PyBitmessage version 0.3.5
|Original author(s)||Jonathan Warren|
|Initial release||November 2012|
0.6.3.2 / February 13, 2018
|Written in||Python, C++ (POW function)|
|Operating system||Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD|
|Available in||English, Esperanto, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Norwegian, Arabic, Chinese|
|Type||Instant messaging client|
Bitmessage is a decentralized, encrypted, peer-to-peer, trustless communications protocol that can be used by one person to send encrypted messages to another person, or to multiple subscribers.
In June 2013, the software experienced a surge of new adoptions after news reports of email surveillance by the US National Security Agency.
Bitmessage was conceived by software developer Jonathan Warren, who based its design on the decentralized digital currency, Bitcoin. The software was released in November 2012 under the MIT license.
Bitmessage gained a reputation for being out of reach of warrantless wiretapping conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA), due to the decentralized nature of the protocol, and its encryption being difficult to crack. As a result, downloads of the Bitmessage program increased fivefold during June 2013, after news broke of classified email surveillance activities conducted by the NSA.
Bitmessage has also been mentioned as an experimental alternative to email by Popular Scienceand CNET.
Some ransomware programs instruct affected users to use Bitmessage to communicate with the attackers.
The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence. The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign and domestic intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, specializing in a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). The NSA is also tasked with the protection of U.S. communications networks and information systems. The NSA relies on a variety of measures to accomplish its mission, the majority of which are clandestine.
Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is an encryption program that provides cryptographic privacy and authentication for data communication. PGP is used for signing, encrypting, and decrypting texts, e-mails, files, directories, and whole disk partitions and to increase the security of e-mail communications. Phil Zimmermann developed PGP in 1991.
Instant messaging (IM) technology is a type of online chat that offers real-time text transmission over the Internet. A LAN messenger operates in a similar way over a local area network. Short messages are typically transmitted between two parties, when each user chooses to complete a thought and select "send". Some IM applications can use push technology to provide real-time text, which transmits messages character by character, as they are composed. More advanced instant messaging can add file transfer, clickable hyperlinks, Voice over IP, or video chat.
Computer and network surveillance is the monitoring of computer activity and data stored on a hard drive, or data being transferred over computer networks such as the Internet. This monitoring is often carried out covertly and may be completed by governments, corporations, criminal organizations, or individuals. It may or may not be legal and may or may not require authorization from a court or other independent government agencies. Computer and network surveillance programs are widespread today and almost all Internet traffic can be monitored.
Crypto-anarchism is a political ideology focusing on protection of privacy, political freedom and economic freedom, the adherents of which use cryptographic software for confidentiality and security while sending and receiving information over computer networks.
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End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a system of communication where only the communicating users can read the messages. In principle, it prevents potential eavesdroppers – including telecom providers, Internet providers, and even the provider of the communication service – from being able to access the cryptographic keys needed to decrypt the conversation.
Ransomware is a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim's data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid. While some simple ransomware may lock the system so that it is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, more advanced malware uses a technique called cryptoviral extortion. It encrypts the victim's files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. In a properly implemented cryptoviral extortion attack, recovering the files without the decryption key is an intractable problem – and difficult to trace digital currencies such as paysafecard or Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are used for the ransoms, making tracing and prosecuting the perpetrators difficult.
Email privacy is a broad topic dealing with issues of unauthorized access to, and inspection of, electronic mail, or unauthorized tracking when a user reads an email. This unauthorized access can happen while an email is in transit, as well as when it is stored on email servers or on a user's computer, or when the user reads the message. In countries with a constitutional guarantee of the secrecy of correspondence, whether email can be equated with letters—therefore having legal protection from all forms of eavesdropping—is disputed because of the very nature of email. As more communication occurs via email, as compared to postal mail, this is considered to be an important debate.
Narus Inc. was a software company and vendor of big data analytics for cybersecurity.
Secure instant messaging is a form of instant messaging. Both terms refer to an informal means for computer users to exchange messages commonly referred to as "chats". Instant messaging can be compared to texting as opposed to making a mobile phone call. In the case of messaging, it is like the short form of emailing. Secure instant messaging is a specialized form of instant messaging that along with other differences, encrypts and decrypts the contents of the messages such that only the actual users can understand them.
The practice of mass surveillance in the United States dates back to wartime monitoring and censorship of international communications from, to, or which passed through the United States. After the First and Second World Wars, mass surveillance continued throughout the Cold War period, via programs such as the Black Chamber and Project SHAMROCK. The formation and growth of federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and NSA institutionalized surveillance used to also silence political dissent, as evidenced by COINTELPRO projects which targeted various organizations and individuals. During the Civil Rights Movement era, many individuals put under surveillance orders were first labelled as integrationists, then deemed subversive, and sometimes suspected to be supportive of the communist model of the United States' rival at the time, the Soviet Union. Other targeted individuals and groups included Native American activists, African American and Chicano liberation movement activists, and anti-war protesters.
The CryptoLocker ransomware attack was a cyberattack using the CryptoLocker ransomware that occurred from 5 September 2013 to late May 2014. The attack utilized a trojan that targeted computers running Microsoft Windows, and was believed to have first been posted to the Internet on 5 September 2013. It propagated via infected email attachments, and via an existing Gameover ZeuS botnet. When activated, the malware encrypted certain types of files stored on local and mounted network drives using RSA public-key cryptography, with the private key stored only on the malware's control servers. The malware then displayed a message which offered to decrypt the data if a payment was made by a stated deadline, and it threatened to delete the private key if the deadline passes. If the deadline was not met, the malware offered to decrypt data via an online service provided by the malware's operators, for a significantly higher price in bitcoin. There was no guarantee that payment would release the encrypted content.
Ongoing news reports in the international media have revealed operational details about the Anglophone cryptographic agencies' global surveillance of both foreign and domestic nationals. The reports mostly emanate from a cache of top secret documents leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which he obtained whilst working for Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the largest contractors for defense and intelligence in the United States. In addition to a trove of U.S. federal documents, Snowden's cache reportedly contains thousands of Australian, British and Canadian intelligence files that he had accessed via the exclusive "Five Eyes" network. In June 2013, the first of Snowden's documents were published simultaneously by The Washington Post and The Guardian, attracting considerable public attention. The disclosure continued throughout 2013, and a small portion of the estimated full cache of documents was later published by other media outlets worldwide, most notably The New York Times, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Der Spiegel (Germany), O Globo (Brazil), Le Monde (France), L'espresso (Italy), NRC Handelsblad, Dagbladet (Norway), El País (Spain), and Sveriges Television (Sweden).
Twister is free software for experimental peer-to-peer microblogging. Being completely decentralized means that no one is able to shut it down, as there is no single point to attack. The system uses end-to-end encryption to safeguard communications. It is based on both BitTorrent and Bitcoin-like protocols and is considered a (distributed) Twitter clone.
The Data Intercept Technology Unit is a unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States, which is responsible for intercepting telephone calls and e-mail messages of terrorists and foreign intelligence targets inside the US. It is not known when DITU was established, but the unit already existed in 1997.
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