‘Strongbox’ for Leakers Offers Imperfect Anonymity

‘Strongbox’ for Leakers Offers Imperfect Anonymity by Jeremy Hsu.

From the post:

Anonymous sources face a huge challenge in leaking sensitive information to journalists without leaving a digital trail for government investigators to follow. The New Yorker aims to make anonymous leaks feel slightly more secure with its new "Strongbox" solution, but the system's security still ultimately depends upon the caution of its users.

The New Yorker's drop box allows sources to upload documents anonymously and provides two-way communication between sources and journalists, according to The Guardian.

Sources are able to upload documents anonymously through the Tor network onto servers that will be kept separate from the New Yorker's main computer system. Leakers are then given a unique code name that allows New Yorker reporters or editors to contact them through messages left on Strongbox.

Strongbox is based on an open-source, anonymous in-box system called DeadDrop—the brainchild of security journalist Kevin Poulsen and Internet pioneer and activist Aaron Swartz from almost two years ago. Poulsen described how Swartz had created a stable-enough version of the DeadDrop code by December 2012 for them to set a tentative launch date. On 11 January 2013, Swartz killed himself as he faced the possibility of a a 35-year prison sentence for downloading 4 million articles from the JSTOR academic database.

The Strongbox launch on 15 May comes at a time when the U.S. government has shown itself willing to go after information leakers—and possibly reporters—by any means necessary. The Associated Press has reported on how the Justice Department secretly obtained phone logs used by AP editors and reporters. In another case, a Fox News chief correspondent may face criminal charges for reporting on a classified CIA analysis of North Korea provided by a source in the State Department.

Jeremy goes on to point out that systems are only as secure as users are careful to use them properly.

And there is a technical burden to following all the rules, rules which many of us as people, have a tendency to forget.

Just in case you are thinking about a leaking lottery like I mentioned the other day.

From a subject identity perspective, Tor is obscuring the traffic trail between your computer and another.

Curious if the same principles could be applied to content?

The only difference between a dictionary and a super-secret document is one of ordering and repetition.

So what if a world wide adversary is scooping up all traffic.

If it doesn’t know the correct order, it could contain sports results or plans for a homemade FAE.

Rather than relying on encryption and/or point-to-point delivery of content by a twisting trail, why not split the content into twisting trails for reassembly at its destination?

If I had a working demo I would already be offering it for sale but I think the principle is sound.


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