How the NSA Can Hack Your Emails

In the video, Edward Frenkel explains how the NSA is able to hack emails. It circulated a few years ago when the video was first made, but it bears reposting.

Professor Frenkel goes into some detail about the science of cryptography. He has an ability to discuss this complicated math at a level which is understandable by the layman, and it’s worth your 10 minutes to watch it, and explore some of the other links provided by Brady Haran at Numberphile.

If you don’t have time to watch now, a very very simplified discussion is provided here.

Gmail, Yahoo and other email and messaging providers all use the same encryption method. It is a formula which uses two large prime numbers that creates a relationship between a public key (half of a standard component of the formula outcome) to match with a private key (the randomly-generated other half of the formula).

The standard components are provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. These numbers are used by all users of encryption software, not only email providers, but by other users of sensitive data such as banks, the IRS, credit card companies, and so on. The standard components are published on-line and is public knowledge. Once the relationship between the components is known, then it’s simply a matter of plugging in the numbers to find the “seed number” which is a unique number for each company / organization. This is how hackers have been able to compromise financial databases as well as emails. It’s not simple, and a high level of mathematics is required as well as sophisticated software and amped up hardware which is easily obtained if you’re into that kind of stuff.

Encryption keys use prime numbers because, among other things, a prime number can only be divided by itself, which eliminates a lot of work for the formula generator, as there is only one number which works with it.

It is by observing the relationship between the standard components of the encryption, knowing the formulaic relationship between them, and the randomly-generated numbers that a pattern can be derived over time. The solution is reverse engineered.

For a very simple example, if you find a pattern of

  • 2 x a = 4, but not 5
  • 471 x a = 942, but not 943
  • 896,769 x a = 1,793,538, but not 1,793,539

eventually you’ll find that a = 2.

Best practice uses large passwords, such as those generated by GRC passwords, and 2 step verification. This will make it difficult for others at your end to access your private sites. But understand that if any person or organization wants access to your information, they will create or hack into an access point at the owner’s database, e.g., Google, Paypal, or at some point or node on the route. The lastest exposure is the vulnerabilities inherent in the Internet of Things.

Until true quantum computing becomes commonly available, here are links to two of the latest encryption technologies: measurement device independence and upgraded hardware and block chain technology.

For more information to follow the discussion around this issue, the ACLU , New York  Times, Wired, and Wikipedia are good places to start.

Fresh Air and Free is not affiliated with any of the sites mentioned in this blog.

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Freedom of Thought

Freedom of feeling and thought are the greatest of all freedoms. This is part of the greatest triad of freedom of feeling and thought, freewill, and freedom of expression.

Freedom of Thought

The concept of freedom of feeling and thought is first because it comes from within. Ideas, hopes, dreams, aspirations and goals cannot be taken away and cannot be controlled by others. When these are controlled by others, it is the responsibility of each person to draw the line. Dream a little dream for an hour, don’t speak of it to anyone, and tuck it away in your mind where you can bring it out anytime you wish. You can stretch it or shrink it, add a musical score or cover it in ice cream, but only you can do it.

Our knowledge communities are still looking for where, exactly, in our brains we store our memories. Research has shown that when we experience an event such as viewing an image, certain areas in our brain are stimulated. In the same instant, we form a memory of the image, our reaction to it good or bad, and decision of what we are going to do about the image. When we are asked to later recall the image, the same areas in our brain light up, even though we are not actually looking at the image. However, at this point, with our level of technology, we are unable to discern any difference in the composition of the brain when the new information has been added. So where are the instructions to tell the brain how to reconstruct the image stored? How can we recall the image in detail, the feelings, and the complex relationship of the image to ourself, even though no cell exists which is identified as a bona fide, recognizable, formatted memory unit? We can identify no “memory cell” filed in a “filing cabinet” in any area of our brain with a “memory process” to retrieve what we need. Our brains would be huge! Too big for our little necks, certainly.

Einstein's Head
Mr Einstein’s head seemed to be of a normal size.

But we must have a filing cabinet located somewhere, because when we need to recall an item or action, we have the answer instantaneously. It would be a slow bicycle race if we had to relearn everything all over again in each new moment.

Much of our thoughts are formed from memories of past experiences. Schooling, learning how to ride a bike, relationship patterns, food preferences, hobbies, and so on, are built from pieces we put together from our individual perspective. How I learned to ride a bike was my own experience but different from every other person past, present and future who has learned, or will ever learn to ride a bike. This, in itself, is amazing. Just looking at our current slice in time, and though we believe there is only one way to ride a bike, who would have thought that there are more than 7 billion ways to learn to ride a bicycle?

Much of our thoughts are formed by building on the works of those who have come before us. An easy example of this is science and technology, although there is a large risk of becoming so rigid that new and crazy ideas are dismissed because they don’t fit into the proven dogmas. Another easy example of this is quantum theory, which is really off-the-wall and counter-intuitive, except that we know these truths in large part because mathematicians can translate the preposterous into a logical language which can be understood by all global citizens, regardless of political, cultural, lingual, religious or racist shading. Mathematics has no agenda.

Today, it is commonly understood that much of our thoughts are covertly or overtly suggested to us from the bombardment of various media: movies and entertainment, social media, controlled news, advertising. And this is all fine – let it come! Let us have the opportunity to see what you offer! What are your thoughts on any subject? Tell me everything. Once seen, it cannot be unseen. When we can have access to the thoughts of others, we begin to understand that there is so much we all have in common around the world, and yet, we have 7 billion viewpoints for everything under the sun. Today, as never before in our history, I potentially have access to 7 billion thoughts. Even when filters are applied such as government or other censorship, personal preferences of information, quality and quantity of sources, or physical limitations, there is more information available now than ever before accessible by more people than ever before. How do we feel about that?

But then we have artists. The creative types who introduce us to completely new ideas of what we like and love in life, or not. Designers, architects, explorers, expressionists in all areas such as economics, public policy makers, our social environments, our habitat environments, art, software. Again, bring it on! Help us to evolve. But the question here is: although these people are taught the same values as the rest of us, from where do they get the inspiration to add something new and previously unknown, unseen, un-thought?

This category is unique because every creative spark is unique. It cannot be derived from a formula. It is not tweaked out from a hard, logical fact. It is not found in the concept of opposites and balance. It is not based on time or experience because it is intrinsically new, in this moment. One cannot learn what potential creativity will occur in a given circumstance; it is literally not predictable in any sense.

So what is it that fires the brain in a new pattern? For a memory that doesn’t exist yet?

It seems that it may still be awhile before we develop a clear understanding of how we, as sentient organic miracles, learn abstract and unincorporated concepts.

How do we translate energy into thought forms?

So, freedom of thought is our primary force because it is the first motion, activity, input. Sometimes we know where the thoughts come from, sometimes we don’t. For the thoughts which are told to us, we take in the information and then have a feeling about it. This happens so quickly that we could call it our innate guiding system. We like that piece of information or we don’t. It is an aspect of our self that was not shaped by others, and never will be. It’s the first filter that information passes through within our self, and just by that fact alone, no one can impose their thoughts on how we use that first filter. Even if someone says we have to like a situation, we can decide to like it that someone told us we have to like it, or we don’t but say we do. But it’s always an immediate good idea / bad idea feeling that we get upon taking any piece of information, and we should prize our ability to do so. And although there are many people who understand and value this filter, and use it in a conscious fashion, there are many more people who need to be reminded of this, and, most importantly, respected in ourself and all others.

So to be clear, our thoughts are formed after we feel. Feeling comes first, and then it is defined into a thought according to the knowledge and experience we have accumulated in our life. After we have a thought, we decode it though the filters of our sensory and spiritual experiences, and then we decide what we want to do with it – freewill. We also have the ability to change our thoughts about any given subject, and we can also change our actions. To the degree that our outer actions reflect our inner feelings is highly variable, and one is not relative to the other. The best situation is to have the outer us match the inner us, especially when the goals are higher than our current state. Exercise discernment.

Freewill is the deciding point of action, it is the first part of conscious motion: will we do something with our thought, or will we do nothing with the thought. Thus freewill and freedom of expression are tied together. If we decide we want to do something about a thought, are we free to express it as we wish? Yes, no, how? Consequences, outcomes? Will it elevate or diminish? Our self, our family, our community?

When we get to the point where we understand the mysterious sources and processes by which we obtain creative ideas, we must realize there may be a possibility for the control of the inputs into our individual and collective consciousness by those who do not want us to be fully actualized human beings.

What kind of world do we want to see for ourselves and our children? We get to dream and think, decide and act, and these are the most precious gifts that humanity possesses. These freedoms must be protected, and nurtured, and never taken for granted.

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A Contemporary Lord’s Prayer

This is from Peter Russell’s blog (PeterRussell.com) who is a Spiritualist. There is no credit for this work, so he may have written it himself.

Although it is a bit wordy, the importance of this prayer is that it changes the idea of God from being “out there” and brings God into ourself, where it rightfully belongs. This is the whole point of non-duality.

Lord's Prayer

http://www.peterrussell.com/lprayer.php

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom in the World

Anxious Dictators, Wavering Democracies: Global Freedom under Pressure

Freedom House Logo Mar 1 2016

Full Report Source Link: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world-2016/overview-essay-anxious-dictators-wavering-democracies

Freedom House Report 2016 ImageKey Findings

The world was battered by crises that fueled xenophobic sentiment in democratic countries, undermined the economies of states dependent on the sale of natural resources, and led authoritarian regimes to crack down harder on dissent. These developments contributed to the 10th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.

  • The number of countries showing a decline in freedom for the year—72—was the largest since the 10-year slide began. Just 43 countries made gains.
  • Over the past 10 years, 105 countries have seen a net decline, and only 61 have experienced a net improvement.
  • Ratings for the Middle East and North Africa region were the worst in the world in 2015, followed closely by Eurasia.
  • Over the last decade, the most significant global reversals have been in freedom of expression and the rule of law.

Freedom House Table Mar 1 2016Countries to Watch in 2016

The following countries are among those that may be approaching important turning points in their democratic trajectory and deserve special scrutiny in the coming year.

  • Angola: Squeezed by low oil prices, Angola’s autocratic government is likely to intensify suppression of dissent and expand surveillance of private citizens.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: The country could face even worse government dysfunction if a planned Bosnian Serb referendum on the national court’s legitimacy takes place.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo: With the army poised to crush protests, President Kabila is considering a constitutional amendment that would allow him to seek a third term in 2016.
  • Iran: Moderate reformists are preparing for critical February elections to the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the body that appoints the supreme leader.
  • Kuwait: Authorities are quashing dissent with increasing aggression and frequency, galvanizing concerns about citizenship revocation and use of the death penalty.
  • Malaysia: Political repression in Malaysia could intensify as the prime minister faces increasing pressure over an embezzlement scandal.
  • Myanmar: Once the newly elected legislature is seated and a government is formed, the National League for Democracy will be under pressure to deliver on its promises.
  • Nigeria: Observers will be able to assess President Buhari’s first year in office, including his efforts to combat entrenched corruption and Boko Haram militants.
  • Poland: The initial actions of the Law and Justice government in 2015, including attempts to stack key institutions with partisan loyalists, raise serious concerns about Poland’s trajectory.
  • Venezuela: Although the opposition triumphed in the legislative elections, it will need a well-crafted strategy to enact reforms in light of possible resistance by President Maduro.

Donors

Smith Richardson Foundation
The Lilly Endowment
The Schloss Family Foundation
Kim G. Davis
The 21st Century ILGWU Heritage Fund
The Reed Foundation

Source Link: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2016