TweetFollow Us on Twitter

July 02 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 18 (2002)
Issue Number: 07
Column Tag: Viewpoint

by Rich Morin

Privacy by Default

Making Rendezvous safe
“for the rest of us”

Although Apple does not use these words to describe it, their new Rendezvous system is designed to enable “opportunistic, promiscuous” IP discovery. That is, it will take advantage of any opportunity to collect IP information (hence, opportunistic) and it will happily interact with any cooperative system (hence, promiscuous). These characteristics make Rendezvous extremely convenient for the user.

Unfortunately, the same characteristics could also make Rendezvous extremely convenient for anyone who wants to “listen in” on network traffic. If a user walks into a conference facility or coffee bar with a PowerBook, how many uninvited recipients will see his network traffic?

I’d like to see Apple provide “convenient privacy”, as part of its convenient networking. To be specific, I’d like them to implement “opportunistic, promiscuous” packet-level encryption, basedon IPSec and related standards. This isn’t a new idea, by any means. The “Linux FreeS/WAN” project (http://www.freeswan.org) has been working on it for several years now; their early releases are currently being tried out in the field.

The high-level view of FreeS/WAN is quite simple. If my system has a packet to send to your system, it will first attempt to set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network), using IPSec, etc. If your system doesn’t honor the request, my system will simply send the packet “in the clear”.

If your system does understand the request, however, both systems will send off for each others’ public keys (e.g., from each others’ DNS servers). The two systems will then perform a key exchange, with the result that they both end up with the needed “session keys”. Et voila, we have a VPN!

The low-level description is a bit more complicated, but some folks may find it interesting. See http://www.freeswan.org/freeswan_trees/freeswan-1.95/doc/intro.html if you’re into that sort of thing...

Meanwhile, let’s look at some of the implications of the technology. In general, privacy and security tend to be at odds with convenience. And, as we all know, when “I really should” gets in a fight with “I don’t want to”, it usually loses. Consequently, although PGP and other strong privacy tools have been around for several years, they aren’t actually used very much. Even SSH has had an uphill fight against its (demonstrably insecure) predecessors.

By making network privacy the default, however, Apple could remove the “convenience factor” from the equation. Joe and Sally Sikspak don’t have to install privacy software, set up keywords, or any of that hassle. Better yet, they don’t have to decide which programs (or files, or ...) deserve encryption. No decisions, so no mistakes! In fact, they don’t even have to know that encryption is going on; their packets are simply a bit safer from snooping.

Apple likes to be seen as a standard-setter. By allying themselves with the Linux FreeS/WAN project (and, ideally, providing an Open Source BSD implementation), Apple could help to make opportunistic privacy an established standard. There are no guarantees, of course, but privacy and authentication are very salable attributes these days...

Even without total buy-in by the computer industry, the effects of opportunistic encryption could be quite dramatic. For instance, it would be quite possible to set up a FreeS/WAN “gateway server” at an ISP or on the border of a LAN, providing encryption capability for any external traffic. Like the Sikspaks, the machines being protected would never need to know that their packets were being encrypted.

In addition, large-scale use of packet-level encryption would make it much harder to single out encrypted data streams for attack. If even 5% of the Internet’s traffic is encrypted, the mere fact of encryption is no longer an “interesting” characteristic for snoopers.


Rich Morin has been using computers since 1970, Unix since 1983, and Mac-based Unix since 1986 (when he helped Apple create A/UX 1.0). When he isn’t writing this column, Rich runs Prime Time Freeware (www.ptf.com), a publisher of books and CD-ROMs for the Free and Open Source software community. Feel free to write to Rich at rdm@ptf.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

MacUpdate Desktop 6.0.8 - Search and ins...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on macupdate.... Read more
BitTorrent Sync 2.1.1 - Sync files secur...
BitTorrent Sync allows you to sync unlimited files between your own devices, or share a folder with friends and family to automatically sync anything. File transfers are encrypted. Your information... Read more
Quicksilver 1.3.0 - Application launcher...
Quicksilver is a light, fast and free Mac application that gives you the power to control your Mac with keystrokes alone. Quicksilver allows you to find what you need quickly and easily, then act... Read more
iWatermark Pro 1.72 - Easily add waterma...
iWatermark Pro is the essential watermarking app for professional, business, and personal use. iWatermark, is the number 1 and only watermarking tool available for all 4 platforms iPhone/iPad, Mac,... Read more
RapidWeaver 6.3 - Create template-based...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 16.0.1 - Profess...
Photoshop CC 2015 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Photoshop customer). Photoshop CS6 is still available for purchase (... Read more
Together 3.4.6 - Store and organize all...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop functionality,... Read more
Monosnap 3.1.0 - Versatile screenshot ut...
Monosnap lets you capture screenshots, share files, and record video and .gifs! Capture: Capture full screen, just part of the screen, or a selected window Make your crop area pixel perfect with... Read more
Cocktail 8.5.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Vienna 3.0.6 :5eaf312: - RSS and Atom ne...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more

.Decluster Zero: Bullet Nocturne (Games...
.Decluster Zero: Bullet Nocturne 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: LAUNCH SALE, 40% off for a limited time -- .Decluster is a Guide for Your Bullet-Hell Dream Tonight --... | Read more »
Five Nights at Freddy's 4 has Been...
In keeping with tradition, Five Nights at Freddy's 4 has made its way to the App Store with zero warning fanfare. Honestly I'd be disappointed it if happened any other way at this point. [Read more] | Read more »
Doom & Destiny Advanced (Games)
Doom & Destiny Advanced 2.3.4.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 2.3.4.0 (iTunes) Description: ---SUPER GIGA LAUNCH DISCOUNT! Get it now for cheap or pay more later!---An additional 143 MB download is... | Read more »
Five Nights at Freddys 4 (Games)
Five Nights at Freddys 4 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: This time, the terror has followed you home. | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: July 27-31, 2015
Winding Down July With 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out... | Read more »
You'll Want to Keep an Eye Out for...
If you're the kind of person who had fun hunting down and completing all the codex puzzles in Assassin's Creed 2, then are you ever in for a treat. The Guides looks like it's going to be a very robust collection of similarily odd, seemingly... | Read more »
Vivid Games has Announced Real Boxing 2...
The original Real Boxing was a pretty impressive bit of fisticuffs, but if the trailer Vivid Games is showing off for GamesCom is any indication Real Boxing 2 is going to be even better. [Read more] | Read more »
PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX - Tips,...
[Read more] | Read more »
Card King: Dragon Wars - Tips, Tricks an...
[Read more] | Read more »
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX has brou...
Bandai Namco has released Pac-Man Championship Edition DX on iOS and Android, which features the classic arcade gameplay that we've all grown to love. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX can be enjoyed in much shorter bursts than the arcade versions... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Back to School Time: Outline for iPad Goes Fr...
Sacramento, California based Gorillized Corporation has announced a “Back to School” offer; the iPad version of Outline goes free for August 3-5. Outline is a smart digital notebook for iPad that... Read more
MacBook 12 Retina Pundit’s New Favorite Mac
If you’re eyeing the purchase of a new 12-inch Retina MacBook, but wondering if you can live with a single USB-C port, 2011-level CPU performance, and the unorthodox keyboard, you should find... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Adorama has the 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $184 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1815 $184 off Adorama will also... Read more
PDF Element Tool Kit For PDF For Windows 10,...
South Surrey, British Columbia based software developer Wondershare has posted an interesting infographic tracking the development of Microsoft’s flagship Windows operating system over the years,... Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $81 off MS...
Adorama has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2218, $81 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
Back-to-School with Tablet and Smartphone Acc...
Belkin helps you prepare for the coming school year with a wide variety of the latest mobile and tablet accessories to outfit both grade school and college students. The line-up includes charging... Read more
11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSR...
Best Buy has 11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: - 11″ 1.6GHz... Read more
iPad Air 2 on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
Best Buy has iPad Air 2s on sale for up to $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices available for online... Read more
Sale! 13-inch MacBook Pros on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.5GHz/500GB MacBook Pro: $999.99 save $100 - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina... Read more
Sale! Save $100 on 13-inch MacBook Airs this...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model.... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Infrastructure Engineer - *Apple* /Mac - Hil...
Infrastructure Engineer - Apple /Mac Job Code: 1608 # of openings: 1 Description Our fortune 500 client is looking to hire an experienced Infrastructure Engineer to join Read more
Executive Administrative Assistant, *Apple*...
…supporting presentation development for senior leadership. * User experience with Apple hardware and software is preferred. Additional Requirements The following list Read more
*Apple* Bus Company is now hirin - Apple Bus...
Apple Bus Company is now hiring school bus drivers in the Pettis County area. Class B CDL preferred. Free training provided. No nights or weekends required. Flexible Read more
*Apple* Certified Mac Technician - Updated 6...
…and friendly, hands-on technical support to customers troubleshooting and repairing Apple /Mac products with courtesy, speed and skill. Use your problem-solving skills Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.