When Everything On The Internet Is Encrypted...

from the things-may-change-a-bit dept

For years, we've been pointing out that as the entertainment industry, telcos and the government increase efforts to spy on the activities of users (for various reasons, good or bad), all it's going to do is speed the adoption of encryption technologies. Well, that appears to be happening. Thanks to governments increasing the ability to spy on citizens combined with ISPs capitulating to entertainment industry and government demands to start acting as copyright cops, monitoring usage, more and more people are getting interested in encrypting their internet activity. While it's unclear if it will go anywhere (and some argue it's guaranteed to fail), the folks behind the Pirate Bay are the latest to jump into the game, promising a system that will "encrypt the entire internet."

Whether accomplished by The Pirate Bay or others, this is the near inevitable end result of this cat and mouse game. Even if you believe the entertainment industry, broadband providers and the government have both the best of intentions and the absolute right to do these kinds of monitoring activity, the fact that encryption will make it so those who don't want to monitored can hide means that it's only going to become more popular. And, at that point, it only makes the efforts by the entertainment industry, the broadband providers and the government that much more useless -- because all that monitoring they've pushed to do will not only be nearly impossible, but they've also lost the trust and respect of all those users/customers/constituents. It's a true lesson in the unintended consequences of getting what you wished for.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Freedom, Jul 10th, 2008 @ 10:29pm

    Encryption - Does it really work for torrent?

    >> Whether accomplished by The Pirate Bay or others,

    One thing that I've pondered in the past is how practical is encryption for torrent related activities.

    Since torrents are for the most part open access and the protocols/programs effectively open source how does encryption help?

    The keys for the encryption are given out when you join the swarm and at that point I'm assuming the that encryption isn't helping to protect your privacy.

    For other items where the both sides are not open access, I can definitely see where encryption is major privacy boast though - just not sure how it helps torrents.

    Freedom

     

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  2.  
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    Brian, Jul 10th, 2008 @ 10:45pm

    Ha! I initiated this same exact conversation with several friends tonight at a local coffee shop. We branched off after a talk about the FISA bill and about the ever expanding invasion of public privacy.

    It'll (private security) happen eventually and it's not difficult for any one individual to accomplish. People need to realize that they do not need to be made the pawns of their government and of big business. Nobody owns me and nobody ever will. Those intelligent enough will always find a way to keep their individuality and privacy from those who would steal and exploit it.

    Fight for what's yours and do not become complacent. Of this you are obligated.

     

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  3.  
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    Steph, Jul 10th, 2008 @ 10:46pm

    Encryption could be good for many things including Torrent

    "The keys for the encryption are given out when you join the swarm and at that point I'm assuming the that encryption isn't helping to protect your privacy."

    A number of monitoring companies hired by the mafia actually put files on P2P networks, then monitor who is downloading.

    How this works is by checking the signature of those files.

    If the signature of this file changes, i.e. automatically, or whenever a new copy is made available on P2P networks, then signature checking won't work anymore. The encryption could accomplish just that, change the signatures.

     

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  4.  
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    Michael Long, Jul 10th, 2008 @ 11:51pm

    Encryption, decryption, who cares...

    You can encrypt anything you want, but in the case of encrypting P2P traffic there's a simple solution: charge per use.

    Encrypted or not, an effective P2P torrent system MUST transmit and receive gigabytes worth of data. Encrypted or not, it has to move bytes. It's simply the nature of the beast.

    So let ISPs charge for upstream traffic on a per kilo/mega/gigabyte basis, and the whole thing falls apart. More and more users leach instead of seed. And the number of seeds decrease as no one wants to pay the piper for the OTHER person's free copy of Iron Man.

    Besides, the government can simply declare the use of encryption for illegitimate traffic illegal in and as of itself. Start broadcasting gigabytes of encrypted data to a myriad of sources (another P2P trait), and HS starts knocking on the door...

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 12:09am

    Re: Encryption, decryption, who cares...

    Nope, you start charging for torrents and there is no point in using them. To be honest why people use them now is beyond me.

    Just sign up to a usenet provider on a temporary/free plan:

    https://signup.usenetserver.com/signup.asp?poplocation=1&noregcode=ok&unpagent=

    https ://secure.giganews.com/signup/

     

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  6.  
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    Dr David C Payne, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 12:09am

    Encryption - it appears to be inevitable

    With the rapid growth in the use of the Internet and the very slow uptake of any form of real policing of the activities taking place using the Internet, I can only see encryption as being inevitable. We don't know who sees what when we send information across the web. With encryption, we can only hope that even if our "packets" are captured, they won't mean anything to anyone who shouldn't be viewing them.

     

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  7.  
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    Chris Becke, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 12:28am

    Port 443 - the one true port.

    corporate firewalls filtering traffic based on port, or content is pushing new protocols in the same direction. As a software developer our company runs all our traffic over ssl on a standard port, not for privacy concerns, but simply to ensure that our users have the maximum chance of getting through a corporate or home firewall.

     

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  8.  
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    ToySouljah, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 1:43am

    Re: Re: Encryption, decryption, who cares...

    I'd say for people to use usenet, but then that is opening up the rest of us for even more childish uploads on there. It is bad enough that summer is here and I am seeing more and more files becoming infected (according to an indexing site) when it used to be pretty rare when files were uploaded with bad intentions in mind. I remember about 6 or 7 years ago it seemed no one used it since it was a little more complicated compared to P2P progs. I personally prefer them since it is what I grew up with, and never really liked the P2P things since it always seemed like a gamble on what you were actually getting.

     

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  9.  
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    Kevin, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 3:39am

    Re: Encryption - Does it really work for torrent?

    The keys for the encryption are given out when you join the swarm and at that point I'm assuming the that encryption isn't helping to protect your privacy.

    That depends on what your goal is. If you want to ensure that your traffic is encrypted so that nobody can every find out that you're downloaded kiddie porn, then you statement is correct. The police would certainly be able to join the swarm and find out what you're downloading if they had a mind to.

    But for general use, all any network operator is going to see if encrypted traffic. None of the systems that filter or shape traffic based on content will be able to differentiate traffic that they "like" from traffic that they "dislike". It will all just look like encrypted hashes, which means that the filtering/shaping technology will not work.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 3:55am

    do you realize

    that IP6 include support for encryption when we finally get to use IP6 the cost of encrypting the whole internet would be the cpu cycles. it even include support to encryption proxies so even knowing what IP is connecting with which IP could became difficult.

     

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  11.  
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    Weston, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 5:51am

    "Privacy is a commodity to be bought and sold."

    The irony of users (like me) trying to encrypt their actions from the same media companies who encrypt their content so we don't steal it.

     

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  12.  
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    James, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 7:03am

    Hmm...

    ..so if all internet data is encrypted, and the MPRIAA/bs organization attempts to decrypt that traffic, could the site/whomever sue them under DCMA anti-circumvention statues?

    Irony is a harsh mistress.

     

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  13.  
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    Bob3000, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 7:04am

    "Give me the key...Now!"

    Won't the government simply make a new law that you must relinquish your key on demand? *sigh*

     

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  14.  
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    James, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 7:19am

    um, moot

    Parties to hide traffic from: The other end and everyone in-between.

    If you're engaging in the encrypted session with the sting op by downloading a file they've baited the trap with, the encryption is useless because they know you're downloading that file you weren't supposed to download.

    If you think you're hiding your traffic from the middlemen to prevent throttling, reason for search & seizure, etc., that's already been poo-pood: Encrypted Traffic No Longer Safe From Throttling [Slashdot].

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 8:08am

    Re: Encryption, decryption, who cares...

    Ever heard about software disguising encrypted data as legitimate HTML pages?

    See also:
    HTun: Providing IP Service Over an HTTP Proxy: htun.runslinux.net/docs/htun-paper.pdf
    IP over DNS: http://thomer.com/howtos/nstx.html

     

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  16.  
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    Freedom, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 8:42am

    Re:

    >> Won't the government simply make a new law that you must relinquish your key on demand? *sigh*


    Good point, but at least they have to work to get the key and that raises the bar and puts the power back in the "little person's" hand. (Maybe power is an over statement, puts the ultimate decision back into the little person's hand - the consequence of not conforming may be high, but at least you have the decision of whether or not to comply.)

    Freedom

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Freedom, Jul 11th, 2008 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re: Encryption, decryption, who cares...

    >> Italian researchers have found a way to categorize the type of traffic that is hidden inside an encrypted SSH session to around 90% accuracy. They are achieving this by analyzing packet sizes and inter-packet intervals instead of looking at the content itself. Challenges remain for ISPs to implement this technology, but it's clear that encrypting your traffic inside an SSH session or VPN connection is not a solution to protect net neutrality."

    Sounds more PR than truth and still in the research phase. Besides, even if they are right, pretty risky throttling 10% of the traffic that it doesn't match to get the other 90%. Sometimes the 10% are folks with loud voices - just never know.

    Just read an interesting article in MIT Rag that says that the Internet usage is growing by 50 to 100% per year. What's interesting about it is that accordingly to the article if it grows by 50% a year, no problem, ISPs/networks can handle it. However, if it grows at 100%, then that's is problem for ISPs/networks and ultimately us. I guess it's time for all of us to go green with the Internet now as well (argghhh!).

    Freedom

     

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