Reducing metadata leakage from software updates

Update: now you can do this with Tor Onion Services Many software update systems use code signing to ensure that only the correct software is downloaded and installed, and to prevent the code from being altered. This is an effective way to prevent the code from being modified, and because of that, software update systems often use plain, unencrypted HTTP connections for downloading code updates. That means that the metadata of what packages a machine has installed is available in plain text for any network observer, from someone sitting on the same public WiFi as you, to state actors with full network observation capabilities. [Read More]

Tweaking HTTPS for Better Security

The HTTPS protocol is based on TLS and SSL, which are standard ways to negotiate encrypted connections. There is a lot of complexity in the protocols and lots of config options, but luckily most of the config options can be ignored since the defaults are fine. But there are some things worth tweaking to ensure that as many connections as possible are using reliable encryption ciphers while providing forward secrecy. A connection with forward secrecy provides protection to past transactions even if the server’s HTTPS private key/certificate is stolen or compromised. [Read More]

Proposal for Secure Connection Notification on Android

A major problem of mobile applications being increasingly used over web-based applications, is that there is no standard established for notifying the user of the state of security on the network connection. With a web browser, the evolution of the “lock” icon when an HTTPS connection is made, has been one that evolved originally out of Netscape’s first implementation, to an adhoc, defact industry-standard way of letting the user know if their connection is secure. [Read More]

On Verifying Identity Using Cryptography

One of the most important uses of cryptography these days is verifying the identity of the other side of a digital conversation. That conversation could be between two people using OTR-encrypted IM, a web browser showing a bank website, a Debian Developer uploading a package to the Debian build server, an ssh client logging into an ssh server, and on and on. In all of these cases, cryptography is used to ensure that the software is indeed receiving replies from the expected entity. [Read More]