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The Hacker's Corner

Computers, Web & Electronic Privacy

  • The Turing Archives for the history of computing.
  • A few sites on the history of computers: the National Museum of Computing is dedicated to the first computer, the Colossus, the design of which is explained in the article by Tommy Flowers, The design of Colossus, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing (1983) vol 5, 239-252. DOI This AMS page gives an account on the initial codebreaking works by Marian Rejewski.
    This site is on the portable Curta calculator.
  • The Tor project website. Tor was originally designed as a third-generation onion routing project of the U.S. Office of Naval Research Tor is now a free software and an open network that helps you to defend personal freedom, privacy, confidentiality of business activities and connections on the internet.
    You can help the Tor network in several ways. The best and straight way is to donate bandwidth and run a Tor relay
    Once Tor is running, you can torify Mozilla Thunderbird by using the TorBirdy addon, and adequately configuring the torrc file: see the tutorials
    Tails is a live operating system, that can be installed on either a CD or a USB flash drive. Tails relies on Tor for protecting online privacy, i.e., all outgoing internet connections are forced to go through Tor.
    The confidentiality of connections can be insured with OpenVPN, a free and open source software application which implements secure and private virtual networks.
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Electronic Privacy Information Center websites provide detailed accounts on the issues of privacy and confidentiality.
  • Open WhisperSystems/ provides Open Source Android applications that encrypt your phone and text/chat messages.
  • The Trusted End Node Security is issuing the Trusted End Node Security (TENS formerly LPS) operating system, based on Linux, which can be installed on a CD or a USB flash drive. This light bootable system allows to securely browse the internet and connect to a remote network. This software is regularly updated.
  • Enigmail is an email plugin for Mozilla Thunderbird and Seamonkey that allows to send and receive messages encrypted with OpenPGP.
  • Jitsi is an open source VoIP and video conferencing software, which supports various protocols and networks: XMPP, SIP, AIM, ICQ, GoogleTalk, Yahoo Messenger, MSN, facebook, etc. All communications are encrypted by either SRTP, ZRTP or SDES depending on the protocol and network.
    Zfone is a VoIP phone software for encrypting phone calls. Its principal designer, Phil Zimmermann, is the creator of the famous and useful encryption program: PGP (a non-encrypted e-mail has the same level of confidentiality as a postcard).
    Simon Singh's Code Book is an interesting introduction to the history of cryptography and code breaking.


Since 1997, I'm using Linux as Operating System. Linux is now very easy to install and update. Furthermore, most Linux versions, called distributions, have a live CD/USB flash drive version, so that you can try several versions before installing the one you prefer on your computer
The choice of a particular version is only a question of tastes and habits.

Free Software

The number of Free software packages is exponentially growing, so that one can use them for a large number of purposes. Furthermore, most of them ensure the privacy of personal and private data. Here are a few websites on GNU, Free Software and Open Source software packages (see also the logos in the margin of this page):

  • The Free Software Directory is a repository of free softwares with free documentation, managed by the Free Software Foundation
  • The GNU Project (GNU is a recursive acronym for GNU is Not Unix!). The published documentation is managed by GNU Press . Books from other publishers could be found here
  • The Open Source Initiative website.
  • Fractint: a free software for generating fractals.
  • The GIMP, i.e., the GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a powerful free software for handling pictures.
  • Jarnal for annotating PDF files, taking notes, etc. Very useful for editing documents.
  • Code::Blocks is a free and open source integrated development environment for C++ programming.
  • Some of these softwares have a portable version that could be run on a external portable device, i.e., USB flash drive, iPod, portable hard drive, etc. These versions could be downloaded from the website.