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.

 
AAPL
$107.34
Apple Inc.
+0.00
MSFT
$46.62
Microsoft Corpora
+0.00
GOOG
$549.33
Google Inc.
+0.00

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

OneNote 15.3.2 - Free digital notebook f...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.4 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.0.0 beta 3 - Powerf...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
TextWrangler 4.5.11 - Free general purpo...
TextWrangler is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator's tool. Oh, and also, like the best things in life, it's free. TextWrangler is the "little brother" to... Read more
NeoFinder 6.6 - Catalog your external me...
NeoFinder (formerly CDFinder) rapidly organizes your data, either on external or internal disks, or any other volumes. It catalogs all your data, so you stay in control of your data archive or disk... Read more
Chromium 38.0.2125.111 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. FreeSMUG-Free OpenSource Mac User Group build is... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.11 - Enhances Open...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click... Read more
Mariner Write 3.9.3 - Light-weight and s...
Mariner Write is your Mac OS go-to word processing tool! Professional writer, educator or student, Write has all the functionality you need for that important letter, technical paper or research... Read more
DesktopLyrics 2.6.5 - Displays current i...
DesktopLyrics is an application that displays the lyrics of the song currently playing in "iTunes" right on your desktop. The lyrics for the song have to be set in iTunes; DesktopLyrics does nothing... Read more
DiskMaker X 4.0b4 - Make a bootable OS X...
DiskMaker X (formerly Lion DiskMaker) is an application built with AppleScript that you can use with many versions of OS X to build a bootable drive from OS X OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion up to OS X 10.10... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Any.DO 2.0 Hopes to Help Manage Producti...
Any.DO 2.0 Hopes to Help Manage Productivity Posted by Ellis Spice on October 30th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
Base Busters Review
Base Busters Review By Jennifer Allen on October 30th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FUN BUT RESTRICTED MIXUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Mixing up two forms of tower defense gaming and collectible cards, Base Busters is a fun... | Read more »
Medford Asylum: Paranormal Case - Hidden...
Medford Asylum: Paranormal Case - Hidden Object Adventure (Full) 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Uncover the mystery of Medford City asylum! | Read more »
Secret Files Sam Peters (Games)
Secret Files Sam Peters 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: [ After the successful iOS release of Secret Files Tunguska, the acclaimed point and click adventure Secret Files... | Read more »
Woah Dave! (Games)
Woah Dave! 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ***SPECIAL LAUNCH PRICE! IT DOESN'T COST A LOT OF MONEY!*** Optimized for iPhone 6+! A huge hit at E3, PAX, PAX East, IndieCade... | Read more »
Drift'n'Drive (Games)
Drift'n'Drive 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Follow your destiny to become the ultimate racing driver! | Read more »
Twisty Hollow (Games)
Twisty Hollow 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: A self-appointed mayor is spinning the town of Twisty Hollow out of order with nonsensical rulings. His cryptic instructions... | Read more »
Omnistat (Utilities)
Omnistat 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Omnistat is an application for tech lovers, it's the easiest way to consult your device stats. With Omnistat you don't need to... | Read more »
South Park Pinball Review
South Park Pinball Review By Blake Grundman on October 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FAN SERVICE GALOREUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad It is hard to go wrong when tables are obviously being designed by fans of a specific... | Read more »
Mmm Fingers Review
Mmm Fingers Review By Jennifer Allen on October 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE PLEASURESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Chasing high scores with just one finger works well for Mmm Fingers.   | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Sale! 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro available for...
 B&H Photo has the 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro on sale for $2649 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $350 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from any... Read more
Mujjo Steps Up The Game With Refined Touchscr...
Netherlands based Mujjo have just launched their Refined Touchscreen Gloves, stepping up their game. The gloves feature a updated elegant design that takes these knitted gloves to the next level. A... Read more
Sale! Preorder the new 27-inch 5K iMac for $2...
 Abt Electronics has the new 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale and available for preorder for $2374.05 including free shipping. Their price is $125 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Simplex Solutions Inc. Brings Secure Web Surf...
New York based Simplex Solutions Inc. has announced the release and immediate availability of Private Browser 1.0, its revolutionary new secure web browser developed for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch... Read more
Save up to $180 off MSRP with an Apple refurb...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Apple refurbished 2013 MacBook Pros available...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros available starting at $929. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros (4GB RAM/... Read more
What Post PC Era? – The Mac Bounces Back, Big...
Apple’s fiscal Q4 2014 was an all-time record quarter for Mac sales, with 5.5 million units shipped, representing nearly one million more sales (+21 percent, + 25 percent sequentially) than Apple... Read more
Unpacking The Big Changes At Microsoft – iPad...
The days of product keys and email attachments are nearing an end and Microsoft, though late to the game, is making big strides to keep up, says tech expert Karl Volkman of SRV Network, Inc. Under... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Airs and minis availab...
Apple dropped prices recently on Apple Certified Refurbished iPad Airs and iPad mini 2s, with models now available starting at $209. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Practice Fusion Launches New Electronic Healt...
Practice Fusion, claimed to be the nation’s largest cloud-based electronic health records (EHR) platform, has launched a new EHR for Practice Fusion’s community of more than 112,000 medical... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.