Encryption for the Masses?

With the ongoing security-pocalypse, we’d all like to see effective, easy-to-use encryption tools that even people with little technical knowledge could use. Over at Mashable, Matthew Hughes thinks he’s found a company that might fit the bill.

According to Hughes, Keybase.io takes the otherwise confusing world of encryption products and simplifies them. How does it do this?

Messages can be encrypted through a relatively intuitive Node.js based command-line application, or through the Keybase website.

Wait, what? Nowhere in a story headlined “Encryption for the Masses” should the phrase “relatively intuitive Node.js based command-line application” ever appear.

Okay, but maybe the Keybase.io website will be easier to use. The screenshot that Hughes posts does look fairly nice, but is immediately followed by this explanation:

This first requires that you upload your private key to their servers. This is the key which is unique to you, and allows you to encrypt and decrypt messages. As the name implies, this is something which you need to keep absolutely, 100% secret.

How helpful of them!

In fairness to Keybase.IO, the company seems to be trying to solve a different problem — if I want to securely send a PGP message to Alice, how do I make certain I’ve Alice’s public key.  Keybase appears to use PGP signed messages in Twitter and other social media sites to verify identity and then pairs that with a client that facilitates accessing the correct public key for that user.

We’re not reinventing any cryptography here – the goal is a simple way to look up and trust keys, based on known public identities.

Xbox One Sign Out Trolling

The Xbox One Sign Out troll pretty much nails everything wrong with voice control in the way that Microsoft has implemented it with its Xbox Kinect. The troll sets his Xbox username to “Xbox Sign Out”, then tricks people into saying his name which will then bring up the Xbox Sign Out screen for that user.

The Kinect on the Xbox 360 has this problem in spades. If I’m watching Netflix and my daughter says something like “I hope they stop him him in time,” the idiot Kinect complies by stopping the video.

In fact, there’s a whole host of words that you can’t say around the Xbox, including words that might sound like a control word. We’ve managed to inadvertently interrupt our Netflix viewing by saying pop, pencil, claws, and similar words that sound close enough to stop, cancel and pause to the Kinect.