EDWARD SNOWDEN’S NEW RESEARCH AIMS TO KEEP SMARTPHONES FROM BETRAYING THEIR OWNERS
Micah Lee July 21 2016, 9:34 a.m.
In early 2012, Marie Colvin, an acclaimed international journalist from New York, entered the besieged city of Homs, Syria … She wrote of a difficult journey involving “a smugglers’ route, which I promised not to reveal, climbing over walls in the dark and slipping into muddy trenches.” Despite the covert approach, Syrian forces still managed to get to Colvin; under orders to “kill any journalist that set foot on Syrian soil,” they bombed the makeshift media center she was working in, killing her and one other journalist and injuring two others.
“Despite the covert approach” you said? Well, I will assume you are not being sarcastic, since there is no funny or ridiculing juice anyone with a sense of morality could extract from such fatal incidents, which are way too common among people who have never heard and, most probably, will never hear of the Sundays Times.
I wonder what is the point of that Hollywood line about “smugglers’ routes, climbing over walls in the dark and slipping into muddy trenches” when you are carrying a cellphone, which, let me put it crassly for regular non-technical folks out there to get it at once, constantly send a code saying “Here, here (with centimetric precision about your whereabouts) … kill me, kill me, … here I am”?
I find amazing that people (even those working for the Sundays Times!) are still getting killed for carrying a cellphone? Or, is that really the reason? Moreover, they are now into “‘self-driving’ cars (even steered by google!)”. By the way guys those so-called “‘self-driving’ cars” are not driven by those forest little dwarfs from Germanic fairy tails that would come at night and do your work for you (lazy @ss those Germanic people), who for some truly vexing reasons seemed to have hated Michael Hastings to murderous extents.
// __ Hours Before His Death Michael Hastings Contacted Wikileaks Attorney Said FBI Was Investigating Him
In dangerous environments like war-torn Syria, smart phones become indispensable tools for journalists, human rights workers, and activists.
and to “military intelligence” as well … as you pointed out first. Also, we all choose to breakpoint reality in our own ways or the way some other people do for us (most of us aren’t even conscious of it). Why has Syria been a war-torn country for such a long time? and, by the way, smart phones are NOT “indispensable tools”. They will never beat a notebook and pencil aiding by a conscious, critical mind staked on a lively brain.
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has been working with prominent hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang to solve this problem.
Ha! I somehow smelled the introduction of this latest story of Lee’s technical saga would lead there.
Some of the most profound tenets of Buddhism and the Franciscan creed (I don’t know much about Islam, but I would bet there is some of it there too), is keeping a safe distance to one’s own ego.
The pair are developing a way for potentially imperiled smart phone users to monitor whether their devices are making any potentially compromising radio transmissions.
to “monitor”? … “potentially compromising” radio transmissions?
When I was a kid I thought that I had to f#ck every p#ssy I could smell within 5 miles. I quickly realized it was more like the other way around. I also thought that I was going to find the chemical compound to cure cancer, that you could “rationally convince” the Israeli government to stop the occupation and that I had discovered a deep link between topology and measurement theory in the stretch-rotate relation of vectors under linear, affine transformations (as simply expressed through matrices). I don’t know about Huang, but Snowden is not a naive, enthusiastic kid at all anymore to be talking like that.
If you haven’t still gotten my point for what it means and really, really would risk your life and ditch all your efforts after going “smugglers’ routes”, there is this thing called a Faraday cage:
// __ I fear the chilling effect of NSA surveillance on the open internet
which would be the closest to not carrying a phone in addition and being:
a) 100% reassuring: yes, as we technical people say: “you can’t patch stupid(ity)”, but they, neither the NSA or Syrian “military intelligence”, nor the Russian mafia, nor script kiddies can do sh!t about Physics;
b) safe to you and the functioning of the phone itself: what do you think will happen if the “‘intelligence’ services” find you with one of those devices courtesy from Mr. Snowden and Mr. Huang? Also, it would be on them becoming paranoid about it, you would not put in evidence yourself by simply placing the phone inside your metallic “lunch box” or one of those large Altoids candy pill boxes (which a long time we discovered to be more prophylactic). Nothing will whatsoever will happen to the phone. It would be like when you drive through a metal bridge;
c) it is dirt simply and you can safely test it: simply put your cellphone inside of a generic metallic encasing and place a call to it, you will see that what Physical EM waves concern your phone doesn’t exist at all, not right there inside of where you put it nor in the galaxy farthest away GN-z11. Isn’t that great!
We have to ensure that journalists can investigate and find the truth …
which, amazingly indeed!, will still set us free and is not in the details, but, Ed, stop kidding people. Would you, please? Let’s concentrate on those so profitable truths out there and making sure people can have it and eat it, too!
Snowden and Huang presented their findings in a talk at MIT Media Lab’s Forbidden Research event today
and published a detailed paper.
Methods & Intermediate Results
The first step toward executing this work was to visit the Hua Qiang
electronics markets of Shenzhen to collect samples and documentation for
evaluation. These markets are ground zero for the trade and practice of
iPhone repair; as such, it is a rich source of spare parts and repair manuals.
The repair manuals frequently contain detailed blueprints of the iPhone 6,
which were used to assist the reverse engineering effort.
Selective physical isolation or termination of the antennae consists of inserting an electronic switch between the connectors of the logic board and the antenna. The switch, when activated, would shunt the antenna to a matched resistive load, which would greatly reduce the transmission power and receive sensitivity of the radios. However, experimental verification on the WiFi subystem indicated that removing the antenna connection and permanently terminating with a shunt resistor still leaked sufficient RF into the receivers for local base stations (e.g., within the same room) to be detected, which could be sufficient information to betray a reporter’s location.
Huang I would have trusted you as a real player if you had found all those “detailed blueprints” of cell phones on wikileaks.
IMHO, the best parts of that article are when they say and paraphrase that: “cellphones of any platform regardless of its relative security can and will be compromised by state-level adversaries”.
The research is necessary in part because the most common way to try to silence a phone’s radio — turning on airplane mode — can’t be relied on to squelch your phone’s radio traffic. “Malware packages, peddled by hackers at a price accessible by private individuals, can activate radios without any indication from the user interface,” Snowden and Huang explain in their blog post. “Trusting a phone that has been hacked to go into airplane mode is like trusting a drunk person to judge if they are sober enough to drive.”
Metaphors, especially those about trust, tend to be amusing. Aren’t you trusting yourself too much in your endeavor?
Since a smart phone can essentially be made to lie about that state of its radios …
Wait, you are talking business now! So, you just discovered that any kind of software-based device can essentially be made to lie about anything?
In other words, they want to build an entirely separate tiny computer that users can attach to a smart phone to alert them if it’s being dishonest about its radio emissions.
Last time theoretical Physicist niggah me checked, Maxwell Equations (the most beautiful one liners ever scripted coming out of Physics (relativistically invariant even before “Relativity”)) didn’t say a damn thing about “dishonesty” in radio emissions. They have no sense whatsoever of being used “honestly” and “responsibly” by freedom lovers or by Syrian “terroristic” “military intelligence”
Snowden and Haung are calling this device an “introspection engine”
Using intellectually sounding funny names will not change the fact that once you use words (software) someone will come up with the great and simple idea of lying. We started being (somewhat) civilized people when we agreed on a common understanding of what justice should look like which we had to write as a common code of law for everyone to refer to and ponder about … one day inevitably we would pay for it with some politicians “writing laws which interpretations are ‘secret’ …”
You would not be able however to lie about the fact that:
The device will be contained inside a battery case, looking similar to a smart phone with an extra bulky battery …
The introspection engine also must fit a number of design goals, including: It should be entirely open source, with open hardware, to make it easy for experts to inspect; it should operate in a separate “security domain” than the phone. Basically, the introspection engine should work even if the phone is hacked and actively lying to you; it should have a simple and intuitive user interface and require no special training to use; it should be usable on a daily basis with minimal impact on workflow.
Somewhat irrational, but still good intentions. Something alchemically good may come out of the implementation issues. I find amazing that someone like Snowden would believe that he and his buddy working on a shoestring budget and standing on a hardware and software platform they don’t own, based on “their understanding of the current preferences and tastes of reporters” will beat at playing cat and mouse with them, USG and all NSA affiliated corporations working for them funded by tax payers
Have they given any thoughts to the fact that, regardless of how good the soldering may be, an in-built control logic can be added to the hardware and software to detect the intruding connection based on the Physics and logic of the circuitry?
Introspection engines don’t exist yet …
Are we truly talking about a new thing under the sun or you mean the name of the thing.
… iPhone’s logic board has several test points designed by the manufacturer that can be exploited to learn the status of various on-board radios.
Oh, thank you very much Huang and, by the way, of course, we very well knew about those test points, since we put them in by design …
They don’t think that modifying an iPhone 6 to install an introspection device could be done by just anyone, but “any technician with modest soldering skills can be trained …”
Whereas anyone can put their phone in a metallic encasing and easily test by oneself if thing works
If it proves successful, they may seek funding through the Freedom of the Press Foundation to develop and maintain a supply chain. The nonprofit, of which both Snowden and I are board members, could then distribute iPhones that have been modified to include introspection devices to journalists who work in dangerous environments to use in the field.
There is a lot that can be done in this age to protect oneself, but we need to tell apart physical reality (the only “God” we can trust in our days) from everything else.
Now, let me be positive. I think, we all, “journalists” and “techies” should do a better effort at understanding ourselves. We could spend more time on apps for cell phones that record with instant connections to our own servers, police and government do monitor us, but they will have a harder time being attentive to every form of ephemeral happening out there while trying to at the same time entertain illusions about “freedom” and that thing they used to call “privacy”.
As it happened with Eric Garner’s unnecessary fatal run in with police even his not being able to breathe was recorded; Philando Castile’s lady streamed the data of her man being killed point blank by police officer Jeronimo Yanez for no reason whatsoever as it happened to facebook and even if “they had glitches” the world at large saw what happened first hand:
// __ Did police remove the Facebook Live video of Philando Castile being shot?
A friend of mine sent this to me the other day (which except for Mona ;-)) is rampant in the US right now
// __ POLICE GANG STALKING: HIERARCHY, OPERATIVES, DISPOSITION MATRIX, GREENSBORO, NC
hacking the USB port of a cell phone to service a usb splitter for continuous video streaming, recording from various locations in a car is not hard at all. The same could be used to record all those snitches and gang stalkers used by police to harass people out there. There are spy glasses but they are too obvious
This is all it takes:
a) using the phone directional gyroscope to undeniably (in addition to the view itself) the relative direction pointing to by each of the camera eyes
b) with a time stamp
c) just recording changes in view
camouflaging mini video cameras in a car or your clothing isn’t hard at all. That is dirt cheap; a USB splitter with 4 ports cost $7 and a SPY Button Mini USB Camera are being overpriced from $10++
// __ SPY Button Mini USB Camera connected to mobile phone RMD-N4031 RMM-N4031
We the people do have the ways and means to monitor government and so-called intelligence agencies as well, they don’t live in a separate exclusive physical or ethical reality. That way people will clearly see that it is that Pro-Russia Putin responsible for all freedom-hating things happening in the Universe.
truth and peace and love,
Tue Jul 26 02:52:35 EDT 2016