Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DarkNet - Part 2 - The Tor DarkNet

The Tor DarkNet

DarkNet - Part 2

Tor (The Onion Router) is a system intended to enable anonymity online. The idea is to bounce our internet traffic through a worldwide volunteer network of servers to conceal a our location or usage from everyone.

From Wikipedia: "Onion Routing refers to the layered nature of the encryption service: The original data are encrypted and re-encrypted multiple times, then sent through successive Tor relays, each one of which decrypts a "layer" of encryption before passing the data on to the next relay and, ultimately, its destination. This reduces the possibility of the original data being unscrambled or understood in transit."

The Tor project was originally developed for the U.S.Navy with the purpose of securing communications over the internet. Today, Tor is used for a wide variety of purposes by regular people, the military, journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, and many others in order to keep their activities private, to stop websites from tracking them or visit sites that are blocked by their local Internet providers.

Tor also offers the Hidden Services which basically make it possible for users to hide their locations while offering various content. This content will, however, only be available to other Tor users. This way both Content owner and people browsing are protected. This is a good way to bypass censorship in countries that monitor and limit internet users.

I wont bore you with more details on why we need TOR, why its a good solutions and i wont go into all the technical details about how the network works. you can read more about the Tor project in their web site : https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en

So lets get it set up

Although the first versions of TOR weren't the simplest to set up and use, for most mainstream uses today's versions are as simple as download and click.

Just go to the Tor Project download page: https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en
and download the Tor Browser Bundle.
The good thing about the Tor Browser Bundle it that it lets you use Tor without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained. Great !
If you choose to, you can still create you own setup by downloading relevant projects from the software and services page.

After downloading the bundle just double click on Start Tor Browsere.exe

It will initialize Tor by running the Vidalia program.
Once set up the Tor Browser will open and you are free to start browsing.

Notice that although resembling the firefox browser it is limited.
No plugins are loaded since plugins such as Flash, RealPlayer, Quicktime, and others can be manipulated into revealing your IP address.


Now that we have Tor running we can browse sites securely But this is not the point of this post. We want to check out the Tor Hidden Services which is the Tor Darknet.

the hidden services sites use the .onion domain suffix which acts just like a top level domain (.com, .org, .net, etc), but is not accessible like a normal webpage. Another thing you should notice about the .onion urls is that they are randomly generated and do not make out anything, so in order to find a site you need to know the exact address.
An example is the url http://idnxcnkne4qt76tg.onion/ which is not accessible in you normal browser but using the Tor browser you reach the Tor Project website in the Darknet, but thats not the point.

For content you cant see in the "normal" internet you need to have prior knowledge of the DarkNet, I compiled a few links.

http://kpvz7ki2v5agwt35.onion - The Hidden Wiki - a great place to start that contains a lot of information on .onion sites including more links.

http://xmh57jrzrnw6insl.onion/ - TORCH, a tor search engine that claims to index over a million pages.

http://dppmfxaacucguzpc.onion/ - TorDir, a great tor services directory to get you started.

http://silkroadvb5piz3r.onion/ - The Silk Road - a marketplace where you can find almost anything to buy. In order to make an order however you need to get bitcoins.



Other services that are provided that aren't simple websites:
http://jhiwjjlqpyawmpjx.onion
Tor Mail is a Tor Hidden Service that allows you to send and receive email anonymously, even to addresses outside Tor. Your mail address will be you@tormail.org


http://4eiruntyxxbgfv7o.onion - Circle, used to be just TorPM for secure Messaging now they offer a few more cool services.



That should be enough to get you started, feel free to add more cool .onion links in the comments.

If you're just curious about the DarkNet and just want to take a quick peek, you can use onion.to as a proxy from normal web to the DarkNet without needing Tor itself. Take the .onion link you want to visit and append .to to the domain. Its that simple.
Keep in mind that using onion.to does not protect your privacy and that your actions will be in the open.

Check out more posts about the DarkNet from the main post http://www.codebetweenthelines.com/2012/10/darknet-part-1-what-is-darknet.html

Or continue to "Installing TOR on Android and IOS" :
http://www.codebetweenthelines.com/2012/11/darknet-part-3-installing-tor-on-android.html









Monday, October 29, 2012

Let Me Google That For You

Ever had friends ask to check something for them on the internet?
Didn't you find yourself thinking, Why cant they just google that for themselves ?

Well I found a site that helps in just that case, Let Me Google That For You web site.
The url is: http://lmgtfy.com/



You can either send the site to your friend or just send him the link generated by the site, your friend should get the point :-)


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Darknet - Part 1 - What is Darknet ?

For some reason the Darknet has become very popular in the past months. I've been getting a lot of questions at work about it so I decided to create a 2 part starter about the Darknet.

What is Darknet ?

To put it plainly, we're talking about an internet beyond what you normally have access to.
With many different names,  "The darkweb", "invisible web", "dark address space", "the deep web", "beneath the surface web" they all refer to the same thing, beyond the standard, media supported, google, bing and yahoo indexed internet exist a less known, harder to reach section of the internet.

Some estimate that the Dark Web is several orders of magnitude larger than the surface of the Web but I think that we need to differentiate between sections of the internet that are unreachable to most users, like private intranets or clouds and Darknet.


Whats on the Darknet ? Why do we need it ?

The Darknet was made to be anonymous for the user accessing content and the host serving it. Basically you could put any content you like on it, like cnn but why would you ?  You could just go there on the normal internet.
So what can you find on the Darknet ? Porn, Hacked programs, movies, mp3's, Forums, Blogs and more.

Is it legal ?

Yes. The darknet itself and accessing it is legal.
The problem is more what you do with it and some of the content on the Darknet.
The Darknet is a safe haven for pedophiles since they can anonymously post, download and share anything.
There are also sites offering to sell illegal drugs, guns, ammunition and even hits.
Some great forums for "computer security experts" can also be found on the Darknet.
You can basically find anything  you want since you are free to anonymously host and browse the content without having to worry about the local law enforcer since they cant identify the servers or their users.

Why not disable the Darknet ?
Well there are also a few good uses to the Darknet. Imagine a place were one has a complete freedom of speech without having to worry about the oppressing government like in China and Iran. These countries are the ones trying to stop access to the Darknet for fear of uprisings against them.

How do I reach Darknet ?

There is no one Darknet, it an idea. There are a few "Dark" networks out there I'll show you the Tor Project "Dark net" and the I2P2 Network in the following parts.
So check back soon


DarkNet article parts

   Part 1 - What is Darknet ?
   Part 2 - The Tor DarkNet - http://www.codebetweenthelines.com/2012/10/darknet-part-2-tor-darknet.html
    Part 3 - Installing Tor - http://www.codebetweenthelines.com/2012/11/darknet-part-3-installing-tor-on-android.html


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Error installing Sql server 2008 R2

I've just spent the past few hours trying to install SQL Server Express 2008 R2 on a Windows 7 Machine for work. Just setting up the install took Microsoft SQL Server 15 Min. (i3 laptop 2G Memory).

Every try, I kept getting an  "An error occurred creating the configuration section handler for userSettings/Microsoft.SqlServer.Configuration.LandingPage.Properties.Settings: Could not load file or assembly 'System, Version=4.0.0."

Of course I tried installing as Administrator and clearing temp directory and reinstalling.
After that failed, I updated the system with windows update and retried the former. Nothing worked.

At last I found a blog post with a simple solution at http://blogs.edwardwilde.com/2010/06/04/sql-server-express-2008-r2-installing-on-windows-7-with-visual-studio-2010/

All it said was "Solution: surprisingly easy just press Continue!"

I did and the installation worked, couldn't believe I was so stupid.
Full credit to Edward Wilde.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Facebook is annoying


I just read a nice post from Saman Shad published on the Guardian web site I thought I would share, "Facebook, can I share something with you? It's about our relationship, No wonder people are turned off these days. You've turned us into narcissists – narcissists you only want to make a buck from".
Article link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/04/facebook-relationship-narcissists

The comment raises some good points that I agree with.

"It's getting complicated, Facebook. A billion of us use you, but we are getting increasingly frustrated with you. It's us, not you. You've made us change, and not in a good way."

Saman is right, we only used to update our status and post the occasional photo but now, we share too many things that are, sometimes, used without our direct authorization and knowledge or even against us. Furthermore we spend too much time on Facebook.

"And then there is you. Finding more and more ways to use information you collect about us to make money. Lots and lots of money."

Well what do you expect from a company? They are trying to raise their profit on the backs of the users. It's perfectly legal and makes good business sense. It does however leave us feeling a bit exploited. Maybe we would be more understanding of them, using our lives for profit, if we were receiving a fair share or at least make us feel as if we are part of the company.

"Ah, who are we kidding? It's not like you're listening. You stopped listening a long time ago. It's why your users are becoming frustrated."

Yes. Facebook is annoying, they stopped listening to the users because they have over a billion of them !!!!
To top it off, there is no way to get away from it. We're hooked !

I really want to find a different platform to use but when most (99%) of the people use Facebook, its really really hard to leave.
I keep posting thinks on my Google+ but there is no one to read / comment / share forcing me back to Facebook to get some attention.


Now to finish this post, some lol cats, feel free to share ;-)



Monday, October 1, 2012

Asus Galexy Nexus 7

For the past month I've been playing with what became my favorite gadget the Nexus 7.

The first thing you notice about the Nexus 7 is the size of course.
Below are comparison images with the HTC Desire phone, An iPad, and the Nexus 7.
The image on the left also has a standard 15.6" Lenovo laptop.


For me the 7" size was a new concept that took me under 10 minutes to get the hang of and now I simply love it.

I did ask myself. Do we really need a new form factor like the nexus and today I'm ready to say of course we do.
The laptop was used as a living room browser but when I got my first iPad, it quickly became what is was meant to be, a mobile computer for when i go to conferences or make presentations.
I used to then carry my iPad wherever I went since it was much better than my mobile phone for browsing the net when waiting for the doctor or for playing the casual game on the go. But now with the nexus 7, the iPad stays at home. It is still great for browsing the net from the living room instead of opening my laptop but the Nexus 7 is much more mobile and light weight so it replaced the iPad when outside the house.


A while back I reviewed the Motorola Xoom Android tablet and really wasn't very enthusiastic about it for the regular user but the Nexus 7 with the new Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) will fit most users and be great for google users.

The tablet runs smoothly with great performance thanks to its Nvidia quad-core processor.
Now although there are some devices out there with better specs (like the Asus Transformer pad TF700 that I'm dying to get my hands on) the price tag on the Nexus 7 currently pushes it to the top.

Now there are a few disappointments with the Nexus 7. The ones that bothered me the most are that there is only one front facing camera, there is no SD card expansion, no 3G version and the sound levels from the speaker are low.
A friend from Google explained that the decision to go with a limited device was to keep the device costs at a minimum.

Another thing i was disappointed about was the removal of flash support and I really don't understand why there wasn't a pre-installed camera app on the device (I installed "Camera Launcher for Nexus 7").

All things considered this is a great device.