All posts by Geek Rebel

Tor Browser Bundle

The Tor Browser Bun­dle attempts to anonymize your Web brows­ing. It’s not per­fect, and it does require that you mod­ify your brows­ing habits. (You prob­a­bly won’t be watch­ing video while using the Tor browser, for example.)

It has been noted that peo­ple using the Tor Browser are noticed by the N.S.A. and some­times tar­geted spe­cial ille­gal sur­veil­lance and sab­o­tage. Some sug­gest that the N.S.A. has installed mal­ware on the com­put­ers of peo­ple using Tor.

NY Times: Snowden had hacking skills

The New York Times has heard a descrip­tion of Edward Snowden’s résumé. Accord­ing to the paper the résumé clearly shows that Snow­den pos­sessed “hack­ing skills,” and that he acquired them while work­ing as an intel­li­gence contractor.

The Times arti­cle goes on to say:

In an age when ter­abytes of data can be stashed inside palm-size devices, the new details about Mr. Snowden’s train­ing and assign­ments under­score the chal­lenges that the N.S.A. faces in recruit­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of free-spirited com­puter experts with diverse polit­i­cal views.

NY Times: N.S.A. Leak Puts Focus on sysadmins

An arti­cle in yesterday’s New York Times exam­ines the threat that “rogue” sysad­mins pose to gov­ern­ments and corporations.

(But what if all sysad­mins are rogue sysad­mins, deep down? What if that’s how they got to be sysad­mins in the first place? Just a thought.)

A few notable quotes from the Times article:

Edward J. Snow­den, the for­mer National Secu­rity Agency con­trac­tor who leaked details about Amer­i­can sur­veil­lance, per­son­i­fies a debate at the heart of tech­nol­ogy sys­tems in gov­ern­ment and indus­try: can the I.T. staff be trusted?

“The scari­est threat is the sys­tems admin­is­tra­tor,” said Eric Chiu, pres­i­dent of Hytrust, a com­puter secu­rity com­pany. “The sys­tem admin­is­tra­tor has god­like access to sys­tems they manage.”

“This is a dirty lit­tle secret that’s being revealed,” said Robert Big­man, a for­mer chief infor­ma­tion secu­rity offi­cer at the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency. “When you log on with a root account, it doesn’t know if you’re staff employee or a con­tract employee. It just knows you’re root. You’re known as a supe­ruser. You have all privileges.“

Edward Snowden, whistleblower

Edward Snowden’s deci­sion to throw him­self into the machine for our col­lec­tive ben­e­fit is an incred­i­bly impor­tant story, not least because the tim­ing sig­nals sol­i­dar­ity with Bradley Man­ning, who is now in the first week of his trial after an aston­ish­ing (and ille­gal) three-year delay.

Sol­i­dar­ity gen­er­ates heat, and that can mean expo­nen­tial growth.

When it all starts to fall apart, it can hap­pen very fast.

Nobody knows where the elbow in the hockey stick really is. You can hit it by surprise.

Whistle­blow­ers are the canaries in the coal mines. Our gov­ern­ment wants them dead. What do you sup­pose that means?

And let’s not for­get the brave jour­nal­ists Glenn Green­wald and Laura Poitras, equal heroes in this case.

Sticky: Their hands on the machinery

The ori­gin of this site

On July 5, 2011, while under house arrest in Lon­don, Wik­iLeaks founder/editor Julian Assange appeared in a pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion with Sloven­ian philoso­pher Slavoj Žižek, mod­er­ated by Amy Good­man of Democ­racy Now!.

Full video and a rush tran­script are available.

Dur­ing that con­ver­sa­tion, Assange broached a sub­ject that appar­ently remains unthink­able for the world’s most pow­er­ful insti­tu­tions: the pos­si­bil­ity of geek rebel­lion. Here’s the text of his remark:

“And I thought I was pretty cyn­i­cal and worldly five years ago, and of course I was sim­ply a very young and naïve fool, in ret­ro­spect. And learn­ing how to—from being with inside the cen­ter of the storm, I’ve learned not just about the struc­ture of gov­ern­ment, not just about how power flows in many coun­tries around the world that we’ve dealt with, but rather how his­tory is shaped and dis­torted by the media. And I think the dis­tor­tion by the media of his­tory, of all the things that we should know so we can col­lab­o­rate together as a civ­i­liza­tion, is the worst thing. It is our sin­gle great­est imped­i­ment to advance­ment. But it’s chang­ing. We are rout­ing around media that is close to power in all sorts of ways, and—but it’s not a for­gone con­clu­sion, which is what makes this time so inter­est­ing, that we can wrest the inter­net and we can wrest the var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tions mech­a­nisms we have with each other into the val­ues of the new gen­er­a­tion, that has been edu­cated by the inter­net, has been edu­cated out­side of that main­stream media dis­tor­tion. And all those young peo­ple are becom­ing impor­tant within institutions.

“So, maybe this is some­thing I’ll speak about with you later, Amy, but I do want to talk about what it means when institutions—how the most pow­er­ful insti­tu­tions, from the CIA to News Cor­po­ra­tion, are all organized—all orga­nized using com­puter pro­gram­mers, using sys­tem admin­is­tra­tors, using tech­ni­cal young peo­ple. What does that mean when all those tech­ni­cal young peo­ple adopt a cer­tain value sys­tem, and that they are in an insti­tu­tion where they do not agree with the value sys­tem, and yet actu­ally their hands are on the machin­ery? [empha­sis added] Because there have been moments in the past like that. And it is those tech­ni­cal young peo­ple who are the most Internet-educated and have the great­est abil­ity to receive the new val­ues that are being spread and the new infor­ma­tion and facts about real­ity that are being spread out­side main­stream media distortions.“

The Julian Assange Show: Cypherpunks

Dur­ing 2012, Julian Assange hosted an 11-episode talk show, The Julian Assange Show, on the Eng­lish lan­guage news net­work Rus­sia Today. (Rus­sia Today was started in 2005 by Vladimir Putin with the explicit pur­pose of pro­mot­ing the Kremlin’s line to the English-speaking world.)

Episode eight of the series was Cypher­punks, a live, in-person con­ver­sa­tion with three “vir­tu­oso geek activists” from “the move­ment that spawned Wik­iLeaks,” in Assange’s words. His three guests were Andy Muller-Maguhn (Ger­many), Jere­mie Zim­mer­mann (France), and Jacob Appel­baum (United States).

The full ver­sion of the episode is avail­able in two parts, here and here.