Kushal Das

FOSS and life. Kushal Das talks here.

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Permanent Record: the life of Edward Snowden

book cover

The personal life and thinking of the ordinary person who did an extraordinary thing.

A fantastic personal narrative of his life and thinking process. The book does not get into technical details, but, it will make sure that people relate to the different events mentioned in the book. It tells the story of a person who is born into the system and grew up to become part of the system, and then learns to question the same system.

I bought the book at midnight on Kindle (I also ordered the physical copies), slept for 3 hours in between and finished it off in the morning. Anyone born in 80s will find so many similarities as an 80s kid. Let it be the Commodore 64 as the first computer we saw or basic as the first-ever programming language to try. The lucky ones also got Internet access and learned to roam around of their own and build their adventure along with the busy telephone lines (which many times made the family members unhappy).

If you are someone from the technology community, I don't think you will find Ed's life was not as much different than yours. It has a different scenario and different key players, but, you will be able to match the progress in life like many other tech workers like ourselves.

Maybe you are reading the book just to learn what happened, or maybe you want to know why. But, I hope this book will help to think about the decisions you make in your life and how that affects the rest of the world. Let it be a group picture posted on Facebook or writing the next new tool for the intelligence community.

Go ahead and read the book, and when you are finished, make sure you pass it across to your friend, or buy them new copies. If you have some free time, you may consider to run a Tor relay or a bridge, a simple step will help many around the world.

On a side note, the book mentions SecureDrop project at the very end, and today is also the release of SecureDrop 1.0.0 (the same day of the book release).

Exciting few weeks in the SecureDrop land

Eric Trump tweet

Last week there was an interesting tweet from Eric Trump, son of US President Donald Trump. Where he points out how Mr. David Fahrenthold, a journalist from Washington Post did some old school journalism and made sure that every Trump organization employee knows about how to securely leak information or talk to a journalist via SecureDrop.

I want to say thank you to him for this excellent advertisement for our work. There were many people over Twitter, cheering him for this tweet.

julian and matt's tweet Parker's tweet Harlo's tweet

If you don’t know what SecureDrop is, it is an open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations and NGOs can install to securely accept documents from anonymous sources. It was originally created by the late Aaron Swartz and is now managed by Freedom of the Press Foundation. It is mostly written in Python and uses a lot of Ansible. Jennifer Helsby, the lead developer of SecureDrop and I took part in this week’s Python podcast along with our host Tobias. You can listen to learn about many upcoming features and plans.

If you are interested to contribute to the SecureDrop project, come over to our gitter channel and say hello.

defcon

Last month, during Defcon 27, there was a panel about DEF CON to help hackers anonymously submit bugs to the government, interestingly the major suggestion in that panel is to use SecureDrop (hosted by Defcon) so that the researchers can safely submit vulnerabilities to the US government. Watch the full panel discussion to learn more in details.

stylesheet for nmap output

nmap is the most loved network discovery, and security auditing tool out there. It is already 22 years old and has a ton of features. It can generate output in various formats, including one which is useful for grep, and also one XML output.

We also have one XML stylesheet project for the XML output from nmap.

Click on this result to view the output. You can use this to share the result with someone else, where people can view it from a web-browser with better UI.

The following command was used to generate the output. I already downloaded the stylesheet in the local folder.

nmap -sC -sV -oA toots toots.dgplug.org --stylesheet nmap-bootstrap.xsl

When governments attack: malware campaigns against activists and journalists

Eva

This year at Nullcon Eva gave her talk on When governments attack: malware campaigns against activists and journalists. After introducing EFF, she explained about Dark Caracal, a possibly state-sponsored malware campaign. If we leave aside all technical aspects, this talk has a few other big points to remember.

  • No work is done by a single rock star; this project was a collaboration between people from Lookout and EFF.
  • We should take an ethics class before writing a "Hello World" program in computer science classes.
  • People have the choice of not working for any group who will use your technical skills to abuse human rights

Please watch this talk and tell me over Twitter what do you think.