Technology for Good

Technology can do great things. At COPIOUS, we believe in using our tech powers for good. As marketing experts, that means making recommendations that put the best interests of our clients — and their stakeholders and customers — first. As technology experts, it can mean a lot more.

With the upheavals going on in Egypt right now, activists now more than ever need to be able to communicate freely. Many governments choose to monitor or filter the communications of their citizens, even when those communications are lawful and justified. So, for this new year, I've released a new cipher tool to circumvent these infringements on privacy and free speech.

Called Asemica, this cipher takes any input — a photo, document, URL, or email — and encodes it using a key text. Using a Markov traversal matrix, it encodes all of the input information in a seemingly arbitrary sequence of words. This output is asemic, meaning it consists of forms that look like writing, but lack any obvious meaning on the surface. Since the key for both encryption and decryption is calculated from a third corpus text, the cipher remains symmetric.

The output produced by this cipher will “look like” the corpus text. If you encode a photo using a copy of Shakespeare's Hamlet, the output will resemble Early Modern English. If you encode it using spam text as the corpus, the output will look like spam. Encoding the text of any language to look like the text of any other language is also possible.

This allows a person to make any piece of data look like a sequence of words that can then be decoded back into the original form given the correct corpus key. When firewalls and monitoring systems block specific words and phrases, it's generally straightforward to circumvent with encryption. Using Asemica, though, you can do this without it even being noticeable to a machine that you're using encryption in the first place.

What's more, the code for the cipher is open source, available on GitHub.

This should run on any computer with both perl and curl installed, including those that run OS X, Linux, or Windows with Cygwin.

Image by Karen Eliot, see more at
4 days ago by Dann Stayskal