Text 22 Aug 98 notes Secure Yourself: Text Messages


Text messages are an incredibly important, daily tool. You know this already, or you wouldn’t be here. Text messages are also one of the most commonly-targeted communication methods, precisely because of how ubiquitous they are. Independent hackers, corporations, marketers, and government agencies all want to intercept your texts for various reasons. Today we’re going to learn how to shut them out.

First, a little necessary background. The word “texting” doesn’t just refer to one thing— it’s more of an umbrella term, used to denote a couple technically different types of communication. To secure our stuff, we have to get a quick rundown of what the different types are.

1. “True” texting uses the SMS/MMS protocol. These are “green bubble” texts if you’re an iPhone user. Most if not all “standard” texts you send from one cell phone to another will probably be SMS-based. SMS messages count against the “texts” included in your data plan, and cell companies have routinely overcharged for them for years.

An SMS message is no more secure than a postcard, and can be intercepted and viewed by anyone with the capability to get between you and the recipient. This means your cell carrier and anyone with direct access to the cell carrier’s systems, local police or investigators using a premade cell phone hijacking system like a Stingray (more on these later), or anyone with a couple hundred bucks and the technical expertise to build an IMSI catcher.

SMS is a dead-end technology as far as security goes. It will probably never get better, and should never be used for sensitive communications.

2. “Data-based” texting uses your cell phone’s data connection to send messages. They don’t count against your carrier’s texting limits. This means everything that isn’t SMS, for all intents and purposes: iMessage (“blue bubble” iPhone texts), WhatsApp, Kik, Line, Facebook Messenger, etc. Any of the “free text” apps are considered data-based texting.

Data-based texts are often more secure, in that they usually feature some kind of encryption— they usually cannot be read by someone who’s able to listen in on your traffic. However, the operators of these services have the keys to unlock the encryption. WhatsApp, for example, is now owned by Facebook. If you think Facebook doesn’t have an interest in scanning your texts for information they can sell to marketers, you are more credulous than I. Facebook would and has decrypted chats for anyone who comes knocking with a subpoena, and so would any of these other companies.

So what can be done about this? We have to encrypt our text messages so that we can be sure only the sender (that’s you) and the recipient have the keys. Here are a couple applications to do just that:

The first option is Threema, which costs two dollars. Threema is a data-based texting app very similar to WhatsApp, designed to make encryption as painless as possible. They’re based in Switzerland, which has exceptional data-privacy laws. Threema was adopted en masse in privacy-conscious Germany after Facebook purchased WhatsApp, and has become extremely popular among people who frequently text across international boundaries.

Threema uses a simple “three lights” system to indicate the level of security of a given conversation— That is to say, that you can be absolutely sure the person you’re texting is who they say they are. Three lights means the conversation is perfectly secure, two orange lights means there is a reasonable degree of surety, and one red light means you can’t be sure the person is who they say they are.

To get the three green lights, you scan a QR code (in person!) displayed on the other person’s phone. It’s a simple one-time process designed to provide an extra layer of security, and it works really well. They lay out the process here. The level of encryption remains the same, the lights are just to indicate how sure you can be that it’s the real Slim Shady.

The drawback to Threema is that it is not “open source” software— independent people who know what they’re doing cannot read the source code of the app to be 100% sure there are no secret back doors. Chances of this are very remote, but there is still necessarily a small amount of trust which must be placed in the developers. This may or may not be an acceptable risk for you.

The second (free!) option is Textsecure, for Android. Its iPhone counterpart is Signal, which currently only supports encrypted voice calls but will have texting added soon. Textsecure is an open-source encrypted texting app released by Whisper Systems, headed up by well-known hacker and security researcher Moxie Marlinspike. It’s is still a little shaky in some ways, but it will probably be the secure-texting app of choice once it gets a little polish and a solid iPhone version. Watch this space.

The biggest challenge with these applications is going to be getting your friends to jump ship to the new service. Threema tries to make the process as painless as possible, scanning your address book and automatically adding people who also have the app installed. If they switched to WhatsApp before, surely they can do it again with the promise that your awful selfies and text-based fanfic will be secure from prying eyes.

(Want to test Threema, but don’t have any friends on it yet? Send me a message at UKX9YWN4.)

via toxoplasm.
Video 22 Aug 19,104 notes




A Democratic Missouri state senator representing parts of Ferguson who tweeted multiple times “fuck you,” at Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon defended her choice of words on Fox News Monday saying she did so because she was tear-gassed for three days.

“The reason why I used profane language is because he has allowed us to get tear-gassed for three days,” Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal said. “I am one of his senators in his party and he was at the state fair enjoying a country concert while we were getting teargassed and shot at. And yes, anyone who’s going to get teargassed deserves to say a few ‘F’ bombs here and there.”

“I represent my constituents, not Gov. Nixon,” the senator said. “He has been absent from the minority community his entire career and only comes before us when it is politically expedient for him. Or when he’s running for office, and because he has been outside of this community…let me tell you this, and this is important for your audience to know. He has still yet to come to ground zero. Yet to come to ground zero. He’s been in Florissant, he’s been in Normandy, but he has not spoken to the victims of the crisis we are dealing with and that is why I have called him a coward.”


real shit

run for president

via toxoplasm.
Video 22 Aug 2,251 notes


What a cool fucking guy haha

(Source: baruch-de-spinoza)

Video 22 Aug 413,606 notes




this is fucked up. this fucked me up. the teachers fucked up by not showing us this fuck up. fuck.

dear god

i’m 28 and never knew this


(Source: yodiscrepo)

Video 22 Aug 30,935 notes


From Elon James White Tuesday night.

Video 22 Aug 32,351 notes


Monday night. Part 6.

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3] [part 4] [part 5]

Photo 22 Aug 9 notes di-atom:

click 2 navigate


click 2 navigate

via .
Link 21 Aug 4,988 notes I will not be returning to Ferguson»


I had been on the ground helping Al Jazeera America cover the protests and unrest in Ferguson, Mo., since this all started last week. After what I saw last night, I will not be returning. The behavior and number of journalists there is so appalling, that I cannot in good conscience continue to be a part of the spectacle.

Things I’ve seen:

-Cameramen yelling at residents in public meetings for standing in way of their cameras

-Cameramen yelling at community leaders for stepping away from podium microphones to better talk to residents

-TV crews making small talk and laughing at the spot where Mike Brown was killed, as residents prayed, mourned

-A TV crew of a to-be-left-unnamed major cable network taking pieces out of a Ferguson business retaining wall to weigh down their tent

-Another major TV network renting out a gated parking lot for their one camera, not letting people in. Safely reporting the news on the other side of a tall fence.

-Journalists making the story about them

-National news correspondents glossing over the context and depth of this story, focusing instead on the sexy images of tear gas, rubber bullets, etc.

-One reporter who, last night, said he came to Ferguson as a “networking opportunity.” He later asked me to take a picture of him with Anderson Cooper. 

One anecdote that stands out: as the TV cameras were doing their live shots in front of the one burnt-out building in the three-block stretch of “Ground Zero,” around the corner was a community food/goods drive. I heard one resident say: “Where are the cameras? I’m going to go see if I can find some people to film this.”

Last night a frustrated resident confronted me when he saw my camera: “Yall are down here photographing US, but who gets paid?!” 

Quote 21 Aug 538 notes
No citizen should be rich enough to be able to buy another, and none so poor that he has to sell himself.
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract. Book II, Chapter XI (via minorinklings)
Video 21 Aug 41,925 notes

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