VentureBeat: USC and Stanford launch Starling Lab to protect human rights with decentralization

VentureBeat: USC and Stanford launch Starling Lab to protect human rights with decentralization. “The University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation and Stanford University have partnered on The Starling Lab, which will be dedicated to using decentralized tools based on cryptography and blockchain to advance the cause of human rights.”

New York Times: The Criminals Thought the Devices Were Secure. But the Seller Was the F.B.I.

New York Times: The Criminals Thought the Devices Were Secure. But the Seller Was the F.B.I.. “The devices, procured on the black market, performed only a single function hidden behind a calculator app: sending encrypted messages and photos. For years, organized crime figures around the globe relied on the devices to orchestrate international drug shipments, coordinate arms and explosives trafficking, and discuss contract killings, law enforcement officials said. Users trusted the devices’ security so much that they often laid out their plans not in code, but in plain language. Unbeknown to them, the entire network was run by the F.B.I.”

Information Age: How Confidential Computing is dispelling the climate of distrust around cloud security

Information Age: How Confidential Computing is dispelling the climate of distrust around cloud security. “In a standard cloud configuration, data is encrypted when it’s ‘at rest’ or ‘in transit’ but the moment that data is processed it is decrypted, leaving it potentially vulnerable. The evaluation of business-critical data migrating to the cloud has increased since the start of the pandemic, heightening concerns about this weakness. Confidential Computing solves this problem in hybrid cloud environments by directing data in use into a hardware-based Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), an area separated from other workloads. Data remains encrypted right up until the application notifies the TEE to decrypt it for processing.”

Priti Patel: Facebook encryption plan ‘must not hamper child protection’ (BBC)

BBC: Priti Patel: Facebook encryption plan ‘must not hamper child protection’. “Facebook’s plans to roll out encryption across its messaging services could jeopardise ongoing work to combat child abuse, the Home Secretary is to warn. Such encryption means only the sender and recipient can read messages. ‘We cannot allow a situation where law enforcement’s ability to tackle abhorrent criminal acts and protect victims is severely hampered,’ Priti Patel will tell a charity-hosted event.”

ZDNet: The good and the bad with Chrome web browser’s new security defaults

ZDNet: The good and the bad with Chrome web browser’s new security defaults. “First, the good news. Starting with the mid-April release of Google’s Chrome 90 web browser, Chrome will default to trying to load the version of a website that’s been secured with a Transport Layer Security (TLS). These are the sites that show a closed lock in the Chrome Omnibox, what most of us know as the Chrome address (URL) bar. The bad news is that just because a site is secured by HTTPS doesn’t mean it’s trustworthy.”

Politico: The Pentagon had an email security problem. The pandemic fixed it.

Politico: The Pentagon had an email security problem. The pandemic fixed it.. “In December, the Pentagon quietly adopted a security measure for ensuring that its email conversations with outsiders would be encrypted — more than a decade after many private companies and other institutions had done the same. Attempts to permanently fix the flaw didn’t gain momentum until last year, when DoD officials realized that the weakness was exposing electronic conversations with a host of civilian agencies and companies developing Covid-19 vaccines.”

InfoQ: Five Years of Lets Encrypt

InfoQ: Five Years of Lets Encrypt . “Five years ago, Let’s Encrypt broke out of its private beta and launched a public beta that allowed administrators to request a valid certificate that could be used for encryption with SSL (now TLS). After starting the private beta with 26,000 certificates issued, it has now grown to supporting over 230 million sites and has issued over a billion certificates.”

ZDNet: Older Android phones will start failing on some secure websites in 2021

ZDNet: Older Android phones will start failing on some secure websites in 2021. “They may not be cool, and they’re certainly not up to date, but there are millions of old Android smartphones out there running 2016’s Android 7.1 Nougat or earlier. On Sep. 1, 2021, however, those phones will start failing when they try to connect with websites secured by Let’s Encrypt Secure-Socket Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates.”

FTC: Settlement requires Zoom to better secure your personal information

FTC: Settlement requires Zoom to better secure your personal information. “When we rely on technology in these new ways, we share a lot of sensitive personal information. We may not think about it, but companies know they have an obligation to protect that information. The FTC just announced a case against videoconferencing service Zoom about the security of consumers’ information and videoconferences, also known as ‘Meetings.’”

New Yorker: Taking Back Our Privacy

New Yorker: Taking Back Our Privacy. “Since Signal was released, it has evolved from a niche tool, touted by the privacy-minded and the paranoid, into a mainstream product recommended by the Wall Street Journal. Activists use Signal to coördinate protests, lovers to conduct affairs, workers to unionize, finance professionals to exchange sensitive information, drug dealers to contact customers, journalists to communicate with sources.”

‘Classified knots’: Researchers create optical framed knots to encode information (Phys .org)

Phys .org: ‘Classified knots’: Researchers create optical framed knots to encode information. “In a world first, researchers from the University of Ottawa in collaboration with Israeli scientists have been able to create optical framed knots in the laboratory that could potentially be applied in modern technologies. Their work opens the door to new methods of distributing secret cryptographic keys—used to encrypt and decrypt data, ensure secure communication and protect private information.” I tried to look up framed knots but I was hit over the head with a mathematics cudgel. Wikipedia has an overview.