What Is Our Goal?
Real World Analog

Overview   top
CerebraLock is a lockbox for your private information. It lets you import and acquire various kinds of data and keeps it secure on your device. It also allows secure exchange of data with others.

It does so with the help of encryption and a new way of storing and entering 'passwords' - the CerebraLock Method - which does away with most of the shortcomings of conventional password schemes.

Note that at present you can exchange data only with other devices running iOS 7 or later! That is, iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

What Is Our Goal?   top
Our goal is to store our data on our devices and be assured that no one else can access it without our knowledge or approval.

Data may be important sensitive business information, 'politically incorrect' writings and thoughts, private pictures or movies, financial information, contacts, official documents - it does not really matter, does it?

We want to keep our private stuff private. Period.

Since all of this information is stored as digital files which are easy to duplicate, transmit and process, we want to store them so that even if they are stolen they are useless. To achieve this, we encrypt them. This means we scramble them to such a degree that they are complete gibberish unless we decrypt them ourselves to convert them back into a usable format. Encryption requires some kind of password which only we know. Of course, now we have to ensure that our passwords are secure. And we all know from the news how well conventional methods work.

Another concern: if we are being observed, either by a person standing next to us, or by a hidden camera or by software logging our keyboard (or even touch) input, we don't want our passwords to be revealed. We may not be able to keep our private information from everyone, but we can damn well make it hard to get at! At the same time, though, we don't want to make it too inconvenient for ourselves.

Real World Analog   top
You have something you value and you want to control access to it.

Your home, for example, is probably protected by a lock (or two) on each door. Only your family members have a key. Your home may also contain a safe with important documents or valuables in it. Only you and your spouse have a key. The safe is in all likelihood harder to break into than your home - it is protected by a stronger lock and the extra locks at the front door.

There are different layers of protection, different levels of access and different levels of security.

Let's look at the safe more closely, it is a fancy one: it has two compartments. One compartment (the normal one) contains your valuables and important documents, but the other one, the coercion compartment, contains fewer valuables and only some not-quite-so-important documents. You have a key for each compartment. Should you ever be forced (or coerced) to open your safe, you may decide to give up the key to the coercion compartment. This is safer than outright refusing to open the safe and also limits your loss. This is called plausible deniability: "Hey, I opened my safe for you - I'm sorry if the contents are not what you thought they would be!".

The lock on your front door is a fancy one, too. It is electronic and has a numeric keypad for a password. No keys to lose, to have stolen or to have secretly duplicated. But you have to be careful that no one is watching you enter your password! Even the smudges on the keys may help an attacker guess which numbers are most likely part of your password. Multiple passwords or lengthy passwords would help - but how do you remember them?

Security is hard! Like everything in life it involves trade-offs between achieving the desired goal, and inconvenience and expense.

CerebraLock is the electronic equivalent of a safe. It stores your documents in vaults protected by locks.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014