December 23, 2017
Edward Snowden made an app to protect your laptop
Earlier this year, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden met with Jacqueline Moudeina, the first female lawyer in Chad and a legendary human rights advocate who has worked tirelessly to bring former dictator Hissène Habré to justice. Habré was convicted of human rights abuses — ordering the killing of 40,000 people, sexual slavery, and rape — by a Senegalese jury in 2016.
Snowden told Moudeina that he was working on an app that could turn a mobile device into a kind of motion sensor in order to notify you when your devices are being tampered with. The app could also tell you when someone had entered a room without you knowing, if someone had moved your things, or if someone had stormed into your friend’s house in the middle of the night. Snowden recounted that pivotal conversation in an interview with the Verge. “She got very serious and told me, ‘I need this. I need this now. There’s so many people around us who need this.’”
Haven, announced today, is an app that does just that. Installed on a cheap burner Android device, Haven sends notifications to your personal, main phone in the event that your laptop has been tampered with. If you leave your laptop at home or at an office or in a hotel room, you can place your Haven phone on top of the laptop, and when Haven detects motion, light, or movement — essentially, anything that might be someone messing with your stuff — it logs what happened. It takes photos, records sound, even takes down changes in light or acceleration, and then sends notifications to your main phone. None of this logging is stored in the cloud, and the notifications you receive on your main phone are end-to-end encrypted over Signal.

Snowden hasn’t carried a mobile device since 2013, but in the last couple of years, much of his time has been taken up by prying apart smartphones and poking away at their circuit boards with the aid of fine tweezers and a microscope. In 2016, he collaborated with hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang on Introspection Engine, a phone case that monitors iPhone outputs, alerting you to when your device is sending signals through its antenna.
Snowden is notoriously careful about the technology around him. In the documentary Citizenfour, Snowden is shown taking increasingly extravagant precautions against surveillance, going as far as to drape a pillowcase (his “Magic Mantle of Power,” he says, deadpan) over himself and his computer when he types in a password. Famously, he also asked journalists to place their phones in the hotel fridge, to prevent transmission of any surreptitious recording through their microphones or cameras.
Snowden at least has a pretty understandable reason to be paranoid — and while he doesn’t expect the rest of the world to adopt his somewhat inconvenient lifestyle, he’s been trying to use his uniquely heightened threat model to improve other people’s lives. “I haven’t carried a phone but I can increasingly use phones,” he said. Tinkering with technology to make it acceptable to his own standards gives him insight into how to provide privacy to others.
Edward Snowden made an app to protect your laptop
“Did you know most mobile phones these days have three microphones?” he asked me. Later he rattled off a list of different kinds of sensors. It wasn’t just audio, motion, and light, an iPhone can also detect acceleration and barometric pressure. He had become intimately familiar with the insides of smartphones while working with Bunnie Huang, and the experience had left him wondering if the powerful capabilities of these increasingly ubiquitous devices could be used to protect, rather than invade, people’s privacy — sousveillance, rather than surveillance.
It was Micah Lee, a security engineer who also writes at the Intercept, who had the first spark of insight. For years, developers with access to signing keys — particularly developers who deal with incredibly sensitive work like the Tor Project — have become fairly paranoid about keeping their laptops in sight at all times. This has much to do with what security researcher Joanna Rutkowska dubbed “the evil maid attack”. Even if you encrypt your hard drive, a malicious actor with physical access to your computer (say, a hotel housekeeper of dubious morals) can compromise your machine. Afterwards, it’s nearly impossible to tell that you’ve been hacked.
Edward Snowden made an app to protect your laptop
Snowden and Lee, who both sit on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, partnered with the Guardian Project, a collective of app developers who focus on privacy and encrypted communications, to create Haven over the last year. Snowden credited Nathan Freitas, the director of the Guardian Project, for writing the bulk of the code.
Though “evil maid” attacks are not a widespread concern — “we’re talking about people who can’t go into the pool without their laptops,” said Snowden, “that’s like nine people in the whole world” — Haven was conceptualized to benefit as many people as possible. Micah Lee points out in his article for The Intercept that victims of domestic abuse can also use Haven to see if their abuser is tampering with their devices. Snowden told me that they had thought very deliberately about intimate partner violence early on.
“You shouldn’t have to be saving the world to benefit from Haven,” said Snowden, but acknowledged that the people most likely to be using Haven were paranoid developers and human rights activists in the global south. Andy Greenberg describes in WIRED how the Guardian Project worked with the Colombian activist group Movilizatario to run a trial of the software earlier this year. Sixty testers from Movilizatario used Haven to safeguard their devices and to provide some kind of record if they should be kidnapped in the middle of the night.
Edward Snowden made an app to protect your laptop
It was this case scenario that sprung to the mind of Jacqueline Moudeina when she spoke with Snowden earlier this year. “In many places around the world, people are disappearing in the night,” he said. For those dissidents, Haven was reassurance that if government agents break into their home and take them away, at least someone would know they were taken. In those cases, Haven can be installed on primary phones, and the app is set to send notifications to a friend.
I asked Snowden what it was like to collaborate on a software project while in exile in Russia. It wasn’t that bad, he said. Since he became stranded in Russia in 2013, technology has progressed to the point where it’s much easier to talk to people all over the world in secure ways. The creators of Haven were scattered all over the globe. “Exile is losing its teeth,” he told me.
More than anything, Snowden is hoping that Haven — an open source project that anyone can examine, contribute to, or adapt for their own purposes — spins out into many different directions, addressing threat models of all kinds. There are so many different kinds of sensors in mobile phones that the possibilities were boundless. He wondered, for instance, if a barometer in a smartphone could possibly detect a door opening in a room.
Threat models don’t have to involve authoritarian governments kidnapping and torturing activists. Lex Gill posted on Twitter that her partner had been testing Haven with a spare phone for a month, and she had begun to use it to send “helpful reminders.”

And when Nathan Freitas explained his most recent project to his young children, he discovered yet another use case. “We’re going to use it to catch Santa!” they told him excitedly.
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
'Riverdale' Star Cole Sprouse on His Quarantine Mustache, 'Animal Crossing' and New Podcast
May 25, 2020
iN2edkR-OYM
Ben Platt on His Groundbreaking Radio City Music Hall Concert on Netflix
May 20, 2020
DXN5iMMfs60
Daveed Diggs On The Emotional Toll of Filming 'Snowpiercer' Stunts And The 'Hamilton' Movie
May 18, 2020
n17S9kH7XuA
Ahmaud Arbery Family Lawyer Says D.A.'s, Cops Criminally Investigated by FBI
May 25, 2020
r64cdXzvsPA
'Floribama Shore' Kirk Medas Arrest Video, Do You Know Who I Am? | TMZ
May 24, 2020
Qrl7Iq3lBDM
Jamie Kennedy Explains How Stand-Up Comedy's Changed Amid Pandemic | TMZ
May 24, 2020
Q6SG4jcR6VI
Ayesha Curry's Jaw-Dropping Bikini Pics Taken By Steph Curry | E! News
May 24, 2020
JOxRMbPMajk
Best Moments From Iconic 2001 Film "Pearl Harbor": Rewind | E! News
May 25, 2020
dvDxM-leiqw
"Terrace House" Star Hana Kimura Dead at 22 After Cyberbullying | E! News
May 23, 2020
xqo43SIrfRs
Kylie Jenner, Britney Spears and Sofia Vergara show off backyard bikinis | Page Six Celebrity News
May 25, 2020
qrFbdCVexjk
Lori Loughlin, husband plead guilty in college admissions scandal | Page Six Celebrity News
May 22, 2020
3Tx-FvqZzVI
Celebrity breakups during quarantine: Megan Fox, Ashley Benson and more | Page Six Celebrity News
May 22, 2020
APr202A7bbQ
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
08
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Inter Milan
08
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Manchester City
08
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Everton
08
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Betis - Real Madrid
08
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Genoa
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Burnley - Tottenham Hotspur
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - West Ham United
07
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Sociedad
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Bournemouth
07
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Sevilla
01
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Barcelona
01
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
01
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Wolves
01
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Espanyol - Atletico Madrid
01
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
Cagliari - Roma
29
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Watford - Liverpool
29
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Torino
29
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Bournemouth - Chelsea
24
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - West Ham United
23
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Everton
23
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Watford
23
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Lecce
23
Feb
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Villarreal
22
Feb
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Real Madrid
22
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Fiorentina - AC Milan
22
Feb
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Manchester City
22
Feb
ITALY: Serie A
Spal - Juventus
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k tudKp5Vhs3k iwWHibhssSo kQr0XHPbICM 5NeCb7JxaRk
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.