back to article Safe-mail.net goes titsup. Storage failure blamed

The secure email service Safe-mail.net has been out of action since Wednesday, Nov 4, following a “major storage hardware crash”. No further technical details are available. About 80 per cent of user data was unaffected “as we had already moved it to a new system during the last few months,” the Israeli company said in a …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Alert

    Coincidence?

    Just seems strange that there's been a few email services suddenly over a week's time having issues. On top of the security theater being played out, Safe Harbour, and certain legislative accords being either brought up or being voted on. Or it could just be a case of "crap happens".....

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Coincidence?

      This is just a statistical anomaly. Nothing to see here, just move along...

      1. Alfie Noakes
        Big Brother

        Re: Coincidence?

        Nothing to See heAr?

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Coincidence?

          Also, the MSF hospital bombing was an ACCIDENT, m'kay?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Coincidence?

            Quite a precise statistical anomaly

          2. James O'Shea

            Re: Coincidence?

            "Also, the MSF hospital bombing was an ACCIDENT, m'kay?"

            I really get tired of people who sprout this kind of thing.

            1 AC-130s don't bomb a damn thing. They don't carry bombs. They're _gunships_. They shoot the living hell out of things with 105mm, 40mm, and 20mm cannon. In this particular case, the AC-130 made five gun runs over a period of about an hour.

            2 damn right it wasn't an accident. Someone called in a gunship to make a strike on that building. The aircrew (probably) didn't know (or care) what the target was, just that they'd been ordered to drop the hammer on it. They did know that gunship targets in an urban area have to be cleared all the way up at least the local air officer commanding, possibly to the level of the theatre commander. Someone with stars on their shoulders said that that building was a target. The aircrew didn't stop to ask any damn foolish questions, they just flew the strike.

            3 allegedly the MSF guys screamed over the radio to the US command echelon while the strike was going on. (Remember, five gun runs over around an hour...) If someone in the command group even thought that there was the slightest chance that the strike was going into the wrong target, they'd have fallen over themselves aborting the mission. They didn't.

            4 it is just barely possible that there was some incompetence involved. Remember, this _is_ the US Air Force here, the boyz who managed to kill the highest ranking American officer to die in the Second World War by (ahem!) accident. (They bombed short. Very short. And got themselves a lieutenant general. Pity that it wasn't a German lieutenant general.) And they've had _lots_ more accidents since then. (I'm thinking particularly of certain incidents in Iraq and in Yugoslavia...) However, it is much more likely that for whatever reason someone highly placed wanted to flatten that building, or, more likely, someone inside that building, and didn't care who got whacked in the process.

            There are only two things which are clear about this incident:

            1 the aircrew are blameless, though they're the ones currently left holding the sack of shit

            2 there's a lot more happening than has been made public.

            Frankly, I suspect that the AC-130 was used because the "Oops! My _five_ GPS-guided bombs just accidentally happened to hit you! Sorry, my error! Let me kiss it and make it all better!" excuse was already tried in Yugoslavia.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              The aircrew is blameless?

              Sorry, but I thought "we were just following orders" had been been held as no longer a reasonable excuse for war crimes since Nuremberg.

              Now maybe the air crew had no idea it was a hospital they were strafing - I have no idea how close they could get. It was reported that the hospital was the only building in the area to be lit up, and one would presume a hospital would want to light up a big red cross on the roof or something so I am thinking there's a good chance they knew they were shooting up a hospital. So I'm sorry, but I'm not nearly so ready to hold them blameless.

              1. LDS Silver badge

                Re: The aircrew is blameless?

                If you look at the aerial photos of the hospital before the attack, it had no big red cross (or crescent moon or at least an encircled H) on the roofs. So the crew had no way to know it was an hospital just looking at it, especially at night. What orders they got, and if they knew beforehand it was an hospital, we can't know.

              2. James O'Shea

                Re: The aircrew is blameless?

                The building had a red H on white hanging above the main entrance, plus signage IDing it as a hospital in various languages. Problem was, the red H was about a metre tall and wasn't illuminated, and this was a night strike, and it's really hard to read signage from the air, at night, when you're making 200 knots and are maybe 200-500 metres out. Especially when the signage is designed and emplaced to be read from the ground. No-one at the MSF facility (at _any_ MSF facility, except for some in the Sudan) thought about being hit by air attack. (the boyz in the Sudan know damn well that they're gonna attract Sudanese government aircraft and take precautions) So far as can be seen, this strike was exactly like a multitude of other AC-130 strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade plus, and quite similar to gunship strikes going back to the original AC-47 dragonships in Vietnam. Nah, the crew had no idea what they were hitting. It's _exactly_ the way that the crews of the aircraft which dropped five JDAMS (500 to 2000-pound GPS-guided glide bombs, 1000-pounders in this particular case) onto the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 had no clue. They flew, non-stop, from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, got to within seven nautical miles of the target, dropped the JDAMS, and flew home. Someone else (the CIA in this case) had set the co-ordinates on the JDAMs. Yes, Bill Clinton literally bombed the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia. There was a lot of screaming there, too, and the aircrews got a lot of stick for exactly the line of reasoning you make.

                Nah, this isn't USS VINCENNES cruising the Persian Gulf looking for trouble and whacking a commercial aircraft flying in a known commercial air route in Iranian national airspace squawking ID on commercial channels. This is some Air Force boyz doing their jobs and being set up by higher-higher.

  2. RISC OS

    critical maintenance mode???

    most likely NSA enforced upgrade mode

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: critical maintenance mode???

      -as we had already moved it to a new system during the last few months,-

      And that system was where/whose?

      -the company is using the downtime to purge some 250,000 user accounts that were “involved in activity which violates the Safe-mail.net Agreement and policy.”-

      So they can read the emails? Doesn't sound very secure to me!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: critical maintenance mode???

        Well exactly....how do they know that those 250k accounts were involved...without reading the mails....definately LE involved...Tutanota...proton..etc etc...the only one I trust now is ddw-mail.xyz.

        Just saying

  3. Danny 2 Silver badge

    On ProtonMail and ethics

    If the original hackers/blackmailers of ProtonMail are claiming they didn't have have anything to do with the secondary DDoSing, and ProtonMail are claiming the same, then it seems like extremely lazy journalism to keep victim-blaming ProtonMail for their (hopefully temporary) demise. Paying the ransom was a mistake, but we all make mistakes under pressure, that is not the important point here.

    El Reg is partly so interesting due your cynical computing coverage, but also due to your science coverage. ProtonMail is partly so trusted because it sprung from CERN. Get your priorities in order with this sort of misdirection or drop your science section. I expect more from you than from the BBC/state apologists as an independent, hopefully still cynical and brave, computing magazine.

    Why not approach the ProtonMail founders for an interview on this take-down? Why not approach the original hackers for their take? Why not apply your standard 'Occams Razor' and just call a spade the GCHQ hack it so obviously is? That's what I expect from this place. You can display such bravado and machismo when we don't need it, step up now and prove your bravery when it is needed.

    This isn't just about script-kiddie ransoms, this is about the future of private communications in the UK. Stand up for privacy and put your journalistic balls on the table.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On ProtonMail and ethics

      An interesting shout, Danny 2. We report stories as they break - such as ProtonMail DDOS. Sometimes that is all that is needed.

      Sometimes the story has legs - as in the recent TalkTalk fiasco - or is self-evidently important such as the UK's IPB. In such scenarios we devote a lot of editorial time and effort.

      It is not yet clear yet if the ProtonMail does indeed have legs.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: On ProtonMail and ethics

        I'm annoyed at the ProtonMail hack for a couple of personal reasons - I've been promoting it heavily as an easy way for non-techies to secure communications, and I became over-reliant on it for an upcoming trial - emails to lawyers, police and politicians. I've learned that lesson and got the info I needed during the brief up-time.

        I've also got my own suspicions about the nature of the secondary DDoS that of course are best kept below the line. However, ignoring all that, I'd say the story still has legs for one reason - the UK government legal attack on encryption. My paranoid conspiracy theories get enough thumbs up here that should indicate to you that I'm not alone in that concern.

        I would be very, very interested if you could shed more light on the story through the interviews I suggested. Frankly if El Reg isn't pursuing this then what hope for technically clueless newspapers even understanding the issue? This is your stomping ground and it's your time to shine. (pretty please with a cherry on top)

      2. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: On ProtonMail and ethics

        I should really add, over decades I've really appreciated the free knowledge you and your predecessors (Electronic Times, Computing Times?) have provided me. I've learned more from reading here than I ever learned from the expensive courses my employers used to send me on, both the articles and the comments. Lately it's all that's kept my oar in the water.

        I guess that's why I'm holding you to a higher standard than I'd expect from other publications. Maybe that's unfair of me, sorry hoor, but if it's any consolation I soon won't be here to criticise and comment.

        I've just read my ProtonMail messages, and even the lawyer the court appointed against my wishes has blocked me as spam, at least El Reg never banned me. I guess I should be requesting a solitary cell in advance before I cause a prison riot ;-(

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scoop lost...

    Well said Danny2. And as it goes with reporting...

    Scoop lost...

    http://techcrunch.com/2015/11/07/protonmail-on-battling-a-sustained-ddos-attack/

    Looks like the only thing to do now is provide quality content/ insight..

  5. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Thanks anon cow. I fully appreciate everyone's need for that status just now. I just wrote a huge rant on the subject which I decided not to post here (yet) so I don't tar this worthy cause with my personal issues, but I am mucking fad about this.

    I still think an El Reg journalist could ask more informative questions, but I get why nobody else wants to stick their head above the parapet in this 21st century trench warfare.

  6. Danny 2 Silver badge

    ProtonMail is up instead of tits-up

    For the moment. Get it while you can.

  7. Old Handle
    WTF?

    The part about purging the service of ToS-violating accounts "while they're at it" sounds incredibly weird. Why devote effort to something they could do any time while they're trying to restore service? The only explanation I can think of (barring some deeper conspiracy) is that they're just throwing that out as an excuse for accounts they aren't be able to recover.

  8. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Yeah, at least PM aren't doing that. I guess being based in Israel rather than Switzerland brings it's own risks and protections.

    "If your adversary is the Mossad, YOU'RE GONNA DIE AND THERE'S NOTHING THAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. The Mossad is not intimidated by the fact that you employ https://. If the Mossad wants your data, they're going to use a drone to replace your cellphone with a piece of uranium that's shaped like a cellphone, and when you die of tumors filled with tumors, they're going to hold a press conference and say "It wasn't us" as they wear t-shirts that say "IT WAS DEFINITELY US," and then they're going to buy all of your stuff at your estate sale so that they can directly look at the photos of your vacation instead of reading your insipid emails about them."

    https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/08/mickens_on_secu.html

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