Feeds

DIME for your TOP SECRET thoughts? Son of Snowden's crypto-chatter client here soon

Hardened email platform should be ready for Xmas

Website security in corporate America

DefCon Lavabit founder Ladar Levison will within six months carve out a military-grade email service from the ashes of Ed Snowden's favourite email client.

As many of you will remember, Levison killed the service to prevent his clients' information from getting into the clutches of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

The popular thorn in the side of the US spy apparatus updated the 2,000-strong audience of security hacks and privacy pundits on the Dark Mail project announced late last year.

Levison shot to fame in tech circles after he responded to a FBI demand for access to the private SSL certificates used to encrypt all traffic on Lavabit by printing the keys on reams of paper in a 4-point font described by one prosecutor as "largely illegible".*

The move frustrated the Feds and he was subsequently slapped with a $5,000-a-day fine until he provided the keys - which he did, shortly before shutting down the email service.

Dark Mail has since expanded to include the Magma email server and the Volcano Mozilla Thunderbird desktop client, and has been re-badged as the Dark Internet Mail Environment (DIME).

The platform broke up email headers encrypting each piece before it was sent and was built so that no single service could hold all of the data - a bid to shake off further Lavabit-style requests from government spy agencies.

It aimed to overcome user difficulty with encryption by adopting cryptographic profiles, dubbed "signets", that could be shared with trusted users to operate much like PGP. It also adopted three escalating security levels: trustful, cautious and paranoid.

Yet for all the effort put into the project by Levison and fellow security and crypto luminaries Phil Zimmerman, Jon Callas and Mike Janke, users could still be pwnd by setting bad passwords.

"If your password is 'password', nothing I can do will save you," Levison said at the DEF CON presentation this week.

"I’m not upset that I got railroaded and I had to shut down my business ... I'm upset because we need a mil-spec cryptographic mail system for the entire planet just to be able to talk to our friends and family without any kind of fear of government surveillance".

The new service was hoped to be ready in time for the Chaos Communications Congress in Germany held days before New Year's Eve.

Dozens of software and services have emerged to fight spying in the wake of the Snowden revelations. One of the more promising of these was the planned Invisible.IM chat platform which would use the Tor network to distribute chatter wrapped in OTR encryption with disposable and quickly scrubbed keys. ®

*

For those of you who are not typographers, here's a repeat of that paragraph printed in 4 point type:

Levison shot to fame in tech circles after he responded to a FBI demand for access to the private SSL certificates used to encrypt all traffic on Lavabit by printing the keys on reams of paper in a 4-point font described by one prosecutor as "largely illegible".

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.