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Author Topic: Anyone want to develop a secured comms device?  (Read 5585 times)
KI4JGT
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Posts: 114




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« on: September 13, 2011, 01:02:30 AM »

***THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH AMATEUR RADIO***

Now that I have the disclaimer written, I've never been very good with the hardware side of electronics. I'm more of the software side. With that being said, I have developed an application which allows secured communications. These communications are untraceable, uninterceptable, undecipherable, and unblockable. It's basically user to user, end to end secured. It goes through the Internet (penetrates the most stubborn firewalls) and allows the user to send and receive messages (even while not online.) It's basically just like regular text messaging, except with the above features. I know that NO SYSTEM IS 100% SECURE. But this system is virtually secure.

I have reviewed this application with another programmer (little more experienced) who also believes the application is secure. I originally planned to release the application and OS running the application onto this device. http://www.amazon.com/ZIPIT-All-Wi-F.../dp/B00115PR2O and market modified versions of it from my website. The company which originally manufactured them, has decided to discontinue them. :-(. Now, I'm looking for another device which could run a Linux OS and my application. After reviewing Google for several hours on how to build a handheld device with a thumbboard and wifi capabilities, I decided it was best to ask for help from a source which I knew loved building electronics.

The plan is simple. Both the application's source code and the schematics (if you will allow) are to be released under the creative commons. (no commercial, no modifications). This would basically allow everyone who owned a copy of the device to suggest things which they thought would help it, but keep them from making modifications for their own personal profit. Both pieces of information would be intellectual property of both of us to avoid us double crossing one another.

Basically the device would need a keyboard, a screen, and a speaker. It would also need to be capable of running Linux, since that is what the application is programmed on. Thus, it would also need RAM, a processor, and storage components (preferably removable ie a memory card)

I would be willing to go 50/50 on company ownership. I tweak the software and you tweak the hardware. I just want to see this device touch off the ground. Anyone interested in helping me build this project please reply to this thread. Thanks guys.
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KA5N
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 03:52:35 AM »

Gee what a great opportunity!!!   What could possibly go wrong?

Allen Huh  Roll Eyes
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N2EY
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Posts: 3833




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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 04:30:01 AM »

What could possibly go wrong?

Sums it up right there.

Let's see - a system that uses the internet, goes through firewalls, and works even if the computer is not online.

Of course nobody would ever dream of abusing such a system....

The Germans thought Enigma was secure, too.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KI4JGT
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Posts: 114




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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2011, 08:36:35 AM »

Though I can not garuntee what it will be used for, I've already addressed that saying it was 100% secure would be insane. According to today's standards, it's secure. It's based on technology used by several governemt, activist, refugee, criminal, and press groups around the world. This technology even penetrates the Chinese firewall. http://www.torproject.org you can do the research yourself.
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M0HCN
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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2011, 05:13:39 PM »

This pretty much fails the 'interesting' test for me, take a tablet, add tor and ssh, maybe the old unix talk utility or just netcat, job done....
The key fingerprinting even provides relatively good protection against man in the middle attacks, but user identity verification is still hard.

Initial connection setup is also problematic as you need to know a target IP address which is easy if connecting to say a newspapers servers, but much harder if say trying to call someone else without a trusted intermediary to provide the fixed point for both users to connect to.
Do it right however and this intermediary does NOT need to be able to decode what is being said, and in fact is ONLY involved in call setup.

Certainly I don't see any need for custom hardware here, off the shelf stuff will do, but on the software side you would want to do some very involved security auditing and would probably want to have some integrity attestation stuff (TPM) involved to ensure that no keyloggers or such had been installed.
On the radio front, there are some known attacks using rf emissions or even fluctuations in power consumption or packet timing that would need consideration, and entropy generation for the crypto sub system would want thinking about. 

I would also note that tor is vulnerable to parties controlling a sufficient number of the exit nodes, an attack which has been used in reality.

Nothing that has not been done a hundred times on a hundred different laptops out there.

Regards, Dan.
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KI4JGT
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2011, 07:14:11 PM »

Most of these security issues have been addressed and "fixed" (if there is a such thing as fixed security) The only problem that remains is if someone owns a majority of computers on the network. It beats the entire system hands down every time. The connection isn't blocked and the communication isn't compromised, but the communication CAN be tracked (if the user connects to enough of the tracker's clients at one time) I was hoping that maybe with more devices using it, this strategy would become tougher. If 1000 people are using it and a tracker owns 100 of the clients, then the user has more of a chance than if there are 1000000 users and the tracker has 100 clients.
There are also advanced security protocols addressed by my client which aren't included in the original Tor client. This includes verifiable messaging (no one can spoof a message from one person to another) and a few other fixes. So the tablet idea won't work. Not to mention, tablets get trojans and worms. If there isn't an independent platform to run these things on, then some idiot will download a keylogger and the program will no longer be secure. I plan to keep the platform open sourced, but only modifiable to people who want to modify it and not just to everyone who seeks to add to it. Tor alone will not work.
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W5FYI
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2011, 08:02:40 PM »

I've been reading "Crypto," by Steven Levy, in which he talks about ITAR, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations of the State Department. At one time cryptology was considered a "weapon" of sorts, and the NSA tried to intimidate codemakers into believing they could be jailed if they divulged their methods, especially to foreign audiences. I believe First Amendment rights won the argument in favor of the codemakers, but it would be prudent to check the current regulations before the men in black come a'knocking. GL
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KI4JGT
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2011, 09:13:08 PM »

Thanks for the advice W5FYI. In some countries running the Tor client is illegal. China for example. They block EVERYTHING. Tor has been able to bypass this block for a long time. They hate it, so they fine ANYONE caught running it. My service is run on the Tor protocol (with some MAJOR changes to make it texting friendly.). As far as I'm aware, Tor is perfectly legal in the states though. It was developed by the U.S. military and the more people who use it, the more secure and unblockable it becomes. They need a lot of people to use it, so that it remains secure for them to operate. Like I said earlier, even hard core criminals use it.
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M0HCN
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« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2011, 04:16:27 AM »

I suspect that the strong crypto cat is out of the bag ever since "Applied Cryptography" (Excellent book!) was published.

As memory serves, Zimmerman got PGP out of the country by publishing the source as a book with easily OCRed pages and a checksum at the bottom of each page.... This in the era where the US Gov was pushing for network encryption hardware with a mandatory back door!

As to not being able to use off the shelf tools, don't be too sure, take the source to your tablet of choice and rip out the ability to (easily) install software so it can only use the code built in at the time the OS is flashed, then sign the image and use the TPM hardware to attest to its validity. This should be straight forward on android at least.

You SERIOUSLY do NOT want to be implementing your own crypto routines, you WILL make security critical mistakes, crypto is subtle and you are far better off picking a known good (and widely deployed) library (Ask Sony computer entertainment about this!). 

I would not use the criminal (or even embassy) use of tor as any kind of proof of anything, both groups stuff up on a regular basis.

Further I would remind you that I can probably run a hundred thousand tor exit nodes (all under my control) on hired machines either in the cloud or on a hired botnet for very little money as these things are judged, that would give me a good chance of being able to trace most traffic well enough to do TA on it.

Regards, Dan (Who still maintains that the problem is basically solved and thus boring).
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KI4JGT
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Posts: 114




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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2011, 05:23:24 AM »

I already have a distributor who may be interested. Off the shelf will have to be postponed. I do have plans to port it to PC, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS later, but not right now. I want to make sure that it isn't able to interact with 3rd party apps. Meaning I would have to write my own keyboard for the program so a thirdparty app couldn't tap into the OS's main keyboard (hoping that's how it works anyway. Knowing Apple and Android, it'll probably be more complex). I'm going to allow Tor protocol to handle the crypto part. Lastly, I'm not using exit nodes. The entire system will be inside the network. Exit nodes present a very BIG vulnerability to the end user. For this reason they've been eliminated altogether.
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M0HCN
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2011, 06:38:39 AM »

Allowing tor to "handle" the crypto was exactly how a load of European embassy traffic turned out to be insecure a few years back. Client crypto is NOT what tor does (Let SSH handle this, it is good at it and the BSD guys did a competent security audit on that stuff).

You also need to think about how to establish a route between you hardware without using exit nodes, I am not seeing it somehow. At some point you have to inject data from machines under your control into tor and at that point you need to specify a destination IP address (which is a hard problem)..... I can think of ways to work it but they all have single points of failure.

Seriously a custom firmware image that will not support having additional applications run is very nearly trivial, and is going to be far more bug free then anything you can code up from scratch, even just replacing 'init' on a unix with your application code will do it, if it does not fork, how can anything else run?

I am off to go play radios.

Regards, Dan.
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KI4JGT
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2011, 12:13:41 PM »

Were the European embassy guys using exit nodes? If so, I've eliminated them. Take a look at Tor Hidden Services. It's how Wikileaks was first hosted. It keeps all the traffic in the Tor network, which has full gpg/pgp encryption until it reaches an exit node (websites can't use gpg/pgp, so the exit node must decrypt the connection and translate it to the site. This is where all the trouble is. Some exit nodes can not be trusted. The implant information, they steal information, they keep information from getting to it's destination. To avoid this, I'm keeping all connections within the network with hidden services. There will be no need for an exit node to decrypt the information, so there will be no way of the information getting out. Each hidden service gets it's own URL. This is how you can keep up with the IP of the users. Many Tor chat programs already use this technology. Then you move on to several other security risks associated with using this technology. . . impersonation for one. Sending IP for two. My application which has been placed over Tor, allows you take care of both of these problems and a few more.
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AD6KA
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« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2011, 11:24:30 PM »

Quote
I tweak the software and you tweak the hardware.
And who handles the business end of it, finds investors, and customers?

If this super duper secure comms system of yours is so great,
why are you posting about it on an Internet ham radio blog instead of
discreetly seeking venture capital?

How many new patents for this have you filed or own?

Quote
I would be willing to go 50/50 on company ownership.
Do you HAVE a company?
50% of zero is zero.
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AA4HA
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« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2011, 06:14:43 AM »

It does not make much sense. Why do you need a dedicated hardware platform?

You could get just about any PIC controller out there with an Ethernet interface and code yourself silly in assembler or C.

If you are opening it up under a creative commons license I do not see where you are going to be very successful in running this as a for-profit venture. Open source projects are fantastic as they have the ability to quickly outpace the innovation of the original creators of the project (open source projects are terrible as they have the ability to quickly outpace the innovation of the original creators of the project, making it unprofitable.).

I have participated in a few joint venture projects like this before and they are never as easy to implement as they sound. You end up essentially working almost full-time on the project, moving or traveling frequently to the same city as the software developer because you cannot efficiently collaborate on a hardware/software system without meeting someplace with a dry erase board or project plans.

There are a large number of unemployed folks out there (many of them hams) who would probably be willing to throw the dice on a long shot. It does take up-front money, a "golden investor" (venture capitalist) who is going to ask hard questions about how much profit they are going to make on this project. Nobody works for free (unless you are a graduate student working on your thesis).
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
W6RMK
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Posts: 649




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« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2011, 10:15:07 AM »

I've been reading "Crypto," by Steven Levy, in which he talks about ITAR, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations of the State Department. At one time cryptology was considered a "weapon" of sorts, and the NSA tried to intimidate codemakers into believing they could be jailed if they divulged their methods, especially to foreign audiences. I believe First Amendment rights won the argument in favor of the codemakers, but it would be prudent to check the current regulations before the men in black come a'knocking. GL

From first hand experience, they are not men in black, they are normal seeming guys with FBI credentials driving unexceptional government sedans who just want to talk to you and make sure you understand the issue:  some kinds of technology are in the same class as machine guns and hand grenades, so be careful who you might be selling them to, because there are a variety of laws regulating it.

FWIW ITAR is not the only thing to worry about.  A much trickier and more complex area is the Department of Commerce Export Administration Regulations.    And both of those only apply to "exports" (although export doesn't necessarily mean shipping it to another country.. transfer to a non-U.S. Person or a representative of a non-U.S. entity counts too)
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