Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Sever and its relation to Snake Oil and defiance of physics

If you haven't heard of Sever by now...

Sever™ is an embedded forced routing, peer to peer internet networking device with inherent DNS security protections built in, individual packet encryption, a data containment engine, and IP obfuscation capabilities.  Its engineered to make what you do online private, faster, and untraceable! Its designed to work with your existing internet hardware and setup takes only minutes. 

Sever™ enhances secure network communications, secures wired and wireless devices and networks including mobile devices, PCs, servers, and other Internet Protocol based systems. 
We're also in the process of building a Sever™ App for your mobile device extending your protection, while away from home. This interconnection will provide security, anonymity, and malware protection wherever you are.
Okay. So it seems to be some sort of Anonabox clone.
Heads up! If you're an online gamer get ready to experience a disgustingly cool boost in network performance. Your data travels faster than theirs!
Alright. So it ended up becoming a bit of a shitstorm on Twitter and they were happy enough to e-mail me with details.

Subject: Greetings from Rogue
Date: 2015-04-28 15:41
From: Anthony McDermott <tony@roguefoundry.com>
To: "colin@keigher.ca"

Hi Colin,

Thanks for reaching out. We are getting slammed on twitter…its making
us smile. Here is an article on some of our underlying technology
[1]. This is about 10% of what we’ve done with Sever. Part of we’ve
been playing with the code for a long time and its peer reviewed like
crazy. If your interested in beta testing the first ones let me know.

Best regards,


cn:Rogue 4

1934 Lakeview Avenue
Building #3 Mail Box #13
Dracut MA 01826
Direct: 650.564.7644
The PDF really didn't provide me with too many details but I decided to take a crack at figuring out what it did anyway.

Subject: Re: Greetings from Rogue
Date: 2015-04-28 21:09
From: Colin Keigher <colin@keigher.ca>
To: Anthony McDermott <tony@roguefoundry.com>

Hi Tony,

I really appreciate your reaching out to me and attempting to explain the use of crypto within your product. I did read the PDF that you provided for me and found myself still asking what this new cryptography method you're using here.

The document makes the following claim:

> the data is broken into packets and sent through multiple constantly randomized pathways via the various servers, PCs, tablets, and smartphones that comprise the Dispersive Technologies Spread Spectrum IP™ network. [...] In fact, the multi-stream strategy is so hack-proof, Dispersive Technologies’ original product didn’t leverage traditional encryption at all!

This is pretty bold and suggests that after it had chopped the data up and bounced it off of whatever devices that this software runs on that it would be indecipherable to someone who manages to get a tap on your network traffic. However, there's one problem: how are you dealing with this on your device since it appears to run in-line with an existing Internet connection? What I am meaning here is that everyone is just going to have a single egress and ingress point anyway so how does this help the user if the data has been chopped up but still goes out on the same gateway?

Also, while sure if you take some data, chop it up, send it out of order or whatever, it may be difficult to reassemble, it doesn't mean it's impossible and there's going to be enough data to figure out what piece goes where.

Because of it being unclear and seemingly implying that it relied on unicorns going around the network, I went and read the patent (US7895348) for the product and found that the abstract and claims were a tad clearer than the marketing spin that was in that PDF but nonetheless left me with the impression that again all this does is chops the data up and makes use of other machines (or virtual machines in the patent's statement) to send the data around. However, in the diagrams I am again left with the impression that the egress and ingress points stay the same.

So let's go back to that document you linked me to where it discusses what SafeLogic did to reluctantly implement encryption because it was found that nobody in their right mind would rely simply on obfuscation to send network data around:

> SafeLogic’s CryptoComply module contains a variety of NIST-validated algorithms, allowing Dispersive to dynamically assign each pathway to be encrypted with an entirely different algorithm. This flexible, multi-stream, multi-algorithm system makes the Dispersive Technologies network incredibly secure, and provides an added level of security over traditional single-algorithm, single-stream data networks. The assortment of CryptoComply’s encryption schemes meshed perfectly with Dispersive’s strategy; depending on user needs, customers can configure various pathways and mix-and-match with any number of encryption algorithms.

OK. Great. Now we get some inkling of what encryption algorithms it uses here. Here's a list of what NIST has validated:

If you want to be even more detailed:

In there we see some common encryption standards that NIST has approved--think AES, 3DES, and RSA for example. Which of these in the NIST list does your product use? Do you know? Or are you relying on whatever SafeLogic has provided for you? Do you know how their RNG works in your product? Why are you unwilling to mention any of this in the Kickstarter you put up and required my hounding to get this information? This sort of attitude tends to lead me towards thinking that your product is a house of cards and that once someone knows one tidbit about its internals that everything will unravel.

Hint: if you need to find the answer to my question, it's in the second link.

Also, there's another part that is confusing here: what are you going on about with SecNet54 and KG-175D? As far as I can tell from their data sheets that they're not even in the same class as this SafeLogic stuff you've thrown at me as they use a totally different methodology (HAIPE). What is the reason for citing this?

So let's go back to your KickStarter's claims:

> Sever™ shreds your data into billions of tiny data packets, encrypts each one with a powerful new encryption algorithm developed to STOP villains dead in their tracks and keeps you, what you do and your data from those you don’t want to have it.

You use the words "new encryption algorithm" but then provide me with a data sheet that cites its use of NIST-validated algorithms. What's new about it? It uses the same stuff that most of us have been using for the past two decades. Can you please tell the public what is so "new" here?

There's a reason why you're getting blasted on Twitter for this nonsense: it smells like snake oil. Why are you trying to go on about its encryption claims when you cannot even take the time to investigate what they even are? This was barely 20 minutes of work and what you could have said is that it uses a third-party, NIST-approved application that makes use of a NIST-approved ciphersuite.

Can you at least attempt to clarify a few things here for me?

- Is what I have said above correct or incorrect? If the latter, can you please provide in your own words what the case is here?
- How can you provide a 10 TB SSD while only offering it at $199 USD? A 1 TB SSD costs $400 USD right now. Are you time travellers? Or is this Kickstarter going to be shipping when we have 10 TB SSDs on the cheap?
- How can you be selling us an open-source hardware and open-source software solutions if you do not mention anything about them? What open-source hardware is this and what open-source software is being used? Can we have a link to your Github?

I look forward to your reply.

- Colin
You'd think they'd be done with my eviscerating them but apparently not...
Subject: Re: Greetings from Rogue
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 2015 00:02:32 +0000
From: Anthony McDermott <tony@roguefoundry.com>
To: Colin Keigher <colin@keigher.ca>

Hi Colin,

First of all thank you for you response.  Its good to be speaking with
someone who understands technology and is willing to ask questions, even
if its with a bit of a skeptical tone. :)  I’m having our technical team
answer your questions one by one.  One thing that they can’t answer is
anything about our new encryption.  That will be released when the
product is launched. Its proprietary information.  Your questions are
valuable enough that we are going to update our kickstarter and post
shorter versions on our FAQ, so thank you.

I’ve reached out to a few people in my network to see if they know you.
  Always helps to have a common friend.   I believe we have a friend
that either knows MARS or knows someone who’s associated with it.  We
know the community, white and black hats and are preparing to throw as
much credibility around the technology that we can in the coming weeks.
  We know there's a lot of questions and skepticism…thats the cutting
edge.  Its what we have to deal with.  But sit back for one minute and
ask yourself what happens if everything we say is 100% true.  What then?
Our CEO is Pete Ochinko - former United States Secret Service
Presidential Protection Lead. Jay Grant is our CISO.  Jay’s most recent
position was Enterprise Operations Branch Chief of the Executive office
of the President of the United States of America.  He was responsible
for the day to day operations of the Presidents networks and data
center.  None of us are willing to put our reputations on the line and
Bullshit the world into purchasing something that we can’t be build.  We
work our tails off and are good professional people.  Definitely don’t
deserve what’s happening on Twitter but we will prevail.  Truth has a
way of doing that.  :)

You have my word you will get your questions answered, they are good!






If your good at what you do and your looking to change the world…come to
Boston and interview with us.  We really like your style and hitting
this head on.

Best regards,

And then I decided to just tell him I know more than I care to:

Subject: Re: Greetings from Rogue
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2015 22:19:32 -0700
From: Colin Keigher <colin@keigher.ca>
To: Anthony McDermott <tony@roguefoundry.com>

Hi Tony,

That sounds great. I am glad to hear that you'll address this in your
Kickstarter page. However, I am dismayed that you have failed to address
these to me personally which leads me to doubt that you will follow
through on this and will likely half-ass the answers.

Here's a tip: trying to pass off people who've done work within the
government as reason for me to believe that your product is solid only
digs your hole deeper. This is why you're receiving scorn on Twitter:
people like yourself come into the security industry promising the moon
and beyond and yet instead deliver on nothing. You haven't earned any
trust and I very, very much doubt you ever will.

Nobody who has a clue about how this stuff works cares about
pseudo-technical Youtube videos, PR press releases, or whitepapers
written by marketing droids. This information is not intended for us and
will only question your guys' motives even further. The lack of
technical information from you so far leads me to believe that either
you're being deceived or you're deceiving others.

I did some research on my own and so far have determined that beyond the
names you've given and the name on the KickStarter, the only other
person I can see possibly employed within your organisation is a
videographer who quit his job at the local Apple store in the past year.

Do you have cryptographers employed amongst you? How big is your
development team? Who are these people in the photo you included on the
Kickstarter? What backgrounds do they have? What whitepapers on
cryptography have they written? Why should I trust based on some notion
that you have some former government agents amongst yourselves?

If all you have is your executive team and this videographer, it does
not bode well for the future of your product.

Again, you have not earned any trust and that is why you're getting
rightfully-deserved scorn and criticism from not only myself but others
who do this sort of work day in and day out.

Also, do better research on me. MARS is a team of four and I am fairly
certain that whoever in your network knows anyone I know is merely a
loose relationship and nothing substantial. What I do know about you is
that you naively advocate for bulletproof glass in schools and had a
bone to pick with a local cardinal.

Lastly, while I very much love an excuse to fly out to the east coast,
I'll have to say "no" to your suggestion that I come pay a visit.

I am not interested in peddling in what I perceive as snake oil. The
fact that you have to rely on Kickstarter to get this project moving
forward instead of outside investment tells me it doesn't work or you
guys just have no clue about running a business. I'm no expert on the
latter I'll admit, but you seem to be promising the security device of
the decade which means that if it did work, some vendor would be all
over you.

I look forward to seeing you update your Kickstarter page and expect
that my questions will be answered there.

- Colin
Bets on Tony trying to threaten me with legal action if Kickstarter pulls their junk?