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(Vice)   Introducing the NSA-Proof Font "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"   (motherboard.vice.com ) divider line
    More: Interesting, NSA, counter-scanning, NSA-Proof, Rhode Island Schoold  
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8981 clicks; posted to Geek » on 22 Jun 2013 at 3:17 PM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



81 Comments     (+0 »)
 
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2013-06-22 09:49:13 AM  
And now that it's publicly released, the NSA can just simply do a search and replace on all the font characters with their regular characters.
 
2013-06-22 09:50:10 AM  
Well, it was....
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-06-22 09:53:08 AM  
Same principle as CAPTCHA.
 
2013-06-22 10:23:34 AM  
Just use a numbers station like a normal person
 
jbc [TotalFark]
2013-06-22 10:52:02 AM  
In other news, Farkers will have solved the problem by this afternoon.
 
2013-06-22 11:23:59 AM  
What an idiot. In an email it's not funky char funky char funky char it's (font) hi Bob how was your day (/font).
 
2013-06-22 11:31:10 AM  
the only thing worse than when stupid people think they're clever is when the media thinks stupid people are clever and writes stories about them.
 
vpb [TotalFark]
2013-06-22 11:38:38 AM  
I hate to break the news, but you don't use OCR software to read e-mail.

What does he think, that the NSA prints it out and scans it?
 
2013-06-22 11:49:00 AM  

vpb: I hate to break the news, but you don't use OCR software to read e-mail.

What does he think, that the NSA prints it out and scans it?


let's be fair with regards to how stupid this guy is.  I think his intent is that you'll put all the text in a jpeg and mail it as an image attachment.  Or print it out and deliver a hand copy.
Of course, a traditional captcha would work a million times better by not having the same exact characters repeating...

/ but even then, let's not pretend the NSA doesn't have an army of poorly paid mechanical turks to deobfuscate that sort of thing manually
 
2013-06-22 11:58:19 AM  
This motherf*cker has not a single clue how computers work.  It's a little weird that he has even the minimal brainpower required to operate photoshop.
 
2013-06-22 01:31:17 PM  
The guy is a design student, so no surprise he has no idea how computers work.

The crime here is that "motherboard" .vice.com published it, claiming to know shiat about how computers work.
 
2013-06-22 02:48:21 PM  
serial_crusher:

let's be fair with regards to how stupid this guy is.  I think his intent is that you'll put all the text in a jpeg and mail it as an image attachment.

Might as well use steganography then and make the NSA work for it.
 
2013-06-22 03:03:47 PM  
unless they recognize the typeface
 
2013-06-22 03:23:28 PM  
Cuz the NSA prints everything on paper so people can decipher it.
 
2013-06-22 03:28:05 PM  
Finally, CAPTCHA does something useful!
 
2013-06-22 03:31:57 PM  

sentex: serial_crusher:

let's be fair with regards to how stupid this guy is.  I think his intent is that you'll put all the text in a jpeg and mail it as an image attachment.

Might as well use steganography then and make the NSA work for it.


Nah, just send all your friends typewriter generated one time pads.
 
2013-06-22 03:32:17 PM  
for some reason made me think of this
img.fark.net
 
2013-06-22 03:33:20 PM  
Smart bad guys don't e-mail.
 
2013-06-22 03:34:52 PM  

sentex: serial_crusher:

let's be fair with regards to how stupid this guy is.  I think his intent is that you'll put all the text in a jpeg and mail it as an image attachment.

Might as well use steganography then and make the NSA work for it.


On the other hand you could really screw with them by dredging the depths of /b for the most disgusting photos possible to embed your messages in.
 
vpb [TotalFark]
2013-06-22 03:37:17 PM  

serial_crusher: vpb: I hate to break the news, but you don't use OCR software to read e-mail.

What does he think, that the NSA prints it out and scans it?

let's be fair with regards to how stupid this guy is.  I think his intent is that you'll put all the text in a jpeg and mail it as an image attachment.  Or print it out and deliver a hand copy.
Of course, a traditional captcha would work a million times better by not having the same exact characters repeating...


If you are going to deliver it by hand, why use the font at all?  If you fax it or something, why would it be any harder for the NSA to read than the intended recipient?
 
2013-06-22 03:40:45 PM  

Mad_Radhu: sentex: serial_crusher:

let's be fair with regards to how stupid this guy is.  I think his intent is that you'll put all the text in a jpeg and mail it as an image attachment.

Might as well use steganography then and make the NSA work for it.

On the other hand you could really screw with them by dredging the depths of /b for the most disgusting photos possible to embed your messages in.


If you're a repeat visitor of /b, you're probably guilty of something much more easy to prove.
 
2013-06-22 03:40:50 PM  
I thought only old people cared about privacy!
 
2013-06-22 03:46:02 PM  

ZAZ: Same principle as CAPTCHA.


I thought the same exact thing. Hell some captcha's are impossible to read, much less scan. I've seen a few that have a word typed out in a funky font and size along with a picture of a number on a house or mailbox or some other object where the picture of the number is so blurry you can't read the goddamned number. Other times I get the funky font where they squeeze the letters so close together you confuse rn for m and so forth and so on. I like the ones that just require you to fit puzzle pieces together after the timer expires though. Requires human interaction but not difficult.
 
2013-06-22 03:47:26 PM  
Sang, a recent graduate from the Rhode Island Schoold of Design (RISD),

Watch your ass, NSA cryptographers. The art schools are onto you.
 
2013-06-22 03:48:52 PM  
Why are you guys criticizing this so much?  Next thing you'll claim is that changing the font to wingdings isn't asecure way to encrypt text...
 
2013-06-22 03:55:53 PM  

Dingleberry Dickwad: ZAZ: Same principle as CAPTCHA.

I thought the same exact thing. Hell some captcha's are impossible to read, much less scan. I've seen a few that have a word typed out in a funky font and size along with a picture of a number on a house or mailbox or some other object where the picture of the number is so blurry you can't read the goddamned number. Other times I get the funky font where they squeeze the letters so close together you confuse rn for m and so forth and so on. I like the ones that just require you to fit puzzle pieces together after the timer expires though. Requires human interaction but not difficult.


Except that here, every time you use, say, 'a', you get the same image. Captchas should randomize what a character looks like, here there's no randomization.
 
2013-06-22 04:14:15 PM  
Ross Anderson and Markus Kuhn did something similar in 1998, designing fonts resistant to TEMPEST monitoring (PDF).
 
2013-06-22 04:17:35 PM  
He will make a fine starbucks barrista some day.
 
2013-06-22 04:18:46 PM  
jul abg hfr ebg13?
 
2013-06-22 04:33:18 PM  

vpb: serial_crusher: vpb: I hate to break the news, but you don't use OCR software to read e-mail.

What does he think, that the NSA prints it out and scans it?

let's be fair with regards to how stupid this guy is.  I think his intent is that you'll put all the text in a jpeg and mail it as an image attachment.  Or print it out and deliver a hand copy.
Of course, a traditional captcha would work a million times better by not having the same exact characters repeating...

If you are going to deliver it by hand, why use the font at all?  If you fax it or something, why would it be any harder for the NSA to read than the intended recipient?


Well, with hand delivery you have a point.  If you ensure nobody intercepts the message, and the recipient destroys it after reading, you're good to go.
But for faxes and others, the difference between using OCR software vs. having a human look at it makes sense.  OCR happens automatically, whereas the mechanical turk's work sits in a queue until he gets to it.

/ But again, this doesn't defeat OCR since each character looks the same every time you use it.  NSA guy just adds that font to the OCR's database and now it can parse everything you send.
 
2013-06-22 04:34:10 PM  
He recently graduated from   the Rhode Island School of Design.  What else does he have to do with his time?
 
2013-06-22 04:45:42 PM  
Even if those caught on, it would be trivial to filter out the crap, since the method is static.

sentex: serial_crusher:

let's be fair with regards to how stupid this guy is.  I think his intent is that you'll put all the text in a jpeg and mail it as an image attachment.

Might as well use steganography then and make the NSA work for it.


This.
 
2013-06-22 04:49:53 PM  
NSA Agent 1:  "Hey, I've got an idea.  Know how we can easily tell "who we should be watching" from everybody else?  Get the people we should be watching to start speaking a language that the rest don't.  A code that makes them feel like they're clever, ya know, but really all it does is send up a giant 'I have something subversive to say'  flare...and of course, we can read the code anyhow."
NSA Agent 2:  "Ahh.  We've already got them thinking that messages sent 'in the clear' can be intercepted easily, and yeah they can, but only if we knew to look.  On the other hand, with your idea, it just becomes a game of 'look for the odd messages'.  Just like if you dumped a pile of paper mail on my desk, I'd be more interested in looking at the messages that LOOK like they're written in code."
NSA Agent 1:  "Exactly. and don't forget, it's still a code for which we have the key and that looks artistic enough to really get the rubes flowing...anybody can do an alpha to numeric transform, but the rubes would be just as bored looking at a sheet of numbers as we are.  No, a false "alphabet"...that is computer generated...but claims to not be computer readable!  Watch the idiots type it out in plain text with a simple letter-to-symbol transform without any further enciphering, that stands out to US because it's written in our own symbols."
NSA Agent 2:  "They can't be that stupid."
NSA Agent 1:  "W|-|4+ 1 c4n+ h34r j00."
NSA Agent 2:  "Point taken.  Now to get somebody to have brilliantly 'come up' with this way to 'stick it to the man'...yo, Intern!  We got a job for you...
 
2013-06-22 04:59:57 PM  
That looks more crap then comic sans.

achewood.com
 
2013-06-22 05:03:16 PM  
Mwelp, it'll be fun to play with, but I wouldn't trust it for diddly.

It might make dandy indie/garage band posters, so maybe I'll drag it to a local hangout
and see if the kids like it.
 
2013-06-22 05:29:02 PM  

sentex: Might as well use steganography then and make the NSA work for it.


Oh, so much THIS.

I love implying that I'm sending a secret message via steganography to my sister, posting some My Little Pony .gifs and watching our 'l33t haxxor' guy friends from high school stare at them and analyze them in excruciating detail for hours n' hours. In every case, the message was 'Did you see last week's My Little Pony? It was rad. This was my favorite part' and then the .gif depicted my favorite part. My sister even got in the habit of responding in kind.

I'm pretty sure that's why said friends drink now.
 
2013-06-22 05:37:32 PM  
A coder with half a brain would need 15 minutes to patch the software so that it could read that font.
 
2013-06-22 05:37:55 PM  

serial_crusher: the only thing worse than when stupid people think they're clever is when the media thinks stupid people are clever and writes stories about them.


The press release says it's clever! I stand by my dumb decision.
 
2013-06-22 05:45:48 PM  
m00, d34r h1ghLy p1nk m00, j00'r3 g3tt1n' @ b1t b0r1n'.
 
2013-06-22 05:56:55 PM  
OCR software already sucks. I have to use it on a regular basis to convert pdf documents into Word documents so I can edit them, and it's a pain in the ass to get accurate results.
 
2013-06-22 06:05:13 PM  
Plot twist: it's comic sans.

I did not rtfa.
 
2013-06-22 06:08:53 PM  
I have an NSA proof way of communication.  Remember that episode of Star Trek:TNG titled "Darmok"?
 
2013-06-22 06:09:09 PM  
I heard the NSA is outsourcing OCR.
 
2013-06-22 06:13:13 PM  

Great Janitor: I have an NSA proof way of communication.  Remember that episode of Star Trek:TNG titled "Darmok"?


In the realm of possibilities I'm actually pretty confident the NSA has someone on staff fluent in klingon. You know, just in case.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-06-22 06:15:08 PM  
Remember that episode of Star Trek:TNG titled "Darmok"?

Where it took them 40 minutes to work around a translator malfunction because they were so far removed from the underlying technology that they couldn't reprogram the machine.
 
2013-06-22 06:19:23 PM  

Krushinator: Great Janitor: I have an NSA proof way of communication.  Remember that episode of Star Trek:TNG titled "Darmok"?

In the realm of possibilities I'm actually pretty confident the NSA has someone on staff fluent in klingon. You know, just in case.


It's a government agency staffed entirely by computer nerds. They probably have all their internal memos in Klingon just for fun.
 
2013-06-22 06:21:46 PM  
The people that have broken captcha hundreds of times are laughing at this with a lot of side splitting pain.
 
2013-06-22 06:25:50 PM  

Krushinator: Great Janitor: I have an NSA proof way of communication.  Remember that episode of Star Trek:TNG titled "Darmok"?

In the realm of possibilities I'm actually pretty confident the NSA has someone on staff fluent in klingon. You know, just in case.


The type of person who would become fluent in Klingon overlaps with the type of person who programs in general and even more so for the type of activities the NSA does. I'm sure they have multiple people who are fluent in Klingon but it's more or less something they learnt alone on Friday nights while at college for fun rather than as a marketable career skill.
 
2013-06-22 06:33:26 PM  
Go to ebay

Buy one of those 'Five Thousand Fun Fonts' CDs that were next to the checkout at every CompUSA during the mid 90s

Look at the fonts, pick one that your aunt would use to send out a child's birthday invitation to everyone she's ever met

Be secure in the knowledge that even the NSA wouldn't go anywhere near 'Boulders 3 (Extra Rocky)'.

Go see a therapist about the Post Traumatic Font Syndrome you develop
 
2013-06-22 06:34:14 PM  

Great Janitor: I have an NSA proof way of communication.  Remember that episode of Star Trek:TNG titled "Darmok"?


I was actually kicking something similar around in my head for a story of some sort involving the Earth taken over by aliens with short range telepathy, and one plot point involves the resistance starts communicating to each other in memes because the aliens just don't get the cultural references being used.
 
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