Defensive Security (and responsibility, crypto is a trap)

Prismatics roundup time.

Glenn Greenwald goes on Skype and tells his partner (in Rio) he’ll send over a copy of The Documents — read, all the secrets that haven’t been published (yet).

Two days later someone breaks into Greenwald & partner’s Rio house and steals only the laptop.

Emotional trauma aside, this is a great lesson on the defensive security mindset for Mr. Greenwald and his partner. I suspect just about everyone who’s really serious about security has experienced something similar at least once, even if not as visibly extreme.

Responsibility: Ages ago I read an interview where the reporter asked Julian Assange what happened in Sweden. The reply was something on the order of “I stopped being responsible for my own security and let other people handle it.”

In a certain sense the same thing seems to have happened to Edward Snowden — everything was going his way until he ran out of plan and asked for help, now he appears to be playing “Neo in the orphan subway station.” In all fairness he has a woman to keep him company — but that may be exacerbating the problem!

I’m in no position to fault anyone’s judgment, and certainly not that of the people doing the helping. I’m just noticing a bit of a pattern. (Also speaking partly from experience. Self-reliance is good on so many levels* — if you must depend on anything, spread your dependence over as many redundant things as possible.)

* which is probably why mass media preaches interdependence #fuckcloudcomputing

Crypto is a trap: It turns out using encryption just gets your data stored until “computing by the acre” can decrypt it.

“For now, Greenwald said he is taking extra precautions against the prospect that he is a target of U.S. surveillance. He said he began using encrypted email when he began communicating with Snowden in February after Snowden sent him a YouTube video walking him through the procedure to encrypt his email.

“When I was in Hong Kong, I spoke to my partner in Rio via Skype and told him I would send an electronic encrypted copy of the documents,” Greenwald said. “I did not end up doing it. Two days later his laptop was stolen from our house and nothing else was taken. Nothing like that has happened before. I am not saying it’s connected to this, but obviously the possibility exists.””

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