Keeping your data safe in the cloud the cheap way – part 2

Note: This page was updated on 2016-12-03. Truecrypt is no longer in use as it contained errors. If you want to find some alternatives for your system, have a look here.

A while ago I posted about a cheap way to keep your data safe in “the cloud”. Most people know Dropbox, Skydrive and Google drive, and that none of these systems are encrypted on your end. Because of that I installed Truecrypt and did some experiments.

Let’s set this as a case. You have 5MB of data you want to keep in the cloud. Dropbox gives you 2GB for free, 5MB fits in there easily. But your MBs are only encrypted by Dropbox, any CIA/FBI/NSA/TSA John Doodle can walk in and look at them. Dropbox will hand them the encryption key. Be one step ahead.

Truecrypt interface

Set up Truecrypt and create a 10MB container. (See the previous post on the how-to and such.) Set up the container outside Dropbox is my advice. Stick your 5MB worth of data inside the new drive (which is the truecrypt container) and happily use it. Once in a while copy the 10MB container to Dropbox so it gets saved to the cloud, encrypted by truecrypt. Do NOT copy the files from the container to Dropbox, then Truecrypt will decrypt them first. So if you set up the container in c:\mycrypt\container which you linked to drive T:, copy c:\mycrypt\container to Dropbox, not everything in T:.

Why not create the container directly in a Dropbox folder? Dropbox will the continuously update the entire 10MB to the cloud, which might affect the rest of your internet access. If you’re okay with that, go ahead and put the container directly inside a Dropbox folder.

And why 10MB for 5MB of data? That’s to have some space for when your amount of data grows. You can make it 6MB, but when you get to 6.1MB of data, you’ll need to create a new container in truecrypt and copy things over. It’s just some planning ahead.

Hope this helps someone.

Dutch Government: Number of Internet Taps Has Quintupled In One Year

Via /. :

“A Dutch newspaper has a digital version of the letter Mr. Opstelten, Secretary of Justice and Security, sent to Dutch Parliament (PDF in Dutch), in which he quietly admits to 56,825 phone taps (a 3% rise in one year) and to 16,676 internet taps in 2012, a 400% rise, or a fivefold increase, in one year. An older report already exposed the Netherlands as one of the biggest wiretappers in the western world. Slate also knew, back in 2006, that Europeans actually love wiretapping and internet tapping. In the Netherlands, a country with a population of only 16 million, the practice has risen to the level of a staggering 1 in 1,000 phones being tapped.”

Beat that, America!

(Read the original on Slashdot.)

Keeping your data safe in the cloud the cheap way

Security and safety of data. You may not be concerned about it. I am. Especially since I like Cloud solutions.

spideroak_nav_mainI have an account with a cloud provider called SpiderOak where your data are stored encrypted. Your computer first encrypts your stuff and then sends it to SpiderOak’s servers. They don’t have your key, so if you lose it and you lock yourself out of the client on your computer, you’re royally buggered up. They can’t help you. SpiderOak offers 2GB free, other accounts cost money ($100/year, $10/month for 100GB). See their site for other pricing options if you’re interested.

What if you can’t afford that but you have a huge Skydrive with Microsoft, or this enormous space on Google Drive? The answer: Truecrypt.

Truecrypt is a helper program that allows you to encrypt stuff. You can make it encrypt a file, a disk partition or even your entire computer. For this post I stick to the file.

When you start Truecrypt you have the options:

Truecrypt 1

Note that this is a shot from Linux, in Windows it’ll look as good as the same. To set up an encrypted file, you click ‘create volume’, enter the name of the file and follow the prompts (the entire procedure is laid out in their Beginner’s Tutorial, so I’m not copying all that here. When you have followed the wizard, you have created a new volume.

Next step is to mount the file (volume). The fun bit is that you can mount the truecrypt file as a drive (e.g. /media/truecrypt in Linux, or to a drive letter like M: or V: in windows):
truecrypt 2

Via ‘select file’ you browse to your file (or you type in the name) and click Mount. Truecrypt asks you for the password you assigned to the file in the creation process and if that matches your file is mounted as a disk (as mine is in Slot 1. Windows will show you actual drive letters to assign something to).

Stick your work in the new drive, unmount it and back up that file to Google Drive, Dropbox, MS Skydrive etc, provided you have ample space there. If you created a 4GB Truecrypt file and you try to store that to a 2GB dropbox account, you’ll get yelled at by Dropbox.

The file (your new drive) will be fully encrypted, no one can read it. I have read that the FBI spent months trying to hack a Truecrypted drive from the infamous DotCom affaire and gave up. If you need your file back, just download it from wherever, mount it and voila, there are your files. For your eyes only, and no one else’s. Again: lose the password and you’re buggered.

Warning:

! Note that I don’t know if syncing a Truecrypt file “live” to Dropbox (e.g. you have the Truecrypt file INSIDE your Dropbox directory) works fine. I haven’t tried that.

I assume it will, as Truecrypt only has unencrypted data in memory and always writes encrypted data to disk. Dropbox then should move the update to the cloud, but understand that if you update e.g. a 1GB file (your drive), each update will cause the entire 1GB file to be Dropboxed, not just the 25 words you added to the file inside your Truecrypt-drive. For Truecrypt it’s a drive, for Dropbox it’s a big file. That is why I suggest copying the Truecrypt file to Dropbox when you’re done for the day or so.

Questions?

Google to the encryption-rescue

As found on cnet:

Google tests encryption to protect users’ Drive files against government demands

The search giant is seeking ways to armor user files, sources say, a move that could curb government surveillance attempts.

Google has begun experimenting with encrypting Google Drive files, a privacy-protective move that could curb attempts by the U.S. and other governments to gain access to users’ stored files.

Two sources told CNET that the Mountain View, Calif.-based company is actively testing encryption to armor files on its cloud-based file storage and synchronization service. One source who is familiar with the project said a small percentage of Google Drive files is currently encrypted.

The move could differentiate Google from other Silicon Valley companies that have been the subject of ongoing scrutiny after classified National Security Agency slides revealed the existence of government computer software named PRISM. The utility collates data that the companies are required to provide under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — unless, crucially, it’s encrypted and the government doesn’t possess the key.

“Mechanisms like this could give people more confidence and allow them to start backing up potentially their whole device,” said Seth Schoen, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.

Major Web companies routinely use encryption, such as HTTPS, to protect the confidentiality of users’ communications while they’re being transmitted. But it’s less common to see files encrypted while stored in the cloud, in part because of the additional computing expense and complexity and the difficulties in indexing and searching encrypted data.

Google previously had said that user files were transmitted in encrypted form, but stored in its data centers in an unencrypted manner, as detailed in an April 2012 post on a Google product forum from a community manager.

Jay Nancarrow, a Google spokesman, declined to answer questions about Google Drive encryption.

Secure encryption of users’ private files means that Google would not be able to divulge the contents of stored communications even if NSA submitted a legal order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or if police obtained a search warrant for domestic law enforcement purposes.

Read the entire article on cnet.

This is how we make money

I noticed before how companies are making more money without you knowing it. I have here a few pictures of a way:

DSC00912

See here. 2 bottles of shampoo. The same brand, the same thing, the same price, just a nicer shape bottle on the right.

DSC00913

Here we are, there is the same description on the bottles, so it’s really the same thing. So how do they make more money off this? They made the bottle prettier!

DSC00914

Here’s the way. The old bottle contained 50 ml more. Okay, 50 ml isn’t much, right, but for a 300 ml bottle that comes down to almost 17%.

This happens on stuff in boxes too. Keep your eye on boxes of cereal. They will always cost the same, the boxes will be the same size too, just the amount inside them will get less and less.

Want another trick on how a tooth paste company increased their profit by 10%? They made the opening of the tube 10% wider. People are used to putting a certain length of the paste on the brush, so they used 10% more without noticing.

America. Your rain are belong to us.

Yes, dear Americans, you saw that correctly. Your rain is not yours.

Via NaturalNews: Many of the freedoms we enjoy here in the U.S. are quickly eroding as the nation transforms from the land of the free into the land of the enslaved, but what I’m about to share with you takes the assault on our freedoms to a whole new level. You may not be aware of this, but many Western states, including Utah, Washington and Colorado, have long outlawed individuals from collecting rainwater on their own properties because, according to officials, that rain belongs to someone else.

As bizarre as it sounds, laws restricting property owners from “diverting” water that falls on their own homes and land have been on the books for quite some time in many Western states. Only recently, as droughts and renewed interest in water conservation methods have become more common, have individuals and business owners started butting heads with law enforcement over the practice of collecting rainwater for personal use.

Check out this YouTube video of a news report out of Salt Lake City, Utah, about the issue. It’s illegal in Utah to divert rainwater without a valid water right, and Mark Miller of Mark Miller Toyota, found this out the hard way.

After constructing a large rainwater collection system at his new dealership to use for washing new cars, Miller found out that the project was actually an “unlawful diversion of rainwater.” Even though it makes logical conservation sense to collect rainwater for this type of use since rain is scarce in Utah, it’s still considered a violation of water rights which apparently belong exclusively to Utah’s various government bodies.

“Utah’s the second driest state in the nation. Our laws probably ought to catch up with that,” explained Miller in response to the state’s ridiculous rainwater collection ban.

(Follow the link to NaturalNews for the whole article.)

IT Administrator song

#stopcispa
IT Administrator Song, or A Few Of My Fav’rite Net Things.  This is a pretty old video (this version was uploaded in 2008) but check out this prescient verse: When my page stalls, Or they pass laws to invade free net speech I simply remember that it could be worse.  At least there’re still sites i reach!

The full lyrics:

Route aggregation and increasing payload
Multiway peering and net-friendly C code
Boxes that filter on source-routed pings
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

Multicast native and option-free packets
VLANs that don’t break and short A.S. path lengths
End-to-end measures with meaning to bring
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

When my link’s toast
When the spam grows
When my throughput hits ground
i simply remember my fav’rite net things
and then i don’t feeeel sooo down

Far reaching coverage and routing that’s stable
Aggregate flow stats and mice that are able
to back off when shown that the Net’s being zinged
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

Routers that do red and balanced net loading
Video apps with hierarchical coding
Raw packet traces to dissect and see
all of my absolute fav’rite net things

when DNS freaks
when my routes leak
when i lose a peer
I try to remember my favorite net things
and then go buy more net gear

Visualizations of virtual networks
Discovering “features” in new IOS quirks
Vendor built stacks that respect TCP
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

SNMP tools like MRTG
Knowing how to unconfig your P.V.C.’s
Measurement boxes that sniff OC3
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

When my page stalls
Or they pass laws
to invade free net speech
i simply remember that it could be worse
at least there’re still sites i reach

Cool network geeks and their company perks
Analysis tools in which true insight lurks
Stable peer sessions and route symmetry
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

Multi-mode fiber with an optical splitter
BGP sessions config’d not to litter
Reverting from ATM back to IP
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

When popups leap
when copyrights creep
into my browser’s cache
i simply remember that SDMI
will most likely buuurn & crash

Stock trading web sites that haven’t yet crashed
MP3 players with plenty of flash
having my cell phone talk to my PC
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

Linux and Open- and FreeBSD
Persistence in TCP’s HTTP
Finally remembering my PGP key
All of my abosolute fav’rite net things

When Backhoes sting
or TIME_WAITs bring
servers to the ground
i simply remember my fav’rite net things
and then i don’t feeeel sooo down

(None of this is my work, I just copied it from Google+ for posterity and entertainment.)

Magdalene Laundries

When Singer Sinead O’Connor tore a picture of the Pope on SNL, Americans were never told why.....In Ireland, they knew. For crimes as petty as being too beautiful or talking back.....girls found themselves in a living hell. Catholic Church enslaved 30,000 Irish women as forced unpaid labor in Magdalene Laundries until 1996 What a horrific story. The Irish Prime Minister gave a partial apology today for the government’s role in a 74-year scandal in which, a new official government report says, over 10,000 women were forced to work without pay at commercial laundries called Magdalene Laundries, operated by the Catholic Church for “crimes” as small as not paying a train ticket. Wikipedia notes that the estimate of the number of women who were used as forced slave labor by the Catholic Church in Ireland alone goes as high as 30,000 over the entire time the Magdalene laundries were in operation. The last Magdalene laundry closed in 1996. Women were locked in, couldn’t leave Magdalene Laundries for months, sometimes years The women were locked in and not permitted to leave. And if they tried to get away, the cops would catch them and bring them back. They were quite literally Catholic slave labor working for the government and even Guinness, which would pay the laundries for the women’s slave labor. Half of the girls enslaved in these Catholic Church prisons were under the age of 23. The youngest entrant was 9 years old. Singer Sinead O’Connor was perhaps the most famous Magdalene Laundry slave Singer Sinead O’Connor was forced to work in a Magdalene Laundry in Dublin: When I was a young girl, my mother — an abusive, less-than-perfect parent — encouraged me to shoplift. After being caught once too often, I spent 18 months in An Grianán Training Centre, an institution in Dublin for girls with behavioral problems, at the recommendation of a social worker. An Grianán was one of the now-infamous church-sponsored “Magdalene laundries,” which housed pregnant teenagers and uncooperative young women. We worked in the basement, washing priests’ clothes in sinks with cold water and bars of soap. We studied math and typing. We had limited contact with our families. We earned no wages. One of the nuns, at least, was kind to me and gave me my first guitar. No apology from the Catholic Church Absent from any of the media reports on the scandal that I could find was an apology from the Catholic Church which operated the Magdalene laundries and made handsome profits from contracts with government and hotels. Oh, found one. It seems the Catholic Church blew the women off. I know, you’re as surprised as I am: Victims of the child sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Irish Catholic Church have received an apology and compensation, but no one has taken responsibility for what happened in the laundries. Cardinal Sean Brady, the most senior Catholic cleric in Ireland, met with Justice for Magdalenes in 2010. He said “by today’s standards much of what happened at that time is difficult to comprehend” but that it was a matter for the religious orders who ran the laundries to deal with. The religious orders have declined to meet the women. The Irish Cardinal wasn’t interested in hearing from people who were hurt and abused — if not sexually, certainly physically and mentally, by the Catholic Church. And it’s not the Catholic Church’s fault. Where have we heard that story before? The laundries were run by nuns, many of whom treated the women sent to work there as slaves: Senator McAleese’s inquiry found that half of the girls and women put to work in the laundries were under the age of 23 and 40%, more than 4,000, spent more than a year incarcerated. Fifteen percent spent more than five years in the laundries while the average stay was calculated at seven months. The youngest death on record was 15, and the oldest 95, the report found. The Irish state is also implicated in the scandal because the police would take women to the asylums after arresting them for trivial offenses and would return runaways. The story of the Magdalene laundries shows what happens when an institution — in this case the church and the government — is considered beyond criticism. It probably isn’t a coincidence that the last of the laundries closed in 1996, shortly after the first wave of the Catholic pedophile priest scandals hit Ireland. Let me reiterate that for a moment. The Catholic Church had slaves as late as 1996. “It changed me as a person to authority, God forgive me I learned to hate people then” Here are some of the testimonials of the women who served as forced Catholic slaves. You can find them in theofficial report: “The only thing was I had appendicitis and asked [named nun] could I go to bed and she wouldn’t let me”. Some, but not all women reported that their hair had been cut on entry to the laundry. Some described this as an upsetting and degrading experience. “T’was the ultimate humiliation for you. It changed me as a person to authority, God forgive me I learned to hate people then”. One woman said that in the Magdalene Laundry in which she was, “You could write once a month but the nun would read the letters”. This is one is pure torture: Another very common grievance of the women who shared their stories with the Committee – particularly those who had previously been in Industrial or Reformatory Schools – was that there was a complete lack of information about why they were there and when they would get out. None of these women were aware of the period of supervision which followed discharge from industrial or reformatory school. Due to this lack of information and the fact that they had been placed in an institution among many older women, a large number of the women spoke of a very real fear that they would remain in the Magdalene Laundry for the rest of their lives. Even if they left the Laundries after a very short time, some women told the Committee that they were never able to fully free themselves of this fear and uncertainty. Victims reject Irish PM’s apology The victims have rejected the Prime Minster’s “apology,” which does sound somewhat lame: “To those residents who went into the Magdalene Laundries through a variety of ways, 26pc from state intervention or state involvement, I am sorry for those people that they lived in that kind of environment,” Mr Kenny said in parliament in Dublin today. “I want to see that those women who are still with us, anywhere between 800 and 1000 at max, that we should see that the state provides for them with the very best of facilities and supports that they need in their lives.” Did your defense lawyer write that one up for you? Here’s Joni Mitchell singing about the Magdalene Laundries: http://youtu.be/kU1Zymqlhko

When Singer Sinead O’Connor tore a picture of the Pope on SNL, Americans were never told why…..In Ireland, they knew.

For crimes as petty as being too beautiful or talking back…..girls found themselves in a living hell.

Catholic Church enslaved 30,000 Irish women as forced unpaid labor in Magdalene Laundries until 1996

What a horrific story. The Irish Prime Minister gave a partial apology today for the government’s role in a 74-year scandal in which, a new official government report says, over 10,000 women were forced to work without pay at commercial laundries called Magdalene Laundries, operated by the Catholic Church for “crimes” as small as not paying a train ticket.

Wikipedia notes that the estimate of the number of women who were used as forced slave labor by the Catholic Church in Ireland alone goes as high as 30,000 over the entire time the Magdalene laundries were in operation.

The last Magdalene laundry closed in 1996.

Women were locked in, couldn’t leave Magdalene Laundries for months, sometimes years

The women were locked in and not permitted to leave. And if they tried to get away, the cops would catch them and bring them back. They were quite literally Catholic slave labor working for the government and even Guinness, which would pay the laundries for the women’s slave labor.

Half of the girls enslaved in these Catholic Church prisons were under the age of 23. The youngest entrant was 9 years old.

Singer Sinead O’Connor was perhaps the most famous Magdalene Laundry slave

Singer Sinead O’Connor was forced to work in a Magdalene Laundry in Dublin:

When I was a young girl, my mother — an abusive, less-than-perfect parent — encouraged me to shoplift. After being caught once too often, I spent 18 months in An Grianán Training Centre, an institution in Dublin for girls with behavioral problems, at the recommendation of a social worker. An Grianán was one of the now-infamous church-sponsored “Magdalene laundries,” which housed pregnant teenagers and uncooperative young women. We worked in the basement, washing priests’ clothes in sinks with cold water and bars of soap. We studied math and typing. We had limited contact with our families. We earned no wages. One of the nuns, at least, was kind to me and gave me my first guitar.

No apology from the Catholic Church

Absent from any of the media reports on the scandal that I could find was an apology from the Catholic Church which operated the Magdalene laundries and made handsome profits from contracts with government and hotels. Oh, found one. It seems the Catholic Church blew the women off. I know, you’re as surprised as I am:

Victims of the child sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Irish Catholic Church have received an apology and compensation, but no one has taken responsibility for what happened in the laundries. Cardinal Sean Brady, the most senior Catholic cleric in Ireland, met with Justice for Magdalenes in 2010. He said “by today’s standards much of what happened at that time is difficult to comprehend” but that it was a matter for the religious orders who ran the laundries to deal with. The religious orders have declined to meet the women.

The Irish Cardinal wasn’t interested in hearing from people who were hurt and abused — if not sexually, certainly physically and mentally, by the Catholic Church. And it’s not the Catholic Church’s fault. Where have we heard that story before?

The laundries were run by nuns, many of whom treated the women sent to work there as slaves:

Senator McAleese’s inquiry found that half of the girls and women put to work in the laundries were under the age of 23 and 40%, more than 4,000, spent more than a year incarcerated.

Fifteen percent spent more than five years in the laundries while the average stay was calculated at seven months.

The youngest death on record was 15, and the oldest 95, the report found.

The Irish state is also implicated in the scandal because the police would take women to the asylums after arresting them for trivial offenses and would return runaways.

The story of the Magdalene laundries shows what happens when an institution — in this case the church and the government — is considered beyond criticism. It probably isn’t a coincidence that the last of the laundries closed in 1996, shortly after the first wave of the Catholic pedophile priest scandals hit Ireland.

Let me reiterate that for a moment. The Catholic Church had slaves as late as 1996.

“It changed me as a person to authority, God forgive me I learned to hate people then”

Here are some of the testimonials of the women who served as forced Catholic slaves. You can find them in theofficial report:

“The only thing was I had appendicitis and asked [named nun] could I go to bed and she wouldn’t let me”.

Some, but not all women reported that their hair had been cut on entry to the laundry. Some described this as an upsetting and degrading experience.

“T’was the ultimate humiliation for you. It changed me as a person to authority, God forgive me I learned to hate people then”.

One woman said that in the Magdalene Laundry in which she was, “You could write once a month but the nun would read the letters”.

This is one is pure torture:

Another very common grievance of the women who shared their stories with the Committee – particularly those who had previously been in Industrial or Reformatory Schools – was that there was a complete lack of information about why they were there and when they would get out. None of these women were aware of the period of supervision which followed discharge from industrial or reformatory school.

Due to this lack of information and the fact that they had been placed in an institution among many older women, a large number of the women spoke of a very real fear that they would remain in the Magdalene Laundry for the rest of their lives. Even if they left the Laundries after a very short time, some women told the Committee that they were never able to fully free themselves
of this fear and uncertainty.

Victims reject Irish PM’s apology

The victims have rejected the Prime Minster’s “apology,” which does sound somewhat lame:

“To those residents who went into the Magdalene Laundries through a variety of ways, 26pc from state intervention or state involvement, I am sorry for those people that they lived in that kind of environment,” Mr Kenny said in parliament in Dublin today.

“I want to see that those women who are still with us, anywhere between 800 and 1000 at max, that we should see that the state provides for them with the very best of facilities and supports that they need in their lives.”

Did your defense lawyer write that one up for you?

Here’s Joni Mitchell singing about the Magdalene Laundries