Friday, October 18, 2013

Attack of the Wikileaks clones

This is an interesting story I thought I would share with people. You often hear Julian Assange carry on about how he is the victim of a smear campaign and how unnamed institutions are using dirty tricks tactics against him. Well from where I am sitting, those who live in glass houses, should not thrown stones.

Back in January when I did my short stint as the Wikileaks-Forum owner, there was a misleading attack by one of Julian Assange supporters on the Wikileaks-Forum. Which Julian himself retweeted (so it had his support) . For those of you that dont remember the incident here is the link to the original story:

In a nutshell, a user by the name of "Stjärna Frånfälle" accused the Wikileaks-forum of having malware. This was then retreated by Julian Assange. Since I am a skilled InfoSec specialist I investigated this claim right away. We could empirically prove that Stjärna Frånfälle was intentionally misleading people. I even remember when I asked "her" to back up the story, we got sent a dodgy fake screenshot.

I think that was one of those moments in my life when I realized I was dealing with some really disturbed human beings. Anyways, water under the bridge and all that, and I moved on with my life. 10 months later I decided to search, "wikileaks-forum" on Twitter and low and behold who do I find?

A Twitter user account by the name of @marthagroup slandering the Wikileaks-Forum. Now this by itself would not be interesting to me. I know there are several factions that are jealous of the accomplishments of the forum that are trying to do their best to attack the forum, however, what interested me was the user, "@marthagroup" was using the exact same profile picture as the fraudulent "Stjärna Frånfälle" account.

I went back to check the "@StjarnaFranfall" account to see what that clone was doing these days only to find out the user behind the clone account had decided to shut it down. Probably because of my last post on that user which outed them for being a fraud. 

Well it seems that user is back again. Once again slandering the Wikileaks-forum, this time under a completely different name. Also from what I have seen, there is a focus group of clones attacking the forum. Though theyre not alone. There is a small group of disturbed people (Im pretty sure theyre either bipolar or paranoid schizophrenics) who are constantly attacking the forum and stalking its members. 

All of this has kinda left a bad taste in my mouth. Gone are the days when I was an idealist, thinking that Wikileaks was run by noble people for a noble cause with noble intentions. This has been replaced by the cold dark reality of subterfuge, back stabbing, dishonesty and deception.

So next time you see Julian and Wikileaks claim they are the victims of a dirty tricks campaign. Just remember, that its pretty unlikely that that is a one way street. Be careful whom you trust. 

PS. I am not the owner or involved directly in running Wikileaks-forum any more. I do however speak to members on both side of the divide and am friendly with people from the forum and some who ardently support Wikileaks. PPS. I am also not the least bit unsure that writing this article is going to light up my twitter feed like a Christmas tree with personal attacks. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

How to create a secure and anonymous chat system

So I have spent the last week trying out many different types of chat applications and services to find out what best suites my needs. This became more important to me ever since the FBI`s crackdown on Freedom Hosting totally destroyed Tormail (RIP).

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Tormail, Tormail was a completely anonymous email system which activists, whisteblowers and other people paranoid about their identity could use to send and receive emails. Ever since Tormail was taking offline, there has definitely been a gap in the market.

I communicate with many pro-democracy activists around the world. Some of these activists reside in countries where pro-democracy activities are monitored or are illegal. So it was imperative that I find a chat system that was both secure and protected my activists and their anonymity.

I tried platforms like Bitmessage and TorChat. While both of these systems were very efficient at sending encrypted anonymous messages they were more designed for limited or single use operations. They were not particularity designed for constant communication across multiple platforms. I found them useful but unpractical for my needs.

Eventually after sorting through many applications and protocols I finally found a system that was practical and that had very high levels of encryption and security. The solution involves combining Jabber (XMPP) and Tor.

What you will need:

Pidgin (An open source jabber/XMPP client)
Tor Browser (Allows us to connect to the Tor network for anonimity and encryption)
OTR Plugin (Allows us to add an aditional layer of end-to-end encryption) Jabber Account (Encrypted / decentralized Jabber registration service)

Install Tor Browser, Pidgin and OTR in that order. Before you create your account configure Pidgin to use the Tor encrypted network. Tools ---> Preferences ---> Proxy:

One you are sure Pidgin is using the Tor network you can go ahead and create your jabber account. Since you will be using Jabber via Tor, your real IP address and other incriminating information is hidden from possible observers. 

As an added measure of security I use the OTR (Off the Record) Pidgin plugin, This applies an additional layer of end-to-end encryption so that no one can snoop on your private communications. 

Thats pretty much it. Just be sure to have the Tor Browser open the whole time (or alternately configure Tor to be a permanent service) and you will be fine. 

Not even PRISM or your local corrupt government spy agency will have the ability to intercept and view your communications. 

Want to chat and test your system? Add me:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tie me kangaroo down sport

Just a short message out to all the Australian supporters of Wikileaks. It was brought to my attention that Julian Assange has attacked yet another part of his support base... The strong supporters he had in Australia.

Just like Julian attacked the Wikileaks-forum he has now gone after another Wikileaks support group called akaWaka.

The cries of dismay from his now ex-supporters were plain to see.

To the Wikileaks supports in Australia, from an Wikileaks supporter in South Africa. I can sympathize with you. If there is one thing that Julian has consistently done to his volunteers and supporters. Is use them, cut them off and then pretend like they never existed. A common practice is to pretend they are part of some front for whatever group he currently has issues with.  I wrote about what had happened to me and the Wikileaks-Forum last year already and a lot of it is still very relevant today:

It seems a year later nothing has changed. Julian is still attacking his support base. I feel sorry for the Wikileaks supporters in Australia. I know how it feels to be thrown under the bus like this. I just would like the Australian support base to consider the following. Dont ever give up on the ideal. The ideal is greater than one person or one organization. The ideals of transparency and accountability should never be lost. Dont let one man / one personality destroy your ambitions to achieve those ideals.

I know you are hard working guys and girls and I am pretty sure I saw a fellow Tabler (Round Table) in those tweets of dismay. Take this experience and learn from it. Build something greater than Julian could ever imagine. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

My views on libertarianism

There was a stage in my life I identified with being a libertarian. I loved the ideal. It was utopian. A world with little or no government where we were governed by ourselves and not by a government. I grew up in the 80`s, where governments around the worlds were committing terrible human right abuses against their peoples.

We had the communists and socialist governments wrecking havoc with bad centralized planning. We had the capitalist governments profiteering off the industrial war complex. We had Apartheid government in South Africa oppressing the majority of its citizens and we had the Chinese driving tanks over citizens in Tienanmen Square.

It was very easy to spin an anti-government argument then. Most governments were working against the will of the people.

Believe it or not, in the last couple of decades a lot has changed and it has changed for the better. The people are more in control of their governments. It is still  not ideal and we still need to learn to control and manage our governments better, but around the world... in a million tiny little steps. People are fixing their governments for the better.

But why do we need a government my libertarian friends ask me.

Its simple. Back when I was a libertarian my history knowledge was still pretty terrible. I used to think things like the Gold Standard was a good idea, I later changed my perception when I  learnt the Gold Standard was a major contributor to the Great Depression.  I also used to think governments were bad... until I learnt why we invented governments.

Many life forms have learnt that working together is a powerful survival mechanism, and we have probably been social creatures for longer than we have been primates. Nature has shown us, that species that work together as a team are better at survival than if they were just isolated individuals.

So humans have throughout the ages always grouped up and formed centres of power. We would have been gangs of early primates with alphas. We then moved onto clans and villages with chiefs. Not too long ago we had Kings of Fiefdoms, city states and then eventually kingdoms. Up until this point the wealthy and their armies could get away with just about anything and everything.

For 99.9% of humanity this was a pretty terrible deal. You would had no rights and the wealthy could abuse you any way they wish. You were the property of the ultra wealthy.

So of course, most of humanity deciding this was a bad deal went to war to fight for the rights of the majority. We have had events like the writing of the Magna Carta and the French Revolution as civilization  curtailed the power of the ultra wealthy.

From Kings and their Kingdoms we evolved to Presidents and countries. You must remember, we had just evolved from the time period of  kings and kingdoms (at the time of writing this there are still monarchies around the world) so we as yet had to learn which government model works the best. 

Of course many people had many different ideas on how a government should work. Every one went with what they thought worked best. Communists, Capitalists, Socialists, Fascists, Nationalists.... just about every ist you could think of.

Some of these we obviously got very wrong and others seems to be working better than the rest. Some of the biggest differences between government models was between which economic ideology was the most ideal: Communist vs Capitalist & Libertarian vs Socialist.

In reality we learnt none of these supposed utopian ideals were perfect for humanity. People were too diverse. There was no, “one size fits all. What we found out through trial and error is that mixed market economies worked the best. 

If we went too Capitalist we found out that society regressed. With no government to regulate the whims of the ultra wealthy, humanity suffered. Societies become unstable as wealth is accumulated by a few. The bigger the gap between the rich and the poor the more unstable your society becomes.

We also found out that if we went too Socialist, corruption got centralized and and there was no incentive for anyone to do anything but the least amount of work possible.

To return to a period of a government not run by the people means that we would return to the age of Kings and their armies. It would become the wild west all over again, where those with power would have it absolutely and have no accountability. This is what we spent centuries fighting against.

I believe one of the fathers of economics said it best:

"Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all". Keynes

When people ask me today, which are you? A Capitalist or a Socialist. I say I am neither. I believe in a Mixed Market Economy. One where we have the capitalistic incentive of earning more for working harder, but also a model that adds to social stability and has the humanity to include social welfare.