Re: [Cryptography] NSA and cryptanalysis

2013-08-31 Thread David I. Emery
On Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 07:17:08AM -0400, Jerry Leichter wrote:

 So the latest Snowden data contains hints that the NSA (a) spends a
 great deal of money on cracking encrypted Internet traffic; (b) recently
 made some kind of a cryptanalytic breakthrough.  What are we to make
 of this?  (Obviously, this will all be wild speculation unless Snowden
 leaks more specific information - which wouldn't fit his style, at least
 as demonstrated so far.)

I wonder how much of the editing of the recent Snowden data is
in any way related to Snowden himself (who is presumably very 
completely controlled and monitored by the Russians at the moment) ?

The story as I understand it (from afar), is that he
expropriated some roughly 20,000 complete NSA documents... and has
turned some of them - mostly complete and unedited - over to his
journalist collaborators who have in turn turned some of those over to
their larger news organizations - where the editors have figured out
what parts of them to publish under great pressure from various spooks
and high officials NOT to publish certain information.

What we have seen so far rather looks like it was heavily
bowdlerized under very great government pressure from various
governments, and it seems very likely MOST if not all of this pressure
was aimed at the editorial and management level of news organizations,
not Snowden himself (who is beyond their reach obviously, but also not
in a position to control much about what is published).

In the end it is pretty likely nobody in senior management of
the media organizations involved really wants to take responsibility for
leaking something that actually destroys a major US intelligence edge...
and what was left out to protect legitimate US intelligence secrets or
technical methods is anyone's guess at the moment.

Surely, however, inevitably eventually *some* of this will leak
out of the media organizations to the extent that it has passed outside
of a very very small circle of people there.

What is not clear, is how many of those folks at the media
organizations know enough about the technological implications of what
they are reading to understand what its long term significance is.  A
cryptanalytic breakthrough might be huge and fundamental and
invalidate a lot of currently deployed cryptography, or just a new and
very effective attack on some aspect of a commonly used security
protocol that can be easily patched once it is known.

 -- Jerry

-- 
  Dave Emery N1PRE/AE, d...@dieconsulting.com  DIE Consulting, Weston, Mass 
02493
An empty zombie mind with a forlorn barely readable weatherbeaten
'For Rent' sign still vainly flapping outside on the weed encrusted pole - in 
celebration of what could have been, but wasn't and is not to be now either.

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Re: How the Greek cellphone network was tapped.

2007-07-22 Thread David I. Emery
On Sat, Jul 21, 2007 at 12:56:00PM -0400, Steven M. Bellovin wrote:
 On Sat, 21 Jul 2007 04:46:51 -0700 (PDT)
 look at 18 USC 2512
 (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_2512000-.html)
 
   any person who intentionally ...
 
   manufactures, assembles, possesses, or sells any electronic,
   mechanical, or other device, knowing or having reason to know
 that the design of such device renders it primarily useful for the
   purpose of the surreptitious interception of wire, oral, or
   electronic communications, and that such device or any component
   thereof has been or will be sent through the mail or transported
   in interstate or foreign commerce;
 
   ...
 
 So simple possession of a surreptitious interception device is illegal,
 with exceptions for things like sale to law enforcement or
 communications companies.

This language was originally aimed at bugs, hidden
microphones,  and other similar devices with essentially no purpose
other than intercepting conversations. These devices are usually called
Title III devices and are indeed illegal as defined above except in
the hands of law enforcement and the like. Private use and even
possession is forbidden. 
 
And there have been many prosecutions for possession, sale,
trafficking in, and importing bugs and similar intercept hardware -
mostly of Spy Shop operators who import this stuff from abroad and
sell it to sleazy private investigators and divorcing spouses.

This language has been around since the 1968 Omnibus Act was
passed and was extended with the passage of the 1986 ECPA to cover
wire, oral, or electronic communications.  It is not new and did not
result from the Newt Gingrich intercept or other more recent incidents.

AFAIK, (and IANL), the DOJ has rarely if ever applied Title III 
to ordinary radio receivers or other hardware which has general purpose
uses. Scanners and other radio receivers sold to the general public are
regulated by the FCC under authority created in 1993, and FCC rules were
substantially toughened around 1999 to require scanners not be readily
modifiable to tune analog cellular frequencies and meet certain design
criteria intended to make this harder and make it harder to hear
cellular calls on image frequencies. These rules also make it illegal to
modify scanners to tune cellular calls.

I know of no court case which has established that sale or
possession of scanners or radio receivers built before the ban on
cellular reception went into effect is illegal, and many tens of
thousands if not hundreds of thousands of such radios are in circulation
(and sold regularly on eBay).

In recent years there have a small number of  prosecutions for
sale or possession of radio equipment and software to intercept
commercial common carrier pager transmissions under Title III.   There
is at least one precedent that defines such software as a Title III
device.

This probably means that software specifically intended to
enable intercept of any other  signal that is not legal to listen to
might also be declared a Title III device, though I am unaware of this
having happened as of yet.

However, even though the cell industry asked the FCC to do so,
the FCC has declined to regulate test equipment - including test
equipment that can tune and demodulate digital cellular and other
forbidden RF signals - provided it is not marketed to the general
public.   It is not illegal to possess or sell, import or export,
manufacture or modify such gear though of course it is illegal to
actually use such gear to intercept signals not included in the list of
allowed to listen to signals in section 119 of Title III.

And obviously regulation of test equipment would pose some very
difficult problems - since many many common real world RF tests require
DC to daylight  coverage without gaps to spot spurious signals, mixing
products, noise, interference etc... and crippled test equipment COULD
not do this job.


-- 
  Dave Emery N1PRE/AE, [EMAIL PROTECTED]  DIE Consulting, Weston, Mass 02493
An empty zombie mind with a forlorn barely readable weatherbeaten
'For Rent' sign still vainly flapping outside on the weed encrusted pole - in 
celebration of what could have been, but wasn't and is not to be now either.

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Re: gang uses crypto to hide identity theft databases

2006-12-24 Thread David I. Emery
On Fri, Dec 22, 2006 at 10:57:17AM -0800, Alex Alten wrote:
 I'm curious as to why the cops didn't just pull the plugs right away.  It 
 would probably
 take a while (minutes, hours?) to encrypt any significant amount of 
 data.

At the risk of stating the obvious, this is almost certainly
a case of key zeroization rather than suddenly encrypting otherwise
in-the-clear databases.

What one does is ALWAYS encrypt all the data, but store only
one single copy of the key(s) required to decrypt it and make provision
for some kind of dead man switch that zeroizes the key store when 
pushed.   Shutting off the power leaves almost all of the data intact
and unaltered, but without the keys it is just random bits.

Special switches and hardware assistance for key zeroization are
a very standard feature of US government crypto gear and installations.
The idea is that one zeros the key if one is expecting to be captured
(or crash or sink) and then all the remaining data in non volatile 
storage is useless to your adversary if he is able to recover the
media and attempt to read it.

-- 
   Dave Emery N1PRE,  [EMAIL PROTECTED]  DIE Consulting, Weston, Mass 02493
An empty zombie mind with a forlorn barely readable weatherbeaten
'For Rent' sign still vainly flapping outside on the weed encrusted pole - in 
celebration of what could have been, but wasn't and is not to be now either.

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