LavaBit Relaunches

LavabitFriends, back in 2013, we told you about how Ladar Levison, founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit, took the defiant step of shutting down the company’s service rather than comply with a federal law enforcement request that could compromise its customers’ communications.  The FBI had sought access to the email account of one of Lavabit’s most prominent users — Edward Snowden. Levison had custody of his service’s SSL encryption key that could help the government obtain Snowden’s password. And though the feds insisted they were only after Snowden’s account, the key would have helped them obtain the credentials for other users as well.  Rather than undermine the trust and privacy of his users, Levison ended the company’s email service entirely, preventing the feds from getting access to emails stored on his servers. But the company’s users lost access to their accounts as well.  Levison, who became a hero of the privacy community for his tough stance, has spent the last three years trying to ensure he’ll never have to help the feds break into customer accounts again.

Lavabit is relaunching with a new architecture that fixes the SSL problem and includes other privacy-enhancing features as well, such as one that obscures the metadata on emails to prevent government agencies like the NSA and FBI from being able to find out with whom Lavabit users communicate. He’s also announcing plans to roll out end-to-end encryption later this year, which would give users an even more secure way to send email.  The new service addresses what has become a major fault line between tech companies and the government: the ability to demand backdoor access to customer data. Last year when the FBI sought access to an iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter, Apple couldn’t get into the phone because the security scheme the company built in to the device prevented it from unlocking the phone without the shooter’s password. (Eventually, the FBI found another way to access the phone’s data, ending the dispute with Apple.)

SOURCE – The Intercept

Carnegie Mellon researchers visualize way to fend off DDoS attacks

Friends, this is some cool tech… Carnegie Mellon’s CyLab Security and Privacy Institute is touting research that provides visualization of the reams of network traffic data (i.e., IP addresses and time stamps) that IT and security analysts typically examine. This makes it easier to spot DDoS patterns.  “Visualization is one way to change abstract data into pictures, sound, and videos so you can see patterns in a very intuitive way”, so says Senior Systems Scientist Yang Cai of CyLab’s Visual Intelligence Studio.  Check out a demonstration below…

SOURCE: NetworkWorld.com

What’s Your Vulnerability Index With A Smart Gun?

SmartGunError-298522_200x200Smart gun entrepreneurs have found that applying delicate smartphone tech onto rugged steel and polymer weapons, and making it work in harsh environments, is harder than writing an Angry Birds app. Despite threats from the federal government under Bill Clinton, state legislative mandates and even Silicon Valley investments, there is currently no reliable, affordable smart gun—after 30 years of trying.

Failing to persuade consumers into desiring smart guns, the Obama administration is now trying a new tactic; they want to force the Department of Defense to buy smart guns. They have asked the DOD to set standards and come up with a timetable for adoption. They hope that using the massive purchasing power of the federal government will “change the gun culture,” and that the military’s adoption will spur consumer interest.

In other words, to achieve its political ends, the administration wants to impose a new, unreliable, unproven, expensive technology onto those whose lives depend upon functioning firearms.

This is like testing a brand-new laptop computer by bolting it into the space shuttle. Check that; it’s more like bolting it onto the space shuttle.

Firearms were the first high-tech industry. (Beretta, the oldest continually operating company in the world, has an invoice to the city of Venice for cannon barrels from the 16th century.) Today’s guns are the product of centuries of development in design, materials science, engineering, tooling, propellants and metallurgy. They operate reliably in extreme heat or cold, in sand, mud, even after being submerged. They can be dropped, sat on, stepped on and bled on, and they still function. They can sit for years and, with a touch of maintenance, will operate perfectly. They have a useful lifespan measured in decades, if not centuries.

Now, let’s consider smart phones, the technology that inspires favorable comparisons from smart gun promoters. My iPhone is such a wonder of technology, its battery exhausts itself just trying to make it to lunch. If I drop it in water, I have to take it apart and let it dry; In fact, if a drop of water even falls on the screen, it goes into a coma. Its touch-ID technology is ideal under ideal conditions, but it doesn’t work if my thumb has even a smidge of grime on it. If I wash my hands, it won’t work because my thumb is now moist. It won’t even work if my thumb is wrinkled from the shower.

Lets brainstorm a sequel to “Lone Survivor.” Set in the year 2024, we have chosen to give the SEALs smart guns. As usual, we’ll give the SEALs 100 basis points for their VX, and add or subtract points as they become more, or less, vulnerable. Please, be considerate and silence your cell phones:

  • The SEALS spend days hiking from the LZ to their objective. Along the way, their smart gun batteries die. So do they. (+1,000 pts.)
  • The SEALS wear gloves, defeating fingerprint or palmprint ID. Their guns don’t work. They die. (+1,000 pts.)
  • A SEAL stumbles while scrambling over a goat path at 7,000 feet. His smart gun bumps a rock and knocks a circuit loose. It dies. He dies. (+1,000 pts.)
  • A SEAL is wounded in a gun fight. He has blood on his shooting hand, impairing his smart gun connection. It fails. He dies. (+1,000 pts.)
  • Wounded in his strong hand, a SEAL has to shoot with with his weak hand. Unfortunately, the smart watch on his strong wrist, which enables his smart gun, is also weak. He dies. (+1,000 pts.)
  • One SEAL picks up the smart gun of another SEAL when he goes down, but the smart gun doesn’t know him. He goes down, too. (+1,000 pts.)
  • We set “Lone Survivor II” in sub-Saharan Africa, but the smart guns got too hot. The SEALS all died. (+1,000 pts.)
  • We returned to Afghanistan, but it snowed. The smart guns got some condensation in them. The SEALS all died. (+1,000 pts.)
  • We set it anywhere, but it turns out it rains most places. The smart guns took a nap. The SEALS died again. (+1,000 pts.)
  • We fed the above scenarios into the VX supercomputer, and substituted “hesitated” for “died” when referring to smart gun fails. The SEALs still died.
  • On the upside, we could think of no scenario where an ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab or other bad guy picked up a SEAL’s smart gun and shot him with it. (-1 pt.) So, you can’t say we haven’t been fair.

But we also couldn’t think of a scenario where the SEALs’ situation was made better by making their already smart gun more like their smart phones. So, tell us, Mr. Obama, are you really willing to risk our servicemen’s lives by dumbing down their guns?  Yes? Fuck You!

SOURCE – americas1stfreedom.org

Metal Foam? In Body Armor?

Metal_FoamEver heard of “Composite Metal Foams” (CMFs)?  Turns out, this technology has been around for quite a while and has a wide range of applications.  These materials are tough enough to turn an armor-piercing bullet into dust on impact but weigh a fraction of plate armor.

Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State, has spent years developing CMFs. The video below shows a specimen made out of her composite metal foams. The bullet in the video is a 7.62 x 63 millimeter M2 armor piercing projectile, which was fired according to the standard testing procedures established by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).  As you can see, the results were dramatic.

“We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than 8 millimeters,” Rabiei says. “To put that in context, the NIJ standard allows up to 44 millimeters indentation in the back of an armor.”

Check it out:


SOURCE: NC State University

Machine Domination… We told you so…

Atlas-p3

Sleep tight, Master… I’ll be watching!

Friends, as previously reported, the machines will soon be tucking your kids into bed at night and waiting to snap your neck after it receives the command from SkyNet.  Google has recently bought a half dozen robotics companies and one that works in artificial intelligence. Among those companies is Boston Dynamics, which has designed robots for the military that can run like a cheetah and climb vertical walls. Did I mention they also have a humanoid “Atlas” robot that, although not specifically designed for any offensive military use, can withstand being hit by projectiles and looks an awful lot like a predecessor to what we’ve seen in the “Terminator” series? Connect Atlas up to Google Now and you’ve got a bulletproof robot with a pet robotic cheetah that knows where you live and travel and what your interests, plans, and even musical tastes are.  Perhaps we’re over reacting, but if I saw a fire team of these robots coming down the street going door-to-door looking for their human oppressors, I’d probably be breaking out my Barrett .50 and taking up a position on the roof.  Check this out; kinda creepy…

SOURCE – CNet.com

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