Digital Rights #1: iOS zero-day, privacy tools, Robinhood and Stratumv2

Encryption, cryptocurrency, privacy-preserving tools, digital rights

Hey everybody,

Welcome to the Digital Rights newsletter’s first edition. I want to start off with three-four topical articles with discussion points, as well as a resource that helps with privacy and cybersecurity — hoping this adds value to you all. Hit reply and let me know if you think it’s a good format, or if you have any improvements you want to suggest. I want to run it at a biweekly format so that you’re not overwhelmed, but it’s relevant enough to be helpful.

News

Apple fixes another three iOS zero-days exploited in the wild

After having to patch another set of zero-day exploits in November, Apple was forced to patch their iOS software again from zero-days a few days ago. Zero-days are attacks that had been happening without a patch from the software maintainer. Three CVEs were revealed, two of which allow remote attackers to insert malicious code into Safari browsers. The other allows attackers to escalate privileges for their attack code. These attack vectors were being actively exploited.

To make sure that you’re not caught up in these attacks, make sure to upgrade to the latest version of iOS (14.4) as a short-term fix.

In the longer term though, Apple’s reputation for security and privacy has become questioned, with more and more unmonitored vulnerabilities exposing critical flaws. Journalists were hacked with an iMessage ‘zero-click’ for example just a few months ago.

As Robinhood Shuts Down GameStop Shares, Demand Emerges For Decentralized, Censorship-Resistant Trading

With the Robinhood app and several other suspending the buy of GameStop and other shares, the dilemma of “censorship” has come from speech and expression all the way to trading.

People are clamouring for censorship-resistant trading now, proving that seemingly abstract decentralization debates can become vividly concrete. I wrote this piece for Forbes.

Bitcoin Donations to Navalny Surge After Russian Opposition Leader Is Jailed

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, described by The Wall Street Journal as the “man Putin fears most”, has raised about 657 in Bitcoins for donations — about slightly more than $21mn USD in current prices.

While that represents 10-15% of total donations to his anti-corruption movement so far, the amount of Bitcoin donations are growing as he returns to Russia and is detained. With ongoing weekend protests and thousands of Russians detained almost every week, this trend doesn’t look like it’s going to totally slow for quite some time.

Startum V2 Promises To Further Decentralize Bitcoin

The “centralization” of mining pools has become a contentious topic around Bitcoin, with some alleging that it makes Bitcoin and other proof-of-work chains susceptible to undue influence from the Chinese mining pools that control most of the hash power.

By allowing individual miners to choose the blocks they mine, Stratum V2 may offer a solution to decentralize this concentration, by moving the unit of consensus down from mining pools to individual miners. I wrote this article for Forbes.

Resources

Privacytools.io

I recommend this as a great introduction and overview of different vetted privacy tools, as well as a refresher for categories of privacy. It’s usually the first resource I share with people interested in the space, and I’m happy to make it the first resource in the newsletter.