Entries Tagged "secret sharing"

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The Whisper Secret-Sharing App Exposed Locations

This is a big deal:

Whisper, the secret-sharing app that called itself the “safest place on the Internet,” left years of users’ most intimate confessions exposed on the Web tied to their age, location and other details, raising alarm among cybersecurity researchers that users could have been unmasked or blackmailed.


The records were viewable on a non-password-protected database open to the public Web. A Post reporter was able to freely browse and search through the records, many of which involved children: A search of users who had listed their age as 15 returned 1.3 million results.


The exposed records did not include real names but did include a user’s stated age, ethnicity, gender, hometown, nickname and any membership in groups, many of which are devoted to sexual confessions and discussion of sexual orientation and desires.

The data also included the location coordinates of the users’ last submitted post, many of which pointed back to specific schools, workplaces and residential neighborhoods.

Or homes. I hope people didn’t confess things from their bedrooms.

Posted on March 12, 2020 at 6:30 AMView Comments

DNI Wants Research into Secure Multiparty Computation

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is soliciting proposals for research projects in secure multiparty computation:

Specifically of interest is computing on data belonging to different—potentially mutually distrusting—parties, which are unwilling or unable (e.g., due to laws and regulations) to share this data with each other or with the underlying compute platform. Such computations may include oblivious verification mechanisms to prove the correctness and security of computation without revealing underlying data, sensitive computations, or both.

My guess is that this is to perform analysis using data obtained from different surveillance authorities.

Posted on July 7, 2017 at 6:20 AMView Comments

DNSSEC Root Key Split Among Seven People

The DNSSEC root key has been divided among seven people:

Part of ICANN’s security scheme is the Domain Name System Security, a security protocol that ensures Web sites are registered and “signed” (this is the security measure built into the Web that ensures when you go to a URL you arrive at a real site and not an identical pirate site). Most major servers are a part of DNSSEC, as it’s known, and during a major international attack, the system might sever connections between important servers to contain the damage.

A minimum of five of the seven keyholders—one each from Britain, the U.S., Burkina Faso, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, China, and the Czech Republic—would have to converge at a U.S. base with their keys to restart the system and connect everything once again.

That’s a secret sharing scheme they’re using, most likely Shamir’s Secret Sharing.
We know the names of some of them.

Paul Kane—who lives in the Bradford-on-Avon area—has been chosen to look after one of seven keys, which will ‘restart the world wide web’ in the event of a catastrophic event.

Dan Kaminsky is another.

I don’t know how they picked those countries.

Posted on July 28, 2010 at 11:12 AMView Comments

Security Through Obscurity

Sometimes security through obscurity works:

Yes, the New York Police Department provided an escort, but during more than eight hours on Saturday, one of the great hoards of coins and currency on the planet, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was utterly unalarmed as it was bumped through potholes, squeezed by double-parked cars and slowed by tunnel-bound traffic during the trip to its fortresslike new vault a mile to the north.

In the end, the move did not become a caper movie.

“The idea was to make this as inconspicuous as possible,” said Ute Wartenberg Kagan, executive director of the American Numismatic Society. “It had to resemble a totally ordinary office move.”


Society staff members were pledged to secrecy about the timing of the move, and “we didn’t tell our movers what the cargo was until the morning of,” said James McVeigh, operations manager of Time Moving and Storage Inc. of Manhattan, referring to the crew of 20 workers.

From my book Beyond Fear, pp. 211-12:

At 3,106 carats, a little under a pound and a half, the Cullinan Diamond was the largest uncut diamond ever discovered. It was extracted from the earth at the Premier Mine, near Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905. Appreciating the literal enormity of the find, the Transvaal government bought the diamond as a gift for King Edward VII. Transporting the stone to England was a huge security problem, of course, and there was much debate on how best to do it. Detectives were sent from London to guard it on its journey. News leaked that a certain steamer was carrying it, and the presence of the detectives confirmed this. But the diamond on that steamer was a fake. Only a few people knew of the real plan; they packed the Cullinan in a small box, stuck a three-shilling stamp on it, and sent it to England anonymously by unregistered parcel post.

This is a favorite story of mine. Not only can we analyze the complex security system intended to transport the diamond from continent to continent—the huge number of trusted people involved, making secrecy impossible; the involved series of steps with their associated seams, giving almost any organized gang numerous opportunities to pull off a theft—but we can contrast it with the sheer beautiful simplicity of the actual transportation plan. Whoever came up with it was really thinking—and thinking originally, boldly, and audaciously.

This kind of counterintuitive security is common in the world of gemstones. On 47th Street in New York, in Antwerp, in London: People walk around all the time with millions of dollars’ worth of gems in their pockets. The gemstone industry has formal guidelines: If the value of the package is under a specific amount, use the U.S. Mail. If it is over that amount but under another amount, use Federal Express. The Cullinan was again transported incognito; the British Royal Navy escorted an empty box across the North Sea to Amsterdam—where the diamond would be cut—while famed diamond cutter Abraham Asscher actually carried it in his pocket from London via train and night ferry to Amsterdam.

Posted on June 18, 2008 at 1:13 PMView Comments

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.