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VeraCrypt Is the New TrueCrypt -- and It's Better

heypete "Slightly slower"? (220 comments)

From the summary: "While this makes VeraCrypt slightly slower at opening encrypted partitions..."

On my 2.4GHz, 4-core, 8-thread i7-3630QM mounting an encrypted partition using VeraCrypt takes ~18 seconds. It takes the VeraCrypt bootloader more than 40 seconds to verify my password and proceed with booting.

Although one need only enter the boot password once at boot time, it's still a bit of a pain. A 1-5 second processing delay is reasonable, but more than 40 seconds? Either way, a few thousand iterations combined with a strong password makes brute-force guessing impractical so why bother with obscenely high iteration counts?

I'd much rather that VeraCrypt (or other similar software) allow one to set the number of iterations so one could set the desired delay time based on their own hardware and threat model, and have the iteration count written to the disk so the software knows how many iterations to use. For me, I use such software to protect against theft by ordinary criminals: they're not going to bother decrypting the drive, so a second or two of iterating is fine. Those defending against more well-funded adversaries would be better served with more iterations.

about two weeks ago

Security Collapse In the HTTPS Market

heypete Re:If there's a systemic problem (185 comments)

If there's a single systemic problem with HTTPS, it's that we're still largely relying on Certificate Authorities which charge a lot of money. The expense and complexity discourages people from using SSL more ubiquitously.

Cost is an issue if you're buying VeriSign certs for hundreds of dollars, but why waste your money? (Answer: nobody got fired for buying VeriSign, and big companies think customers care about the "trust seals"). Other CAs offer OV or EV certs for less than $200/year.

DV certs are incredibly cheap. StartSSL offers DV certs for non-commercial purposes free-of-charge. For paid certs, they only charge for what costs them money: ndividuals can get their ID verified for $60/year and issue unlimited Class 2 certs. Organizations pay $120 (one individual verification, plus the organization verification) and can issue unlimited certs. Gandi offers DV certs (they're a Comodo reseller) for $16/year. NameCheap (a reseller of several CAs) has even lower prices: Comodo certs are $9/year, while RapidSSL certs are $10.95.

I hardly consider $9/year to be a showstopper for even the most cash-strapped business or small organization.

That said, you do have a point in regards to complexity: generating certs using command-line tools is not something the typical user can be expected to do, particularly with subtleties like adding the right flag for SHA2 signatures, configuring their server with good ciphersuites, etc. Heck, I routinely see professionally-managed websites with SSL cert chains missing the intermediate cert. Security is complex and can only be simplified so much, but it's still an issue.

about a month ago

Satoshi Nakamoto's Email Address Compromised

heypete Re:WRONG! (65 comments)

What is the alternative? Phone calls?

Several email services (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) do just that: they can send voice calls or SMS messages to a phone number you've registered with them prior to the loss of your account.

Due to the importance of email addresses when it comes to authentication (e.g. password resets for non-email services are nearly always sent to one's email address) it makes sense to have email services be secure from compromise (e.g. 2FA) and recoverable in a secure manner (e.g. phone-based validation).

Domain names are also a "high-stakes" thing and it makes sense to have a high degree of security when allowing password resets at registrars: I wouldn't mind my domain registrar sending me a letter by post to my address on file with them if I were to ever request a password reset from them.

about a month and a half ago

AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

heypete Re: We really need (533 comments)

I'm curious, how's the performance of YouTube and Netflix over there. Do you notice a bottleneck most likely traced at the trans-Atlantic fiber pairings, or is all content cached on local servers too?

Google has many datacenters, including three in Europe. Alas, due to Google not providing reverse DNS on a lot of their router hops I'm not sure quite where the traces end up, but they're only ~30ms away from Bern, so the connection is definitely routed to their European facilities.

As for Netflix, their European service seems to be run from the Amazon AWS facility in Ireland, so there's no transatlantic links to cross. I imagine they also offer their CDN equipment to European ISPs, but they don't offer Netflix in Switzerland yet, so I don't know if that's the case here. I subscribe to the US Netflix and use Unlocator to trick their location-detection system into thinking I'm in the US, so the videos I watch do cross the Atlantic. There's maybe 10 seconds of lower-resolution video when streams from US Netflix first start, but after that things are in HD quality for the duration. No issues otherwise.

about a month and a half ago

AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

heypete Re:We really need (533 comments)

American expat in Switzerland here. Using I get 246.08/15.21 Mbps. I pay the cable company the equivalent of $98 USD/month for 250/15 internet service (no data caps) and cable TV (my wife likes watching US sports, so we have the "all-inclusive" TV package that includes some US sports channels). I originally had the 35/5 plan, but upgraded to the 150/10. They discontinued that plan and switched me to the 250/15 plan, which was only $5/month more.

If I wasn't satisfied with them, Swisscom (major telco) and the electric company each offer fiber-to-the-home, with up to 1000/100 speeds and no caps. There's other options for DSL too, but not nearly as fast.

Comcast, a major US ISP, has a comparably-priced plan that goes from $89/month for the first year to $119/month for the second year and then up to $148/month thereafter. They offer a bunch of TV channels and 25 Mbps internet, plus data caps. That's absurdly awful.

As an American, I find it ridiculous that wholesale bandwidth in the US (e.g. connectivity in a datacenter) is dirt cheap and fast (as an example, Hurricane Electric offers 10GigE transit for $0.45/Mbps) but that retail bandwidth available to end-users is so expensive, slow, and limited by data caps and the like. Things really need to change.

about a month and a half ago

Mozilla 1024-Bit Cert Deprecation Leaves 107,000 Sites Untrusted

heypete Re:So 1024 Bits Not Enough Now? (67 comments)

Symmetric and asymmetric keys are different things and have different key lengths. One cannot directly compare key sizes between two wholly different classes of ciphers. There are numerous reasons, mostly involving arcane mathematics, why asymmetric ciphers require longer key lengths than symmetric ciphers to offer similar levels of protection.

For example, a 1024-bit RSA key (RSA is an asymmetric cipher) is essentially equivalent to an 80-bit symmetric key (AES, 3DES, etc. are symmetric ciphers). SHA1, a hashing algorithm, provides less than 80 bits of security; those wishing stronger signatures are switching to SHA-256 (which offers 128 bits of security) and SHA-512 (which offers 256 bits).

A 2048-bit RSA key, such as those used by most CAs and web servers these days, has the same strength as a 112-bit symmetric key. NIST says they should be good enough until around 2030.

3072-bit RSA keys offer the same strength as a 128-bit symmetric key. A whopping 15,360-bit RSA key would be needed for 256-bit security; the same level of security could be achieved with a 512-bit elliptic curve key, which would be much, much faster than such a large RSA key.

about a month and a half ago

UCLA, CIsco & More Launch Consortium To Replace TCP/IP

heypete Re:Great idea at the concept stage. (254 comments)

Is it wrong that I don't want my home devices to be reachable from the outside unsolicited?

Use a stateful firewall? NAT is not a firewall.

Just because something has a globally unique IP address doesn't mean that it's globally reachable.

about a month and a half ago

Apple Denies Systems Breach In Photo Leak

heypete Re:Seemed pretty obvious this was the case (311 comments)

Just another reminder to use strong passwords, password managers, and change them often. It's a pain, but it's the reality of the digital world.

What good is a password manager when the answers to your security questions are public knowledge?

Who says you need to tell the truth on those questions?

Q: "What is your mother's maiden name?"
A: "Purple monkey dishwasher."

Of course, you should keep a record of those questions and answers so you can correctly answer them if the need arises.

about 1 month ago

Plan Would Give Government Virtual Veto Over Internet Governance

heypete Re:Does it matter? (65 comments)

Of course this is about power shifting towards governments in general. This is to be expected - after all, we can't just have random people running the internet and governments happen to be the very things that represent their countries internationally

(Emphasis mine.)

Why not? That's basically what Jon Postel did: he basically singlehandedly administered the DNS root and was IANA.

Sure, things are different now, but we certainly have had random people running the internet. It worked then, why not now?

about 2 months ago

Watch a Cat Video, Get Hacked: the Death of Clear-Text

heypete Re:https is useless (166 comments)

If VeriSign gets caught issuing bogus certs for the government, browser vendors will revoke their roots. That's basically a death sentence to companies like VeriSign (rather, their cert-issuing division).

I wouldn't be too sure of that.

Of all the companies that have aided the NSA, how many are out of business or even really hurting?

Companies like what? The ones making network-tapping hardware and whatnot cater toward a limited market, not the general public. Certificate authorities directly transact with server administrators, but their primary audience are end-users and they have wide public exposure. If a CA was found to be doing shady things, browsers would remove their roots. That'd basically kill off the offending CA.

about 2 months ago

Watch a Cat Video, Get Hacked: the Death of Clear-Text

heypete Re:https is useless (166 comments)

>If VeriSign gets caught issuing bogus certs for the government, browser vendors will revoke their roots.

HAHAHAHAno. Thanks to the demon that is backwards compatibility browser vendors have implicitly or explicitly confirmed that they cannot actually revoke root certs. Or, more specifically, that many websites rely on that particular root to verify their identity and would break horribly if a root cert got revoked. i.e. revoking a misbehaving root will break the web.

Why not? There have been roots that have been revoked due to being compromised and which have issued bogus certs (e.g. DigiNotar). That's caused some chaos, but people adapted.

Sure, VeriSign is large and commands (either directly or through its subsidiaries) a substantial fraction of the CA market. Nuking it would be a Very Big Deal that browsers wouldn't take lightly, but I have no doubt that if it were shown that VeriSign (or Comodo, or other CAs) were found to be issuing bogus certs for the government to compromise people, they'd get their roots pulled by browsers. That's a death sentence for a CA, hence my skepticism in response to the proposal that they're actively assisting governments.

A better solution would be the ability to provide multiple root certs, which is not technically feasible today, and won't be for a while - even things like SSL vhosts are considered unreliable due to the prevalence of legacy browsers that don't know how to use the proper TLS extensions for hostname identification. So maybe in 10 years we can start telling site operators that they can turn on multiple certs, and 10 years after that browser vendors will have enough data to determine if it's safe to actually revoke a root cert or not. In the meantime you will have to convince HTTPS services that it's worth paying n times as much in certification costs to avoid a hypothetical root revocation.

Agreed. That would be nice.

about 2 months ago

Watch a Cat Video, Get Hacked: the Death of Clear-Text

heypete Re:https is useless (166 comments)

What good is https going to be against the state? You think they can not coerce Verisign et al to hand over a copy of the root keys?

Sure, they could, but I doubt they are.

If VeriSign gets caught issuing bogus certs for the government, browser vendors will revoke their roots. That's basically a death sentence to companies like VeriSign (rather, their cert-issuing division).

While typical users won't notice, there's still plenty of risk to getting caught, particularly when targeting anyone using major web properties: Chrome, for example, has a bunch of high-profile sites "pinned" and will report back to Google if bogus certs are being used (they identified a bunch of MITMing with compromised certs in Iran in this way). Other add-ons like Perspectives make it easier to detect if unexpected certs are showing up.

Could they get away with issuing infrequently-used certs for highly-targeted, one-off uses? Possibly, but each time they do the risk to their entire business increases.

I suspect the government would much prefer to do things sneakily in the shadows, rather than involving major CAs in such a risky role.

about 2 months ago

For Fast Internet in the US, Virginia Tops the Charts

heypete Re:Fiber to the Home (98 comments)

Compared to what you can get in Europe or Asia, those "decent prices" are in fact insanely expensive.

Perhaps. Depends on the location and provider. Here in Bern, Switzerland, the cable company offers 250/15 internet for CHF 89/month ($98 USD). That's only $10 more than the 200/200 for $89.95 offering. Not unreasonable. For CHF 105/month they package a bunch of cable TV channels (including European and American sports) and 250/15 internet.

Swisscom, the incumbent phone company, has fiber-to-the-home. 300/60 internet with even more TV channels costs CHF 154/month. They offer up to 1000/100 connection if you're willing to pay and extra CHF 80/month above the CHF 154 rate. That's USD $258, only $8 more than the 1000/1000 plan offered in Clarksville (though the Swisscom offering does include TV. Phone is an extra CHF 15).

Then again, Switzerland does tend to be expensive. You may get cheaper service in other countries, but it is quite comparable in terms of cost here.

about 2 months ago

Google Will Give a Search Edge To Websites That Use Encryption

heypete Re: Great step! (148 comments)

While I wish they allowed free reissuance of certs at any time, I don't really see why requiring revocation is a showstopper.

It's not a showstopper, per se, but they do charge a revocation fee ($25, I think?), so that makes it decidedly less than free.

True, but how often does one need to revoke a certificate? Other than Heartbleed, I think I've only revoked one certificate in the last 10 years or so. Amortized over that timeframe, the costs are negligible. That said, I would like it if StartSSL would offer free revocations in the case of something like Heartbleed, where certs are compromised through no fault of the customer, but I understand the business reasons for not doing so (CRL/OCSP isn't free).

Of course, I've abandoned several certs where I deleted a VM hosting a site I no longer needed, but since the cert was not compromised and the private key was deleted, I just let the expiration timer run out. No big deal.

about 2 months ago

Google Will Give a Search Edge To Websites That Use Encryption

heypete Re: Great step! (148 comments)

To clarify I fully understand why startSSL do this, they are a buisness and they need to make money and they are certainly the best value widely recognised CA I have found.

I just don't think using startSSLs limited free certs as a rebuttal to claims that SSL increases costs for website operators is reasonable. Either you pay to get the wildcard certs or you pay to get extra IPv4 addresses or some combination of the two.

Why not just use SNI? I have multiple SSL-enabled virtualhosts running on a single server, and other than Internet Explorer on Windows XP and Android 2.x (neither of which I care about, as the former is EOL while the latter is effectively EOL) every browser on desktop and mobile devices works properly. I spend more money every two weeks on caffeinated beverages than my entire annual budget for SSL certs, and I have more than most. My cert budget is dwarfed by hosting costs (which I pay regardless of SSL support or not).

If you don't care about those systems (and I don't), SNI is perfectly satisfactory. If you need to support those old systems for some reason, you're probably a commercial enterprise who can afford IP-based SSL or wildcard certs. For typical individuals or small/medium-sized organizations using SNI, adding SSL support to your sites will essentially be a non-issue in terms of cost.

If anything, Google adding a small boost to SSL-enabled sites should encourage and improve support for SNI and hopefully sweep away the few older browsers that don't support it. I'm all for it.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Life Beyond the WRT54G Series?

heypete Re:Avoid the Asus RT-N66U .. overpriced (427 comments)

Gotta agree. My RT-N66U(Shibby 121) is running a crap load of stuff with zero downtime. VLAN, IPTV, VoIP, OpenVPN server and client, Print server, etc etc etc.

I've got an RT-AC68U as my access point. Not as mature firmware wise, and hard to test to it's full potential, but rock solid none the less.

ASUS can shut up and take my money.

Seconded in regards to the N66U. It's a fantastic router. I've been running Tomato Shibby for years (most recently v121) and it's been rock-solid, reliable, and stable.

There's only one downside: Tomato doesn't include the necessary kernel module for hardware accelerated WAN-to-LAN NAT/routing. This only matters if your downstream WAN bandwidth is greater than ~120Mbps. If your downstream bandwidth is less, the software routing can keep up and you'll run at full speed. If your downstream bandwidth is greater, you will be limited to ~120-130Mbps, as that's as fast as the N66U can route in software. LAN-to-LAN bandwidth will run entirely in hardware regardless of what firmware you have.

My ISP just upgraded me to a 250Mbps downstream link, so I reluctantly went back to the factory firmware to take advantage of the hardware acceleration. It's clunky and annoying compared to the elegance of the Tomato web interface, but it works. The Merlin firmware maintains the look-and-feel of the factory firmware, includes support for hardware acceleration, fixes a few bug and adds a few features (but not as many as Tomato) that makes it suck less.

I highly recommend the N66U.

about 2 months ago

Google Will Give a Search Edge To Websites That Use Encryption

heypete Re: Great step! (148 comments)

2: they make the expiry artifically short (the CA industry as a whole does this but startSSLs free certs are epecially bad),

A validity time of one year is pretty standard for SSL certs (paid certs often charge per year). Could they issue them for 20 years? Sure, but a one year validity is not unusual. Class 2 certs are good for two years.

3: they refuse to renew certs until just before they expire and refuse to reissue certs without revoking the old one.

I get renewal notices two weeks prior to expiration. That's pretty reasonable. If I recall correctly, I can generate a new cert for my site any time in that two-week period, so I don't need to wait for the cert to expire before replacing it.

While I wish they allowed free reissuance of certs at any time, I don't really see why requiring revocation is a showstopper.

4: each free cert only covers a domain and one hostname under that domain (e.g. and This effectively means you end up needing one IP per hostname you want SSL on (until IE on XP becomes insignificant anyway).

That's also the case for pretty much any of the inexpensive paid certs too. You can always get a wildcard cert but most CAs charge at least $100/year for a single wildcard cert. StartSSL charges $60 for Class 2 validation, and you can issue unlimited certs (wildcard or not). Organizations can get Class 2 certified for $120 ($60 for identity verification, $60 for organization verification) and can issue unlimited certs. For a company needing more than one cert, StartSSL is still cheaper.

It's nice that there is a free (as in beer) option for some people but it's also clearly got a number of artificial restrictions on it to push people towards their paid options.

Considering their paid certs are often cheaper than comparable offerings from other CAs, it doesn't really seem unreasonable to me. Doubly so because they're run by competent people who respond promptly to inquiries, even from free users. I've been a StartSSL customer for years (and also used other CAs like GoDaddy, Comodo, Thawte, etc.) and the customer service from StartSSL has always been excellent.

If you don't want to get a StartSSL cert or they don't meet your needs, that's fine. NameCheap and others sell single-domain Comodo certs for $9/year. RapidSSL certs are a buck or two more per year. That costs less than a single beer at the local bar. Hardly a massive expense.

about 2 months ago

Google Will Give a Search Edge To Websites That Use Encryption

heypete Re:StartSSL or DANE (148 comments)

Quite the contrary: StartSSL is accepted by every major browser and SSL/TLS library, and has been for years.

Well-known sites, like, LibreOffice, and others use StartSSL-issued certs and don't have any issues. Sure, they're not Google-sized sites, but they're fairly major.

about 2 months ago

T-Mobile Smartphones Outlast Competitors' Identical Models

heypete Re:No towers in range? (127 comments)

That doesn't jive with my results though. At work, if I'm in the building in the center all day without appreciable service my phone doesn't last the day. If I'm at an outside wall, my phone barely makes it through the day without any significant usage, barely getting one bar. If I'm out and about I've had service work on standby for couple of days when I've forgotten to charge it overnight.

That seems to match with what I'm saying: when the phone is constantly searching for signals it has the receiver enabled all the time and the gain turned up to maximum, using more power. When it is in an area of low-but-there signal, the receiver isn't powered up as often, but the gain is still high, so it uses a medium amount of power. When you're out in the open and there's lots of signal, the receiver isn't powered up as often and the gain is low, so it uses the least amount of power.

I apologize if I wasn't clear before.

about 3 months ago


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