Neutralizing snoop law

Discussion in 'privacy technology' started by emmpe, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. emmpe

    emmpe Registered Member

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    I'm in the process of revising my security setup for two compelling reasons. One is that as a senior citizen of small means I have to reduce costs, which means ditching my current AV/FW which has served me well for ten years. The other reason is an upcoming government report on the legalizing of security police's use of trojans "or other means" of data intrusion against the citizens. They're probably already doing it on a small experimental scale, but an official OK will eventually extend their interests beyond their current obsession with muslims.

    Thus it seems I will need at least a decent FW, anti-keylogger and anti-executable/ HIPS. It should be noted that the Swedish security police, SÄPO, while having a great talent for harassment, is not renowned for its competence. Unlike the other, more qualified snoop entity, FRA, they won't have access to sophisticated NSA tools (no pearls before swines), so they will probably go shopping for stock malware or even, hopefully, try to write their own.

    As for those "other means", burglary would be needed and I don't think I'm that interesting, if at all. I'm not overly worried anyway, it's rather about a sense of citizen's duty to obstruct repressive measures. So: cheap, minimalistic and reasonably secure is what I want. For the sake of software compatibility I'm stuck with Windows, otherwise Linux would be the obvious basis (I do use Whonix for some purpouses). May I call upon the vast collective knowledge of this forum's members for advice on what to choose?
     
  2. trott3r

    trott3r Registered Member

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    It slipped out last week that the UK have made the snoopers charter law. They kept it quiet under the current media focus on the European referendum.

    Agreed on avoiding on principle rather than need.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2016
  3. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    Sadly, I believe your concerns are well-founded:- there is a similar situation in the UK where they are currently legalising bulk "equipment interference" (they were doing it illegally before). Unfortunately, this compounds a huge number of problems in that the hacking tools will be used on the basis of thematic selectors (resulting in a large number of false positives of the innocent), using industrialised, automated attack tools that will be able to compromise a wide base of clients (including Linux etc), and made available to a huge number of people, for many purposes. Unfortunately, these attack tools are available from commercial companies too, and it's quite possible that they will have bought access to these in Sweden. That's part of the problematical landscape for normal citizens now, the industrialisation means that mass hacking by the state becomes routine and possible for the ignorant to do (usually without penalty for misuse and negligence).

    There's not just the usual incompetence, there's also the malicious and illegal (there are a number of current scandals around undercover police for example). Finally, at least in the UK, the tools are clearly not legal in the sense that they do not preserve evidence (they can plant files etc) and fail the rule of law, yet you know they will be used in legal charges at least indirectly.

    As for avoiding it, this takes some care, but not necessarily a large budget. You have to be realistic about how effective you can be as well, you are extremely unlikely to be able to avoid a targeted attack at any rate. Most of the task is to avoid doing anything out of the ordinary (one of your "personas" or characters), then if you are doing something more unusual and likely to trigger automated investigation (using Wilders?!) - then you need another persona and set of controls.

    I would not connect any complex desktop directly to the internet myself - a dedicated FW box is normally quite cheap, and these might be bought second-hand, or even a Raspberry Pi could do the trick (about $40).

    Having done that, I would recommend learning about Virtual Machines and being able to run them on your host machine. The software for this is free, and can run a huge variety of operating systems on it, for different purposes. This can also include running a firewall as a virtual machine. In particular, for browsing and other internet facing activities, this should always be done on the virtual machine, which can be wiped after every session (so that any attack is neutralised at that point). You might also want to look at sandboxing using things like Sandboxie on Windows or Firejail on Linux. Anyway, there's a great amount of learning which can be enjoyed once you get into that world.

    It's also possible to run Linux from USB sticks on bootup, or use a read-only LiveCD (available for most Linux distributions), you you're not restricted to a single OS on your machine.
     
  4. quietman

    quietman Registered Member

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    @deBoetie

    What you have written is bleak and depressing , but as usual , correct.

    " Your Honor , the prosecution will demonstrate that the defendant did , with malice aforethought , use Tor through chained VPNs
    in order to read Wilders , contrary to the Prohibition of Everything Not Expressly Permitted Act 2016 "

    -
     
  5. emmpe

    emmpe Registered Member

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    Thanks for your interest.

    The situation in the UK seems to be a lot worse than here, from what I've read. For reasons of political credibility the Swedish government has to take smaller steps, at least in public and only for the time being. But the spin doctors are at work and the UK has long been a source of inspiration for some of our politicians.

    I have two agencies to reckon with. The more professional one is the FRA, once created to provide radio signal intelligence to the military but now doing all-embracing surveillance of digital traffic "that crosses the border" while serving sigint to the NSA. It's reasonable to surmise that their main target is Russian communications, a lot of which passes through Swedish servers.

    Then there's SÄPO, a bizarre domestic version of the Keystone Cops. Yes, malice seems to be their main driving force, enhanced by political cretinism, racism and disdain for the law. Like most agencies of that ilk, I suppose. Those are the people I want to keep off my computer as they would be the most likely to attack random individuals. They would also be the easiest to give the finger.

    I take it that you don't find it necessary or even desirable to apply the usual AM software and I'll trust you on that. I actually do use a couple of browsers with different aliases, some with Sandboxie, one of them with my real identity, and a virtual Whonix when prudent. I also use a VPN set up by a foundation separate from but with close ties to my ISP expressly in order to circumvent data retention and mass surveillance legislation. It should take care of the everyday snooping by the FRA. And yes, I do trust my ISP for good reasons. The VM solution you suggest would be ideal, of course, and rather fun to play with, though pretty slow in some cases. I may even have some elderly computer stowed away for a FW - would Linux on a Pentium do? Otherwise the idea of a VM firewall hasn't occured to me and I'm not sure how to do it. But I'll sure read up on that when I find a good tutorial.
     
  6. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    @emmpe - you had me smiling at the Keystone Cops bit, of course it's not the slightest bit funny. The trouble is with the automated industrialised attack tools (threads about the Hacking Team breach gives information on the techniques and customers they had on this board) - is that it doesn't require any serious skill, nor serious purpose to have these tools attacking citizenry. One of the worst features of what's been happening is that the previously dedicated and specialist sigint operations now view themselves as cost/profit centers and even go down the line of talking about "customers" and customer services. I think they are trying to entrench and justify their empires on the basis of having as many different organisations as possible using the systems (so it MUST be justified, right?), making it far harder to defund them. That this certainly leads to misuse, breach, false-positives and assault on the rule of law is someone else's problem.

    The IC in general seem to be on a spin offensive - no sign of contrition at all, and each egging on each jurisdiction to enact increasingly unconstitutional laws based on what looks to be increasingly non-existent justification for the bulk powers (at least as far as trrism is concerned). In my view, the UK is following US instructions in regard to this legislation, after all, GCHQ is getting paid for their "sharing".

    I still use anti-keylogger and AV/HIPS on Windows, but increasingly question that I want them, given that I never do internet facing things on the host. VMs are not at all slow if you have sufficient memory, and given you're not gaming. Frequently, it's pretty much invisible that you're actually operating within a VM. And clearly, it's far easier to create and manage different VMs for different purposes, you just fire up the one you want. Some of us run various whonix and vpn vm guests, going, for example, through a pfsense virtual machine gateway.

    @quietman - very entertaining and actually very plausible. I'm actually not as depressed as I sound, because one major reaction will simply be to stop using the internet altogether - the real world is way more rewarding and I've never been social media'd. But I do think the current insanity will last at least 15 years before it crumbles.
     
  7. emmpe

    emmpe Registered Member

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    To be fair most of us westerners can still have conversations like this in public without having cops hammering on the door the next morning at three o'clock. That may very well change some not too far off day, but until then I really prefer to do at least some things in the open, including visits to Wilder's. That's still our ***** right, and it will forfeited if we back down
    and go into hiding. We're only entitled to the rights we're willing to stand up and fight for. Then again we also have a right to privacy and/or anonymity. I suppose taking all feasible measures to protect your privacy also presents a claim to your right to not having to do it. It's an unending struggle - no matter what regime, there is no such thing as a benevolent ruler.

    So, back on track: I'm very tempted to try out your suggested setup, as the only cost involved would be some more RAM. As a bonus it has the appealing property of being based to a large extent on a huge and continuous collective endeavour. It may be overkill, considering the skills of the main adversary and the interest I might attract, on the other hand it would prove to be a good investment in days to come.

    @quietman
    Reality comes too close for comfort here. Put "This kid of seventeen with dark hair, brown eyes and a name we're not sure how to pronounce with malice and afterthought travelled out of the country to see some relatives..." and we're there. Worse than plausible.
     
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