It’s no secret that strong encryption is virtually uncrackable and there’s no denying its growing popularity. Creating encrypted volumes with TrueCrypt or Gnome Disk Utility is great for securing portable USB drives and sensitive material within a file system. But that doesn’t solve a major security problem. On most consumer computers the majority of personal information about its users’ life and habits is stored completely in the clear. Even with a login and password, when unencrypted computers or hard drives are stolen, presumably all of the data stored within it is very easily accessible through any number of means. Laptops are sweet targets for burglars. Hard drives are espionage gold to dumpster divers. Beyond that, computer systems are very frequently targeted during police and military raids of all sorts.
Rather than getting into reasons why encrypting online communication is good practice, I’ll leave it at this: The technology is readily available and extremely easy to use.
In the past I’ve been told, and was convinced, that it is not possible to encrypt instant messaging(IM). Recently, however, I found out that it is possible and quite simple to implement. By no means am I a security expert, but I am always excited to share the learning experiences I gain from others I consider to be more knowledgeable than myself. If you have alternatives, relevant information, resources, or input on this topic, please share as well. (more…)
The term “hacker” is frequently misunderstood, thanks to the images of cyber-criminals and Internet warfare perpetuated by the mainstream media and state agencies. The truth of the matter is that without hackers there would be no Internet. At the very least hackers may be the last line of defense preventing the Internet from suffering a quick, whimpering death. In recent years security minded tech-folk have been painted as paranoid at best and often equated with terrorism. This contemporary villainization of hackers has created a dangerous stew of ignorance and fear that keeps the majority of computer users blissfully ignoring the inner workings of state and corporate communication technology, never seeking out alternatives. However, I’ve recently discovered a light at the end of the tunnel.
Around this time every year thousands of hackers convene in Las Vegas, Nevada to socialize, share and play. DEF CON is a mecca for amateurs and experts with a passion for technology, focusing on security, development and freedom. As a self-proclaimed computer nerd and anarchist, it’s been a dream of mine to attend DEF CON since its inception. I was twelve years old and remember reading about it in a local rag called “NCCN: Northern California Computing News.” Just the phrase “Hacker convention in Vegas” gets my heart racing and palms sweating.