Happy Academic New Year, 2015

June 1, 2015 I was thrilled to start my 3 year tenure as an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow (NSF AAPF) at Caltech. I am therefore declaring June 1 as my official academic New Year. I’m treating this fellowship period as my shot to make a scientific difference, and here’s to the next 3 years. I have an structured routine scheduled, […]

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Axolotl Protocol for Cryptographically Secure Messaging: An Illustrated Primer

Whisper At Open WhisperSystems Winter Break of Code, I had the privilege to announce our integrated RedPhone/TextSecure roadmap for iOS and Android.  Code named Whisper, it offers a cross platform one stop solution for secure messaging and phone calls. This is a big deal! Close to a billion people are using data channel messaging and phone […]

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Cryptography course–the power of XOR

I took a Cryptography I course on coursera.org taught by Stanford’s Dan Boneh. The lectures are easy listening (I usually put on my wireless headphones while doing a household chore, and set my iPad somewhere convenient if I need to glance at the slide), although clocking in at about 2 hours a week, are certainly a bit of a commitment. The are broken into 5-20 minute chunks, the online system tracks which you have listened to already, and asks you 0-3 questions a lecture to make the whole process more interactive and to jolt you to attention if you’ve filtered out an important section.

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Circle of 6 winner of White House’s Apps Against Abuse Challenge

I’m proud to have been the developer behind Circle of 6, which has just won the White House’s Apps Against Abuse Challenge. I spent part of this week in a conference call with US Vice President Joe Biden, who is well informed and extremely passionate about bringing a stop to violence against women. He spent 5 minutes speaking about our app, which was surreal and heartfelt. It has been more than worth it to spend some Sundays working on such a meaningful project with a great team; and glad to see our work will be appreciated. Like our Facebook page to stay up to date and join the pledge to end violence against women. The app will launch in January 2012.

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SSL and packet sniffing with Wireshark.

SSL stands for the secured socket layer and it is the way many websites handle encrypting your data as you communicate to them and helping you to verify that they are who you think they are, making it more difficult for others to view your traffic. As simple as using SSL is, many services don’t use it. What happens then? Well if an eavesdropper, let’s call her Eve, is somewhere on the same network as you are, for example if you are at a coffee house and she is sitting a few tables down from you, she can run any number of freely available tools (or one she wrote herself) to observe your network traffic. Sounds like a rather far fetched scenario, if you aren’t familiar with how easy it is to be Eve(il) if you so choose.

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