CSG: Welcome to the Panopticon

Combat Studies Group has a comprehensive article up about choosing a secure chat/messaging application in this time of increasing governmental and corporate excess. It’s a long read, but if you are interested in your privacy you should give it a read. If you don’t understand what he’s talking about, then this is a starting point for your electronic privacy/security education.

Welcome To The Panopticon, or “How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Information Warfare”

So it’s 2019……and so far we have:

– Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and the like, de-platforming or censoring any content that leans towards the right or conservative side.

– Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, et al, doubling down on collection of people’s data.

– The US intelligence apparatus convincing major hotel chains (Marriot for one) to collect information and report on hotel guests (for the most trivial of “abnormalities”, if one can call them that).

– Amazon working with law enforcement to implement widespread facial recognition gathering.

– Those nifty DNA/ Heritage testing sites have been caught giving your DNA to Uncle Sam.

– Cellular providers selling your real-time location to anyone who wants to buy it.

– The proliferation of “smart” devices such as Alexa that is always listening.

– Web browsers screening the news you search for and only letting the “leftist” slanted news through.

I could go on for pages and pages, but you get the point. One needs to become aggressive to secure their privacy in this day and age….so with that in mind I thought it apropos to publish an updated breakdown of available options.

Lets establish some standards that should be adhered to when choosing a chat application.

1. It should be comprised of open-source code. Open source code can be audited by third parties for completeness, proper implementation and potential security vulnerabilities.

2. It should employ end to end encryption. In other words, the encryption happens on your device and the decryption happens on the recipient’s device versus a third party server. This removes the need to trust a third party with your keys.

3. It should utilize INFOSEC industry accepted standards for cipher primitives. It should use well studied ciphers, key exchanges and hashes such as: AES-256, RSA-4096, ChaCha20, ECC-512, Curve25519, Poly1305, secp256k1, Curve448, Twofish, SHA-3, Whirlpool, GPG.

4. It should utilize forward secrecy. This protects the user if they have a key that somehow gets compromised. In this setup the system renegotiates the key exchange at short, established time intervals. Diffie-Hellman  is a common implementation of this concept.

5. It should support the removal/destruction of messages on both ends of the conversation. This could be based on a timer, manual selection or a “destroy on read” protocol…

Click here to read the entire article at CSG.

Related:

Technology and Avoiding Censorship

 

CSG: GroundRod Primer, Mar. 24-25, 2018 – Prosser, WA

Combat Studies Group will be holding their GroundRod Primer course in the Prosser, WA area on Saturday and Sunday, March 24th and 25th, 2018. This is a two-day class. This class has moved from the Boise, ID location. Please sign up through the Combat Studies Group email address if you are interested in taking the class. The information is very valuable.

Details: https://combatstudiesgroup.blogspot.cz/p/courses.html

Class – Ground Rod Primer

Cost $400

Time Saturday and Sunday 8am – 5pm

Benefit – help limit your electronic footprint and learn how to protect your data and communications

GroundRod Primer  –  Internet and digital tradecraft

GroundRod Primer is designed to address the fundamental concerns of journalists, concerned citizens, activists, whistle blowers, missionaries and liberty lovers in general, with regard to digital security. Whether hackers, governments, criminals or acts of espionage; our privacy is in serious jeopardy.
You will learn to secure your devices and communications in the following ways:
Properly employ symmetric and asymmetric encryption
Create and safely store powerful passwords
Guard against common criminal and state level intrusion techniques
Recognize unsafe software you are using now and explore safe replacements
Surf the web anonymously
Explore the deep web
Transfer files safely
Communicate securely and privately
Understand and deal with malicious firmware
Crypto-currencies
Properly employ “burner” phones
GroundRod Primer is meant to take the uncertainty and guesswork out of digital security, give you a fundamental base of knowledge to grow from and get you up and running with the highest levels of security available TODAY.
Follow on courses will delve deeper into these subjects and address escape and evasion techniques and other tradecraft.
Gear Requirements
* Laptop
* Three USB thumbdrives (4-8 GB)
* Note taking materials
* extension cord

CSG: New Items Coming to Store

Combat Studies Group has announced some new items coming soon.

We have been hard at work over the last several months developing new tools to help secure your digital life. We continue to refine the Sepio Secure OS and expect to release the Sepio 2 this summer. Other items that are coming soon:

Sepio-Offgrid Rugged Laptop

– Offers the same level of rugged MILSPEC protection as the famous Toughbooks
– 14 inch HD screen
– 8-32GB RAM
– 128GB -1TB SSD or HDD
– i3 CPU (non vPro)
– Sepio Secure OS
– Optional packable solar panel/battery combo for field use
– Estimated Price: $1600-2000

The Libertas XL

– A 9 inch rugged tablet with:
– Dual-core 64bit CPU
– 2GB RAM
– 16 or 32GB storage
– Estimated price: $650

Sepio-Micro Desktop

– A full featured Sepio desktop not much larger than your hand.
– Plug in your own keyboard, mouse and monitor
– Estimated price: $750

Graybox Secure Router

– Router, Access Point, Bridge, Firewall, Intrusion detection and VPN all in a small package.
– Estimated price: TBA

Home Theater System

– This would replace your Roku, AppleTV, Chromecast, AmazonFire, etc media devices. It will have the same functionality – streaming of your favorite shows, music, etc, but without the spying.
– Estimated Price: TBA

GrayMatter VPN Service

– We have been testing the beta of our very own VPN service. What will it offer?

– Servers in jurisdictions that are respectful of privacy rights
– Servers setup with same security you would find in the Sepio
– No logging of customers
– Anonymous account creation and payment support
– Wireguard, TOR, OpenVPN and Shadowsocks
– Multihop support
– Secure, non-logging DNS

– Estimated Price: $6-10 monthly


I should mention that all of our products are fully patched against the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. 

CSG is also holding a GroundRod Primer course in Boise, ID on March 24-25, 2018. The GroundRod Primer is an intensive digital security course of instruction.

K of Combat Studies Group to Speak at March 8th LVA Meeting

K of Combat Studies Group will be the featured speaker at the March 8th, 2018 Lower Valley Assembly of the Whole in Prosser, WA. His topic will be digital security.

K is a combat veteran, owner/instructor of CSG Inc, overseas government contractor, and a wilderness medic. He has trained thousands of personnel from all four branches of the military, special operations forces, federal agencies, police and responsible citizens, in firearms, tactics, survival and trade-craft. Combat Studies Group teaches classes in firearms tactics, kidnap defense, austere medicine, vehicle and home defense and most recently has been teaching many classes around the country about digital security dubbed “Groundrod” courses.  Combat Studies Group also creates and sells secure phones, tablets and laptops.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

CSG Groundrod I & II, July 6-9, 2017 in Prosser, WA

Combat Studies Group will bring their Groundrod Primer/I and Groundrod II classes to Prosser, WA in July.  Groundrod I (Primer) will be held July 6th and 7th. Groundrod II will be held on July 8th and 9th.

GroundRod Primer  –  Internet and digital tradecraft

GroundRod Primer is designed to address the fundamental concerns of journalists, concerned citizens, activists, whistle blowers, missionaries and liberty lovers in general, with regard to digital security. Whether hackers, governments, criminals or acts of espionage; our privacy is in serious jeopardy.

You will learn to secure your devices and communications in the following ways:

Properly employ symmetric and asymmetric encryption
Create and safely store powerful passwords
Guard against common criminal and state level intrusion techniques
Recognize unsafe software you are using now and explore safe replacements
Surf the web anonymously
Explore the deep web
Transfer files safely
Communicate securely and privately
Understand and deal with malicious firmware

GroundRod Primer is meant to take the uncertainty and guesswork out of digital security, give you a fundamental base of knowledge to grow from and get you up and running with the highest levels of security available TODAY.

Follow on courses will delve deeper into these subjects and address escape and evasion techniques and other tradecraft.

Gear Requirments

* Laptop
* Three USB thumbdrives (4-8 GB)
* Note taking materials
* extension cord

Cost
$ 350

GroundRod 2  covers the following:

– Review of GroundRod Primer skills

– Discussion of current events as they relate to privacy, security and liberty

– In depth study of the Invisible Internet Project / I2P

– Setting up anonymous mail service via I2P

– Exploration of Zeronet and other distributed networking systems

– Setting up and using Retroshare with extra anonymity

– The latest in encryption techniques, including ECC

– Setting up open source router firmware

– Metadata analysis

– Testing secure alternatives to Skype and other mainstream teleconferencing software

– The latest in crypto-currency trends, techniques and software

– Real-world tradecraft application

– Setting up resilient, “Ministry of Truth” proof websites

– Hands on training for SEPIO laptop owners

– and tons more………

You can find a review of Groundrod I (Primer) on Forward Observer through this link.

If this course is centered on two things, it’s problems and solutions.  In a more technical sense:  vulnerabilities and countermeasures.  What is an adversary’s “attack surface”and how do we harden ourselves against that attack?  Utilizing electronic means to communicate — whether that’s via the internet, a cellular network, or radio signals — opens us up to electronic surveillance (at a minimum) and possibly direct targeting to exploit our communications.  As was discussed in the class, Gen. Michael Hayden (Ret.), who was the director at both CIA and NSA, famously quipped, “We [the US] kill people based on metadata.”  Your cell phone number, its IMEI number, call times and duration (what’s referred to as “exposure”), and geolocation of those calls are all examples of metadata.  Furthermore, your email address, IP address, and MAC address are metadata easily found via the internet.  This metadata is associated to the caller or emailer, which is another data point in your pattern of life.  With sufficient data points, analysts like myself  can map out your pattern of life and begin to anticipate future activity.  That’s a vulnerability, and it’s one that deserves a hard look.

To register for the classes, go to the Combat Studies Group website and then the Store page and scroll down to Class Deposit with the Buy Now button. You will need to then email them after making the $100 deposit to specify the class date and location for which you are registering.