Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Silent Circle Brings Encryption to the Masses

This is great news for dissidents, journalists and freedom loving people every where.  Bad news for big-brother style governments.

I suspect the US Federal Government - which announced today that Drone Strikes that target US Citizens are "Legal, Ethical & Wise" - will not be a fan of this new technology.  Had the Bush Administration published a DOJ Memo declaring Drone Strikes on US Citizens Legal I doubt the my liberal friends would be gazing at their navels like they are today.  When their Messiah, Barack Obama adds another US Citizens to his Kill List the feel warm and fuzzy.  Of course, when George W. Bush ordered such individuals water-boarded or captured and interrogated he was a war criminal.  When their Messiah, Barack Obama kills those folks with Drone Strikes the navel gazers stand silent.

Regardless of the political side-show, the new encryption apps Silent Circle authored will save lives and cause big-brother governments great heart burn.  An app like this arms dissidents in brutal dictatorships in the middle east, Africa and elsewhere with a powerful new weapon of truth. 

A more robust version of this tool - capable of handling larger files - might be the used on IPD and BIM projects where security is a real concern.  Regardless, it looks like a real game changer.

Below is an excerpt and a link to the full article.
The technology uses a sophisticated peer-to-peer encryption technique that allows users to send encrypted files of up to 60 megabytes through a “Silent Text” app. The sender of the file can set it on a timer so that it will automatically “burn”—deleting it from both devices after a set period of, say, seven minutes. Until now, sending encrypted documents has been frustratingly difficult for anyone who isn’t a sophisticated technology user, requiring knowledge of how to use and install various kinds of specialist software. What Silent Circle has done is to remove these hurdles, essentially democratizing encryption. It’s a game-changer that will almost certainly make life easier and safer for journalists, dissidents, diplomats, and companies trying to evade state surveillance or corporate espionage. Governments pushing for more snooping powers, however, will not be pleased. 
By design, Silent Circle’s server infrastructure stores minimal information about its users. The company, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., doesn’t retain metadata (such as times and dates calls are made using Silent Circle), and IP server logs showing who is visiting the Silent Circle website are currently held for only seven days. The same privacy-by-design approach will be adopted to protect the security of users’ encrypted files. When a user sends a picture or document, it will be encrypted, digitally “shredded” into thousands of pieces, and temporarily stored in a “Secure Cloud Broker” until it is transmitted to the recipient. Silent Circle, which charges $20 a month for its service, has no way of accessing the encrypted files because the “key” to open them is held on the users’ devices and then deleted after it has been used to open the files. Janke has also committed to making the source code of the new technology available publicly “as fast as we can,” which means its security can be independently audited by researchers. 
The cryptographers behind this innovation may be the only ones who could have pulled it off. The team includes Phil Zimmermann, the creator of PGP encryption, which is still considered the standard for email security; Jon Callas, the man behind Apple’s whole-disk encryption, which is used to secure hard drives in Macs across the world; and Vincent Moscaritolo, a top cryptographic engineer who previously worked on PGP and for Apple. Together, their combined skills and expertise are setting new standards—with the results already being put to good use.


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