Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

7/23/2009
04:00 PM
50%
50%

Privacy Tool Makes Internet Postings Vanish

The open source tool called Vanish encrypts any text that's entered into a browser and scatters it, in disappearing pieces, across a network.

In a gift to those who yearn to take back a hastily sent e-mail or an online comment, a tool was released Thursday makes text on the Web disappear.

Called Vanish, the open source tool is available as a stand-alone application or a free plug-in for Mozilla's Firefox browser. It works with any text that's entered into a browser -- Web-based e-mail or chat services, and social networking sites such as Facebook, or Google Docs.

Private information is scattered all over the Web, and that situation concerns both privacy advocates and casual Web users. There are no consistent rules for how data is stored, where it is stored, or when, if ever, it is destroyed.

One of the most frequent questions received by the California Office of Privacy Protection, according to the office, is how people can get information about themselves off the Web. Often, the answer is that they can't.

"And as we transition to a future based on cloud computing, where enormous, anonymous datacenters run the vast majority of our applications and store nearly all of our data, we will lose even more control," said Hank Levy, chairman of department the computer science and engineering at the University of Washington and one of the authors of an academic paper on Vanish that will be presented at the USENIX Security Symposium next month.

Vanish allows users to specify that all copies of any text-based data they're creating disappear in a certain amount of time. The software takes advantage of the same peer-to-peer networks that allow people to share music files online. It encrypts data, breaks the encryption key into pieces and scatters them on machines across the network. Since machines are constantly joining and leaving peer-to-peer networks, pieces of the key disappear and it can't be reconstructed.

There are caveats to using Vanish -- one is that both the user and the recipient of any posting must be using the software for it to work. University of Washington researchers also warn that Vanish is a prototype, which means it may have bugs, and that it's "ahead of the law" in how it should be used.

Users who are involved in a lawsuit, for example, should be careful when using Vanish if any information they're creating needs to be preserved.

Supporters of the research that led to Vanish include the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Intel. More information on the project is available here.


InformationWeek Analytics is conducting a survey on Windows 7 adoption, to determine whether users are sticking with XP or investigating Mac OS, Linux, or virtual desktops. The poll takes 5 minutes to complete; please participate by clicking here, through July 24.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
I 'Hacked' My Accounts Using My Mobile Number: Here's What I Learned
Nicole Sette, Director in the Cyber Risk practice of Kroll, a division of Duff & Phelps,  11/19/2019
DevSecOps: The Answer to the Cloud Security Skills Gap
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  11/15/2019
Attackers' Costs Increasing as Businesses Focus on Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-2079
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-22
A cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in the Activity module 6.x-1.x for Drupal.
CVE-2019-11325
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
An issue was discovered in Symfony before 4.2.12 and 4.3.x before 4.3.8. The VarExport component incorrectly escapes strings, allowing some specially crafted ones to escalate to execution of arbitrary PHP code. This is related to symfony/var-exporter.
CVE-2019-18887
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
An issue was discovered in Symfony 2.8.0 through 2.8.50, 3.4.0 through 3.4.34, 4.2.0 through 4.2.11, and 4.3.0 through 4.3.7. The UriSigner was subject to timing attacks. This is related to symfony/http-kernel.
CVE-2019-18888
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
An issue was discovered in Symfony 2.8.0 through 2.8.50, 3.4.0 through 3.4.34, 4.2.0 through 4.2.11, and 4.3.0 through 4.3.7. If an application passes unvalidated user input as the file for which MIME type validation should occur, then arbitrary arguments are passed to the underlying file command. T...
CVE-2019-18889
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
An issue was discovered in Symfony 3.4.0 through 3.4.34, 4.2.0 through 4.2.11, and 4.3.0 through 4.3.7. Serializing certain cache adapter interfaces could result in remote code injection. This is related to symfony/cache.