Jacob Appelbaum

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Jacob Appelbaum
Jacob Appelbaum-IMG 9320.jpg
Jacob Appelbaum at the Congress on Privacy & Surveillance (2013) of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
Born April 1983 (age 35)
Citizenship US
Fields Computer security
Institutions University of Washington,[1]
Eindhoven University of Technology,[2]
Known for

Jacob Appelbaum (born 1983) is an American independent journalist, computer security researcher, and hacker. He was employed by the University of Washington, and is a core member of the Tor project,[1] a free software network designed to provide online anonymity. Appelbaum is known for representing WikiLeaks at the 2010 HOPE conference.[5] He has subsequently been repeatedly targeted by US law enforcement agencies, who obtained a court order for his Twitter account data, detained him at the US border after trips abroad, and seized a laptop and several mobile phones.

He is currently living in Berlin and he has been contributing extensively as a journalist to the publication of documents revealed by Edward Snowden in June 2013.[6][7][8][9][10]

On December 28, 2013, at Chaos Communication Congress,[11][12] he presented documents revealed by Snowden, showing that the NSA can turn iPhones into eavesdropping tools and has developed devices to harvest electronic information from a computer even if not online. The devices are listed in the NSA ANT catalog, published in part by Der Spiegel[8] and in full by LeakSource.[13]

Appelbaum, under the handle "ioerror", has been an active member of the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective since 2008,[14] and is the co-founder of the San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge with Mitch Altman. He has worked for Kink.com,[15] Greenpeace[16] and has volunteered for the Ruckus Society and the Rainforest Action Network.[4] He is also an ambassador for the art group monochrom.[17]

As a trusted confidant of the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Appelbaum was among several people who gained access to Snowden's top secret documents that were released during the 2013 global surveillance disclosure.[18]

Early life and education

Appelbaum tested out of high school.[19] In a wide-ranging interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2010, Appelbaum revealed that "I come from a family of lunatics... [a]ctual, raving lunatics." He stated that his mother "is a paranoid schizophrenic. She insisted that Jake had somehow been molested by his father while he was still in the womb". He was taken away from his mother by his aunt when he was 6. Two years later, he was placed in a children's home in Sonoma County. At age 10, his indigent father was awarded custody of him. Having been introduced to computer programming by a friend's father, Appelbaum said, saved his life. "The Internet is the only reason I'm alive today."[4]

Research and activism

In 2005, Appelbaum gave two talks at the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress,[20] Personal Experiences: Bringing Technology and New Media to Disaster Areas, and A Discussion About Modern Disk Encryption Systems. The former covered his travels to Iraq—crossing the border by foot, the installing of Internet satellites in Kurdistan, and his visit of New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. The latter talk discussed the legal and technical aspects of full disk encryption. At the 2006 23rd Chaos Communication Congress, he gave a talk with Ralf-Philipp Weinmann titled Unlocking FileVault: An Analysis of Apple's Encrypted Disk Storage System.[21][22] The duo subsequently released the VileFault free software program which broke Apple's FileVault security.

Appelbaum has also collaborated on several other high-profile research projects, including the cold boot attack,[23][24] SSL certificate authorities[25] and smart parking meters.[26]

He appeared with Julian Assange on Episode 8 & 9 of World Tomorrow, "Cypherpunks".[27][28]

He is a contributor to Julian Assange's 2012 book Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet along with Andy Müller-Maguhn and Jérémie Zimmermann.

He regards Tor as a "part of an ecosystem of software that helps people regain and reclaim their autonomy. It helps to enable people to have agency of all kinds; it helps others to help each other and it helps you to help yourself. It runs, it is open and it is supported by a large community spread across all walks of life." [29]

Jacob Appelbaum at a talk at 30C3 in Hamburg (2013).

In August 2013, Appelbaum delivered Edward Snowden's acceptance speech after he was awarded the biannual Whistleblower Prize by a group of NGOs at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.[30][31]

In September 2013, he testified before the European Parliament, mentioning that his partner had been spied on by men in night-vision goggles as she slept.[32]

Appelbaum talks at the protest march Freiheit statt Angst (Engl. Freedom not fear) in Berlin (2013).

In December 2013, Appelbaum told Berliner Zeitung that he believes he was under surveillance and that somebody broke into his Berlin apartment and used his computer.[33]

Appelbaum is also on the Freedom of the Press Foundation Technical Advisory Board.

As of September 1, 2015, Appelbaum is a Ph.D. student studying under Tanja Lange and Daniel J. Bernstein at the Eindhoven University of Technology. [2]

Detention and investigation

Appelbaum has been detained at airports and had his electronic equipment seized several times.[34][35][36][37] In 2010, the US Department of Justice obtained a court order compelling Twitter to provide data associated with the user accounts of Appelbaum, as well as several other individuals associated with Wikileaks. While the order was originally sealed, Twitter successfully petitioned the court to unseal it, permitting the company to inform its users that their account information had been requested.[9][38]

Personal life

Appelbaum is an atheist[39] of Jewish background and identifies himself as queer, "though he refers to at least a dozen female lovers in nearly as many countries".[4] He also is an anarchist[4] and enjoys photography.[40]

He has moved to Berlin, where he has applied for residence authorization; his stated reasons include that he doesn't want to go back to the USA because he doesn't feel safe[41] and that privacy protections are better in Germany than in the US. In December 2013, Appelbaum said he suspected the U.S. government of breaking into his Berlin apartment.[18]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Tor Project: Core People". Tor. Retrieved 13 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Jacob Appelbaum on Twitter".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Noisebridge user page". Noisebridge. Retrieved 11 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Rich, Nathaniel (1 December 2010). "The American Wikileaks Hacker". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 July 2014. An anarchist street kid raised by a heroin- addict father, he dropped out of high school, taught himself the intricacies of code and developed a healthy paranoia along the way.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. McCullagh, Declan (17 July 2010). "Wikileaks editor skips NYC hacker event". CNET News. Retrieved 3 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    McCullagh, Declan (16 July 2010). "Feds look for Wikileaks founder at NYC hacker event". CNET News. Retrieved 3 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Singel, Ryan (19 July 2010). "Wikileaks Reopens for Leakers". Wired. Retrieved 3 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. SPIEGEL ONLINE: Catálogo Revela os dispositivos de Back Door da NSA - by Jacob Appelbaum- SPIEGEL ONLINE
  7. SPIEGEL ONLINE: NSA Secret Toolbox: ANT Unit Offers Spy Gadgets for Every Need - SPIEGEL ONLINE
  8. 8.0 8.1 SPIEGEL ONLINE: Interactive Graphic: The NSA's Spy Catalog - SPIEGEL ONLINE
  9. 9.0 9.1 Democracy Now!: Parte 2: William Binney, Daniel Ellsberg, Jacob Appelbaum falam sobre WikiLeaks e Vigilância | Democracy Now!
  10. April 20, 2012 | Democracy Now!
  11. Democracy Now!: Jacob Appelbaum: Futuristic-Sounding "Radar Wave Devices" Can Help NSA Monitor Your Computer Usage | Democracy Now!
  12. CBS News: NSA can spy on offline computers wirelessly, says security expert - CBS News
  13. LeakSource: NSA’s ANT Division Catalog of Exploits for Nearly Every Major Software/Hardware/Firmware | LeakSource
  14. "Cult of the Dead Cow Membership List, retrieved November 10, 2011". W3.cultdeadcow.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Hartwell, Lane (10 June 2007). "'So Who Wants to F**k a Robot?'". Wired.com. Retrieved 9 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Appelbaum, Jacob (22 June 2004). "Geeks Love Trees, Too". Greenpeace – Weblog. Retrieved 26 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "monochrom". monochrom. Retrieved 11 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Snowden ally Appelbaum claims his Berlin apartment was invaded". Deutsche Welle. 21 December 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. https://web.archive.org/web/20110219135907/http://crypto.nsa.org/f-21/blogger-in-the-lions-den.html
  20. "22nd Chaos Communication Congress: Jacob Appelbaum". Untrusted connection.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Unlocking FileVault: An analysis of Apple's encrypted disk storage system". Retrieved 11 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Jade, Charles (December 2006). "FileVault or VileFault?". Ars Technica. Retrieved 6 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Markoff, John (22 February 2008). "Researchers Find Way to Steal Encrypted Data". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. J. Alex Halderman, Seth D. Schoen, Captain Sassypants, William Clarkson, William Paul, Joseph A. Calandrino, Ariel J. Feldman, Jacob Appelbaum, and Edward W. Felten (21 February 2008). "Lest We Remember: Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys". Princeton University. Retrieved 22 February 2008. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Krebs, Brian (30 December 2008). "Researchers Hack Internet Security Infrastructure". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. McCullagh, Declan (30 July 2009). "Hackers: We can bypass San Francisco e-parking meters". CNET News. Retrieved 12 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Assange 'The World Tomorrow' — Ep 8: Cypherpunks Part 1". Digitaljournal.com. 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2013-11-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Assange Episode 8: Cypherpunks, stumbling block in the way of total surveillance — RT News". Rt.com. 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2013-11-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Interview uncut: Jacob Appelbaum | The Verge Forums". Theverge.com. 2013-03-11. Retrieved 2013-11-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Detlef Borchers (2013-07-23). "Whistleblower-Preis für Edward Snowden". Heise online. Archived from the original on 2013-07-25. Retrieved 2013-07-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Edward Snowden: Die Wahrheit auszusprechen, hat Whistleblower ihre Freiheit gekostet - the acceptance speech in English and German, Die Zeit, 3. September 2013
  32. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu6accTBjfs&feature=youtu.be&t=2h23m1s NSA Hearing European Parliament 5 Sept 2013
  33. Snowden ally Appelbaum claims his Berlin apartment was invaded, Deutsche Welle, 21 December 2013.
  34. Democracy Now!: "We Don’t Live in a Free Country": Jacob Appelbaum on Being Target of Widespread Gov’t Surveillance | Democracy Now!
  35. Mills, Elinor (31 July 2010). "Researcher detained at US border, questioned about Wikileaks". CNET News. Retrieved 3 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Jardin, Xeni (12 January 2011). "Wikileaks volunteer detained and searched (again) by US agents". Boing Boing. Retrieved 12 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Fontain, Paul (27 October 2011). "Jacob Appelbaum Detained At Keflavík Airport". Grapevine. Retrieved 31 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. McCullagh, Declan (7 January 2011). "DOJ sends order to Twitter for Wikileaks-related account info". CNET News. Retrieved 12 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. "Jacob Appelbaum (Part 1/2) Digital Anti-Repression Workshop - April 26, 2012". Retrieved 28 June 2013. Like, for me, as an atheist, bisexual, Jew, I'm gonna go on, uh - oh and Emma Goldman is one of my great heroes and I really think that anarchism is a fantastic principle by which to fashion a utopian society even if we can't get there.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. "Jacob Applebaum". The World Justice Project. Retrieved June 6, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. https://gnunet.org/tor2013tum-video video of a talk at the TU Munich from 24. Juli 2013 (statement at approx. 0:05:00)

External links