Search Results: "Jacob Appelbaum"

14 January 2016

Petter Reinholdtsen: Always download Debian packages using Tor - the simple recipe

During his DebConf15 keynote, Jacob Appelbaum observed that those listening on the Internet lines would have good reason to believe a computer have a given security hole if it download a security fix from a Debian mirror. This is a good reason to always use encrypted connections to the Debian mirror, to make sure those listening do not know which IP address to attack. In August, Richard Hartmann observed that encryption was not enough, when it was possible to interfere download size to security patches or the fact that download took place shortly after a security fix was released, and proposed to always use Tor to download packages from the Debian mirror. He was not the first to propose this, as the apt-transport-tor package by Tim Retout already existed to make it easy to convince apt to use Tor, but I was not aware of that package when I read the blog post from Richard. Richard discussed the idea with Peter Palfrader, one of the Debian sysadmins, and he set up a Tor hidden service on one of the central Debian mirrors using the address vwakviie2ienjx6t.onion, thus making it possible to download packages directly between two tor nodes, making sure the network traffic always were encrypted. Here is a short recipe for enabling this on your machine, by installing apt-transport-tor and replacing http and https urls with tor+http and tor+https, and using the hidden service instead of the official Debian mirror site. I recommend installing etckeeper before you start to have a history of the changes done in /etc/.
apt install apt-transport-tor
sed -i 's%' /etc/apt/sources.list
sed -i 's% http% tor+http%' /etc/apt/sources.list
If you have more sources listed in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/, run the sed commands for these too. The sed command is assuming your are using the Debian mirror. Adjust the command (or just edit the file manually) to match your mirror. This work in Debian Jessie and later. Note that tools like apt-file only recently started using the apt transport system, and do not work with these tor+http URLs. For apt-file you need the version currently in experimental, which need a recent apt version currently only in unstable. So if you need a working apt-file, this is not for you. Another advantage from this change is that your machine will start using Tor regularly and at fairly random intervals (every time you update the package lists or upgrade or install a new package), thus masking other Tor traffic done from the same machine. Using Tor will become normal for the machine in question. On Freedombox, APT is set up by default to use apt-transport-tor when Tor is enabled. It would be great if it was the default on any Debian system.

7 January 2016

Daniel Pocock: Do you own your phone or does it own you?

Have you started thinking about new year's resolutions for 2016? Back to the gym or giving up sugary drinks? Many new year's resolutions have a health theme. Unless you have a heroin addiction, there may not be anything else in your life that is more addictive and has potentially more impact on your health and quality of life than your mobile phone. Almost every week there is some new report about the negative impact of phone use on rest or leisure time. Children are particularly at risk and evidence strongly suggests their grades at school are tanking as a consequence. Can you imagine your life changing for the better if you switched off your mobile phone or left it at home for one day per week in 2016? If you have children, can you think of anything more powerful than the example you set yourself to help them stay in control of their phones? Children have a remarkable ability to emulate the bad habits they observe in their parents. Are you in control? Turning it off is a powerful act of showing who is in charge. If you feel you can't live without it, then you are putting your life in the hands of the people who expect an immediate answer of their calls, your phone company and the Silicon Valley executives who make all those apps you can't stop using. As security expert Jacob Appelbaum puts it, cell phones are tracking devices that also happen to make phone calls. Isn't that a chilling thought to reflect on the next time you give one as Christmas gift? For your health, your children and your bank balance Not so long ago we were having lunch in a pizza restaurant in Luzern, a picturesque lakeside town at the base of the Swiss Alps. Luzern is a popular first stop for tourists from all around the world. A Korean family came along and sat at the table next to us. After ordering their food, they all immediately took out their mobile devices and sat there in complete silence, the mother and father, a girl of eight and a boy of five, oblivious to the world around them and even each other, tapping and swiping for the next ten minutes until their food arrived. We wanted to say hello to them, I joked that I should beep first, initiating communication with the sound of a text message notification. Is this how all holidays will be in future? Is it how all families will spend time together? Can you imagine your grandchildren and their children sharing a meal like this in the year 2050 or beyond? Which gadgets does Bond bring to Switzerland? On Her Majesty's Secret Service is one of the more memorable Bond movies for its spectacular setting in the Swiss Alps, the location now transformed into a mountain-top revolving restaurant visited by thousands of tourists every day with a comfortable cable car service and hiking trails with breathtaking views that never become boring. Can you imagine Bond leaving behind his gun and his skis and visiting Switzerland with a smartphone instead? Eating a pizza with one hand while using the fingertips of the other to operate an app for making drone strikes on villains, swiping through Tinder for a new girl to replace the one who died (from boredom) in his previous "adventure" and letting his gelati melt while engrossed in a downhill ski or motorcycle game in all the glory of a 5.7" 24-bit colour display? Of course its absurd. Would you want to live like that yourself? We see more and more of it in people who are supposedly in Switzerland on the trip of a lifetime. Would you tolerate it in a movie? The mobile phone industry has paid big money to have their technology appear on the silver screen but audience feedback shows people are frustrated with movies that plaster the contents of text messages across the screen every few minutes; hopefully Bond movies will continue to plaster bullets and blood across the screen instead. Time for freedom How would you live for a day or a weekend or an entire holiday without your mobile phone? There are many small frustrations you may experience but the biggest one and the indirect cause of many other problems you will experience may be the inability to tell the time. Many people today have stopped wearing a watch, relying instead upon their mobile phone to tell the time. Without either a phone or a watch, frustration is not far away. If you feel apprehension just at the thought of leaving your phone at home, the lack of a watch may be a subconcious factor behind your hesitation. Trying is better than reading Many articles and blogs give opinions about how to buy a watch, how much to spend and what you can wear it with. Don't spend a lot of time reading any of it, if you don't know where to start, simply go down to the local high street or mall and try them. Start with the most glamorous and expensive models from Swiss manufacturers, as these are what everything else is compared to and then perhaps proceed to look more widely. While Swiss brands tend to sell through the stores, vendors on Amazon and eBay now distribute a range of watches from manufacturers in Japan, China and other locations, such as Orient and Invicta, at a fraction of the price of those in the stores. You still need to try a few first to identify your preferred style and case size though. Google can also turn up many options for different budgets.

Copying or competition? Similarity of Invicta (from Amazon) and Rolex Submariner You may not know whether you want a watch that is manually wound, automatically wound or battery operated. Buying a low-cost automatic model online could be a good way to familiarize yourself before buying anything serious. Mechanical watches have a smoother and more elegant second-hand movement and will survive the next Carrington event but may come to grief around magnets - a brief encounter with a low-cost de-gausser fixes that. Is it smart to buy a smart watch? If you genuinely want to have the feeling of complete freedom and control over technology, you may want to think twice about buying a smart watch. While it may be interesting to own and experiment with it some of the time, being free from your phone means being free from other electronic technology too. If you do go for a smart watch (and there are many valid reasons for trying one some of the time), maybe make it a second (or third) watch. Smart watches are likely to be controversial for some time to come due to their impact in schools (where mobile phones are usually banned) and various privacy factors. Help those around you achieve phone freedom in 2016 There will be further blogs on this theme during 2016, each looking at the pressures people face when with or without the mobile phone. As a developer of communications technology myself, you may be surprised to see me encouraging people not to use it every waking minute. Working on this technology makes me more conscious of its impact on those around me and society in general. A powerful factor to consider when talking about any communications technology is the presence of peer pressure and the behavior of those around you. Going phone-free may involve helping them to consider taking control too. Helping them out with a new watch as a gift (be careful to seek advice on the style that they are likely to prefer or ensure the purchase can be exchanged) may be an interesting way to help them engage with the idea and every time they look at the time, they may also be reminded of your concern for their freedom.

30 August 2015

DebConf team: DebConf15: Farewell, and thanks for all the Fisch (Posted by DebConf Team)

A week ago, we concluded our biggest DebConf ever! It was a huge success. Handwritten feedback note We are overwhelmed by the positive feedback, for which we re very grateful. We want to thank you all for participating in the talks; speakers and audience alike, in person or live over the global Internet it wouldn t be the fantastic DebConf experience without you! Many of our events were recorded and streamed live, and are now available for viewing, as are the slides and photos. To share a sense of the scale of what all of us accomplished together, we ve compiled a few statistics: Our very own designer Valessio Brito made a lovely video of impressions and images of the conference.
We re collecting impressions from attendees as well as links to press articles, including Linux Weekly News coverage of specific sessions of DebConf. If you find something not yet included, please help us by adding links to the wiki.
DebConf15 group photo (by Aigars Mahinovs)
We tried a few new ideas this year, including a larger number of invited and featured speakers than ever before. On the Open Weekend, some of our sponsors presented their career opportunities at our job fair, which was very well attended. And a diverse selection of entertainment options provided the necessary breaks and ample opportunity for socialising. On the last Friday, the Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour was screened, with some introductory remarks by Jacob Appelbaum and a remote address by its director, Laura Poitras, and followed by a long Q&A session by Jacob. DebConf15 was also the first DebConf with organised childcare (including a Teckids workshop for kids of age 8-16), which our DPL Neil McGovern standardised for the future: it s a thing now, he said. The participants used the week before the conference for intensive work, sprints and workshops, and throughout the main conference, significant progress was made on Debian and Free Software. Possibly the most visible was the endeavour to provide reproducible builds, but the planning of the next stable release stretch received no less attention. Groups like the Perl team, the diversity outreach programme and even DebConf organisation spent much time together discussing next steps and goals, and hundreds of commits were made to the archive, as well as bugs closed. DebConf15 was an amazing conference, it brought together hundreds of people, some oldtimers as well as plenty of new contributors, and we all had a great time, learning and collaborating with each other, says Margarita Manterola of the organiser team, and continues: The whole team worked really hard, and we are all very satisfied with the outcome. Another organiser, Martin Krafft adds: We mainly provided the infrastructure and space. A lot of what happened during the two weeks was thanks to our attendees. And that s what makes DebConf be DebConf. Photo of hostel staff wearing DebConf15 staff t-shirts (by Martin Krafft) Our organisation was greatly supported by the staff of the conference venue, the Jugendherberge Heidelberg International, who didn t take very long to identify with our diverse group, and who left no wishes untried. The venue itself was wonderfully spacious and never seemed too full as people spread naturally across the various conference rooms, the many open areas, the beergarden, the outside hacklabs and the lawn. The network installed specifically for our conference in collaboration with the nearby university, the neighbouring zoo, and the youth hostel provided us with a 1 Gbps upstream link, which we managed to almost saturate. The connection will stay in place, leaving the youth hostel as one with possibly the fastest Internet connection in the state. And the kitchen catered high-quality food to all attendees and their special requirements. Regional beer and wine, as well as local specialities, were provided at the bistro. DebConf exists to bring people together, which includes paying for travel, food and accomodation for people who could not otherwise attend. We would never have been able to achieve what we did without the support of our generous sponsors, especially our Platinum Sponsor Hewlett-Packard. Thank you very much. See you next year in Cape Town, South Africa!
The DebConf16 logo with white background

10 June 2015

DebConf team: DebConf15 Invited speakers (Posted by DebConf Team)

This year, on top of the many excellent contributed talks, BoFs, and other events always part of DebConf (some of which have already been announced) we are excited to have confirmed the following keynote speakers. During the Open Weekend (Saturday, August 15th and Sunday, August 16th), we will have keynotes delivered by: On the last day of DebConf, we look forward to the closing keynote by: For more information about our invited speakers, please see Citizenfour Screening Additionally, there will be a screening of the Citizenfour movie, winner of the Best Documentary Feature Academy Award on the evening of Friday, August 21st. You still have time to submit your talk There are only a few days left before the end of the Call for Proposals on June 15th. Events submitted after that date might not be part of the official DebConf schedule. So, please, hurry, check out the proposal submission guide and submit your event. Regards from the DebConf Team

3 August 2014

Holger Levsen: 20140803-torbrowser-launcher

About torbrowser-launcher in all current Debian distros plus some thoughts and scripts for running it more securely So, torbrowser-launcher 0.1.2-1 is now in sid (only that version has the script examples discussed below), and 0.1.1-2(~bpo70+1) are in jessie and wheezy-backports. Originally Jacob Appelbaum packaged torbrowser-launcher, then Ulrike Uhlig stepped in and fixed some major bugs, I sponsored her uploads and somehow the idea emerged to team maintain the package, so pkg-anonymity-tools was founded. So far it's only used for having a mailing list which is used for the Maintainer: field of the torbrowser-launcher package. But we invite all maintainers of anonymity related packages to join the team! Currently there ain't even a Debian teams wiki page about it (it would be great if YOU could fix that!), so that will probably be the next thing that will happen. As for version control we intend to use the collab-maint project on alioth. So joining the team is not done by joining the alioth project (technically you can do this, but it's rather pointless), but rather by putting the pkg-anonymity-tools mailing list into the Maintainer: field of your package (and you and other people into the Uploaders: field) and subscribing to that very mailing list. Once more packages are maintained that way we'll need to see whether we'll need more mailing lists (eg one specific for commit notifications) or if we rely on client side filtering only or what else should be done. The example scripts (available in /usr/share/doc/torbrowser-launcher/examples in the package from sid or in git) show how to run torbrowser-launcher, confined with AppArmor, in Xephyr (a virtual Xserver running on another Xserver) as another user. This, using AppArmor and Xephyr, shall have two effects: Does that really help? Feedback welcome. Full quote of /usr/share/doc/torbrowser-launcher/examples/README:
torbrowser-launcher launcher scripts
These scripts are intended to run torbrowser-launcher (and thus torbrowser) as
another user in an Xephyr window server running inside your normal Xorg
They assume the following packages are installed:
- torbrowser-launcher
- apparmor
- xserver-xephyr, awesome
- sudo, slay, psmisc
AppArmor should be enabled, but doesn't have to. I followed the HowTo from, which can be summed up as just adding one
parameter to the kernel to enable it, followed by a reboot.
Using Apparmor has the advantage that the browser process cannot most of the
filesystem, eg saving downloads only works in ~/.torbrowser/tbb/x86_64/tor-browser_en-US/Desktop/
On wheezy, I'm using backports for torbrowser-launcher and apparmor.
The scripts assume they have been copied to /usr/local/bin/ and that there is
a user called "foo" (for running the actuall torbrowser(-launcher) process,
and that the current user has sudo rights for the following commands:
- sudo -i -u foo /usr/local/bin/tbb-l-wrapper
- sudo slay foo
There are two scripts, tbb-in-xephyr and tbb-l-wrapper. Only tbb-in-xephyr is
to be called directly and will result in torbrowser running in Xephyr.
Known problems:
- dbus is not started, so some input methods won't work. (Personally I don't
  want/need dbus though, so I'm awaiting a solution to
- not everybody likes awesome as the window manager being used ;)
Ideas, questions and ToDo:
- maybe all of this functionality could be integrated into.
  torbrowser-launcher itself, just writing this in shell was so easy.
- or for the time being, merge these two scripts into one, doing both,
  depending on how its called. Also make them run from everywhere.
- run this in an unprivileged LXC container, which is also apparmor confined.
- (when) does this double confinement make sense?
- use a more sensible named default user (instead of foo).
- there should really be an option, so torbrowser-launcher doesn't detach
  itself, so that this "while;ps fax grep" hack can go away.
- ship an usable sudoers.d example too.
- support for more users / instances
Feedback welcome, especially accompanied by patches! 

31 August 2012

Russell Coker: Links August 2012

Google are providing some really good employee benefits including benefits to a life partner of a deceased employee [1]. It s not known if all those benefits are available outside the US, in any case the US is the first world country with the least social security so they need it most there. A recent Australian legal case had a father petitioning the court to have his kids take his family name [2]. According to the news report no good reason was given for renaming the kids, merely tradition. The mother won. is a site for reviewing companies [3]. It also has job adverts, it seems that they get people in to read the reviews and then advertise jobs. Sarah Resnick interviewed Jacob Appelbaum (of Tor fame) about privacy issues and published the article as Leave Your Cellphone at Home [4]. It s very interesting and references some resources such as that I have to try using. Systemd in Fedora 17 has multi-seat support [5]. They support plugging USB terminals in at run-time to dynamically add new consoles for GNOME sessions. The Coding Horror blog has an amusing and informative post about why people shouldn t learn to code [6]. Related posts:
  1. Links June 2012 This Youtube video is an amusing satire of EULAs and...
  2. Links January 2012 Cops in Tennessee routinely steal cash from citizens [1]. They...
  3. Links August 2008 Michael Janke is writing a series of posts about estimating...

31 July 2012

Martin Pitt: My impressions from GUADEC

I have had the pleasure of attending GUADEC in full this year. TL;DR: A lot of great presentations + lots of hall conversations about QA stuff + the obligatory be er,ach = . Last year I just went to the hackfest, and I never made it to any previous one, so GUADEC 2012 was a kind of first-time experience for me. It was great to put some faces and personal impressions to a lot of the people I have worked with for many years, as well as catching up with others that I did meet before. I discussed various hardware/software testing stuff with Colin Walters, Matthias Clasen, Lennart Poettering, Bertrand Lorentz, and others, so I have a better idea how to proceed with automated testing in plumbing and GNOME now. It was also really nice to meet my fellow PyGObject co-maintainer Paolo Borelli, as well as seeing Simon Schampier and Ignacio Casal Quinteiro again. No need to replicate the whole schedule here (see for yourself on the interwebs), so I just want to point out some personal highlights in the presentations: There were a lot of other good ones, some of them technical and some amusing and enlightening, such as Frederico s review of the history of GNOME. On Monday I prepared and participated in a PyGObject hackfest, but I ll blog about this separately. I want to thank all presenters for the excellent program, as well as the tireless GUADEC organizer team for making everything so smooth and working flawlessly! Great Job, and see you again in Strasbourg or Brno!

31 December 2008

Russell Coker: Links December 2008

A teacher in Arizona steals Linux CDs from a student and then accuses a Linux distributor of being a criminal [1]. Even though she had used Linux in the past she didn t believe that software was free. Of course that implies that in the past she had performed actions that she believed were criminal. Neat Little Mac Apps interviews Marshall Kirk McKusick - he describes how the BSD Daemon logo was designed and one of his most significant bugs [2]. offers MySQL builds with some extra features and support [3]. I was recommended to use their builds by Arjen Lentz of Open Query [4], as one of my clients is going to use the services of Open Query it seems best to use the Our Delta builds if only to get better support from Open Query. The extra features in the Our Delta builds seem interesting, but I m not sure that my client needs any of them at this time. The Global Guerilla blog reports on a man who single-handedly invaded the most heavily guarded power station in Britain and shut it down to protest against new coal power stations [5]. The entire blog is worth reading, the author has a lot of interesting ideas. PhpMyVisites is a free web site analytics system that competes with Google Analytics [6]. I haven t implemented it yet, but it looks promising. It seems that PhpMyVisites is not being updated any more (not even security updates) and the replacement is Piwik [11]. Andrew Lahde was a fund manager who made significant amounts of money by betting on the inability of US mortgagees to repay their debts, he wrote an interesting goodbye letter ( [7]. He now has a Wikipedia page which gives some interesting background to his career [8]. An Employee of the Financial Times is famous for flaming Andrew [9], I have submitted a comment pointing out that being famous for flaming someone who is more successful than yourself is nothing to be proud of and suggesting that he advocate his own political views when criticising those of others - I doubt that it will get through moderation. It s a pity that Andrew doesn t have a blog, I would like to read more from him. At CCC a paper by Alexander Sotirov, Marc Stevens, Jacob Appelbaum, Arjen Lenstra, David Molnar, Dag Arne Osvik, and Benne de Weger on how to crack the PKI infrastructure used for SSL signing was presented [10]. The root cause is some CAs still using MD5 even though it was broken a long time ago. Updated to note that Piwik is the replacement for PhpMyVisites.

11 March 2008

Steve Kemp: Cecile, this is what I like to call "quiet time"

So early this evening I looked for more bugs to fix in the Debian packages I use the most, instead of doing security work. (Because I'm waiting for buildds..) Anyway I figured I'd take a peak at the mutt-patched package - since I have my own patched backport for Etch these days. I'd like to get into the habit of making sure it stays current, but honestly I'll probably forget in a few months. One bug #464189 caught my eye. It is asking for a couple of patches, neither of which I'd heard of. One of them is obviously extremely useful though - it is designed to change the sidebar in such a way that it only displays mailboxes with unread messages in them. I hunted high and low for the patch and had to admit defeat. So I wrote my own, and now my backported package contains a suitable patch. In other news I made a new release of the chronicle blog compiler, which I'm now using in a few more places. All in all it has been a busy day and I got a fair amount of hacking done! The other thing, that I can speak about, which I did today was package the Perl Lingua::Identify module so that my spam filtering service can offer users the opportunity to reject mails written in, say, Russian, or Italian. I'm tempted to give them up to Sarah for adoption, as she was making noises at the weekend about joining Debian (then again so was Jacob Appelbaum). The only issue is that I think she should use the Debian Perl group to get involved, and I've not seen any sign of activity there from her since she first mentioned joining it. Sarah: Consider this a reminder! Update: Feel free to nominate any *crash* bugs you'd like me to attempt to fix. Providing they're not in video or audio playback code! Could be a fun challenge.. ObQuote: Cruel Intentions.