record as saying that for a KGB assassin, with a presumed reckless disregard for human life, that Putin has been a master statesman in managing the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria with apparently minimal genocide. We all know who lit those fires.

Billy Joel - We Didn't Start the Fire (Official Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFTLKWw542g

maqpFebruary 20, 2018 11:19 AM

@65535

Once you remove those that are out of stock, there's only two options. This one is the through-hole version you can insert into sockets. That's what the documentation uses. The other one is for circuits that use surface mount technology. Difference here.

"This sounds good. Will this test the "optocoupler/datadiode" which is at the heart of your project?"

No. I don't think doing something like a loopback via the serial interface for data from one VM to another adds value to the local testing system. It would also be quite problematic for users to bridge the correct serial adapter from host OS to the correct guest OS. I wanted it to be something everyone can try without any hardware investments. It also speeds up development when I don't have to manage programs on six computers and when I can copy-paste keys, accounts etc between terminals.

If you end up assembling the data diode, you're probably going to buy the other computers as well. But the local testing launcher on Ubuntu has options to launch it with simulators that graphically show when data transits between the simulated computers: Screenshot When data transits from one simulated computer to another, the data diode simulators blinks. So in case the picture is confusing, there's five terminals running simultaneously, each with their own program, and with very thin borders between each other.

@Moderator
Has there been any discussion about allowing markdown formatting in comments?

Clive RobinsonFebruary 20, 2018 3:28 PM

@ tyr, Wael,

Hmm fast food in the UK is not what someone from the USA would expect at the best of times. The only advantage for now is it's not "Franken-burger" GMO, but that will change after Brexit to force fed "Carcinoma-burger" with "Cow-hide-glue" with chemically adulterated DNA holding it all together with less flavour than wall paper paste.

But getting back to KFC today, it appears the colonel does not command his forces and now has a rising bio-hazard issue as a result...

I rarely eat fast food as the price differential in this country between raw ingredients in the supermarkets and the fast food joints is around 10:1 thus if I want fried chicken I generally make it myself. Or if I'm lazy I buy a 1Kg pack of "SFC" and frozen chips which is around 1/4 the price on a bucket of chicken/4fries and gives you a lot more chips[1].

It appears that KFC work more like a franchise than other big brand name FF companies. Thus ever ready to increase profitability they inked a contract with the DHL delivery logistics firm or "Parcel-Posties" back in november. DHL in turn outsourced the actual delivery to another logistics organisation QSL.... And suprise suprise it's doing a dead parrot impersonation... Thus KFC has a lot of chicken, but no way for it to cross the road. Which is kind of awkward as they optomised for profit the input side some time ago thus have very limited holding capacity... Thus there will be boxes of meet not stacked in appropriate chiller/freezer storage at some point...

Now I'm not sure where the fault is but it appears the unions do and had previously warned KFC managment that the outsourcing deal would go bad, just as it has...

The thing is delivery companies are going bankrupt in the UK even when they steal from the drivers pockets and the primary reason is the "Free-Market death spiral" driven faster and faster by "big contract outsourcing deals". It would appear that accountants and lawyers who put these deals together have not yet woken up to the fact that nomatter how clever their contracts and faux accounting you can not get redress or anything else when the contractor has gone splat against the wall and the Directors have disappeared off with big bonusses and topped off pension pots to their holiday villa in Davos or some such to avoid answering questions such as "what have you done with the employees pension funds?..

As Brexit approaches and the pound continues to fall towards worthless on the bonfire of political vanity, more and more "outsourced" organisations you will never of heard of will go splat against various things such as raw energy costs...

Eventually company directors will wake up and stop listening to the big four accountancy firms that look the other way rather than do what the law requires of them. Because accountancy is not profitable whilst financial engineering and consultancy schemes are. But how many "bad ideas" can you sell at vastly over priced costs?

The golden rule of managment is "You Manage with Responsability" if you think a contract is a way to manage without real responsability then you should not be doing the job. Out sourcing "core business processes" is not wise for a whole heap of reasons, but thats what the big four sell along with bankruptcy services because that's where they make the real money...

[1] If in the UK Don't what ever you do visit Burger King at a transport hub they realy realy realy rip you off big time. Back around Xmas time my son and I were travelling through London and got stuck at Vicroria Station. I didn't get anything but they charged for a "large chips" and he got given about ten droopy french fries, so their profiteering must be up around the 10,000% mark...

TojoFebruary 20, 2018 4:04 PM

@ЯЫСС1АИ, Very good question. I see your point. Note I said ultimately. No one can forget that Russian lifespans dropped to the fifties while CIA agents looted the country. Absent the malign influence of CIA looting, Russia would have been much quicker to reconstruct itself with rights and rule of law. But splitting, reconstituting, and demilitarizing were salutary measures consistent with Perestroika.

And I don't doubt that much of the American land mass WILL get a taste of that same medicine when the CIA regime collapses. As in the Soviet Union, the trick is being in the right part when it happens. You want to be living in the Saint Petersberg of America, not in its Ashgabats.

hmmFebruary 20, 2018 4:51 PM

"Fast good" is typo-Orwellism. "Fast food" is regular Orwellism.

"Last-minute chemically engineered bio-approximations" just didn't have the same ring.


"DHL - or else" seems appropriate somehow.

"Brexit" is an equally upright portmanteau of "Britain" and "exiting the world as we know it."

Chicken joints that run out of chicken, and other blunt metaphors for impending doom.

maqpFebruary 20, 2018 5:21 PM

@Sancho_P

None taken, the more to the point the better.

It's impossible to teach everything in one wiki. I can explain what's different, provide links to existing material and hope people are able to comprehend the project.

The dedicated energy-gapped computer would either need to run the decryption itself, or it needs an access to some decryption oracle like a smart card that holds the key. Since the easiest way to compromise communication is to display something other than what was decrypted by either the computer itself or by the smartcard, adding anything else doesn't add security in major way.

"To transfer data from and to this machine via Internet the box would be used."

So if I'm following you, you're saying it would be something like
(Energy gappped computer) (inline encryptor/decryptor) (networked computer)
and everything would be encrypted decrypted transparently by some tamper-proof inline-box?

Could you draw me a schematic about devices, their purposes and how unidirectionality works in this case.

"Encryption fail doesn’t always mean tampering, that conclusion would be paranoid."

When there is separate error checking and correction, the assumption must be adversary has attempted attack. User will receive a warning that "packet from X had invalid MAC".

"In my opinion it is wrong when the decryption device knows anything."

Decryption system must by definition have the key, and when it decrypts, it will by definition learn the plaintext. What do you mean?

"Truecrypt got it wrong when it said “wrong key” or something like that, refusing to decrypt (mount) with the wrong key, this is the ideal hint for an attacker."

No they did not. There will always exist redundancy in plaintext data. E.g. file systems have their own headers. What happens with Truecrypt is, after the key has been derived from password and salt, it will attempt to decrypt and if the resulting plaintext contains ASCII string TRUE in it in known offset, it will conclude decryption was successful.
It's not easy decryption. You don't put computational difficulty for ciphertext decryption or plaintext recognition, you put it into the slow hash function used in key derivation. TrueCrypt got it wrong, but the reason was you couldn't adjust iteration count for PBKDF2.

"No. The device decrypts to it’s best knowledge, only the user (a real person, if that can be achieved) can decide about success or fail."

That completely ignores known plaintext attacks. XChaCha20 is useless without authentication. This is so basic stuff it's taught immediately after OTP is used as an example of a cipher: Don't use OTP, it's not KPA secure. (Sadly usually teachers leave out that OTP is meant to be used with unconditionally secure authentication).

"TFC has (rightly) a dedicated tamper evident HW for the serial transmission"

There isn't. There are three ordinary computers with ordinary USB-to-TTL adapters and the assumption user is seeking protection from remote attacks, not physical attacks.

"so what is the talking about pin reassignment?"

Let's say Networked Computer and Destination Computer are connected to each other using simple wires (photo) (Networked on left).
The theory here is, Networked Computer receives magical NSA malware that does the following.

1. Malware sends itself through serial and data diode to Destination Computer
2. Malware on Destination Computer steals keys
3. Malware on Networked Computer periodically prompts for Destination computer to exfiltrate data. It will then tell the controller of TTL adapter on left to listen to voltage shifts on Tx-pin. If malware on Destination Computer had acquired the keys, it will tell the Destination Computer side TTL-adapter's controller to output data via Rx-pin. The end result is successful exfiltration of data. As I've said, AFAIK it's impossible to verify the pins on the adapters have more than rule based limitations on capabilities, so the data diode circuit is mandatory. However, the optocoupler might be altered in interdiction so, you probably shouldn't even trust that, but use simple LED and phototransistor.

"Think of the tamper evident black box, it is yours, until you rely on dubious libraries"

Tamper evident box doesn't help if the system is possible to compromise remotely. Dubious libraries can be audited and PySerial code doesn't change between installs as the library's hash is pinned to installer. If nobody's able to obtain trustworthy software online, it's game over for the field of computer security. On a side note, @Bruce had some interesting thoughts on extent of hacking here.

"It does not accept code from that pin, not at boot or later, only data."

Machine instructions are data. It's a practical impossibility to check all possible inputs and see whether one initializes covert, malicious functionality. This is a major problem in auditing HW with CISC architecture, there was a talk in BlackHat about this just last year.

"But the RxM is the same as the TxM and it is not until someone popped it open."

It's not the same. RxM can be compromised at any point, TxM can't. Let's say you used the wire-based data diode on TxM-NH communication. If the TxM-side TTL adapter controller hasn't been infected to listen on Tx-pin periodically, the Networked Computer probably can't compromise it later because there's nothing listening. However, RxM can receive data that might be interpreted as commands by malware at some lower level my SW never sees, so there's a chance NSA could reprogram RxM side hardware remotely at will.

"Um, are you hinting at some irregularities?"

No. There's no need to worry about this as EU/Finland doesn't have a concept of national security letters / national security requests. There are no backdoors or any malicious functionality.

"The example you’ve linked to is funny, CD4050 completely obsolete, free of function."

My point was merely, that while you could achieve unidirectional serial communication via things like a buffer, there's equal amount of inconvenience yet less assurance compared to optocouplers. I should learn more about the HW but I only have so many hours in day. All in due time.

"Airgapped (energygapped) computer running PGP is a very bad idea, it’s never tamperproof and nearly fully open to the world because of mandatory updates"

Agreed. Even if you don't update it, you're constantly exchanging data with the network because communication with it requires bidirectional connection to network. If you see this, you understand why you need to split TCB into Source and Destination Computer. It is my understanding you disagreed on this matter, is it still the case? If, why?

"I’m sitting on the horse viewing at it’s back, so I can’t see where it goes to"

Have you tried running the local test version with data diode simulator to see how it all works? Have you seen this older video about local testing simulation. Things have changed quite a bit after that but you should be able to grasp on the idea.

Sancho_PFebruary 20, 2018 6:20 PM

@65535

As maqp wrote, 8-Pin DIP (you were asking re soldering, so don’t go for the SMD Gull Wing), the only one in stock at Mouser is: 630-HCLP-7723-000E.
I’m also using it, not the cheapest because of the not often requested “through the hole package”, but easy to handle and easy to test when used with sockets.

And I agree also with maqp in not beginning with the coupler and serial converter (if you don’t need it for some other purpose).
This part works without problems. It is highly recommended to use it when you (serial) connect real devices having independent power supplies, as plugging them together may damage Tx and Rx pins on SoC due to static charges and undefined power supply when on different outlets, a.s.f.
USB is much more robust, but simulation is best.

Re NH and maqp’s wiki text:
His focus is on the stuff above my head, my take is a bit lower.
But “… only encrypted packets” may be too low :)
The network handler (connected to the world) as well as any device with standard OS (Win$$$, …) or downloaded updates must per default be regarded as compromised. The user will never know which bugs or intended functions wait for what trigger to start mischief.
So the danger here is:
An attacker (already inside NH) might send a specially crafted message down to RxM.
And even the simplex serial connection (a logical data diode) would pull in this series of bytes (think of a passphrase) which may trigger something similar to Intel’s ME, but inside RxM.
And the optical coupler would transmit exactly that malign passphrase, because it is there to transmit 0/1s, not to filter bit streams it doesn’t know of their function.
Yep, theoretically also the coupler could be compromised (interdiction) and itself send that hardcoded passphrase, but when, without connection to the outside? Triggered by a command from NH?
Also the upstream USB converter is unidirectional (simplex use), but could be compromised by interdiction. Where to stop? Cable?

What could happen when RxM is compromised? Display a message which was never (encrypted) sent? (“Confess, they know everything!”? ;-)
Um, yes.

So:
The only remedy against serial compromising is running a SW you know on a system (SoC) you know …
Here it is thought to be RxM (the trusted computing base TCB), but this is still a dangerous assumption when using unvetted libraries of Python and Linux updates.

The TCB must be immune to attacks on any input, be it serial, buttons or power supply.
And it must not contain malign SW parts that could be triggered in any way!

Chet AmericanmanFebruary 20, 2018 6:37 PM

@data point, thanks, it's always useful to know what the CIA sock puppets want you to think! Their laundered CIA funding includes the Ford Foundation, the Gates Foundation, DoS, the Hewlett Foundation (you know them as the people who put the CIA backdoors in your laptops), Soros, and two (2) anonymouses! Did you know that?

WJP is CIA's fake review process made to come out less embarrassing than say, this:

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/RUIndex.aspx
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/USIndex.aspx

, which I'm betting you didn't read because it's unamerican and you're way too patriotic, Right? So, does WJP mention that the US does not interpret its supreme law and sovereign commitments in good faith? Uhh, they forgot!

65535February 20, 2018 7:23 PM

@maqp

Thanks for the reply.

I think your are correct that using VMs with the Datadiode could be a problem connection wise. From your FAQ, diagrams and pictures I am fairly convinced the project will work. So, the best solution would be to set up test lab with the computers and the Datadiode as in-expensively as possible.

@ Sancho_P

Thanks for the extract number of the optocoupler. My reason for not wanting to solder wires is the apartment where I am doesn’t allow soldering iron to be used for fire hazard reasons. And, thanks for the coupler model that doesn’t require soldering to assemble.

“An attacker (already inside NH) might send a specially crafted message down to RxM. And even the simplex serial connection (a logical data diode) would pull in this series of bytes (think of a passphrase) which may trigger something similar to Intel’s ME, but inside RxM. And the optical coupler would transmit exactly that malign passphrase, because it is there to transmit 0/1s, not to filter bit streams it doesn’t know of their function.”-Sancho_P

Those are interesting points. I will have to think about them.

Margot February 20, 2018 9:19 PM

Mark H
I appreciate your contributions here overall.
thank you for your articulate, thorough response to my terse statement and thankyou for not biting at the 'messenger'

hmmm

are you able to tone down the aggression and hair-trigger reactivity? If thats your way of relating to people in meatspace day to day and it works for you, great. Yet your style has been fairly consistent here for some time and such a manner fails to resonate with the ambience and character of this blog; Bruce Schneiers approach; and overall the maturity slash calibre of the regular contributors.It feels really discordant when taken in context with the technical discussion or indeed any civil comms here. A polite request.

dara pointFebruary 20, 2018 9:33 PM

@Chet Americanman, my copy of the PDF mentions funding on page 191. It also shows Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden topping the ranking, which is an obvious and desperate attempt by the CIA to ingratiate themselves with their Nordic overlords. Did you know that?

I actually have read some of your links after I got tired running patriotic victory laps to celebrate Team USA being number one in nineteenth place. USA! USA! So, what's your point? You’ll have to be a bit more specific.

So, does WJP mention that the US does not interpret its supreme law and sovereign commitments in good faith? Uhh, they forgot!

OMG, you're right! And they totally forgot to mention that sort of thing about any of the other 112 countries profiled too! Please tell me the OHCHR did remember! Links?

WaelFebruary 20, 2018 9:50 PM

@Clive Robinson, @tyr,

Food is one of my favorite topics :)

The only advantage for now is it's not "Franken-burger" GMO

In the US one can't swing a dead rat off a bat without hitting GMO food. Welcome to the club.

…bucket of chicken/4fries and gives you a lot more chips[1]

When I was in the UK last time I asked the bellhop at the hotel what his favorite food is and he said chips. Told him: potatoes? He said: no, mate! It means fish and chips :) I said yup I like it too, so long as they don't fry it in lard. That was the problem in Germany. Go to a resturant and they'll ask you: how would you like your pork cooked today? No pork for me, pal. Keine Schweine, Schweinehund! So I went to another restaurant and ordered fried fish. It was the most atrocious fish I ever had in my life. One byte, spat it out and bought some yoghurt instead. Germany has the best yoghurt I ever tasted...

In Japan, you can go to a Seven-Eleven and buy a cake or some pastry and the ingredients are simple and pronounceable, unlike in the US. Can you believe that milk has a list of ingredients? Milk!

maqpFebruary 20, 2018 9:57 PM

@Sancho_P:

For the most parts I agree with you on your reply to @65535

I would imagine optocoupler with built in CPU and thus a backdoor would await for some long random instruction and alter behavior based on that.

If the USB-to-TTL adapter is interdicted, if I was NSA, I would embed wireless functionality to allow covert channel regardless of optocouplers. This is a component one probably shouldn't order online.

Regarding the Confess-message, let's say attacker succeeds in showing that to user. Now let's say the user then outputs a message to contact. What was in that message?

a) "Did you send that?" (in that case attacker must reply "yes")
b) "Could you re-transmit that exact phrase?" (attacker must resend pt)
c) "Could you re-transmit and also tell me my favorite fruit?" (challenge-response)
d) "What is the average flying speed of an unladen swallow?" (random challenge)

My point is, since key exfiltration is not possible, it's extremely hard to inject messages and prevent suspecting user from confirming it was the case. You can't just kill the line, unless perhaps if the message is something like "We've been compromised, burn everything, no time to explain". Such scenarios would IMO require users to agree on some codeword beforehand (you can even do that over TFC) over multiple messages, so attacker can't just assign new keyword: "hey, the new code word for compromise is SPAM, and oh by the way, SPAM".

"The only remedy against serial compromising is running a SW you know on a system (SoC) you know"

...and that you know the system doesn't have any vulnerabilities. This shows perfect security can not be achieved.

TFC is not perfect, but the safeguards for key exfiltration are unheard of. When you think about it, the next in line (Ricochet or Signal) has message history and private keys on Networked Computer. iMessage has long term RSA decryption key on Networked Computer which allows retrospective decryption even if both parties delete logs. Telegram has plaintext logs on server.

"unvetted libraries of Python and Linux updates."

You don't need to update Destination Computer. The assumption is it's safe from key exfiltration even with zero day exploits (assuming electro-mechanical covert channels are removed first). No unvetted library is worse for Destination Computer. As for Source Computer, the unvetted library would have to be malicious so then we're talking about the fundamental problems: can we trust the minimum necessary software we download online? If not, not TFC, nor any other tool can provide security. Obviously the code needs to be audited and I have skimmed e.g. the serial library when I was implementing timeout based packet separation. But that requires more work. Usually an independent auditor is expected anyway, so I'm not going to worry about it now.

@65535:
Lab might be over-doing it. You only need a single computer that's able to run 1-2 VMs. I run one instance of TFC on the OS I run my IDE on, and the 1-2 contacts for that user are on VMs running on the same computer.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 21, 2018 1:06 AM

@ JG4,

As I began to understand more of the history

One of the things I find sad, is that people do not study history more. I will admit that when I was at school the subject was rather dry and almost taught as political propaganda. However I started to take interest in later life and it has taught me that humans have changed little since they started keeping records several thousand years ago. The only thing to change is our technology, even the desire by a few to use it to give them "status over others" has not changed and thus "polotics" is still the same brut ugliness it always was. All technology has given such people is the ability to do more damage with less people involved to stop them.

I realized the role that the US played in causing those events

What few realise is why. Put simply the land that forms North America was not realy touched by those that lived there they had a different ethos. Thus once European settlers gained a toe hold it was not long before they repeated the same mistakes they had tried to escape. The result is in a little over three hundred years the Europeans had done to North America what their ancestors had taken nearly ten times as long to do in Europe. One result is that of the basic standard of living in the US that arose from burning fast and furious, much of it on texas oil. Depending on who you believe the US standard of living is something like ten times that of the world average. The result is that at one point they were consuming nearly half the worlds resources. Thus the problem of sustainability, politicians rarely succeed in their jobs if they insist on people cutting back their life styles... Thus the nonsensical mantra of "increasing efficiency", which makes individuals think they have failed, where as it's the politicians that have failed for reasons that have not changed in a long time "Status" not even power or wealth. This desire of status, to make a mark in history can be found behind most of the worlds ills, oddly though few possess it and of those most crave the trivial asspects of it.

Which brings us to the 99 percenters, as you note,

[At] the same time coming to a much more sympathetic view that they are just humans who live with the same conflicts of interest as everyone else on the old blue marble of entropy maximization.

Put simply most people want to work to have a little fun, then put down roots to raise a family, to see them become a success in life. Or on a day to day basis, cloths on their backs, food on the table, a roof over their heads with the reasonable expectation of being able to do the same tommorow and the day after etc.

Importantly they don't care or want to care about "Maters of State". Thus they make the mistake of ceading responsability to others. Those others thus see it as an opportunity, which is why we end up with your observation,

One of the conflicts of interest is our need to put psychopaths in the bus drivers seat

Or more bluntly we get what we deserve when we don't ensure we take an interest in what is being done in our name, for which we need a knowledge of history, or to put it another way "How the 1 percenters are likely to behave as they rarely change".

Clive RobinsonFebruary 21, 2018 2:12 AM

@ Wael, tyr,

unlike in the US. Can you believe that milk has a list of ingredients? Milk!

It depends on what you mean by "ingredients"... There are several ways to look at it and it's the local regulations that decide that.

Most "natural products" are not pure items but many items combined together. That is there is no "pure sugar" in nature, it comes with other things such as starches and fibre. Thus spliting up a natural product into it's component parts requires "Processing" often with agents such as chemicals. In many places "processing agents" are not mentioned in the ingredients as they are not ment to be part of the final product. So the silicon oil you will find on processed bread which is used as a mold release agent (like butter often is in home made cakes) is not mentioned, likewise the nitric acid you will find in many orange juice drinks, which is used to release various extra flavour etc.

Then there are preservatives, as most people in the west know apples go brown very very quickly when you cut them open. Most cooks know that a squirt of lemon juice will stop that happening in the same way it does with avocado and many other fruits etc. Thus some one making apple sauce to "jar up" in autumn for the rest of the year will often add lemon juice to stop it going brown. But... The lemon juice also enables the pectin more thus it helps thicken the sauce as well. So is the lemon juice a preservative or an ingredient?

But in the same way as sugar, the active incredients in lemon juice can be extracted and thus become stable, long lasting and more compact as well as controllable. Whilst not a difficult process it's often easier to just synthesize the chemical involved and use that instead.

But milk is a "whole food" which means there is just about everything you need in there. However it's also an ideal food for most living things including bacteria, moulds and other agents of rot. Over time man has learnt to seperate out the various components into "dairy products", which are incredients in their own right such as butter, cream, whey, lactose etc.

Due in part to the fetish of healthy eating people want milk in various forms ranging from less than 1% fat to over 5% fat. As far as the Dairy industry is concerned low fat milk is mainly a "waste product" from other processes such as the collecting of various cream types.

Thus people started to list the components of milk as they would ingredients... Which is fair enough.

But what of the consumer... Certain types of milk will go off in hours much like apples go brown thus we add things to milk to aid in not just extracting other products from it but also to provide a longer lasting product. One such resulting product is "butter milk" which is very usefull for making certain types of bread, cakes and condirioning meat such as chicken before cooking it.

Thus where pasteurization is used in some parts of the world, in other parts it's not and more natural methods are used...

This whole mess of things gave rise to the notion of "Addatives" thus we have E numbers or their chemical names such as beta-carotene, which is an isomer of a terpenoid hydrocarbon which lets be blunt sounds "Oh so nasty". But in reality is not and you would be very unhealthy with out it as it is a precursor to Vitamin A production in the body. Oh and it's also a pigment that gives many fruits and vegtables their colours such as carrots.

Because of this spliting out parts of natural products as ingredients for other products we end up with a real mess of regulations about what things should be listed as and how... Not all are the products of mad food scientists such as those who gave us the Chorelwood Process for bread by adding chemically adulterated hair and feathers to bread to make it more bouncy for your sandwiches... But the back of a packet might sound like it. The only way to find out nine times in ten is to look it up.

MargotFebruary 21, 2018 2:13 AM

Hi All

this may be of vague interest

Australian banks have, apparently, worked together over a period of years
And you thought they weren't friends!
the result is

payid.com.au

it means money can be sent from one financial institution to an external financial institution without the usual several days of processing time. This system, launched a week or two ago, finalises a transfer in about 60 seconds.
it requires both parties to sign up to receive a Pay ID, which, instead of an account number is simply a name and an email or a name and a cellular phone number. 2FA is used to validate transaction. it will take a while for it to roll out but I suppose it will eventually become the standard method.
the idea being the verification has been taken out of the equation because by signing up for PayID one already achieves some degree of such.

eventually they will work toward having such a system for international transactions but obviously thats more complicated

foo tarFebruary 21, 2018 4:46 AM

`Is there a danger the game might turn players to the dark side? “I think it’s worth taking the risk given how many people we could educate with this.”`

hmmFebruary 21, 2018 4:53 AM

@ Margot

I missed your above chat. My intent is not to bore you particularly nor pick political fights none can win. In my defense I was protecting (THE) factual record from (victims of) a distortion (campaign..) and not really promoting any specific partisan political agenda - although I can see why that would be a confusion there - as if the facts of the matter were fighting an existential war of their own.

I don't however agree that we should avoid all potentially touchy or political topics just because some might strongly disagree or may be bored, where they relate to important things like governance or security or a clarification of important fact. (And I believe you can begrudgingly admit, it does.) As you can see above, any discussion on the topic dissipated well before you spoke up the first time. What if someone found Au.gov payment system schema political somehow? (ok, bad example, but the point remains)

Clive doesn't need your Danny Ray cape, he's fully grown at this point and quite very sharp overall. If he informally accuses the CIA/NSA (or both) of hacking the Olympics as a false flag event, that's his own duly arrived at conclusion and nobody should pillory nor pillage him for it - but we should reserve the right to talk about it and ask him to defend how he arrived at the assertion. I didn't attack him personally - No one did nor was that implied in any way from what I can see. Sometimes we can all be misunderstood.

So you're right, let's all be less quick to attack and defend and try to hear eachother out more.
If that's what you were meaning to say I agree.



JG4February 21, 2018 7:14 AM


@65535 and SanchoP

“An attacker (already inside NH) might send a specially crafted message down to ...
it doesn’t know of their function.”-Sancho_P

We have at least touched on this topic under a name I call system identification. It is possible to test the data diode with a very large number of inputs, to verify correct operation within a limited parameter space. The input then could be filtered with known-safe components to stay in the limited parameter space. It should be possible to build a high-speed filter using discrete components. The rub is that we don't know how many hidden states the backdoored components might have. If the trigger is a sequence of n-symbols, exhaustively searching the parameter space very quickly becomes intractable. There are at least five classes of backdoors, relating to various states like time since power up, previous instructions, date/time, chip serial number and anything else that can be a logic input. Clive probably has done a much better job of describing these issues.

CallMeLateForSupperFebruary 21, 2018 11:10 AM

Problem: Reselling a garage full of illegally purchased, big-screen, plasma TVs promises to be a drag. So how to *easily* monetize your stash of stolen credit/debit card numbers?

A solution: print a 66-page, paperback book of computer-generated gibberish; place on Amazon for sale at $555.00/copy; buy 70 copies with your stolen cards; laugh all the way to the bank with $24,000 (60% of the proceeds).

Amazon's share: $16,000

This scheme appears to work. Way to go, Amazon.

"Money Laundering Via Author Impersonation on Amazon?"
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/02/money-laundering-via-author-impersonation-on-amazon/

Chet AmericanmanFebruary 21, 2018 11:38 AM

@dara point,

"Did you know that?" You have the overlordship relationships backward. The Nordic governments are US satellite states. Of course the servile Swedish dick police will join in, having botched their hot pursuit of little Assange. Unless that was sarcasm...? In the future please make your sarcasm funny so I can tell.

"Number one in nineteenth place." Come on, even CIA hacks have to pass the laugh test. They couldn't possibly rank the USA any higher than nineteenth. But nineteenth, that's the country equivalent of Franciscan University of Steubenville's US News rank, people will say, ah, Who gives a rat's, I'm never gonna go to that hole anyway...

"Links?" I gave you the links. You clearly did not even read the C&Rs because it's in there. Since you evidently have not grasped the significance of the follow-on procedures for the multiple urgent US deficiencies with respect to binding commitments, we're not going to do your homework for you anymore.

albertFebruary 21, 2018 1:36 PM

@Clive, @echo, @JG4,

Audible frequencies can be generated by emitting two ultrasonic frequencies separated by the desired audio frequency; the resulting beat frequency is what you hear. Ultrasound has the advantage of very small emitters, which can be designed into almost anything. Not obvious, unless you are looking for them.

I'd like to report in the next Squid, after I try the 110Hz test on myself.
. .. . .. --- ....

data pointFebruary 21, 2018 2:41 PM

@Chet Americanman, that's exactly what our Nordic masters want you to think. Sweden has always been just a distraction (ABBA? Ikea? Come on!), that is why they're in fourth place. Notice how Norway is in second place, hidden in plain sight? Yeah, me too. Now think about Trump's behavior. First he talks trash about Sweden. Then Pompeo must have told him to cut it out and explained who's boss. So then Trump tries to suck up to Norway, asking Norwegians to please pretty please come to the US, and Norway is like "No. LOL". And that was the end of that. Did you know that?

I gave you the links.

Well that's just too bad, it's not on those pages. I'll go back to watching Norway win more medals then. By the way, good job changing the subject from rule of law in Russia.

Sancho_PFebruary 21, 2018 6:22 PM

@maqp

I told you I don't like that unstructured dialog, it tends to grow without gain.
And it seems we have a different view in very basic points.

a) "The dedicated energy gapped computer would either need to run the encryption itself ..."
- No, full stop.
Encryption / decryption and key handling must be done on a tamper-evident device, having dedicated + vetted code and absolutely no other SW running on it.
Complexity is the first enemy of security.

There is a reason why someone has to use a secured computer, not connected to the Net.
Typing a bomb threat is by far not the first and the idea belongs to the cop-thinking FUD domain. National Security, you know.

The very first reason is that no third party has business in work or documents thereon.
This may be a lawyer, priest, doctor, consultant, engineer, ... - any professional, even a LEO.

If one has to work on that machine it is very likely (nearly sure) that the OS must be some Win$$$.
Also it must be (close to) up to date in OS and application SW (until you work on groovy XP projects).
It may run with FDE and GPG - but it may be also compromised.
Don't rely on that device to fabricate encrypted bomb threats you're going to send to China!
(or from China to your home company if it is a notebook you work on when traveling)

b) Schematic of (energy gapped computer) - (inline cryptor) - (NH) and
data flow: I’ll send send you a simple sketch by email.

c) There are more possible causes for failure than you can imagine.
The very first group is caused by the user, there are sub-categories like laziness, lack of knowledge, stress, curiosity (only to name some).
The next group is technical, from bad contact, temperature, environment (EMF), supply, aging parts, ...
Then there is a huge group of interaction of and with other systems, be it SW or HW (think of NH and Net).
Also there is a group of "We don't know yet", because we are humans, not gods.
And only the very last group would deal with tampering, which means an adversary might be present.
Paranoia can destroy ya!

d) The Truecrypt failure: You describe exactly why it is wrong, but you don't see it: The decryption tells the adversary (immediately!) that the key was wrong! Try again! And again! Use a script to increase speed! Try cracking in parallel!

What a shame! What an epic fail!

I don't understand the other issue you've cited, and if OTP means One Time Pad I understand less than zero in context of KPA.

e) TFC and tamper evident device: I think it was you to use the term TCB?
So on both devices, RxM and TxM the SD card can be changed without evidence?
And you bother to glitter-glue your optocoupler?

f) Pin reassignment:
Stop BEFORE point 2: Not possible.
Malware is data, the receiving system will encrypt or decrypt data, that's it.
It takes a lot of effort to implement code that allows to reprogram the own system,
and usually you will have to do it at boot by closing a contact or so, not when executing normal code.
Absolutely nonsense.
The malicious functionality to accept code from an input has to be there from the beginning.
“Machine instructions are data.” - Don’t you know what your SW does to incoming data?
Think of using paper. Would the incoming cipher text be able to rewrite your keys?
Make you use the phone, or rewire your doorbell?
Paranoia. Didn't read the rest.

g) "Um, are you hinting at some irregularities?" - sorry, it was intended to be a joke, you yourself already hiding malware there.

h) Energy gapped computer running PGP
What are you talking here about exchanging data with the network, what network, bidirectional? Didn't you understand the term energy gapped (in contrast to NH devices)? On the other hand, you seem to agree at the same time. Confusing.
Yes, here is a point we can't find each other, but I don't know why.
Repeating point a) at the beginning where you also hinted at it.

i) I did never try the simulation, only the images let me run as fast as I can.
The principle seems to be simple, but the airplane cockpit bewilders me ;-)
I'm a simple guy, too much input at once will blow my fuse.

See, this discussion is growing and we are at the wrong place here, I think it is time to stop it now.
If you have anything where you think I could help don't hesitate to ask, I am here, but I'm afraid this kind of chatting will not help you.

Sancho_PFebruary 21, 2018 6:30 PM

@maqp re your post 20/09:57 PM

Ha, an optocoupler with built in CPU - a cheap solution, but it doesn’t make sense. It could only do what the compromised NH could also do, send bytes down the line, but the risk to place HARD evidence on the suspect’s table would be grossly stupid.
In contrast SW in NH can be made to vanish within milliseconds (attacker, make sure to block Apple’s Time Machine before meddling).

Also the next point, wireless in the adapter, doesn’t make sense, it could only transmit ciphertext that is transmitted by NH on the network anyway, likely without any intentional random time delay.
They want to check if NH is working correctly? BS.
Also the EMF warning in my lab would go on, as it does when you’d enter with your mobile.
It may be interesting to include a similar warning to the TCB cryptor.

Re confess message, next time I’ll add “joke” if you should not take it 100%, sorry.
(But why would the recipient ask back when just the time of the next in person meeting was altered by 30 min by the attacker? How should the recipient become suspicious?)

What is “Destination Computer” (source computer) exactly, didn’t read (understand) that term before? Is it TFC terminology? Are you talking about the energy gapped devices? (I didn't understand that paragraph)

Sancho_PFebruary 21, 2018 6:33 PM

@JG4

When you say “data diode”, what are you referring to exactly?
The transmission system (plugs, cable, converter, coupler) are electrical components, used and optimized to transmit “binary signal bits (0/1)” (but in fact that are analog signals) exactly as the signals are.
You can’t test them or limit them to transmit (filter) only benign information, because any combination of 0 and 1 must be transmitted.

Same goes for the cryptor, it has to combine data with key and send the result, regardless of the data or key.

Sancho_PFebruary 21, 2018 6:36 PM

@65535

No solder iron? OMG!
Then it can’t be built.
Fire hazard? And charging your mobile?

65535February 21, 2018 8:20 PM

@ maqp

‘…you know the system doesn't have any vulnerabilities. This shows perfect security can not be achieved.”-maqp

That is very true. You can only reduce to chances of insecure systems. Any large well financed adversay will win over the average Jane/Joe.

“TFC is not perfect, but the safeguards for key exfiltration are unheard of. When you think about it, the next in line (Ricochet or Signal) has message history and private keys on Networked Computer. iMessage has long term RSA decryption key on Networked Computer which allows retrospective decryption even if both parties delete logs. Telegram has plaintext logs on server.”- maqp

I concure. TFC could be better than iMessage and Telegram. You point is good. I am sure people using those product will not be pleased.

“@65535: Lab might be over-doing it. You only need a single computer that's able to run 1-2 VMs. I run one instance of TFC on the OS I run my IDE on, and the 1-2 contacts for that user are on VMs running on the same computer.”-maqp

Maybe. Using the VMs method seems to exclude the optocoupler/Datadiode. I am correct in this assumption?

The Datadiode is the main component in your system and that is what I want to test. I do believe that a dual VM set with your Datadiode in the middle maybe possible but difficult to work with the VMs serial interfaces.

If I can get a physical KVM on one side of the communications it will cut down on costs componets [or possibly six way KVM for the entire setup and it would reduce cost of monitors and could be used in other lab setups]… I don’t want to over kill or overspend.

@ JG4

“We have at least touched on this topic under a name I call system identification. It is possible to test the data diode with a very large number of inputs, to verify correct operation within a limited parameter space. The input then could be filtered with known-safe components to stay in the limited parameter space. It should be possible to build a high-speed filter using discrete components. The rub is that we don't know how many hidden states the backdoored components might have.”-JG4

I agree. That circles back to problem of perfect security which is difficult if not impossible to achieve. I could live with the lowest possible type of data ex-filtration with a relatively cheap setup. Who knows, the setup could be hardened further with more eyeball looking at the problem.

@ Sancho_P

I don’t understand some of you points - but your saying because some malicious injection of code somewhere in the system including microcode for the chips there is a danger of infection and exfiltration of data?

That is theoretically possible but what are the odds? I would guess they are fairly low but not zero. That is why we test computer setups in a lab to check them. It will never be a perfect solution but it is better than no solution.

As for the unusual rules against industrial devices in apartment complex’s that are hot like a soldering iron and flux which can have a bad odor, the place I am at now at does have those rules [I would guess somebody soldered and used flux and the neighbors complained of the bad odor]. Sure, a lithium laptop battery could explode and cause a larger fire but those are the apartment’s rules. I can’t go against them.

65535February 21, 2018 8:43 PM

@ CallMeLateForSupper

“…on Amazon for sale at $555.00/copy; buy 70 copies with your stolen cards; laugh all the way to the bank with $24,000 (60% of the proceeds). Amazon's share: $16,000.” “-CallMelateForSupper

Hum, now I see how Amazon grew so fast. Some posters over there explain the reason and some have suggest that state attorney general’s be notified of money laundering allegations. We will see what happens.


maqpFebruary 21, 2018 11:30 PM

"Encryption / decryption and key handling must be done on a tamper-evident device, having dedicated + vetted code and absolutely no other SW running on it. Complexity is the first enemy of security."

So what's the solution? What kind of device? What OS? What language program? Sounds like setting up the system will be even more complex for the end user. I'd rather not have them program microcontrollers or deal with obscure microkernels if possible. I'm all for better security and systems, but like all developers, I've had to struggle to find a balance on convenience and security. I hope you'll make a project out of your idea, I'd love to be proven wrong on my conjecture about yours adding so much inconvenience that it hurts security.

I can't add physical protection because that would mean something like using the $2k ORWL computers, and I don't think it's worth it.

Unfortunately I'm having trouble following your train of thought regarding bomb threats etc.

Regarding error detection and ignoring MAC warnings: you can't just throw words like laziness or stress and expect me to fill in the details about your reasoning. Aging parts do not introduce bugs that escape error checking, and I don't find speculating about issues productive. If I see (or receive a report on) a bug, I fix it. I don't remove MAC warnings because you're warning me "there might be curious users". I'll take the 0.01% rate of false positives over your suggestion of 100% false negative (never detects attack and makes it trivial).

RE: TrueCrypt
What? Of course you can attack locally available encryption with parallel computing. The point is to have the key derivation function so slow it adds bit strength significantly. Adversary doesn't learn "immediately" the key was wrong, only after their password is derived into key and that takes time, a LOT of time. For example, TFC automatically adjusts Argon2d to use enough memory the system takes at least three seconds of key derivation time with all the threads available. This ensures that GPU cores that need to manage concurrent access to VRAM do not work significantly faster in parallel. The assumption with container encryption is the password has enough entropy (90+ bits) on it's own, and the HW speed increase happens both on attacker's and on defender's side, meaning key derivation time combined with password entropy remains out of attacker's range.

"I don't understand the other issue you've cited"
XChaCha20 is a stream cipher where plaintext is XORed with keystream. If I take away the Poly1305 tag, attacker that guesses plaintext content can XOR ciphertext with plaintext to derive keystream, and they can XOR the keystream with any other message to derive new CT' and deliver that instead. This is known as known-plaintext attack or KPA for short. Same applies to OTP, where keystream is not derived with CSPRF from nonce and key, but from truly random source. You need authentication, period. It's absurd you would even suggest otherwise.

"I think it was you to use the term TCB?"

TCB just refers to the parts of crypto system that need to be secure for the system to be secure. Tamper evident casing isn't required for TCB to exist, and it's not needed since TFC's aim isn't to be secure against physical attacks.

"And you bother to glitter-glue your optocoupler?"

Haha. That was an experiment I did four years ago. Don't assume I base my threat model on that when multiple wiki articles and source code docstrings all talk about physical attacks being out of scope.

"Malware is data, the receiving system will encrypt or decrypt data, that's it."

Decryption is done by TFC, not by the lower level components. Machine instructions can be added, interpreted and removed at lower level TFC or Pyserial never sees.

"Don’t you know what your SW does to incoming data?"

I know what my SW does with it, I don't know if driver or controller does with data someone sends alongside my data, my SW never sees.

The ciphertext could reprogram RxM theoretically, but the probability of entering a specific machine instruction (that might have complexity of an encryption key) is negligible. On the other hand attacker might know it. Take a look at the blackhat talk I posted.

"Paranoia. Didn't read the rest."

This level level of ignorance and disrespect isn't why I come here.

"I am here, but I'm afraid this kind of chatting will not help you."

This seems to be the case and its is seriously affecting the flow. I hope we'll understand one another better in the future. I'll check your email when it arrives and I hope you'll read the even better wiki once I manage to push out the new version. The current one is quite out of date considering major changes in CT routing.

"It could only do what the compromised NH could also do,"

No, compromised NH could send malware to RxM through any optocoupler, but without backdoored optocoupler that on magic packet switches to bidirectional for short period of time, RxM can't send keys to NH and thus to adversary.

"In contrast SW in NH can be made to vanish within milliseconds"

Attempts to DoS the system are not assumed to be in the best interest of attacker. I suspect the reason "availability" isn't part of Cryptographic CIA triad is there's no way to guarantee delivery if nation state wants to stop your packets. Key exfiltration is my main concern, not DoS.

"wireless in the adapter, doesn’t make sense, it could only transmit ciphertext that is transmitted by NH on the network anyway"

If RxM is able to receive malware through standard NH-RxM data diode, the malware can remotely operate both wireless covert channels. If it can steal keys from memory, it can exfiltrate them.

"next time I’ll add “joke”"

I have plenty of sense of humor but there are things I don't think I should be joking about. In fact I should be dead serious about them. Consider how much speculation there has been after Linus was asked whether NSA asked him to add a backdoor into Linux kernel, and he nodded and said "no" at the same time.

Destination Computer = RxM, Source Computer = TxM. As I posted a week? ago, I'm trying to make terminology more understandable, and since Source and Destination are existing terminology in data diode industry, I'm trying to move towards commonly understood terms instead of adding my own. Same happened with Trickled connection (IPSec has traffic masking so traffic masking it is).

maqpFebruary 21, 2018 11:47 PM

@65535:

Maybe. Using the VMs method seems to exclude the optocoupler/Datadiode. I am correct in this assumption?

Yes. If the animation isn't enough for you, you're going to need the full setup or attempt bridging the serial adapters yourself. I don't see why that couldn't be done though so give it a try if you have adapter(s) lying around. If it doesn't work, try the standard installation with some old HW.

I'll try to modify the experimental version enough you can manually define three interfaces and applications running on same computer. That way you can pass data through data diode, and you can run the contact using another computer and set of data diodes, or inside VM with the local testing version that emulates data diodes.

tyrFebruary 22, 2018 3:03 AM


Clive, Wael

One of my favourite experiences was milk
under a microscope before pasteurization.

Another non favourite was drinking powdered
milk made with distilled water for years
and returning to the home country and
ordering a glass of the real thing. The
war in the intestinal biome started about
half an hour later. Once they got it sorted
I was back to normal.

Fast food around transport hubs has always
been overpriced and badly cooked crap.
The only thing worse is the roach coach
offerings you get at lunch outside Intel.

Silicon Valley is not ever going to get
a Michelin rating that isn't negative.

So I assume the tinkering with the supply
chain by bean counters didn't work out well
I was thinking maybe the Union army had
burned Col Sanders plantation after a long
campaign.

My experiences with chain fast food were
to stop in take one bite spit it into the
garbage and throw the rest in on my way
out to a place with real food.

I happened to run into a tome with a section
on bosars which is a bosonic version of a
laser. Apparently they can build such a
thing. It didn't say much about scaling it
up though.

One thing history doesn't emphasize is the
damage done by well intentioned do gooders
who think they know what is best for the
rest of us.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 22, 2018 7:45 AM

@ Bruce and the usual suspects,

We are always hearing about how the Internet supports "Disruptive Technologies" but the evidence has kind of always been "neigh said"[1] by various parties in some way.

Well it has been noted that those who place advertising revenue certainly appear to be starting to think that,

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-14/advertisers-tuning-out-tv-in-sign-of-trouble-for-media-companies?utm_source=Benedict%27s+newsletter&utm_campaign=87100fce9d-Benedict%27s+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4999ca107f-87100fce9d-70267629

The thing is though it points to falling revenues it still tries to make it sound less of an impact than it is. For instance it quotes one networks figures and says only XX% of revenue is from advertising, but fails to mention that other parts of it's revenue are from other networks buying it's,productions, that in turn are paid from the purchasers advertising revenue.

Other things it does not mention are not only did cable networks offer a greater variety of viewing options, they actually carried less advertising that made them more atractive to people than Over the air networks that were getting below the 66% of program to other --mainly advert-- air time.

Infact it's got worse many popular programs are dropping below 50% by using "previous/future episode" clips (of which Sky is a bad offender) etc to pad out from 50-66% presumably to future proof for future advertising expansion. That may not now be comming.

The thing is advertisers are only loyal to the eyeballs that see their message. So they follow where ever they can twisting legislators arms even going to court to get access. Which begs the question of how long before advertisers infest Internet services at the same if not worse rate?.. The removal of net neutrality can be seen as just one step in the process.

But this also contains a hidden "bandwidth" gotcha. Advertisers currently use audio compression to sound 6-24dB louder than uncompressed "program content". Likewise they also use various visual tricks rapidly changing scenes, rapid changing brightness often using high colour saturation non of which compresses easily with codecs that are currently standard on the Internet. In both the audio and video cases it's to get "maximum punch" in a fixed broadcast bandwidth, impossed not just by law but by direct cost to the broadcaster.

The Internet is not realy payed for by the broadcaster but by the consumer, thus there are not realy any bandwidth limitations the broadcaster or their advertisers need care about. Thus "program content bandwidth" will almost certainly loose out to "advertising content bandwidth". Thus we could see 75% or more bandwidth required for "advertising content" even though it might only be "33%" of viewing content. That is what the customer would most like of "high quality" "program content" will not last under advertising preasure it will get compressed in preference to adverts.

But this brings up another issue, the number of eyeballs is limited especially if driven away by the advertisers[2] and there are already to many conventional Broadcast/Cable channels chasing what is a finite add revenue getting spread thinner...

Thus these surplus fat channels will not go quietly "ego will not permit" but slam into one of a number of walls hard. In the process however consumer interests will at best play third fiddle to addvertisers cutting revenue and managment maximizing self interest.

Thus you get a "bathtub graph" of content quality. The new entertainment entities will start with high quality content and low advertising to "pull bodies through the door". As investment money gets burned, quality will drop and advertising will rise to balance the books. At some point a near balance will occure where add revenue rises but the managment self interest keeps content quality dropping all be it slowly. Some entities will hit a wall and in the process thus cause add revenue to rise fractionally in the remaining entities and quality will start to rise again as entities try to differentiate themselves. At some point though a new form of entertainment will come along, just as social networking did, and this will cause a loss of eyeballs yet again and advertisers will where they can follow them.

The obvious --but wrong-- answer to this problem is to prevent advertising in entertainment. Likewise an obvious --but again wrong-- answer would be to regulate technology to stop it causing disruptive behaviour. What the best answer for consummers will be is yet to be found, but we do already know it's not with the current Silicon Valley "intangible product" solutions like Google / Facebook / etc. Because odd as it might appear two older entertainment solutions from Gutenberg and Marconi of books and radio are getting a bit of a resurgence...

Apparently older non DRM infested solutions that can be resold without encumbrance such as paper books, music on CD and video on DVD are hanging in as well. Worse though for them at least is the plans of the likes of Disney to curtail such rights, they are hitting rocky shores and not the plain sailing their lawyers expected,

https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/21/17036932/disney-redbox-lawsuit-star-wars-marvel-pixar-digital-downloads

[1] If other's feel wanton to complain about me using "neigh" not "nay" think for a moment of the sound such repeated dissent invokes, after all it's not just horses that neigh.

[2] Ever noticed why adverts are almost always broadcast at the same time? It's because the industry knows it drives "channel hopping" no matter how good the program content, and the old rule of "a customer lost is harder to get back than getting a new customer" applies. The big advantage of a remote control on even a radio is jumping from adverts or just hitting the mute button for a minute or five is easier than listening to the adds. There is a story as to why at least one "Parental Control Chip" initiative failed, the advertisers realised that it would work against them so killed it as "unworkable"...

vas pupFebruary 22, 2018 8:54 AM

When it comes to our brains, there's no such thing as normal
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180220123129.htm

"I would argue that there is no fixed normal," says clinical psychologist and senior author Avram Holmes of Yale University. "There's a level of variability in every one of our behaviors." Healthy variation is the raw material that natural selection feeds on, but there are plenty of reasons why evolution might not arrive at one isolated perfect version of a trait or behavior. "Any behavior is neither solely negative or solely positive. There are potential benefits for both, depending on the context you're placed in," he says.
For instance, impulsive sensation seeking, a willingness to take risks in order to have new and exciting experiences that has its roots in our evolutionary history as foragers, is often thought of negatively. Increased sensation seeking is associated with things like substance abuse, criminality, risky sexual behavior, and physical injury. "But if you flip it on its head and look at potential positive outcomes, those same individuals may also thrive in complex and bustling environments where it's appropriate for them to take risks and seek thrills," he says. They often have more social support, are more outgoing, and exercise more.
But if variation in any given trait is normal, that does raise questions about what makes for disordered behavior, which he stresses is very much a real phenomenon. "It may be the case that if you focus on a single phenotype, there isn't a specific line that separates health from disease, and that we must consider multiple phenotypes simultaneously," he says.”


Fake news ‘vaccine’: online game may ‘inoculate’ by simulating propaganda tactics:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180220093555.htm

“The psychological theory behind the research is called "inoculation":
"A biological vaccine administers a small dose of the disease to build immunity. Similarly, inoculation theory suggests that exposure to a weak or demystified version of an argument makes it easier to refute when confronted with more persuasive claims," says Dr Sander van der Linden, Director of Cambridge University's Social Decision-Making Lab.
"If you know what it is like to walk in the shoes of someone who is actively trying to deceive you, it should increase your ability to spot and resist the techniques of deceit. We want to help grow 'mental antibodies' that can provide some immunity against the rapid spread of misinformation."
Based in part on existing studies of online disinformation, and taking cues from actual conspiracy theories about organisations such as the United Nations, the game is set to be translated for countries such as Ukraine, where disinformation casts a heavy shadow.”


Clive RobinsonFebruary 22, 2018 9:47 AM

@ tyr, JG4, Wael,

I happened to run into a tome with a section on bosars which is a bosonic version of a laser.

I guess we should say that both bosars, politron and optical lasers are special implementations of "High Q cavity coherent emitter transducers" the big questions being how you get the energy in and out and what the pumping medium is.

Funnily one way is to use an optical laser to pump a quantum well to produce polaritons inside a layered silicon cavity made using the distributed Bragg Mirror approach[1] thus giving the desired tuned waveguide effect. The resulting THz energy forming a coherent beam of moderate dispersion.

Whilst optical lasers are easy to make in comparison to a bosar[2] I do find the technology interesting. The thing is though THz radiation has significant issues with regards absorbtion and transmission, and is in most cases still effectively experimental.

[1] https://www.osapublishing.org/ao/abstract.cfm?uri=ao-51-6-776

[2] Think of say a liquid or gas laser, they "are easy" in that a home constructor can make them with moderate equipment. One being a nitrogen 1 atmosphere spark gap UV laser that needs little more than aluminium stock plastic sheet and an old neon sign power supply.

CallMeLateForSupperFebruary 22, 2018 2:03 PM

"US border officials haven't properly verified visitor passports for more than a decade -- because the government didn't have the proper software.

"E-passports contain a cryptographic hash of a passport holders' details, designed to make it almost impossible to forge a travel document or steal someone's identity."

So, US has been issuing the e-passport since 2007 but has never been, and is not now, able to avail itself of the e-thingie's reason for existing. Because no got software. And citizens pay an eye-watering sum for a passport that provides the same level of security as the previous and much cheaper one. This smells like an attempt at security by obscurity.

http://www.zdnet.com/article/us-border-officials-havent-been-properly-verifying-visitor-passports-for-over-a-decade/

AtAMallFebruary 22, 2018 4:15 PM

TFC

For some of us, TFC is cultural enrichment and dense reading or skimming. I got a kick, however, when I came across:

Sancho_P: "In contrast SW in NH can be made to vanish within milliseconds (attacker, make sure to block Apple’s Time Machine before meddling)."

OT
Ordering Apple hardware without a credit card may be possible with a gift card or paying cash at an Apple store. You might be able to pick-up the hardware at an Apple store, perhaps providing a photo-id. I don't know if a physical address, an email address, or an apple id would be required.

maqpFebruary 22, 2018 4:32 PM

@AtAMall:

Any networked device can be taken over by a nation state to remove whatever application sits on that. However, Roger Dingledine made an interesting point in his talk:

Anonymous updates is an awesome concept. Imagine downloading the next Debian Update, and attacker's like 'That's the target, let's give him the exploit'. Through Tor, it's a bunch of anonymous people doing anonymous updates. They can't target because there's nothing recognizable about them.

If all TFC users are unrecognizable when observing the Networked Computer running Tails, it's hard to know which user to do DoS attack on. All they can see is some random Onion Service connecting to other random Onion Services, exchanging public keys and ciphertexts. It's much better than e.g. Ricochet where despite end-to-end encryption and anonymity, observing the Networked Computer reveals content that can deanonymize the user. If anonymity is the goal, it's vital to use Tails on dedicated Networked computer, not OSX on everyday machine.

AtAMallFebruary 22, 2018 5:27 PM

@maqp

Thanks for the link.

"If anonymity is the goal, it's vital to use Tails on dedicated Networked computer, not OSX on everyday machine."

Perhaps everybody who can should run a Tor relay. First they came for ... . Might that help the TFC endeavor? I recall, however, perhaps, Dirk Praet saying something like don't run Tor relays or exit nodes on your home network.

I used to boot Tails routinely from DVD on Apple hardware wqhen surfing the web at Starbucks, libraries, or whatever. Without a VPN, of course, I stood out like a sore thumb. Lately, I have been using TENS. Currently my https://panopticlick.eff.org rating is about one in 10,000.

I like Tails and TENS because often I am too lazy to remove the HDD before surfing the web (Tails with no password; TENS perhaps w/o drivers for HDD). With TENS I don't know if I can even get to root, however, eor example, to change the wi-fi mac address.

Another topic

Question: Why not just buy, and not order, at a Apple store?
Answer: To get refurbished pricing.

Sancho_PFebruary 22, 2018 6:22 PM

@65535

Be aware that your point might be lost when you do not address all nicks in the first line of your posting due to the “100 Latest Comments” restriction.

My comment was referring to NH and your “NH [has] only encrypted packages”.
NH is networking, so the attacker may be in and try to actively attack both, RxM and TxM. This is @maqp’s scenario and I agree, it’s very likely.
Now, TxM has it’s (HW) data diode directed at NH so NH can’t reach the device.
But RxM has it’s data diode from NH to RxM, NH’s attack code would pass every protection provided, because it’s intended that bits go from NH down to RxM.
Markus seems to agree here (that means the HW data diode doesn’t help here), and therefore considers RxM as probably compromised by NH.

Only I have to disagree with this assumption (RxM vulnerable to NH attack).
The reason is:
Whatever is sent from NH, the RxM has to treat it as data input to decrypt - But never as command to change it’s code.
Even synchronizing commands from NH would not change that.

That said, to change code, compromise keys or plaintext messages the malware has to be in RxM from the very beginning, it can’t be injected via NH, it might be triggered, but chances are that innocent ciphertext would do the same when the attacker doesn’t want it.

Re your ”… exfiltration of data?”:
Yes, that would be possible with malign code on RxM (or TxM), regardless how it would be brought to execution:
The code could emit keys or plaintext via power supply or any cable / wire / copper trace using RF and AM or FM. A similar attack was reported here same days ago, couldn’t find it again, but see:
https://github.com/fulldecent/system-bus-radio

Yes, it’s close to paranoia, but it is possible, especially when the Mossad is in the flat above yours ;-)

maqpFebruary 22, 2018 6:25 PM

@AtAMall:

"Perhaps everybody who can should run a Tor relay."

This is true. However, you should not run relay on same computer that's running Onion Service, that is the Networked computer TFC runs on.

If you can, run a relay separately. That not only helps TFC and it benefits every other project too: Tor, Tor Browser, Ricochet, OnionShare, Tor Messenger etc.

Running exit nodes on network you own might or might not be a problem. So check your local laws and consider notifying LEA about it and the implications beforehand. I'm not aware of any place where running a relay node is illegal or problematic.

"I am too lazy to remove the HDD before surfing the web"

In such scenario I think I'd use FDE on that HDD. Although I would assume you've done that already.

As for the question on Apple store, I don't have an answer for you.

Sancho_PFebruary 22, 2018 6:27 PM

@maqp

You start citing from my point a) [the energy gapped work horse computer]
then adding two paragraphs re my point e) [TCB],
and then coming back to a),
so I’ll stick to point a) [the energy gapped work horse computer] now:

This work horse computer (TFC’s concept doesn’t have it) has to be deemed as compromised, so “… Chinese …” was my hint for wannabe terrorists: Don’t use it for bomb threats, if this device is found as your property you are lost!

My statement was and is: This device can’t be used for serious en/decryption.
What is your take on that?

”This level level of ignorance and disrespect isn't why I come here.”
Same here. I don’t like when your reply isn’t to the point but changes the direction, sorry.
It may be a problem between us two but I’ve no idea why it is (if).
We have to go through that or stop it.

Anyway, in your reply there is a new but disputable statement regarding a core difference, the probably compromised optocoupler:

[you cited my "It could only do what the compromised NH could also do," ]
and wrote:
”No, compromised NH could send malware to RxM through any optocoupler, but without backdoored optocoupler that on magic packet switches to bidirectional for short period of time, RxM can't send keys to NH and thus to adversary.”

How would the (now bidirectional) optocoupler:
1) Receive data from RxM when the single data wire ends at RxM’s input HW shift register, you wont get signals out there (*),
2) Make the FT232 (USB adapter) to read from it’s output, the txd pin?
and
3) Where would the code in RxM come from to send keys to NH?

(*) Pin remapping (likely requires a restart) is basically possible when using GPIO pins (bit bang serial, not high speed, depends on OS, if any), but is not possible for dedicated UART pins.

Facebook hacked?February 22, 2018 8:10 PM

There was something reported as "Breaking News" the late evening of 2018-02-22 on Seven News Australia regarding a Facebook hack related to news sites. I can't seem to find any reference to it today (2018-02-23). Has anyone found anything regarding this, or was it just "Fake News"?

I don't condone hacking, but definitely would not miss the data-mining monstrosity that is Facebook and Social Media in general. For all I know, perhaps Facebook has enough sway to keep this news - IF TRUE - from spreading. Perhaps one for some sleuths here to check out...

maqpFebruary 22, 2018 9:35 PM

"You start citing from my point--"

You really need to provide me with the sketch and role description, sort of the equivalent of Security Design wiki article. It's impossible for me to read between the lines what properties you expect your energy-gapped computer to have.

Please do not use hints like The Chinese. The connotations including what threat a country is, is not global. Be specific about what you mean.

"if this device is found as your property you are lost!"

Again, TFC rules out physical attacks including being hanged for being in possession of TFC in some autocratic nation. Creating a system small enough to be concealed is a task for someone more experienced.

"What is your take on that?"

Please also watch the pronouns. I'm not sure whether "that" refers to workhorse computer you describe in the sentence above, or TFC's split TCB. If you were talking about TFC, under it's threat model, it is secure. If you want to impose different threat model like "TFC should be physically secure and come in form of tamper proof HW", please make that clear and then we can discuss if an easy to setup, cost-effective, tamper-proof hardware is a possibility.

"I don’t like when your reply isn’t to the point but changes the direction, sorry."

I don't intentionally try to change direction, but many times I don't understand what you're saying, so I try to read your point between the lines and answer the question (as I did above in regard to "that" pronoun when I assumed it was about TFC).

I suggest in all future Friday squid blogs we abandon this meta-discussion completely and continue with making concentrate edits to the project, kind of like you'd be making pull requests. So things like

"I don't understand this concept, please explain X and Y with layman terms"
"I don't understand why you assume X"
"X could be expressed better if it said Y"
"X has a typo in it"
"X has a bug in it"

Rule of thumb being, if your point doesn't require making a quote, it probably isn't productive. It's Friday in US soon, so a new blog post is coming. Let's continue this meta-discussion under this thread until we reach conclusion so it doesn't take space elsewhere.

"Receive data from RxM when the single data wire ends at RxM’s input HW"

I assume FT232R controller on RxM's USB-to-Serial adapter can choose what the functionality of Rx-pin is. Sort of like how Raspberry Pi can choose whether GPIO is for input or output. If malware on RxM can reprogram the FT232R to transmit via Rx-pin and the single data wire back to optocoupler, it's game over.

Reasons I assume this is because it's near impossible to verify chips are not backdoored or designed/manufactured cheaply at the factory. Also I'm not sure if e.g. Raspberry Pi has hard-coded pin assignments for UART, or if the are kind of like GPIO where it can be changed at will.

"Make the FT232 (USB adapter) to read from it’s output, the txd pin?"

FT232R controller of USB-to-serial adapter that connects to NH can be reprogrammed by adversary that has taken control of NH. Optocoupler doesn't have to compromise NH.

"Where would the code in RxM come from to send keys to NH?"

From adversary who has compromised NH, and that sends it from NH through data diode.

--------

So let me try to write this open:

If it's not possible to reprogram the pin layout of USB-to-Serial, and if the galvanic connections can not be turned into covert side channel that malware can use to emit keys, then a single data wire is a secure data diode design. In any other scenario we need the optical gap. I'll illustrate this with detailed example

1. User buys USB-to-Serial adapters from local hardware store. They are cheaply made, and their Tx/Rx pins can be re-programmed for opposite function by the computer the adapter is plugged into.

2. User boots up TFC.

3. NSA remotely inserts malware into NH.

4. Malware on NH sends other piece of malware to RxM. This succeeds because any optocoupler (backdoored or not) allows traffic flow to this direction by design: RxM must be able to receive messages from network. The Malware compromises RxM with a series of low-level machine instructions, and the less privileged software like PySerial or TFC never see this malicious packet.

5. User performs local key delivery. Malware on RxM copies the local key from RAM when it's decrypted by Receiver Program (the key decryption key is manually typed by user).

Without boring into details, if this local key leaks from RxM, security of TFC falls like a deck of cards. This must be prevented.

6. Malware on RxM re-programs the USB-to-Serial adapter's FT232R via USB, so malware can send via Rx-pin towards NH at will.

7. Malware on NH re-programs the USB-to-Serial adapter's FT232R via USB, and adds read functionality to Tx-pin so it can receive from RxM at will.

Now at this point we can evaluate how exfiltration happens on data diode design

Scenario a) NH sends secret optocoupler CPU wakeup instruction and waits for data on Tx-pin. The CPU wakeup instruction makes it all the way to RxM. Malware detects the instruction and sends local key to NH via Rx-pin. Game over.

Scenario b) User orders HCPL7723 that is interdicted. The unit user receives comes with a covert CPU. Malware on NH wakes up the CPU with the secret instruction and waits for data on Tx-pin. CPU on optocoupler forwards the instruction to RxM and waits for incoming data from RxM. Malware on RxM receives the instruction, and sends the key via Rx-pin to optocoupler. Optocoupler forwards the key NH that's listening on Tx-pin. Game over.

Scenario c) User was lucky and their HCPL7723 was not backdoored: Despite badly designed FT232Rs, the optocoupler protects from exfiltration. Whether or not users should risk getting a backdoored chip, is up for a debate. Would e.g. risk-averse NSA try that?

Scenario d) User used simple components (LED and phototransistor) in place of optocoupler: since it's a practical impossibility to hide a backdoor in them, there is much more assurance but less speed. Should TFC make the trade-off with convenience over security is also up for a debate.

------

So the bit bang serial vs UART is completely new to me. I'm glad I'm learning. I'd love to hear more about it. So I could rephrase, "My concern is something like bit bang inside poorly design serial interfaces that allows remapping."

As for FT232R, this page says "In addition, asynchronous and synchronous bit bang interface modes are available." So I'm not entirely convinced even good controllers could not be changed to slow speed bit bang mode for the duration of exfiltration. For Raspberry Pi, things look better, but then again, the integrated wireless is an issue. So if Beaglebone comes with dedicated UART pins, that's a decent start for a TFC SoC project. However, I don't think it's worth the risk, considering how cheap the data diode is.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 23, 2018 6:22 AM

@ Sancho_P, maqp, others,

if this device is found as your property you are lost

This issue has been discussed here before between @Figureitout[1] and myself a while ago.

There is a standard "Optical Interface" for digital audio called TOSLINK (S/PDIF) "Optical audio" developed by Toshiba back in the early 1980's it provides a galvanicaly issolated (very important in studios) hardware layer to carry the Sony/Philips Digital Interconect Format (S/PDIF) that was normally found on the back of consumer level digital audio equipment such as CDs DVDs DATs etc using an EIA/J optical cable or RCA audio plug if using the coax version. In professional equipment you will find it using XLR connectors used for differential audio from studio mikes etc. The basic system is a simple serial protocol and the TOSLINK hardware was originally good for just over 3Mbit/s these days it's over 125Mbit/s.

You can buy interfaces for your computer and any number of inter connect boxes that will convert optical to coax of twisted pair audio. Designing and building your own is not exactly difficult, not only are the parts very cheap and plentiful, if you can build a simple AB audio amplifier from a kit of parts making the hardware is well within your capability. Likewise making any minor mods to commercial equipment.

Importantly as I said at the time using a few TOSLINK boxes making a reasonable quality Optical data diode is just put the right optical cable in the right holes and then connect the serial hardware to a couple of Raspberry Pi's etc.

The think about TOSLINK is it's ubiquitous thus not at all suspicious to have around audio equipment like Digital Audio Recorders etc.

There is a further advantage, if you do decide to "design your own" you in effect have more than one market place where it would be of interest[2][3]. Heck you could get the likes of Elektor etc to publish it as an article.


[1] @Figureitout, if you are still reading along I hope all is well with your studies.

[2] With Software Defined Radio (SDR) "comming of age" Radio Amateurs are getting seriously into digital audio in many ways. They also have an even greater need of galvanic issolation due to high level RF fields around transmitters and other "shack" equipment. Optical digital audio links would be of advantage to them as well.

[3] Similar transmitter RF issues occur at broadcast sites and special event and Outside Broadcasts, they likewise have a need for galvanic issolation with audio etc.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 23, 2018 6:57 AM

@ maqp,

So the bit bang serial vs UART is completely new to me

Where possible "bit banging serial" should be avoided due to the overhead.

That said it's done on the Raspberry Pi 3 for the serial port as the serial hardware in the Broadcom Chip is being used to do Bluetooth instead.

There are two basic ways to do bit banging which is just basically changing or checking a hardware status line bassed on time.

The first which I realy do not recomend is to write a "spin-loop" time delay subroutine that delays for the appropriate amount at the baud rate you are running at. The primary reason to not do this is the time delay routien stops the uController doing anything else whenever a serial character is sent or received.

The second is in essence the same higher level proces, however what what you are doing is setting up a timer based interupt to replace the delay subroutine, thus freeing up the uController. The interupt runs atleast two or more times faster than the serial baud rate as there is no sync clk with old school serial like RS232C. You then build software serial buffers etc and convert the signal from serial to parallel.

Back in the days of 8bit low powered micros long long before SoC's etc the uPs did not have serial hardware thus bit banging was your only choice of getting into the then ubiquitous RS232 etc etc that long long predated networking or USB.

Various uController manufactures such as MicroChip with their PIC chips had Aplication Notes you could download with the assembler code to do vit banging. Usually these are not at all difficult to re-write in either another assembler or even high level language.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bit_banging

Clive RobinsonFebruary 23, 2018 1:07 PM

@ Nick P, Wael, any astrophysicists,

Some people here along with most quantum physicists have said no with some even making debunking articles on it.

They are still correct... It's the "Times Arrow" and "speed of light" concepts that have caused denial in a qualified way in the past. But there is also the superposition issue to consider as well.

Many years ago back in the 80's I was at an event where there were various "serious" astrophysicists and in a general open questions session I asked about using "quantum entangled particles to map black holes" as at that time my understanding of "spooky action at a distance" did not preclude it. I got the times arrow and faster than the speed of light arguments that it was not possible... So I decided on a career change (neither argument applied and they could not see that). Any way I read a few years ago some French Astrophysicists were going to investigate the idea. Which is some third of a century later... (story of my life ;-)

I'd need to find/read more on this experiment but from what's been written in what you've linked to it does not effect either times arrow or the speed of light. The other argument about breaking superposition to read the information is another asspect I will have to mull over when I get something more solid to get my teeth into.

This is where we prod @Wael to chip in for another view point as he's shown interest in the subject before ;-)

Likewise any twenty something astro / physicist who has an itch to scratch, and as I know this is a big itch to have :$

JG4February 23, 2018 1:32 PM


not so far off of our recent exchange. the implication is that there could be some hybrid approach that reduces energy consumption or at least directs the expenditure in useful directions. too busy to follow Clive off the road and into the nutrition weeds, but I really liked the observations on supply chain destruction and core business processes/functions.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/02/16/a-very-brief-history-of-blockchain-technology-everyone-should-read/
...
Transition to Proof of Stake
Currently, blockchain operates on the proof of work concept where an expensive computer calculation or “mining” is done in order to create a block (or a new set of trustless transactions). Currently, when you initiate a transaction, it is bundled into a block. Then miners verify the transactions are legitimate within that block by solving a proof-of-work problem—a very difficult mathematical problem that takes an extraordinary amount of computing power to solve. The first miner to solve the problem gets a reward and then the verified transaction is stored on the blockchain. Ethereum developers are interested in changing to a new consensus system called proof of stake.
Proof of stake has the same goal as proof of work—to validate transactions and achieve consensus in the chain—and it uses an algorithm but with a different process. With proof of stake, the creator of a new block “is chosen in a deterministic way, depending on its wealth, also defined as a stake.” Since in a proof of stake system, there is no block reward, but the miners, known as forgers, get the transaction fees. Proponents of this shift, including Ethereum co-founder Buterin, like proof of stake for the energy and cost savings realized to get to a distributed form of consensus.
...

maqpFebruary 23, 2018 2:51 PM

@ Clive Robinson

This looks like a decent USB adapter for S/PDIF sender.

Alternatively, cheap sound cards seem to have TOSLINK IN and OUT, although for laptops a USB sound card with S/PIDF input should be sought. I did a quick search but didn't find one.

This could be a functional COTS solution if it's possible to write raw bytes through the sound cards. It's much more robust than the daisy-chained Ethernet-to-Fiber data didoe I constructed years ago: with FEC the $100 system had about 10Mbps of reliable throughput. 125Mbps is a big improvement.

The inconspicuousness of the HW is a huge benefit as well. As for designing my own, I'm not an EE. I would imagine this requires a USB controller that talks to the TOSLINK connector, with possibly another IC between those two. What do you think?

---

"Where possible "bit banging serial" should be avoided due to the overhead."

Agreed. The context here was malware would add that feature, and thus provide covert half-duplex exfiltration channel where UART chip bit bangs via Rx-pin.

"There are two basic ways to do bit banging which is just basically changing or checking a hardware status line bassed on time."

Could SW based line status checking with fast CPU allow covert reception of additional data via spurious pulses the normal bit banging UART receiver ignores? (Again, I'm assuming user doesn't realize their USB-to-Serial has been changed to bit banging mode)

"That said it's done on the Raspberry Pi 3 for the serial port as the serial hardware in the Broadcom Chip is being used to do Bluetooth instead."

Yet another issue for RPi3, not as bad as the wireless but still.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 23, 2018 4:02 PM

@ maqp,

As for designing my own, I'm not an EE. I would imagine this requires a USB controller that talks to the TOSLINK connector, with possibly another IC between those two. What do you think?

You are thinking "too big" all you want is an XLR S/PDIF to TOSLINK converter electronics. If you have a look through this document,

https://whitefiles.org/b1_s/1_free_guides/fg1mt/pgs/h13f.htm

Likewise but a little more technical,

http://www.rane.com/note149.html

They tell you nearly everything you need to know about S/PDIF formats etc including interface electronics for all but TOSLINK.

So they will give you what you need to know at the basic level to understand what is going on with,

http://www.beis.de/Elektronik/ADDA24QS/AD24QS.html

Scan down to TOSLINK where it talks about the S/PDIF transmitter chip and then look on the cct diagram after it for the parts to see what you are aiming to replicate.

You can also see a coax to optical converter (half of what you need) here,

http://www.taligentx.com/projects/opticalconverter/

The receiver is not much different.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 23, 2018 4:40 PM

@ maqp,

Could SW based line status checking with fast CPU allow covert reception of additional data via spurious pulses the normal bit banging UART receiver ignores?

It does not need to be spurious pulses, just edge jitter, or shifting sending individua characters in time to set up a covert channel. All of which would be ignored by a usual hardware UART or bit-bang software equivalent.

Such tricks can escape easily through "efficient systems" because they are effectively transparant to various time based side channels[1]. Prof Matt Blaze and some of his students wrote up a nice little paper[2]. You should also be aware that "forward paths become reverse paths with error correction"[3] and thus alow access back through various Data Diodes that mistakenly support standard ACK/NAK type Error Correction. Thus you should where possible use Forward Error Correction and just swallow the bandwidth and coding costs, but if you want High Reliability / Availability you've got trade offs to make, that can compramise security.

[1] I've repeatedly mentioned that a TEMPEST design rule is "Clock the inputs and Clock the outputs" as it kills quite a few time based side channels.

[2] http://www.crypto.com/papers/jbug-Usenix06-final.pdf

[3] Ultimately even FEC will let you down such is the nature of "Murphy's Law" and you will need a reverse error correction channel. This can be as part of the system or just flashing up "Comms Failure" to the user. If done as part of the system via ACK/NAK you need to do it in as a low bandwidth way as possible. Thus don't ACK chars or even blocks but whole transactions (messages / files), and remember another TEMPEST design rule "Fail hard, fail long". Which further reduces the error channel bandwidth, however it is not enough to kill the reverse channel. Thus prefereably make the "long" independently "random" as with care you can disrupt any reverse channel timing an attacker can make, thus killing the channel timing wise from their point of view, however it does not stop other types of side channel but with other modifications they can be killed as well to the point the usable reverse channel bandwidth to an attacker can be just one bit a day or less.

Sancho_PFebruary 23, 2018 6:33 PM

@maqp, Clive Robinson

I’m really desperate, I do not understand what’s going on?
I was quoted by both of you, and you both commented completely different - but as I understand with no context to my paragraph with the quoted snippet:
My “if this device is found as your property you are lost!”
was re (terrorist’s) workhorse computer (TFC doesn’t have that).
Anyway, I can’t understand everything, may this be part of it :-(

Re UART, bit bang, port/pin remapping:
- @maqp, I did not find what I think to be a simple UART introduction, but if you want I’ll search again or prepare a short info, please tell me.
- Bit bang, as @Clive wrote, is only the last resort if the chip has just GPI/O, no HW UART, e.g. the 8-pin DIP ATtiny series. It needs a lot of SW overhead, is slow, but possible. Not fit for productivity.

- Port/pin remapping is a (relatively new) feature of modern, sophisticated chips to help to improve the printed board design with high pin count chips. So this feature (or danger) depends on the used HW.

For the RasPi 3 one can use the full (good) UART when Bluetooth is not needed at the serial pins (14/15) and doesn’t have to use the mini UART (somewhat restricted). As I understand pins can’t be remapped, input is input, output is output:
https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/configuration/uart.md

For the WiFi and Bluetooth, you can disable it, and I’d suggest not to only trust but also (RF) test it’s off. A relatively simple detector would do, @Clive Robinson? Maybe it should be added permanently to a TCB.

I don’t know much re BeagleBone Black, there are 5+1/2 dedicated UARTS, but due to the very flexible design (PRU-ICSS) likely with port/pin remapping.
This is not a simple uController board, it’s a full Board Computer.

Re FT232 chip, there are several versions, and FTDI has a (Win$$ only) utility to program certain options, but there is no pin mapping (simple chip).
See the User Guide for the FTDI FT_PROG Utility:
http://www.ftdichip.com/Support/Documents/AppNotes/AN_124_User_Guide_For_FT_PROG.pdf

Yes, you could bit bang I/O pins on CBUS and DBUS, but pin 30 (TXD) is always output, and pin2 (RXD) is always input, no remapping.
See point 3.4 at the FT232R full data sheet:
http://www.ftdichip.com/Support/Documents/DataSheets/ICs/DS_FT232R.pdf

I agree, the HW has to be vetted thoroughly before integrating a system.

So, a single data wire is a secure data diode design, @maqp’s scenario stops at point 1.
The second stop would be at the RXD input connection of RxM if (!) the right HW is chosen, and a third stop should be the UART function together with RxM SW reading data from buffer.

However, from my point of view it is mandatory to insert an optocoupler into the serial data line and to separate the supply voltage between independently supplied devices.
It will enforce the data diode as a nice side effect, and you may call it so because it is, but at first it’s purpose is to break the triple dangerous GND supply path (first for unintended damage, second for data corruption, third for data leaking).

Now @Clive Robinson was again pointing at TOSLINK, and I have played with that system years ago. Of course the tremendous advantage is the increased distance of the optical separator, and it is both, fast and reliable.
On the other hand it needs the (thin) optical wire/cable in your suitcase (I’m not saying it shouldn’t be “found as your property”, as you may be a studio technician), while the simple USB cable is ubiquitous.
However I do not know of a simple (to inspect), ready and cheap solution to bring USB to TOSLINK and back (preferred via serial) to USB as it was required by @maqp’s TFC project.
USB to TOSLINK audio is easy, but …

WaelFebruary 23, 2018 9:10 PM

@Clive Robinson, @Nick P,

So, I said we should be able to use entanglement to communicate by each side manipulating their photon in ways noticeable to other side

Maybe, maybe not. The article doesn't demonstrate the claim.

maqpFebruary 23, 2018 10:26 PM

@Clive Robinson

Thanks, I'll look into the articles you linked as soon as I can. TFC's documentation is taking a most of my free time at the moment.

I'm aware of the ACK/NAK backdoor risk. IIRC you or @Nick P mentioned the problems US Navy Network Pump has had: it's a tough problem to fix and mostly impossible for me at this budget. Related: I found an interesting historical post.

The current Reed-Solomon erasure code seems to work well, and is tweakable from TFC settings, if user encounters lots of errors.

I've also been thinking about adding per-session packet numbering that when properly designed, would make error fixing reliable, but semi-automatic.

So when multiple packets from Source Computer (TxM) fail during transit to Networked Computer, instead of "Comms Failure", Relay Program on Networked Computer would display

"ERROR: Packets 12355-12359 were not received properly. Resend with command /rs 12355-12359"

(/rs stands for resend from Source Computer)

Relay program knows which packets failed because the first that didn't had packet number 12360, and the "previous valid packet" counter was at 12354. Once user issues the command to Transmitter Program, it resends the specified packets to Relay Program, that processes those packets first, followed by all the cached packets like 12360, and finally it continues processing packets from Source Computer.

If an error happens between Networked Computer and Destination Computer, Receiver Program displays

"ERROR: Packet 12361 was not received properly. Resend with command /rn 12361"

(/rn stands for resend from Networked Computer)

This sends Relay Program a command that resends the failed packet to Destination Computer. And again, Receiver Program is able to process packets in correct order.

The main problem I see here is, resend command numbering might get complex or confuse user. Also caching ciphertexts to HDD might not be a good idea, and filling RAM might have different problems, especially if the session lasts very long.

One solution for RAM filling, would be some command e.g. /clearcache that would send encrypted command to Receiver Program, and unencrypted command to Relay Program.

When Relay and Receiver Programs receive the command, they will display the most recent packet number, e.g. 12366 and a checksum. This value 12366 reflects the fact that the Program knows it has received all packets 0..12366 during that session.

User types e.g. /cs 12366 checksum

(/cs stands for clear from Source Computer)

This causes Transmitter Program to remove all cached packets that no longer need to be resent.

Similarly "/cn 12366 checksum" would send a command to Networked Computer that clears packets cached in case they need to be retransmitted to Destination Computer.

none of this is currently implemented, but there's plenty of upstream development the next release is waiting so I might look into this, unless me or someone else spots a problem or comes up with a better solution.

maqpFebruary 23, 2018 10:50 PM

@Sancho_P

"For the WiFi and Bluetooth, you can disable it, and I’d suggest not to only trust but also (RF) test it’s off."

If Destination Computer can receive malware, that malware can covertly switch the Wifi on for the duration of exfiltration.

"but at first it’s purpose is to break the triple dangerous GND supply path (first for unintended damage, second for data corruption, third for data leaking)."

I'll have to read through the specs. However, there probably isn't discussion on topics such as "this is how we made sure nation state can't reprogram TxD/RxD purpose although we didn't include API for user to do that, like we did with CBUS/DBUS". So what it's meant to do is different from what it could do. You'd need to review the firmware and VLSI masks to have proof on the fact it can't be compromised: Specs aren't enough.

If the single wire data diode design is secure, why do you think there's a chance that data might leak?

I'll reply more in depth after I get some sleep.

maqpFebruary 23, 2018 11:46 PM

@Clive Robinson

I gave it a bit more thought and realized the retransmission command feature has a major covert channel.

Say malware on Destination Computer reads first byte of a sensitive key: 0xFF.
It then waits until it's supposed to receive the packet number 255, drops the packet and Receiver Program displays on the arrival of next packet: "Warning: Did not receive packet 255".

User types command /rn 255, which is is delivered to Networked computer for packet
retransmission. Malware on Networked Computer is now in possession of the first byte. It only needs to repeat it 32 times over 32 sessions. Actual errors introduce noise but most likely not enough to protect the key.

---

As for the network pump, long time ago I wrote about this relay-controlled flip-flop circuit that carries single bit (ACK signal) to Source Computer. This is actually not needed since Source computer is assumed to be clean, and single ACK/NAK bit isn't going to be interpreted malicously by Source Computer. The Network Pump works ideally in cases like this, where data flow is towards more less secure machine.

However, it's impossible to verify Networked Computer that talks to Destination Computer is actually using the ACK/NAK signal for the correct purpose: Malware on receiver side might just drop the packets so that ACK-NACK replies encode the key to malware on less secure side. So my conjecture is that because the ACK channel can be repurposed by malware on both Tx and Rx side, provably secure ACK channel isn't possible in systems where one-way flow is towards more secure machines.

So no feature where Receiver Program is able to determine plaintext information that Networked Computer sees, can be added.

Sancho_PFebruary 24, 2018 6:05 PM

@maqp

Re WiFi and Bluetooth I think we again do not understand each other, never mind.

But your reply to it starts with ”If Destination Computer can receive malware”, and this is the point I still challenge, as I see it, it can not, until ....

My take is, some malware has to be already installed on RxM from the very beginning, because a properly working TFC read from buffer would receive data but not interpret any byte as machine instruction, let alone aggregate them to form a valid executable and then start it (if the HW would allow that at all …).

You have superficially answered that [= how can malware be received by RxM from NH via serial?] several times before in similar context (as I understood), at last as something “beyond level of TFC or Pyserial”:
”Decryption is done by TFC, not by the lower level components. Machine instructions can be added, interpreted and removed at lower level TFC or Pyserial never sees.”

This hints (as I see it) exactly at malware being on RxM plus (or below) TFC and Pyserial.

Thus the “if RxM can receive malware” is either inappropriate, to avoid, because it can not,
or we must assume that also on TxM is some malware installed from the very beginning.

Sorry for my persistence, but this point is to serious for me to dismiss, so I ask you for a deeper thought and answer.

***

Re: Single wire data diode, leaking

So let’s assume we connect two devices (computers) directly using only one part (TXD to RXD or vice versa) of COM ports and it's GND (as it was possible in the past).

First, the term “data” was bad, misleading, didn’t want to hint at keymat or plaintext exfiltration, I think (but do not know) this wouldn’t be possible.
Better would have been “information”, like clock frequency, load (activity) and involved components (classical side channel attack).

Second, although exploitation is basically possible with one single wire between the two devices (because of short distance and the high frequency pulses being the information carrier), we always have two wires, signal and GND.
For NH to RxM that means that NH (as being the output, driving the signal line) can watch the signal line in 0 and in 1 status in respect to GND and check for differences in noise information in both states.

Third (as I still see TxM / RxM as portable TCBs), in case NH is a specially prepared device, it could also set the data line above the nominal signal value, until the RxM protection diode for that pin allows a small current into the supply of the TCB. This may give even more direct information regarding internals and operation of the TCB device.

Conclusion: Any galvanic connection must be avoided, transmission “over the air” is bad enough.

65535February 25, 2018 9:51 PM

@ maqp. Sancho-P, JG4, Clive R. and others.

I was going to start on the TFC project but I am injured. I have to heal for a while. I’ll pick up the project after that.

maqpMarch 3, 2018 5:14 AM

@Sancho_P

"My take is, some malware has to be already installed on RxM from the very beginning"

But that's kind of pointless. If you're going to target some system, pre-compromise the TxM. That computer can output keys at any point.

I'll try different approach to justify my detail-agnostic reasoning:

The difference between vulnerability and backdoor is whether the weakness was placed into the system intentionally. The difference between infected and clean system is whether the system has malware that actively tries to steal keys. You can insert malware through vulnerability and a backdoor. RxM probably doesn't have backdoors, but I must assume it will always have a vulnerability that allows malware insertion via serial. This malware can then perform arbitrary commands.

It's hard to argue about whether or not my assumption has basis over specs. While yes, you can sometimes spot vulnerabilities by reading specs specs (e.g. "this chip uses bit banging by default"), that doesn't mean chips with non-bit banging UART are not reprogrammable. This can only be proven/disproven with VLSI masks, but since thats not a possibility, I should just assume it's vulnerable.

So to be more clear: I have interest in hearing and speculating how attack can be done / prevented, but I don't want to ignore the potential vulnerability just because I don't have the resources to prove it exists, especially when I have the resources (cheap data diode) to prevent compromise in case it does exist.

One argument for the possibility of hidden feature is chips often don't do what they could and manufacturers aren't advertising the fact they have put restrictions on them. E.g. Intel puts restrictions to create artificial differentiation between their chips, so that they can sell the same chip to different customers with different features for different price.

"Better would have been “information”, like clock frequency, load (activity)"

Ah so this is why you think data diode is needed. I agree. Common grounds etc can form a side channel that leaks information.

So would "Data diode prevents simple and differential power analysis attacks via shared wiring. It also guarantees serial interfaces (e.g. vulnerable UART design and cheap ones that resort in bit banging) can not remap pins to form covert return channels." be a better way to justify using the data diode?

@65535:

Sad to hear that. Get well soon!

Sancho_PMarch 3, 2018 9:55 AM

@maqp

Let me start with your last point first:

b1)
”Data diode prevents … power analysis” - It is the galvanic isolation (tangible hardware) that prevents …
The data diode is functional (intangible), it is the not existent back channel, because there is only a single coupler in a single data line.

Why not rephrase it to “The galvanic isolation in the data diode prevents … and: The single data path guarantees data flow in only one direction, from input to output of the diode.”?
[Mind you: I don’t know how you will mechanically design it, but with 2 different data diodes (USB to serial and serial to USB) it will be mandatory to mark then in any way as to not confuse them!]

- But it’s not only power analysis (the side channel attack).
It is a protection against maliciously sent spikes to hurt or destabilize a security device. System integrity is paramount, any attempt to externally probe safety limits / change registers (program counter) or to enforce a reboot must be prevented.

- The galvanic isolation also acts as a very general but mandatory EMF protection (different power supplies, static discharges by touching plugs, sockets) or against malfunction in connected devices.
Most chips are somewhat internally protected, but our world is analog:
There are myriad’s of states between 0 and 1, between bad and good.
Only our digital world often (intentionally) doesn’t tell you where you are, how close to good or to fail.
[There was a kind of discussion where I insisted on life zero in serial transmission, do you remember?]

Repeated spikes may damage chip protection (diodes), the effect is accumulating. Finally, much later, this will cause malfunction and errors (esp. together with increased chip temperature) in an unpredictable manner, from semi-random events to static fault (the simple case).

[Same goes for supply voltage: Special care has to be taken to prevent spikes and glitches as well as slowly probing the limits, from DC to AC (ripple).
All forms of external energy may have influence and likely cause / trigger malfunction.]

-> For a security device it is unacceptable to rely on general chip protection only.

b2)
”It also guarantees serial interfaces (e.g. vulnerable UART design and cheap ones that resort in bit banging) can not remap pins to form covert return channels.”
I’m not happy with that, to me it’s an indiscriminating mixture of technical terms.
“serial interfaces …can not remap pins” - Serial interface is a technical term but not capable of changing IO-matrix content.
Vulnerable UART design - That may be but is far away from bit banging.

What you likely want to say is that the single optocoupler prevents any possible backwards data flow, even if the dedicated pins (their function) on both devices, RxM and NH, would be maliciously remapped to reverse their data flow direction.
A single wire would not do that. [What did I mean by “that”?]


a1)
”If you're going to target some system, …”
Markus, I think you try to avoid the core of the question by waving your arms.
The question was re “if RxM can receive malware” AND the fact that any data diode (simple coupler or 2 m of TOSLINK) would not help if it basically can.

The physical data diode is no remedy against a “RxM can receive malware via serial” flaw, your (old) reasoning for the use of a data diode is simply wrong.

It is the classical chicken and egg issue.
I’ll back to it later when the sun is down and I had some of the red stuff, you know ;-).

Sancho_PMarch 3, 2018 4:24 PM

@maqp

ad a1)
Re introducing malware through data input, consider an example:
You, sitting in the cardboard box from your newly delivered dryer, are the cryptor.
You’d receive plaintext through a small slit, ROT13 it and push it out through the slit on the other side.
But, after hours of operation, suddenly the plaintext is: “Markus, get out now, we’ve got some candy for you”.
Would you still ROT13 it or open the box?
Are you infected or clean?
-> The malware has to be in there to change the cryptor’s function by input data.

a2)
I think we should stick to strictly technical points, but:
“Vulnerability versus backdoor” - Um, the intention is something we could never proof. Although a complete, sophisticated backdoor likely is not a simple blunder, to leave some “debug” hooks in the final release might be a mistake.
Again, intention is something in the brain, we can’t proof it for sure.

But while a vulnerability could open some unexpected side channel attack, a backdoor requires a specially crafted function to be effective.

To come back to your “insert malware through vulnerability” you need to have a special function ("open the box") behind a vulnerability.
A scary example would be an unexpected reset (think as caused by an EMF attack), and now, on this uncontrolled restart out of a sudden, the chip / device / computer would turn to the serial data port and happily wait for commands or a boot code from that interface.

Would you call that a vulnerability or a backdoor?
Or is it a simple design blunder?

So:
- Turn that cardboard box over or set it on fire - That’s the way to go.
No data diode, not even two in series, would help now, game over.

a3)
For the malicious manufacturer: They are glad if the things behave as intended, most do not. This is the danger.
But I’m with you to avoid likely compromised design respectively to keep all eggs in one basket, especially if we have to assume it’s leaking.

Why only use the known ones?
Have e.g. a look at the ESP32 from Shanghai based Espressif Systems, which is a powerful new SoC with good documentation and an extremely active (amusingly IoT) international community. Check it out!

And don’t be afraid of WiFi and Bluetooth, because:
What is known to be there is not the problem, on the contrary, we can only control what we know.

ESP32:
https://www.espressif.com/en/products/hardware/esp32/overview
and cheap dev kit
(the ESP32 is in the small shielded box with antenna):
https://www.espressif.com/en/products/hardware/esp32-devkitc/overview

maqpMarch 3, 2018 9:21 PM

@Sancho_P:

If you want to talk about tangible hardware, the data diode is the hardware device that enforces unidirectional flow of information.

The troublesome part is the same circuit board contains two optocouplers so one could think it contains two data diodes.

The galvanic isolation does not enforce unidirectionality. Think capacitors. They provide galvanic isolation and block DC, but not AC.

The casing is something I haven't given too much thought yet. The current one mainly protects the brittle connections between main board and TTL adapters. (Backside has one connector for Networked Computer). It doesn't prevent user from connecting it the wrong way though. One option is to use different USB connectors for each device.

"It is a protection against maliciously sent spikes to hurt or destabilize a security device."

There was a heated debate about this on /r/netsec long time ago when I posted an older version there. I'll mention this as part of DoS attack vectors against Destination Computer.

Galvanic isolation can provide EMF protection but for this project, the HW casing doesn't allow that. Let's get back to this topic the day consumers have access to 3D metal printers we can create schematics for or if/when some ORWL-like computer features isolation.

"For a security device it is unacceptable to rely on general chip protection only."

There's a lot the HW setup leaves to hope for regarding electrical protection. Do you think there's resonable steps the user can take besides disconnecting charger and using the optoisolator approach?


b2) My bad, I should have said serial controllers, not serial interfaces.

a1) "The question was re “if RxM can receive malware” AND the fact that any data diode (simple coupler or 2 m of TOSLINK) would not help if it basically can."

You said: "This hints (as I see it) exactly at malware being on RxM plus (or below) TFC and Pyserial. Thus the “if RxM can receive malware” is either inappropriate, to avoid, because it can not, or we must assume that also on TxM is some malware installed from the very beginning."

To me it seems you're saying RxM must be precompromised to receive instructions from attacker on NH. Or alternatively, RxM that is not infected can not be compromised from NH, but compromised TxM can compromise RxM through encrypted packets?

This isn't the case. I'm saying, we don't have to care about whether TxM compromises RxM with encrypted packets, because if TxM has malware that can do that, it can instead just exfiltrate keys and it's game over. So I'm always assuming TxM was not compromised. Because if it is impossible to setup TxM without infecting it, it's impossible to create any system that doesn't exfiltrate it's keys to attacker. The age of secure communication with computers would be over. Let's focus on NH and RxM as they are a bit different. RxM can always receive malware from NH because it always needs to receive ciphertexts from network. I don't want to pluck all holes that allows the NSA to do that. I'll never win that game. Instead I assume RxM has been compromised. And then I mitigate: I prevent that malware from exfiltrating data. This is done by a) removing all covert channels that could leak data from RxM to NH (or nearby devices), and b) by preventing reverse flow of data through data diode. But now you're saying

"if RxM can receive malware, no data diode helps"

Assuming all covert channels are removed by user, how can malware on RxM exfiltrate malware through data diode?

---

RE: cardboard box example

No it's more like there's a bunch programs passing copies of data from one another. Each of those has a potential buffer overflow vulnerability. Each of those points could theoretically overwrite memory and make RxM run arbitrary code injected through serial interface.

In your cardboard example that would be like receiving too long message through the slit, and accidentally writing the "get out now," part of received message to the TODO list next to the paper used for received message, because that original paper ran out of space.

a2)
We don't need to concern ourselves with proving whether the vulnerability is an intentional backdoor or unintentional bug. The vulnerability that allows buffer overflow is there anyway, and that allows the intentional exploiting of said vulnerability. My point is, as the attacker, you don't have to backdoor a system when every system contains vulnerabilities you can exploit. As a defender using TFC, you don't need to prevent insertion of malware. You just need to prevent the delivered payload from exfiltrating data. That's much easier compared to fixing all vulnerabilities.

"you need to have a special function."

If the vulnerability is "program writes to unauthorized memory regions when it receives too long data", when the program or some other program then reads from the memory containing attacker's data, that program will execute the special function from attacker. Again, there is no separate memory for programs and separate memory for data. I'm not an expert at this topic but I know it's possible.

I don't think uncontrolled reset would change the way it fundamentally functions, but reset can change security credentials. e.g. shorting clear CMOS pins reset BIOS passwords. UV light can clear EPROM chips etc. But as for e.g. over voltage, unless some manufacturer is really lazy and uses same controller for USB surge protection testing devices and TTL adapters, the chances attacker is able to add functionality for 200V spike generator are very low, especially when the spike is most likely generated by dedicated components, not by the IC.

"An unexpected (e.g. EMF attack) would make RxM wait for commands or a boot code from that interface. No data diode, not even two in series, would help now, game over."

What? Attack on RxM could make RxM wait for boot code? Sure, but what about after that? Again, Data diode does not prevent infection of RxM. It prevents malware from exfiltrating data from RxM back to NH.

"And don’t be afraid of WiFi and Bluetooth -- we can only control what we know."

These are a contradiction. There's no way to know if malware on RxM enables wifi and exfiltrates data. I don't think I'll never bring support for TFC on devices that has unremovable wireless interface. Just to be on the safe side.

Sancho_PMarch 4, 2018 5:27 PM

@maqp

We’re going in circles, wasting time, our thinking is too different.
I’m off here, sorry.
Anyway, good luck with your project!

maqpMarch 5, 2018 3:06 AM

@Sancho_P

Yes it unfortunately appears to be the case. I really hope you improve on what you feel this project ignores and write about the design so I can learn. Best of luck to you as well!

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