This is our second yearly status letter. It covers all news-worthy updates since our previous letter.

Inside This Year’s Letter:

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Previously, we reviewed Google’s Certificate Transparency efforts, and observed that while it does not prevent MITM attacks, it might detect at least some of them. We compared it to blockchains, and described what a Decentralized Public-key Infrastructure (DPKI), which uses blockchains, might look like.

Today we compare these approaches with two new systems: Key Transparency and CONIKS. Continue reading

Listen up, super-villains and laboratory mice!

Outlined in this post is a masterplan for how to “take over the world!” — by compromising Zcash.1

Potential Consequences

The potential consequences of compromising Zcash’s trusted setup range from the fairly benign (someone buys themselves a private island) to the cartoonishly evil. The worst-case scenario is literally people dying. Maybe even a lot of people.

For those who understand, this is not news: Continue reading

Also see our followup: 
How To Compromise Zcash And Take Over The World

As part of our work, we will sometimes put a new system under scrutiny in order to provide constructive feedback, and/or clear up a widespread misunderstanding that could lead to problems down the road (for example, see our series on Certificate Transparency).

Today, we continue this tradition by reviewing one of the lesser known details of the Zcash cryptocurrency. A few days prior to publication, we reached out to the Zcash team and asked them to review this post for accuracy. We thank them for subsequently posting more details about Zcash’s trusted setup. Continue reading

Thanks to insightful feedback from John Light, I realized it would be good to do a regular Turtle Status Letter in order to keep our followers and supporters abreast of our activities and decision-making process. We now plan to do one every year.

Inside This Year’s Letter:

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Some turtles got together this weekend to hack on a thon—err, for a Group Income hackathon!

Group Income: A Currency-less Form Of Group Currency

Last year we published a document describing Group Currency: a way for any group to provide its members a basic income. This year our focus will be on Group Income.1 Continue reading

On Monday, the Internet received another reminder about its sad state of security. It was discovered that Dell decided to compromise their users’ Internet security in a way that’s difficult to top.

As elaborated further in this post, Dell, in tandem with Google, made it possible for anyone on earth, you or me, to break every single type of HTTPS connection that Dell users were making (including HPKP connections)—shiny lock icons be damned. Their reason? Continue reading

Translations: 中文

Update: We made a huge mistake in forgetting to review Riot — the only Slack alternative based on an open protocol, and the only Slack alternative to support end-to-end encrypted group chats.

Slack is a popular team communications application for organizations that offers group chat and direct messaging for mobile, web, and desktop platforms. While Slack offers many benefits to customers, there are also downsides to using the platform, including high subscription fees and the risk of a massive leak of private data if Slack’s servers are ever breached (again).

Today there are a growing number of open-source Slack alternatives available for people who want to avoid the trap of walled gardens and have more control over the security of their data. As part of our own search for a self-hosted Slack alternative, we reviewed the options out there.

Here are five of our favorites: Continue reading

Blockchains are difficult to run on most end-user devices.

Although MITM-proof proxies are a great way to address this problem, they are unlikely to scale well to all Internet users (not everyone will be able to run their own full node). Therefore, most people will need to rely on thin client techniques to reduce the trust placed in such proxies.

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After publishing our Certificate transparency on blockchains we learned of a recently updated IETF draft proposal that updates how Certificate Transparency (CT)1 gossip protocols work. Continue reading