Thursday, January 2, 2014

Opportunistic Encryption - Rewarding Good Behaviour

Years ago, the OpenSWAN project tried to implement IPV6 with opportunistic encryption, but the project failed due to ever increasing complexity.  Some alleged that the increasing encryption complexity and failure was pushed by NSA agents working inside OpenSWAN.  Be that as it may, there is new activity now, as a collective knee-jerk reaction against the pervasive snooping.

Skype used to be a secure product and became immensely popular, because it was very easy to use, but it was purchased by Microsoft - a company world renowned for its insecure software products - and all calls are now recorded.  I don't like having a PFY American Military Policemen sitting in on every call I make, so I started to look for alternatives.

One project of note, is the Redphone Android App from Whisper Systems:

This is a neat application for Android Smart Phones which can save you oodles of money, and also help you claw back some of your lost privacy.

Redphone installs on your Android phone and hooks into the regular phone dialler such that when you call someone who also has Redphone installed, then the call will proceed over the data network, securely encrypted end to end - if not, then the call will proceed normally.  The result is that you will save money - especially when calling friends in other countries, same as with Skype, Ekiga or Jitsi.

Simply install Redphone and call people as usual.  If they don't have it, then you will get the option to send them a download link.  If they do have it, then you will get the option to use the lower cost internet link.  Whatever you do, you can always talk to them normally too, so you get the best of both worlds.

Redphone is very easy to use and easy to install.  The system sends a SMS to the phone to generate a key and then it Just Works.  (If you want to create a new key, just re-register the phone.)

Textsecure, another app by Whisper Systems, does the same thing for SMS messages.

To me, the brilliance of this approach is that it provides everyone with a financial incentive to improve their security.

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