[NZLUG] Privacy server

Tom Skunca tomislav.skunca at gmail.com
Tue Jun 18 16:22:21 NZST 2013

On Tue, 18 Jun 2013 14:37:02 Jim Cheetham wrote:
> Following up from Nevyn's recent thoughts about a local email server
> for people to use ...
> I would be interested in having a local server/service that was
> intended to help protect my privacy. Many things need a central
> 'always-on' server portion, and part of the problem we have with
> online services is that we don't/can't trust the servers themselves.
> I'm thinking of something more paranoid than usual.
> So perhaps we should start with a server that can be trusted, and
> build on top of that. I know that we tend to look at technical
> solutions first, but lets go the other way :-
> * A group of people willing to contribute money (obviously the more
> people, the lower the sums involved)

Agreed. This should be the first question that is answered and it translates 
directly into "What is our budget?"

> * A group of people willing to contribute time (not just sysadmins,
> but probably mostly)

I would be willing to contribute. I already do some of this stuff for a living 
and one or two extra servers wouldn't be a problem.

> * A legal entity with an unchangeable purpose (a trust?) to own the
> resources 


> * A constitution that describes how administrators are verified,
> chosen & removed

I could take it or leave it. It provides gravitas but in the end it holds the 
same amount of guarantee as a pinky swear.

> * An identity-verification standard for members (perhaps using cacert.org)

Oh yes please! CAcert is a cool way of doing this and it would get us good SSL 

> On the technical front, I'd look for something like :
> * Dedicated hardware in a secured location (or multiple locations)

I'm not too fussed about hardware as long as it's stable. A pair of cheap VMs 
would be good enough for the first stage.

> * Encrypted boot disk? TRESOR kernel patch? Perhaps an out-of-band
> management device?

Not a big fan of encrypted boot partitions, it's a solution in search of a 
problem. Data should be encrypted of course.

> * Free Software or Open Source Software only, from sources that are
> responsive to security issues


> * Mandatory client-side encryption; try to detect & reject any
> accidental plain-text

We can probably do some sort of cert auth+crypt system, the question is can we 
make it user-friendly enough so that people will use it? 

> * No logging of client connections

Is this legal?

> There are a lot of options, depending on how far you set the
> paranoid-meter, and how far you set the hostproof-meter. And some
> interesting ideas around using existing protocols in unusual ways
> (like mailinator, for example).

Well, yes, there are lots of options for the individual parts. Putting 
everything together in a way that it's secure will be challenging.

> Is anyone interested in helping to get something like this up and running?
> -jim

Yes, definitely interested. You can contact me OL if it looks viable.

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