[ubuntu-uk] OT - secure email?

Nigel Verity nigelverity at hotmail.com
Wed Sep 4 11:28:25 UTC 2013

I think that "The Nice Guy" and Liam Proven make excellent points which illustrate both ends of the security/interception issue.

Most people are not involved in radical politics, crime or anything else which could prove, at the very least, embarrassing if made public. For them the notion "you have nothing to fear if you are not doing anything wrong" probably hits the mark. That is the luxury of living in a country with a relatively benign system of government.

There are, however, plenty of places where things we take to be perfectly acceptable, such as moaning about the government, watching a bit of adult entertainment or encouraging friends to go to church can land someone in seriously hot water. Helping those people should be the driver behind finding ways of defeating interception. Everyone will subsequently benefit, whether they see email security as an issue or not.

As with any issue, it's for the people who do understand the problem to do something about it. Waiting for the mainstream to call for action probably means leaving it too late.

The analogy of an email being a postcard rather than a letter makes the point really well. I am convinced that total security and anonymity on the internet is impossible, but if the communication process involves a sufficiently large number of chain links then, due to the vast number of messages, routine interception becomes impractical. It's product of permutations and probabilities.

I suspect that the solution fundamentally relies on denying access to encryption keys to anybody other than the sender and the intended recipient. The system based on page, line numbers and word positions in a commonly available book worked well for the SOE during WW2. With so much digital media available today, perhaps an updated version of that approach might provide a pointer.



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