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Archive for July, 2013

Using GPS to hijack ships and crash drones

July 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Satellite navigation systems such as GPS, the Global Positioning System that provides location information for our smartphones and navigation systems, have become a very useful tool in our daily lives. While today we mostly rely on the US GPS, built in the 1970s, even Europe, after many delays, will finally have its own system (Russia already has their own called GLONASS).

However, the more we rely on GPS navigation, not only for posting our location on Facebook but for car, plane and ship navigation, the more incidents happen, which show the vulnerability of the technology. In 2012 a drone by the Austrian manufacturer Schiebel crashed in South Korea, killing an engineer. It was believed back then that this happened in connection with GPS signal jamming by North Korea, which caused navigation problems in the past. This adds to other drone vulnerabilities discovered in recent years, such as unencrypted video feeds.

Now, students of the University of Texas showed in an experiment how they could hijack a Yacht using GPS spoofing without any crew member noticing (similar to what Iran claimed to have done in 2011). They achieved this by creating a fake GPS signal and slowly increasing its signal strength until the ships automatic navigation system completely relied on this signal. Then, they slowly changed the signal to make the Yacht believe it is off course and to correct for it. Here is a description about the method:

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How to protect yourself against government spying

July 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Last month, I attended an event by quintessenz, a Viennese association dedicated to data protection and privacy. The event “Yes we scan” was about ways how to protect yourself from NSA (and their friends) spying on you. In a quite technical talk, Dr. Matzinger, computer science lecturer at FH Burgenland, talked about tracking cookies, VPN tunnels, proxies, encryption and of course TOR. He talked about using three different browsers for work related surfing, private surfing and especially sensible content. He talked about routing all your Internet traffic through a proxy at home so your location cannot be tracked. And of course you should not use social network sites. At all.

Basically, I drew one conclusion from the talk: There is no practical way to protect yourself. All of these measures are fun if you have time and the technical knowledge to deal with it. They are interesting to explore if you are into information security or if it is your job to know all about it. But for the average user, it is just unrealistic to do all that. It is unrealistic until there are tools easy enough for dummy users, who do not want to spend hours figuring out how it works. Similar to the TOR browser bundle, but fast enough for everyday use. This probably is a market gap that someone hopefully fills soon.

Until then, the best way to protect yourself is to think about what you post online, what you put in your dropbox and maybe to spend the time figuring out how to encrypt your email. Or you could just do it like Russia’s federal guard service and just revert to paper communication.

MyNSA: The new cloud service, which knows all about you

July 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Just a quick note, that Phil Wolff had a nice idea, following the recent NSA scandal.If the NSA has all the info already, why not offer this knowledge as a service? He calls it MyNSA.

Losing control: Why governments are spying on the Internet

July 22, 2013 Leave a comment

51L0N+sGyHL._I was just reading in Wolfgang Ernst’ book “Das Gesetz des Gedächtnisses” (“The law of memory”), published in the year 2000. It is basically about media and media theory in our digital age. But I found one passage that made me think about the current situation, with revelations that NSA and other governments spying on us. It stated, as one of the consequences of our digital age, that governments are afraid of losing control. And that made me think that maybe the fact that our governments want to spy on us is not just a bad sign. It is not just a sign that we all become more transparent and predictable and that everybody knows much more about each one of us than ever before. It is also a sign that we are becoming freer than before. Never before in the history of the world was it harder for governments to control how information is distributed. Never before was it harder for governments to control who is communicating with whom. No wonder they want to store and analyse everything we say. Because they are losing control! I believe this is also a good sign! We should defend this freedom and fight against any attempts to limit it!

If you failed to get enough information about all the NSA and Snowden stuff, I recommend the following sources:

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