22 Jan 2016

System is smart & Not funny, are you worried yet? #DigitalSecurity #Egypt

If you haven’t read the article by Mohamed lofty describing the current pre-Jan25 2016 scene in Egypt then you should now.
I’d commence my post from his description:
“Today in Egypt, human rights activists, lawyers, political activists and independent journalists all have to live with their phone calls being tapped, endless smear campaigns and hate speech from state-affiliated media, as well as continuous harassment and intimidation from the authorities.”

The description lands at no exaggeration, as reports of many Facebook page admins and using Facebook posts as evidence of incrimination in the police interrogation.
It’s worthy of saying that Cyber security awareness for the majority of the Human rights workers is not as firm as it should be, they mistakenly mix it their motive of transparency; a derive though noble yet irrelevant.

“As the need for your house to have Doors and locks, has nothing to do with whether or not you’re questioned for doing obscene things in your house”.

Let me make myself clear, this is not just important or urgent for those who work in Human rights! Taping is Taping, Everyone is a suspect, and if not a suspect, everyone is a nice nasty toy to play around with, listen to their calls with their boyfriend/girlfriend, those secret love words you whisper to you girl/woman, you don’t need to lower your voice, be sure there are at least 2 ministries listening to this Real-time, if not your service company as well.

Are we the only country doing that? Hell no! We’re learning from people like Russia, China and the US.
Phone: (Discussion of sensitive or insensitive material without the use of VoIP, Whatsapp)
Online Browsing:  (Facebook communications, Skype conferencing, Viber calls)

 On another hand, The Shorouk Newspaper dated 20/1/2016 1st page featured “Parliament members use very old Nokia Phones to communicate”, let me explain that to non-cyber readers.
  1. Very old Nokia: All Phones manufactured After 2001 have a little piece that can make any phone traceable anywhere in the world (on GPS), this has nothing to do with the other piece that provides you with WI-FI (which by the way is also capable of geo locating you)
  2. This makes the parliament memebers’ communication very discreet anywhere, if we also added no. 3
  3. The article explained that the Communication Network used in these devices prohibits any Incoming or Outgoing calls, outside the zone of the Ministers and Parliamentarians.
One would ask: “But that can mean that the Service providing company (Mobinil, Vodafone etc.) can listen!” That might be true, though on this level of VIP users, and in a level where the ministry of interior and ministry of communications are in total control of the communication service companies, these calls can be either totally encrypted (cyphered), or the calls could be recorded solely in the records of either ministries to be used against any parliamentarian in the needed time. The last option, however will not be needed, considering the blind loyalty of this parliament to the system, and them being already vital members of it, whether in Media or Law.

Back to those who are in one way or another considered anti-government, Hossam Bahgat have mentioned last August in one of his daily commentary articles for Mada Masr, that a group of youngsters were arrested under the allegations of belonging to the –now named terrorist- “Muslim Brotherhood”, the new, worthy of notice thing in this was not them being caught or the allegations, but the charges that included “Using TOR and means of Proxy and VPN in browsing the internet”, I’ll explain what that means, but first let me identify that This above mentioned quote is NEVER a crime anywhere in the world and not even in Egypt.

  • Tor: a browser that bases its browsing ability on blinding the internet service provider from tracking you, by simply walking you through a tangled random web servers that juggle you with different IP (internet protocol address) till you reach the destination website with an IP that would say you’re maybe from the Bahamas, or Germany etc. People use that to research for Videos that are Geographically unavailable, or research papers for their study (I use it this way, for my study) etc. It’s not harmful in itself, and Not wanting to be tracked –again- is a right, not a crime in itself.
  • Proxy: is the way tor works
  • VPN: Virtual Private Network: is like a tunnel that gets built away from the internet service provider (TE DATA etc.) where you can –somehow- browse more privately. (P.S All Windows 10 update has VPN Settings built in, check it in the taskbar)
(Other Similar vocabulary and their meaning in Arabic Here )
On another hand, lots of young police officers that the ministry see as smart with electronics are being now transferred to work in the Internet police, and being trained as CEH (Certified Ethical Hackers). Y'all feeling the “Ethical” part here?!
  • CEHs are those employees at your company that work behind desks trying to ban any virus or hacking attempt to your computer or network. Briefly, they are the Carpenter trying to build that door I was talking about in the beginning of the article, for you.
So you get everyone, The government is getting smarter in realizing the power of network communication system. This is not a battle of who’s hacking who, by now you should understand the You already are being tapped, but it’s a matter of you gaining your right for a private phone call, to know that your chat with your son, wife, sister, boss, employees, lover is NOT being anything but Private.
Think of this as the BATHROOM, How comfortable will you feel with the whole building watching you take a leek?

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