Are you happy with the state of the mainstream net?

https://stealthisshow.com/s02e08/

I was listening to the Steal this show podcast season 2 episode 8 with Balázs Bodó and Jamie King. They were talking about how we have kind of gotten use to the way the net is and they are wondering where the innovation is coming from or going to.

It tweaked my interest as I have always got a interest in technology uses for legal and illegal purposes. Its that classic cat/cops and mouse/robbers scenario, I’m not saying technology is neutral, but the same technology can be used to liberate and enslave. I thought it might be nice to share some of the stuff I’ve got in my tabs/task list to look at…

Most of the good stuff I’ve recently been looking at is all about privacy and security, which has required me to get a lot more serious about my digital keys.

  • Asemica
    I have always been interested in Steganography, especially in clear view where you wouldn’t normally expect it. Securebook always interested me and I’m slightly responsible for inspiring the developer of that. But its not been update in a while and I always thought why can’t I use something else to generate the text required in a way which is clearly still readable?
    Because of this I’ve been looking for something like Asemica.
  • Zeronet
    I was originally looking at Zeronet for my decentralised dating idea but have always been interested in things like freenet from a long long way back. Its pretty neat and certainly ticks all the buzz words but has a solid idea built on open tech.
  • Keybase
    I can’t quite work this one out but I signed up to the alpha and have been trying it out for the last few months at least. I haven’t sent any GPG messages yet but getting my head around it all. The keybase file system is much more like a distributed dropbox and it doesn’t take a lot of thinking to imagine the possibilities.
  • ZeroTier
    This is what I’m using as a VPN for all my devices and its quite simple but effective. Its quite neat as it works like Hamachi and I have configured my server at home to bridge networks, allowing me to access my 1gig connection in the UK from anywhere. I haven’t played with accessing other networks yet but its in my tasklist to bounce around the world if needed.
  • TOR (the onion router)
    Does this one really need any explaining? So many people instantly think of the dark web and buying drugs, porn or worst. Well theres a lot more to the dark web than this and I’m seeing some seriously credible technology solutions built on top of TOR. Of course TOR project really lend its self to huge amounts of data bandwidth, but have you recently looked at the TOR Stem or TOR messenger?
    Theres other things I’ve seen which I’d rather not talk about which does the connection over TOR then switches to IPv6 afterwards for the bulk bandwidth.
  • Signal
    Remember that instant messenger system Snowdon used? Well its end to end encrypted messaging by open whisper systems and theres apps for most platforms including Linux and Android. Its pretty neat but if used in a careless way can’t really help you much. Some would say whats the point now Facebook/Whatsapp are doing the same? Well actually they are using Open whisper’s library, so clearly superior.
    Signal is starting to get a lot of people now and although it won’t be as popular as whatsapp, facebook messenger or even google allo; its pretty neat and bots are coming.
    I’d like to see shared identities, so both my mobile phone numbers (work & personal) combined. I could choose to message from either of them but also see both. A master identity of some kind?
  • Bitmask
    Encrypted VPN and Email, looking at it I thought it was a bit too good to be true. So I checked out and found its actually an implementation of the LEAP Encryption Access Project, which had a number of interesting projects including TorBirdy (TOR+Mozilla Thunderbird).

Less about privacy and security but still on my task list

Plex and Emby
Streaming your own media anywhere and everywhere is very attractive especially when you have a fast home connection. I have Plex installed but I’m certainly looking at Emby which seems to be the new kid on the block. Looking at it, Emby might play nicer with things like Kodi & VPNs maybe?

There’s many things out there if your curious and look around for better; for example I have on my task list hacking my Chromecast, which I seen someone has put the Plex client on a chromecast, got screen mirroring without wifi and even a DNLA client. Lets not forget EZcast and Miracast alternatives.

 

 

 

Open hamachi replacement?

Fiber optic bokeh

I wrote this 6 years ago, while looking at VPNs…

I use to love Hamachi, it use to simply work and it was very secure. The only problem is it got picked up by log me in and therefore hasn’t been developed in the way I would have liked. The Windows version has been developed but the linux and mac version are lagging behind in the lab. I also would like to see a Android app like how someone created a Windows mobile version.

Its been a while since I looked at VPNs for different purposes including privacy, anonymity, tunnelling, etc. I really wanted something like Hamachi mainly because Tor can do so much around anonymity, but there are things which I’d like to do like I was on my own network (tunnelling). Hamachi worked very simply and made something quite complex very simple.

I was looking at a few options including Bitmask, FreeLAN, Tinc VPN, WireGuard and ZeroTier. It needed to be open source or actually free software licensed. It needs to run on Linux and Android at least. I don’t mind if its got a commercial service, but I should be able to migrate away without having to replace everything again. It should also be straight forward, extensible, secure and work closely like standard networks. This is why I loved Hamachi, once you had a 5.x.x.x address, everything else just clicked.

I tried all but the ones which stuck out for me are Bitmask which is trying to build a complete system including secure email, vpn and hosting. I originally looked at Zeronet for the hosting side of things and I keep looking at GPG for secure email but its not high on my list currently. Bitmask seems too much, its a client of the LEAP project. One to keep an eye on in the future. FreeLan looked like a perfect replacement for Hamachi but having no gui was a real pain. I don’t mind messing with config files but sometimes I’d like to see whats happening without scrolling through the terminal. Tinc and Wireguard were cool but ZeroTier was ideal.

Zerotier runs on everything, the client is actually GPL v3. Its mainly command line/terminal for linux but easily installed and although you can do everything that way. Its not completely decentralised as you have a server which points the clients at each other. Once thats done, they can talk without the pointer. You can also setup your own server of course. At the server end, its The server allows you to configure the network which the clients join. You can also reject clients, add certs, etc. Its all so easy with a browser interface.

Now I’m connected over this VPN, I can do things like SSH, access my router settings without going via the WAN interface (something I hated about Hyperoptic’s router as its administrative login was on a WAN/public interface). This also means I don’t need to worry so much about securing PlexPy, Sickrage, etc, etc. This saves messing with certs. You can share networks across this too, allowing you to route networks; very useful when trying to get around web blocking, For example I was surprised my 3 tethered 4G connection was restricted to only ports 80 & 443 while roaming abroad.

ZeroTier seems to have everything at the moment, I am impressed and doesn’t take many resources which is great for mobile devices. Its simply another network but heavily encrypted.

Highly recommended so far…

Hyperoptic hyperfast broadband

https://twitter.com/HyperopticCS/status/664735946345172994

Its coming at long last, hyperoptic have turned on hyperfast broadband at our exchange in New Islington and I have a order for next Thursday to hook me up with 1gigbit hyperfast broadband. Yes Hyperfast is the correct term…

Hyperfast broadband might be used to describe speeds of 500Mb or higher, while gigabit broadband refers to services capable of achieving connections of 1Gb (1000Mb or 1 gigabit) or higher. While no national providers currently offer services of these speeds, some smaller local providers are already offering extremely fast full fibre optic broadband with the capacity to reach speeds of up to 1Gb.

You might remember me talking about them in the past, a whole 18months ago! So why has there been such a delay? Well to be clear it wasn’t due to the lack of interest on the part of Islington Wharf. We got 25% sign up across the complex really quickly. Hyperoptic put in the infrastructure within the building pretty quickly. But it wasn’t to be because when the test switch on was tried, nothing worked. They traced it back to a fault in the connection. Something had  happened in connection with the new tram station and the work on the tramline.

When they built the tunnel for the tram line to Ashton  from Piccadilly Station, it went underneath great ancoasts street which is a part of the inner ring road in Manchester. The work crushed or damaged some of the fibre conduits. When it was identified this was a serious problem, hyperoptic had to seek permission from the local council to close part of the ring road to allow work to fix the crushed fibre conduit. You can imagine this isn’t a trivial asking and getting the council to do anything in regards to road works is always going to be a very slow process.

From Hyperoptic,

…Establishing a clear fibre route from the exchange to Islington Wharf is taking longer than anticipated due to a blockage. We’re waiting on permission from the Council’s Highways Authority to start the clearance work as it requires road closures.

While waiting for things to be fixed, Hyperoptic wired up Milliners Wharf, which is about 5mins walk away up the canal (I actually over look it from my flat). Luckily they are on a different exchange and there is no canal blocking things. So they got hyperoptic ahead of islington wharf, even though we had sign up much earlier. Chris decided to go for the 100meg option, oppose to the 1gig version. Of course I went for the 1gig version.

So after 18months things got sorted and this Thursday I have the hyperoptic engineer coming to hook up my flat up. I’m looking forward to running my own speed test and downloading all those Linux ISO. I’m also looking forward to utilising the 2.5Tb of spideroak storage. I’m was considering the unlimited option they had a while ago.

I have been reading their terms, conditions and fair use policy again to make sure I won’t be cut off. It all looks fine still, but running a tor node might be out of the question maybe…

Lesser known Google projects

Google unveils uProxy for Chrome, Firefox to help protect ‘free speech’- @757LiveTech

There seems to be a number of projects Google are developing which don’t get a lot of press attention. Here’s a few which have got me thinking…

uProxy

uProxy is a browser extension that lets users share alternative more secure routes to the Internet. It’s like a personalised VPN service that you set up for yourself and your friends. uProxy helps users protect each other from third parties who may try to watch, block, or redirect users’ Internet connections.

This project is an experiment in enabling people to provide each other with a more secure and private connection to the internet. At the moment, it is under active development and we are interested in working with a limitted number of testers to help develop the tool.

Yes can you imagine what fun you could have with uProxy and how easy it makes Proxying? Some Tor clients are simple but this could be really interesting as it adds a social aspect. This is fantastic for those trusted connections, such as friends whose ISP’s are blocking certain sites.

Google+ Ripples

I missed this and I’m sure many others did too. But Google+ Ripples visualises how things are shared on Google+. Now this might sound a bit lame as your not using G+ at the moment but the fact Google are sharing this data with the users, is encouraging.

Handwriting comes to Google

Gmail and Docs offer wide language support, however in some cases using the keyboard is less than ideal. Whether you’re a student trying to include a foreign phrase in your paper or an international consultant hoping to begin your message with a friendly local greeting, now you’ll be able to use your own handwriting to input words directly into Gmail and Google Docs with your mouse or trackpad.

Sound good, can’t wait to try this out. Be fun to try it on my tablet