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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Google makes it easier for cheap phones and smart devices to encrypt your data

Encryption is an important part of the whole securing-your-data package, but it’s easy to underestimate the amount of complexity it adds to any service or device. One part of that is the amount of processing encryption takes — an amount that could be impractical on small or low-end devices. Google wants to change that with a highly efficient new method called Adiantum.

Here’s the problem. While encryption is in a way just transforming one block of data reversibly into another, that process is actually pretty complicated. Math needs to be done, data read and written and reread and rewritten and confirmed and hashed.

For a text message that’s not so hard. But if you have to do the same thing as you store or retrieve megabyte after megabyte of data, for instance with images or video, that extra computation adds up quick.

Lots of modern smartphones and other gadgets are equipped with a special chip that performs some of the most common encryption algorithms and processes (namely AES), just like we have GPUs to handle graphics calculations in games and such.

But what about older phones, or cheaper ones, or tiny smart home gadgets that don’t have room for that kind of thing on their boards? Just like they can’t run the latest games, they might not be able to efficiently run the latest cryptographic processes. They can still encrypt things, of course, but it might take too long for certain apps to work, or drain the battery.

Google, clearly interested in keeping cheap phones competitive, is tackling this problem by creating a special encryption method just for low-power phones. They call it Adiantum, and it will be optionally part of Android distributions going forward.

The technical details are all here, but the gist is this. Instead of using AES it relies on a cipher called ChaCha. This cipher method is highly optimized for basic binary operations, which any processor can execute quickly, though of course it will be outstripped by specialized hardware and drivers. It’s well documented and already in use lots of places — this isn’t some no-name bargain bin code. As they show, it performs way better on earlier chipsets like the Cortex A7.

The Adiantum process doesn’t increase or decrease the size of the payload (for instance by padding it or by appending some header or footer data), meaning the same number of bytes come in as go out. That’s nice when you’re a file system and don’t want to have to set aside too many special blocks for encryption metadata and the like.

Naturally new encryption techniques are viewed with some skepticism by security professionals, for whom the greatest pleasure in life is to prove one is compromised or unreliable. Adiantum’s engineers say they have “high confidence in its security,” with the assumption (currently reasonable) that its component “primitives” ChaCha and AES are themselves secure. We’ll soon see!

In the meantime don’t expect any instant gains, but future low-power devices may offer better security without having to use more expensive components — you won’t have to do a thing, either.

Oh, and in case you were wondering:

Adiantum is named after the genus of the maidenhair fern, which in the Victorian language of flowers (floriography) represents sincerity and discretion.


Source: TechCrunch

Jeff Bezos Goes Hard Against National Enquirer

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, publishes emails purportedly from the National Enquirer urging him to call off an investigation of the tabloid publisher.
Source: Wired

Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of blackmailing him — and publishes the details himself

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he is being blackmailed with nude selfies by AMI, owner of the National Enquirer and reportedly protector of the President’s reputation, over claims the publisher has acted as a political operative. The events feel almost as if they have been arranged by cosmic forces as a microcosm of the “tech elite vs. the President” narrative.

Bezos, who has been in the news recently owing to a rather dramatic and public divorce, published a post on a fresh Medium instance describing in detail the process by which he has been targeted by AMI.

It began when Bezos commissioned private security provider and investigator Gavin de Becker to look into how the National Enquirer obtained (and published) private texts and images of his, part of which was apparently to look into connections with Saudi Arabia and potential interference with the Washington Post, which Bezos of course owns.

This apparently did not sit well with David Pecker, AMI’s CEO and Chairman:

Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is ‘apoplectic’ about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve… They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.

They wanted Bezos to publicly state that he has “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.” This, he writes, is simply not true, and he decided rather to publish the threats in full than to capitulate with the demands.

In emails purportedly from AMI, the publisher details the exact nature of the images they have obtained. Bezos, presumably in order to take away any ammunition they have short of shooting their whole shot, published the list in his post. The images sound suitably personal and they are exactly what you suspect.

Apparently AMI says the images can and should be published as newsworthy in order to show Amazon shareholders that Bezos has poor judgment. Obviously Bezos disagrees, and he’d rather air his dirty laundry (rather more literally than that is usually meant) than compromise himself and the Post.

In a touching aside, he notes that although the newspaper is “a complexifier” for him, he is completely dedicated to it. “My stewardship of The Post and my support of its mission, which will remain unswerving, is something I will be most proud of when I’m 90 and reviewing my life,” he writes.

Some may be wondering: What about these images? How could AMI possibly claim they were obtained lawfully? In the email published by Bezos, they say:

Please be advised that our newsgathering and reporting on matters involving your client, including any use of your client’s “private photographs,” has been, and will continue to be, consistent with applicable laws. As you know, “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting . . . is not an infringement of copyright.” 17 USC Sec. 107.

Whether “fair use” protects them from publishing photos that I can’t imagine could be acquired by anything but illegal means, is a question that may have to be decided in court. On the other hand, AMI and the National Enquirer are surely old hands at this type of thing considering the nature of their business.

This story is developing, and how. Check back for updates.


Source: TechCrunch

Jeff Bezos says National Enquirer is blackmailing him with nude photos – CNET

Amazon CEO says supermarket tabloid is trying to blackmail him.
Source: CNET

The iPhone X makes a comeback, catch it while you can video – CNET

Apple starts selling the iPhone X again at a slightly discounted rate, and the latest rumors about the 2019 iPhones.
Source: CNET

German Regulators Just Outlawed Facebook's Whole Ad Business

The country’s antitrust regulator told Facebook it couldn’t demand so much data from users simply to have an account. Experts say it’s a big deal.
Source: Wired

2020 Toyota Tacoma piles on the tech in Chicago video – Roadshow

There’s just a light update to its style, with more substantial improvements beneath.
Source: CNET

2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road is ready to get dirty video – Roadshow

It’s more than just an appearance package, which is refreshing.
Source: CNET

Amazon Joins Microsoft's Call for Rules on Facial Recognition

Amazon, which offers facial recognition services, asks Congress to regulate how the technology can be used appropriately.
Source: Wired

Woody Allen sues Amazon for $68 million for backing out of film deal – CNET

The director says Amazon won’t release four of his films because of years-old allegations he had molested his adopted daughter.
Source: CNET

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