Police Decrypt 258,000 Messages After Breaking IronChat Crypto App

Your public servants at work: spying on you.

Police in the Netherlands said they decrypted more than 258,000 messages sent using IronChat, an app billed as providing end-to-end encryption that was endorsed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. In a statement published Tuesday, Dutch police said officers achieved a “breakthrough in the interception and decryption of encrypted communication” in an investigation into money laundering. The encrypted messages, according to the statement, were sent by IronChat, an app that runs on a device that cost thousands of dollars and could send only text messages.

“Criminals thought they could safely communicate with so-called crypto phones which used the application IronChat,” Tuesday’s statement said. “Police experts in the east of the Netherlands have succeeded in gaining access to this communication. As a result, the police have been able to watch live the communication between criminals for some time.”

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Australian Bill Spells Trouble for Data Privacy Around the World

Australian politicians want to make it easy for governments, hackers, identity thieves, credit card thieves, and other spies to steal your most private information. That by itself seems incredible. However, the entire issue gets pushed to the nearly unbelievable level when you realize the result could be similar gaping holes in privacy for residents of all other countries in the world!

Do you want the thieves to be able to read YOUR messages and YOUR transactions via gaping “back doors” in today’s encryption techniques that are designed to keep your private communications private? If this bill passes, we all will suffer. Several world governments, including the United States, want to compromise citizen’s liberties for the sake of national security. Don’t citizens also have a right to security?

Shockingly, the Australian bill could even ban companies from informing their customers about these security and privacy weaknesses.

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Ads Will Soon Appear in WhatsApp

Bad news: Advertisements are coming to WhatsApp. Like we need more advertising on the Internet?

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. WhatsApp once was a successful freeware and cross-platform encrypted messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) product that treated its customers like real human beings. Then the company was bought out by Facebook for approximately US$19.3 billion. Since then, the encrypted service has been abused by various groups. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WhatsApp#Reception_and_criticism for the details.

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Other Governments are Listening to the Cell Phone Calls of Heads of State and Maybe to Your Calls as Well

From Bruce Schneier’s excellent Schneier on Security blog:

“Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that the Russians and the Chinese were eavesdropping on President Donald Trump’s personal cell phone and using the information gleaned to better influence his behavior. This should surprise no one. Security experts have been talking about the potential security vulnerabilities in Trump’s cell phone use since he became president. And President Barack Obama bristled at — but acquiesced to — the security rules prohibiting him from using a “regular” cell phone throughout his presidency.

“Three broader questions obviously emerge from the story. Who else is listening in on Trump’s cell phone calls? What about the cell phones of other world leaders and senior government officials? And — most personal of all — what about my cell phone calls?”

You can read Bruce’s article at: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/10/cell_phone_secu_1.html.

Later in the article, Bruce states, “Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to improve the security of your cell phone.

I partially disagree.

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Encrypted Email Provider ProtonMail’s Service is now backed by a 99.95% Service Level Agreement (SLA)

I have written before about the privacy email features of ProtonMail. (See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aprivacyblog.com+proton+mail&t=h_&ia=web for a list of my past articles.) Now the company that produces ProtonMail has announced it will provide 99.95% uptime or better. 99.95% uptime means the service will be unavailable less than an average of 8 minutes per day.

The new service level agreement (SLA) ensures that if downtime in any calendar month exceeds 0.05%, the company will issue a partial refund to all customers.

The latest ProtonMail announcement may be found at: https://protonmail.com/blog/protonmail-reliability-sla/.

Helm Wants You to Control Your Own Data Again

A new start-up company wants you to host your own (encrypted) email messages, pictures, videos, and more where everything is under your control, not something provided by a privacy-stealing corporation.

Do you use the Gmail or Yahoo or Hotmail email services? If so, a large corporation can access your private messages for any reason at all. Or for no reason at all. The same is true for your photos, videos, contacts list, and calendar.

Your most critical data (like emails, search history, passwords, photos, and videos) is stored on massive corporate servers outside your home. Increasingly, this leaves you vulnerable to hacks, companies profiting from your data and online behavior, and mass government surveillance.

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