3 lessons in online security from CryptoPartying in Brooklyn - Technical.ly Brooklyn

Dev

Jan. 27, 2017 7:33 am

3 lessons in online security from CryptoPartying in Brooklyn

Get a crash course in internet security this Saturday at NYC Resistor. Here's what we learned at a similar session held earlier this week.

NYC Resistor is hosting a CryptoParty on Saturday.

(Courtesy photo)

Ever since the National Security Agency’s surveillance program was revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, cybersecurity has become a more pressing topic for the average person. It’s especially gained prominence as of late, with secure messaging apps gaining popularity among political staffers (and journalists), according to the Wall Street Journal, and guidelines for securely leaking information becoming a staple on news sites from the New York Times to ProPublica.

So now seems fitting for NYC Resistor in Boerum Hill to host its first CryptoParty of the year. CryptoParties, a few of which we’ve covered in the past, are gatherings dedicated to helping people maintain security on the internet. The NYC Resistor CryptoParty, which is organized by developer David Huerta, is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 28, from 3-9 p.m. The event will include a mix of talks and help sessions.

On Monday, I attended another CryptoParty led by Huerta at the Brooklyn Public Library. The event was organized by the Society for Environmental Journalists and designed for members of the media. Over the course of two hours, Huerta and security user researcher Martin Shelton covered the basics of password security, two-factor authentication, virtual private networks and secure messaging.

As a preview of Saturday’s CryptoParty, here are a few takeaways from the Brooklyn Public Library event, which increased the total number of messaging apps on my phone to probably the maximum I can handle.

  • There’s a good chance you’ve been affected by a data breach. Huerta introduced the attendees to a site called, appropriately enough, HaveIBeenPwned.com, which allows you to check whether any of your online accounts have been compromised. I checked for myself, and yes, I’d been pwned. So had Huerta. Given that more than two billion accounts have been breached, according to the site, it’s likely you’ve been, too.
  • VPNs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Virtual private networks, or VPNs, enable their users to shield their IP addresses, which signal their network locations, by appearing to log on from another location. But they don’t offer anonymity, and a badly configured one could actually heighten your security risk, Huerta cautioned. So choosing one can be tricky. Huerta pointed attendees to a guide on Ars Technica written by Yael Grauer.
  • The flap over WhatsApp is largely overblown. Recently, the Guardian published a report suggesting that the popular messaging app WhatsApp had a critical security flaw. But according to Shelton — as well as many other security and cryptography experts, who’ve signed a petition calling for the retraction of the story — that’s a mischaracterization. WhatsApp uses the same security protocol developed by the makers of another app, Signal. The apps differ in how they handle messages sent to offline numbers: if the same number becomes associated with a new phone using the app, WhatsApp will send the message to that phone, whereas Signal won’t. In Shelton’s view, though that could cause problems for a tiny fraction of users, it’s a straightforward design choice.

Advertisement

-30-
JOIN THE COMMUNITY, BECOME A MEMBER
Already a member? Sign in here

Advertisement

3 reasons why Ethereal NY is more than a blockchain conference

Algorave heads to Eyebeam *expanding galaxy brain*

Teens tackle big, bad internet at Tech Kids Unlimited hackathon

SPONSORED

Brooklyn

You can win up to $360,000 at the WeWork Creator Awards

Brooklyn

Partners Coffee (formerly Toby's Estate)

Customer Service & E-Commerce

Apply Now
Philadelphia

Cohere

Digital Marketing Manager

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD 21201

14 West

Senior Software Engineer (Java + Apache Spark)

Apply Now

The week’s best Brooklyn tech events: Feb. 26–March 2

Brooklyn, NET/WORK 2018 is coming up and it’s got jobs

Watch musicians live-code music at Algorave

SPONSORED

Brooklyn

Explore how diverse teams build dynamic products with Dev Bootcamp

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Brooklyn

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!