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Introducing the NSA-Proof Font
Motherboard beta blog ^ | June 23, 2013 | Brian Merchant

Posted on 06/23/2013 11:20:11 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

At a moment when governments and corporations alike are hellbent on snooping through your personal digital messages, it'd sure be nice if there was a font their dragnets couldn't decipher. So Sang Mun tried to build one.

Sang, a recent graduate from the Rhode Island Schoold of Design (RISD), has unveiled ZXX—a "a disruptive typeface" that he says is much more difficult for data collectors like the NSA to decrypt. He's made it free to download on his website.

"The project started with a genuine question: How can we conceal our fundamental thoughts from artificial intelligences and those who deploy them?" he writes. "I decided to create a typeface that would be unreadable by text scanning software (whether used by a government agency or a lone hacker)—misdirecting information or sometimes not giving any at all. It can be applied to huge amounts of data, or to personal correspondence."

He named it after the Library Congress's labeling code ZXX, which archivists employ when they find a book that contains "no linguistic content."

He built six different styles (Sans, Bold, Camo, False, Noise, and Xed), each of which is "designed to thwart machine intelligences in a different way."

See them in action below:

(VIDEO-AT-LINK)

Sang's intent is expressly political (scores of hackers have already pointed out that the font won't work as an effective encryption method). On a separate website for ZXX, he's drafted a manifesto and presented it alongside posters displaying his crypto-fonts.

"This physical, mental and technological growing invasion of privacy and surveillance dehumanizes us," it says. "The militarization of cyberspace must stop. If not, it's only a matter of time before we live in a Tectologic Orwellian Society."

He goes on to explain the impetus behind creating these fonts.

"This project counteracts the status quo--a fatigueless fight to retrieve our civil rights, liberties and freedom back from the autocrats."

Sang has no illusions that even a clever cryptographic font—which he says you can use in email messages to shield them from snoops and font-recognition bots—will remain encoded for long. They're not meant to be long-term tools with which to combat the NSA. Rather, he views them as an awareness-raising measure.

"This project will not fully solve the problems we are facing now," he writes, " but hopefully will raise some peculiar questions."


TOPICS: Computers/Internet; Conspiracy; Government; Society
KEYWORDS: encryption; font; nsa; obama; secrets

1 posted on 06/23/2013 11:20:11 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

This solves nothing.

Moscow rules.


2 posted on 06/23/2013 11:46:52 PM PDT by Hardraade (http://junipersec.wordpress.com (Obama equals Osama))
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
This is not sophisticated, but will give you an idea how to really hide a message if you want to.

My message is in bold:

You should not fear your benevolent government, who
can use a variety of means to protect you. Bad people can
easily use our communications systems for bad purposes and can
hide their bad intent in encrypted messages or
a simple email. The government has the technology to find this
message and stop these nasty people from harming us,
if they didn't, then two stupid boys from Chechnya might hurt
you. So don't fear the government, they only
want to help you. So, there are ways to hide a message if you want
to.
Do you see it?
You can easily hide a message if you want to.
3 posted on 06/24/2013 12:13:53 AM PDT by Bon mots
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To: Bon mots

Good idea; reminds me of one of the rare positives in Arnold’s
stint as governor.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/10/schwarzenegger/


4 posted on 06/24/2013 12:34:50 AM PDT by rfp1234 (Arguing with a marxist is like playing Chess with a Pigeon.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
It won't work. Email is sent as ASCII character codes; not as images of letters. When you see a particular font, that's because there's HTML formatting included in the email. But the underlying message is still quite readable to a machine. To make a font like this work, you would have to send the message as an image file; difficult, but not impossible to read.
5 posted on 06/24/2013 12:46:35 AM PDT by Redcloak (Winter is coming.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Why not just use ROT13, which is just as secure?


6 posted on 06/24/2013 3:10:23 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (Doing the same thing and expecting different results is called software engineering.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

This is ridiculous.

The NSA has more cryptologists per square foot that any entity in the world. If you invent an entirely new font, they’ll have it countered within the week

And how does this concept affect voice transmissions?


7 posted on 06/24/2013 3:33:23 AM PDT by Beckwith (A "natural born citizen" -- two American citizen parents and born in the USA.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Immediately, the NSA would simply adapt their readers to accomodate this changed font.


8 posted on 06/24/2013 3:38:30 AM PDT by Lazamataz ("AP" clearly stands for American Pravda. Our news media has become completely and proudly Soviet.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
Why not just use ROT13, which is just as secure?

EBG13 vf hggreyl vzcrargenoyr. V hfr vg gb uvqr nyy zl frafvgvir qngn.

9 posted on 06/24/2013 3:41:14 AM PDT by Lazamataz ("AP" clearly stands for American Pravda. Our news media has become completely and proudly Soviet.)
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To: Beckwith
The NSA has more cryptologists per square foot that any entity in the world. If you invent an entirely new font, they’ll have it countered within the week three minutes.

Corrected it for you.

And how does this concept affect voice transmissions?

Simple. Speak in 'font'.

10 posted on 06/24/2013 3:42:51 AM PDT by Lazamataz ("AP" clearly stands for American Pravda. Our news media has become completely and proudly Soviet.)
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To: Lazamataz

Baffling! You could also use MicroSoft Office encryption, which supports AES128 and AES256, which are approved by NSA for SECRET and TOP SECRET information, respectively.


11 posted on 06/24/2013 3:56:46 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (Doing the same thing and expecting different results is called software engineering.)
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To: Lazamataz

Eak-spay in-ay ig-pay atin-lay. It’s-ay unbreakable-ay.


12 posted on 06/24/2013 3:58:46 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (Doing the same thing and expecting different results is called software engineering.)
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To: Lazamataz

Before LPC-10 and digitized voice, the Army used to distribute little (like 3” x 2”) code books with substitutes for common words used in voice transmissions, with cipher substitutes for alphanumerics for the words not in the small book. Common words had several alternate cipher words (as did alpha numerics). They would distribute training editions, with clever substitutions, like “First Sergeant” being enciphered as “SOB”. That kind of thing. The REMFs at Fort Meade must have thought that that was hilarious.


13 posted on 06/24/2013 4:04:32 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (Doing the same thing and expecting different results is called software engineering.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
uh, if the nsa approved it, they have the key for it.
14 posted on 06/24/2013 4:05:51 AM PDT by garyb
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To: garyb

That seems not to be true. The NSA approved it for use by the US Government. It was developed by IBM with input from NSA. Originally, NSA’s contribution was undisclosed, but former IBMer’s who moved on to academia have disclosed the details of NSA’s contributions, which were actually to remove certain cryptological weakness. AES is stronger because of NSA. And, as I said, NSA approved it for U.S. Government, including military, communications. There is no way they would do this if they were aware of cyptological flaws.


15 posted on 06/24/2013 4:11:36 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (Doing the same thing and expecting different results is called software engineering.)
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To: Lazamataz

From now on, every email and posting I write will have a corresponding block of gibberish. It will be meaningless (or will it?)

Dnfnx difficult figs. Ddsws dddszsss woznf dj fm djcmfn aids wwwaq nymgmd yijgg jjjtcs tv huff ggcffcv ddddank iigggv jiggling dndjrjdn s djdjd


16 posted on 06/24/2013 5:19:37 AM PDT by Bartholomew Roberts
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To: Hardraade

What if you took a screen shot of a text document that contained your message, then attached it to your email... would that be unreadable for their usual scanning procedure?

(I’m aware of Optical Character Resolution)


17 posted on 06/24/2013 5:42:06 AM PDT by Max in Utah (A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.)
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To: Bartholomew Roberts
Two of your words were sent in the clear.

Difficult figs.

18 posted on 06/24/2013 5:47:30 AM PDT by Lazamataz ("AP" clearly stands for American Pravda. Our news media has become completely and proudly Soviet.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
Eak-spay in-ay ig-pay atin-lay. It’s-ay unbreakable-ay.

What?

Well, on the off-chance you are talking about codes and codebreaking, I have found that if you simply use Google Translate, and translate your text into another language, that the NSA cannot break it.

You want proof? Well, most of my secret text is about my kitties, and the NSA never once have contacted me.

19 posted on 06/24/2013 5:50:37 AM PDT by Lazamataz ("AP" clearly stands for American Pravda. Our news media has become completely and proudly Soviet.)
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To: Lazamataz; Bartholomew Roberts
Difficult figs.

And that's clearly a slanderous attack on the character and intellect of US Senators McCain and Graham - right out in the open. Arrest that man! :)

20 posted on 06/24/2013 5:55:40 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves (CTRL-GALT-DELETE)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

21 posted on 06/24/2013 6:19:00 AM PDT by frankenMonkey (Here's a big "Howdy!" to all the guys at NSA!!!)
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To: Mr. Jeeves; Lazmataz

You guys are too good! You read my code and deciphered my intent already! I’m going to have to make it more difficult!

1der 67sw3 drupper 1fff chugs dre wrrfddfft uvudev s rf tv5rcd hdtvf12 ddddank 5,fcdf treet ;455 dfferffg fgderrr 7::3rdde rid. 44rino. 664opell


22 posted on 06/24/2013 10:24:54 AM PDT by Bartholomew Roberts
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To: Max in Utah

Tapping the digital stream, screenshots are completely irrelevant.

As are fonts, and OCR.


23 posted on 06/24/2013 12:17:08 PM PDT by Hardraade (http://junipersec.wordpress.com (Obama equals Osama))
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