Update September 17, 2020

It has of course been some time since I have written here on the blog so I thought I should probably update everyone on what I’ve been working on in the past two months.

Bleu bug fixes

Recently new updates have been rolled out to Bleu in order to fix large bugs which inhibited it from working properly. Among the most significant, users had no option to create spaces, even though this is a basic functionality of the app. Now, there are multiple ways in which a user can create a new space. Available are public spaces, which can be joined by anyone or through request approval; along with private spaces, which are hidden from the directory and only available to those whom you personally invite.

Additionally, I have added some spaces myself which I felt may spark interest in the community. I, of course, don’t intend to remain the owner of these spaces, and am willing to transfer ownership to individuals fit to coordinate those communities.

CYGO Cloud & CYGO Talk for Android

I have been working on testing CYGO Cloud on mobile through the Nextcloud and Nextcloud Talk clients for mobile. Soon, links to these and information about how to manage and access CYGO Cloud from mobile will be available.

In the meantime, please note that we still need an individual to make a new desktop client for CYGO Cloud, preferably that runs on all major desktop operating systems.

We’ve updated our Terms of Service

As of today, September 17, 2020 our Terms of Service has been updated to officially prohibit any users from within the People’s Republic of China from accessing CYGO Network. Of course, we will be implementing software to make this more effective.

I’m not a Chinese citizen, how does this affect me?

You’ll notice that the network is faster, more reliable, and that there are considerably less spammers utilizing our offerings. It will also prevent the spread of any Chinese Commnist Party propaganda through our social network, Bleu.

I’m a Chinese citizen, what now?

Tianenmen square massacre 1989. Please remove your commie self.

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for more updates and announcements within the coming weeks! If you’ve any questions, please email me at logan@cygo.network, post on the official CYGO Network Bleu space, or message me (@humbletyrant) on Telegram.

No, CloudFlare doesn’t respect your privacy: CloudFlare issues & truly anonymous DNS

CloudFlare DNS (1.1.1.1) claims to be a public DNS resolver which claims, according to their website;

“We will never log your IP address (the way other companies identify you). And we’re not just saying that. We’ve retained a big 4 accounting firm to audit our assertions about our systems annually to ensure that we’re doing what we say. Frankly, we don’t want to know what you do on the Internet—it’s none of our business—and we’ve taken the technical steps to ensure we can’t.”

https://1.1.1.1/dns/

Interestingly enough, CloudFlare entered into a research agreement with APINC, the organization which owns the 1.1.1.1 IP range. According to APINC, the statements regarding CloudFlare DNS, it’s privacy, and anonymity on its official website are simply false.

“We will be destroying all “raw” DNS data as soon as we have performed statistical analysis on the data flow. We will not be compiling any form of profiles of activity that could be used to identify individuals,”

https://labs.apnic.net/?p=1127

The fact that they have “raw” DNS data, containing personally-identifiable information such as IP addresses (since, after all, IPs are the focus of their research) doesn’t merely imply that they collect it, but it is a direct claim stating that they DO in fact collect said information; otherwise it wouldn’t be in their possession to perform “statistical analysis”.

But that’s not even the worst of what CloudFlare has done;

According to a source which I’ve had the good fortune to stumble upon; CloudFlare has protected websites owned by ISIS, the Taliban, and likely other terrorist groups as well. CloudFlare has not only proxied terrorist content, but according from an excerpt pulled from the New York Times, they have even provided their services to websites containing child pornography.

I’ll end this section with this peachy little quote from the CEO of CloudFlare:

“Back in 2003, Lee Holloway and I started Project Honey Pot as an open-source project to track online fraud and abuse. The Project allowed anyone with a website to install a piece of code and track hackers and spammers. We ran it as a hobby and didn’t think much about it until, in 2008, the Department of Homeland Security called and said, ‘Do you have any idea how valuable the data you have is?’ That started us thinking about how we could effectively deploy the data from Project Honey Pot, as well as other sources, in order to protect websites online. That turned into the initial impetus for CloudFlare.” – Matthew Prince

https://web.archive.org/web/20170217121944/http://www.law.uchicago.edu/alumni/accoladesandachievements/matthew-prince-00-discusses-cloudflare-cloud-computing-journal

More fun little things regarding CloudFlare’s shady operations and past can be found here, this website was put together rather well and includes citations.

You can’t trust most public DNS servers.

DNS servers collect identifiable information with each query, so it’s difficult to find a public DNS server which truly doesn’t collect or retain this data. For our purposes here, I’m going to simply say that it isn’t truly possible to have the perfect solution with any 3rd party DNS provider. The only person who you can really trust with your own privacy is yourself; which brings me to the solution.

Unbound: A DNS server that runs on your local machine.

That’s right; a separate machine for a DNS server isn’t even necessary! You can run unbound directly on your workstation or laptop! According to Unbound’s website, it is compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Linux-based operating systems, among others including macOS and BSD derivatives.

The documentation made available here under the Manual Pages section will help you install Unbound and get started with it. It’s extremely simple to install on Windows using the executable installer or through your Linux distribution’s package manager.

It’s very easily installed on Windows

Once you have ran the executable to install the package, on Windows, only one change needs to be made regarding network settings in order for Unbound to essentially work out of the box!

Just go to Network and Internet Settings>Adapter Options, then right-click on your network interface, select properties, then double-click on “IPv4”.

Set your preferred DNS server to 127.0.0.1 (Your machine/localhost, where Unbound is running). Personally, I set my Alternate DNS to NixNet DNS, as I know the owner of the service and trust that he dumps his logs to /dev/null or purges them as needed to ensure user privacy as he shares much the same, if not stricter privacy standards than CYGO. Technically, the alternate DNS probably won’t even be used as long as Unbound is functional.

I hope this post was helpful! Be on the lookout for more posts like this, and check out previous posts in the CYGO contributor blog series.

Update June 12, 2020

Our storage problem is solved!

We’ve been working out the logistics of fixing our issue with storage and the XFS file system partitions which were being used on our server. Yesterday, when I shut down the server in order to re-size a few disk partitions, I was met by some roadblocks and was rather unsure how to proceed. As it was an urgent matter, and I wanted to get things back online and avoid any such future downtime, I asked Thomas, our Linux desktop systems developer for some assistance regarding the issue. As he is very knowledgeable regarding this subject, namely from his work on Drauger OS (if you don’t know what that is, you should check it out, it’s a really innovative project), we were able to get everything back up and running within approximately 80 minutes.

This means we can largely return to operating as usual

We will begin allowing the registration of new connectMail and CYGO Cloud accounts as we have the capacity for more users. Existing users will receive precedence over new users when it comes to needing storage quota extensions, and their quotas will be reset to what they were previously before we encountered our storage issue. As always, if you have any questions regarding this, you can always contact me via email at logan@cygo.network, through our Discord presence, through my personal Discord (HumbleTyrant#7317), or through our Telegram group.

DDoS attacks have subsided (we hope)

As you know from our previous post, we’ve recently been faced with DDoS attacks, mainly from people within the United States. As we have faced these, measures have been put in place to help prevent them from affecting the network. We’ve added new layers of protection against DDoS, brute force, and general server-flooding attacks, as well as strengthened existing protections, on multiple layers. We are still continuing to monitor the situation closely in hopes that we can catch attacks whilst they are in progress and prevent any inconveniences which they could cause.

More posts in the CYGO contributor blog series coming soon!

I will be taking it upon myself to write a few more posts in the coming weeks. A few of our other team members; including Kasper, Ben, and Thomas will likely be making a few appearances during this blog series as well with their own publications. I am also planning on asking some of our other contributors if they wish to take part, as well as inviting guest bloggers from our partner organizations and community.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING RECENT DDOS ATTACKS

An overview

Recently, beginning on June 6, our main web server has been facing Denial of Service attacks lasting on average less than 10 minutes. We believe attackers are using network stress-testing tools which are used in the industry to test for vulnerabilities in order to attack and undermine our network.

Why are we being attacked?

All of the attacks which we have caught real-time have been based in the United States. We think we are either being attacked by disgruntled former team members of one of our partner organizations, or we are being targeted by politically left-leaning individuals who do not support our mission, the U.S. government, or the values established in the United States Constitution.

What are we doing to mitigate the issue?

Currently, we are now monitoring the server and our equipment very closely in order to identify any attacks as they start. We will then be immediately blacklisting any IP or network which is suspected of attacking or attempting to attack our network. Attacks identified and reported by our Denial of Service protection software will be reported to the attackers’ ISPs at the earliest convenience, and any attacks which shut down or degrade the network will be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation through their Internet Crime Complaint Center located at ic3.gov.

How does this all affect me?

I use CYGO’s free online services

Until we are able to fully contain and prevent these attacks in total, short downtime, up to approximately 6 minutes at times could be experienced. We are currently seeking the appropriate actions to take to fully prevent this.

I read the CYGO blog

You likely won’t be affected, and if you are, just check back in a few minutes.

I use Drauger OS

We provide the Drauger OS website, email, and support system. You may receive short downtime, up to approximately 6 minutes at times, as well as slightly delayed response via support and email. We are currently seeking the appropriate actions to take to fully prevent this.

That’s all for now. More updates will be posted as needed.

TikTok: Really just innocent fun?

The first post in the CYGO contributor blog series.

What is TikTok?

According to Wikipedia, “TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based internet technology company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. It is used to create short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos.”

By that brief definition, TikTok is portrayed as a place for creators to express themselves, as well as something that could harbor an interesting and diverse community.

TikTok stifles true creativity and free expression.

TikTok is filled with unoriginal content. It is dominated by a majority of people recreating existing content including already popular mainstream soundtracks and such. It’s essentially a community of people beating dead horses. Considering the majority of its users recreate content; there is no true creative content shared through the platform.

It is also reasonable to assume that considering TikTok is a Chinese company (all Chinese companies are directly under the control of the Chinese government), that content posted on TikTok must conform to the ideals of the Chinese government, which can lead to user censorship, hence the loss of any sort of freedom of expression.

According to The Washington Post, last November a TikTok user located in New Jersey, Feroza Aziz, was suspended from the app after posting content which was openly anti-Chinese.

Leaked documentation from the company illustrates that they are making an attempt to censor content which is political or otherwise controversial in nature.

TikTok actively mines user data.

According to CNET news, a class action lawsuit was filed in December 2019 against ByteDance/TikTok by a California resident.

The lawsuit alleges that user content, such as videos only saved as drafts rather than videos which are published; without any user consent.

California resident Misty Hong in her lawsuit also claimed that she installed TikTok on her device but did not create an account, yet some time later she discovered that the application had created one on her behalf without permission.

TikTok not only disrespects its users’ privacy, but could be a U.S. national security risk.

Videos published on TikTok often contain close-ups of its users faces. Considering the Chinese government has access to essentially all of the data on ByteDance’s Chinese servers, such videos could be used for surveillance purposes, or even worse, for facial recognition software and/or databases.

It poses such a risk to United States national security that the Defense Department has advised government employees to cease use of TikTok, which has prompted the U.S. military to ban the app from all government-owned devices.

You’re funding all of this.

When using TikTok, users are served advertisements which provide the company with its substantial revenue. By using the application, you are funding a corporation which is mining user data, using such user data to serve targeted ads, and likely in some way to benefit the Chinese government. If all users came together and deleted their TikTok accounts as well as the application from their devices, we could help to curb these issues to an extent.

Thanks for reading! I look forward to continuing this blog series in an effort to further aid our community and readers in taking control of their privacy.

Update June 1, 2020

We have a new project in planning

I personally am planning to begin development on a project which will prove to be very useful to both new and existing users of CYGO. More details about what this project is will be coming soon when work begins. This will be another significant advancement for us over both Google and Microsoft if it is successful.

We’re having issues with storage

Currently we have identified issues with LVM partitioning on our main server. Some downtime in the coming week(s) should be expected as we attempt to solve this issue. Once this issue is solved, CYGO Cloud accounts will go back to normal, and new users will be accepted. We are also hoping to upgrade our storage capacity but that will depend on your help. We will attempt to provide updates on this issue as it is resolved, specific downtime information will be available in our Discord and Telegram communities, as well as by inquiry through Discord (HumbleTyrant#7317) or Telegram (@humbletyrant). During the downtime inquiry via email will not be possible.

A new blog series is set to start soon

Myself and a few other of our contributors have agreed to begin blogging about topics relating to online privacy, information security, online censorship, and the open source community. We are doing this in an effort to bring our community engaging and interesting content which they will hopefully find beneficial.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

Update May 21, 2020

Why has it been so long since the last blog post?

Within the past two months, CYGO has made many advancements which I am going to outline further in this post, which will give users a significantly-enhanced experience. As such, myself and the team have been very busy, working around the clock to keep our services available to everyone at top-notch quality.

Bleu is now considerably more stable

A plethora of frontend and backend issues with Bleu which have been persistent both before and some after the server move have been patched. This means that Bleu is more pleasing to they eye and considerably more likely to function as intended. Since it’s also now hosted on our own equipment, the previous long page load times are no longer an ailment and have been cut by more than half. Frontend updates and patches will continue to be applied as needed, any bug reports would be appreciated via email at contact@cygo.network or via Discord to HumbleTyrant#7317.

CYGOfile is now known as CYGO Cloud

We’ve decided that a name change was appropriate, as CYGO Cloud is more than just a place to store your files on the go! CYGO Cloud is currently being expanded into a full suite of web productivity apps. Not only is it a place to store your files, but it can also be used to listen to music, conveniently take notes using markdown, create mind maps, check your email, as well as chat with friends and colleagues using instant messaging or video conferencing! We are continuing to roll out updates to the platform and further expansion is currently in planning and consideration.

We’ve updated our terms of service agreement

As further preventative measures to prevent misuse of our platforms, as well as to help combat theft of our logo from happening once more, our terms of service are now a bit more strict and comprehensive. If you haven’t already read the updated terms, I recommend that you take a look.

We are still in need of volunteers!

We’re unable to post weekly community updates as we have no one willing to aid in writing them. Additionally, our community has grown in the past few weeks, and with the promotion of Bleu, we will be in need of a larger team! If you are interested, please take a look at this page. If you would be interested in one of the listed positions, or think you could contribute in some other way, please contact us via email at contact@cygo.network or contact me directly via Discord (HumbleTyrant#7317).

OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING LOGO CHANGE

Over the next coming days, you will notice CYGO transitioning away from the old logos which we’ve been using since I created them one day during my lunch break back in March, 2018.

Why, you ask?

Over the past few months we have been contacted multiple times by an individual with malicious intent who has stolen our logo and claimed it as his own. Unfortunately, this individual has continued to harass me and my community members, as well as communicating threats against us.

My team and I concluded that it would be in our best interest to switch logos, as we were afraid that said individual could weaponize it against us and essentially ruin the integrity of CYGO as he is unethically selling the logo under more than 2 assumed names.

So, of course, we made a new logo

I have to give credit in its entirety to my assistant in graphic design, Madi. We were both very upset about losing the logo we’ve had for such a long time, but Madi had a very solid logo concept idea which looked nice in her sketches, and so I decided to put it together myself in Photoshop.

I, Madi, and the rest of the community seem to be very pleased with the new logo as it still embodies the spirit of our old, classic logo, while having a much more simple and sleek appearance.

BIG NEWS! Weekly address Monday, March 3, 2020

We have some exciting announcements this week!

As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t posted on the blog in over 2 months. During this time, I and the other staff, aside from being very busy in our personal lives; have managed to make a lot of progress. Below are some of the things we’ve been working on.

CYGO Underground is back!

After being gone for over 6 months, I managed to stumble upon a backup of CYGO Underground version 5 from January, 2019. I restored this backup a little over a week ago, then copied over user accounts. You can now log into CYGO Underground using the same login credentials which you used previously. If you need your password reset, please contact either Ben or myself via Discord or email.

A large Reddit community, r/edgydarkdankmemes has come to us seeking refuge from Reddit’s left-wing censorship

Recently, Reddit has began quarantining and banning subreddits which do not expressly violate their community guidelines or terms of service based on their political views. This has had a negative effect on dark humor communities as much dark humor is more right-leaning. Not only this, but Reddit seems to distaste dark humor or humor that is perceptibly offensive. Recently, Reddit took another step in the direction of user censorship; by implementing a system that punishes users for upvoting “policy violating” content. What this is stated to mean, is that users can receive an account suspension or ban for upvoting posts which violate Reddit’s content policy. In all reality, this new implementation is exceedingly likely to be weaponized against Reddit communities which Reddit, Inc and its administrators dislike.

As such, the Reddit-based community r/edgydarkdankmemes will be moving to CYGO Network. Rather than using one of our existing applications, we are currently developing their own standalone community website. As a result, r/edgydarkdankmemes is being rebranded and simplified down to “EDDM”. One can navigate to the EDDM website and check our progress by clicking “EDDM” at the top menu. Additionally, the EDDM website will hold up to CYGO’s information privacy and security standards; meaning no information will be provided to any third party entities at any time for any reason, making your data safe with us, as CYGO is not for profit and relies simply on donations, not information harvesting or intrusive annoying advertisements.

CYGO Desktop is now available for Windows!

After months of thought, planning, and contemplation, the CYGO desktop application has finally been made available for Microsoft Windows. We owe a large thanks to our community administrator, Kasper Irelan, for developing and compiling the desktop application which is based on ElectronJS. Currently, an application for CYGO Underground is also in progress for GNU/Linux based systems by Thomas Castleman at Drauger OS, which will be Python-based.

Kasper didn’t just stop at CYGO Underground for desktop though, also now available is CYGOfile for desktop, making it easy to manage your files, listen to music, take notes, create mind maps, use integrated XMPP chat and more from just one portable desktop app. Soon to be released are Bleu for desktop and connectMail for desktop, which will be linked in the top menu upon their release.

That’s everything major for this week!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog post, as well as updates from the announcements channel in our Discord server.

Weekly Address December 12, 2019

And, as most people would’ve probably guessed, I’m back yet again! Anyway, this week has been slow and I’m a few days late writing this week’s address, but I will be giving a nice short summary of what we have going on.

A quick summary

  • We’ve been donated a VPS specifically for Bleu by our partner’s at Kavorti. Hosting Bleu on this VPS with a 64GB SSD and 3gbps internet should greatly improve application performance
  • Everything is running smoothly at the moment with no issues

If any developments occur, we will post updates in our Discord server and possibly here on the blog.

We have open volunteer positions!

I will be creating a page about open positions shortly however at the moment we are in need of a 3rd blog writer. Anyone who is interested please contact me via Discord or email at logan@cygonetwork.com