Monthly Archives: May 2014

If Your Unseen Call Failed – Troubleshooting WebRTC

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The new Unseen calling upgrades are a huge breakthrough.  Now, because of the cooperation between Chrome, Opera and Firefox, Unseen users can make audio and video calls of outstanding quality.  One billion people are now enabled to use this great technology.  There are still a few bugs and tweaks you might need to make.

Be sure your mic (and camera for video) and speakers are all working.  Be sure to check the speaker icon in the upper right of the Unseen chat window to be sure it’s not X’d out and click on the speaker to be sure the volume is turned up high enough.  You can still hear the ding-ding, but the volume could be turned down, so check that and turn it up.  Here’s some more:

My Call Failed – how to troubleshoot


Unseen’s one to one call is peer to peer, that mean the data stream is transferred only between the caller and callee. This is the best security for your call. Additionally, we’re using DTLS encryption on both ends, for even greater security. If it’s not possible to make peer to peer connection, the data stream is automatically relayed via our TURN servers (only 8% of Unseen calls use this, in the event of a Symmetric NAT).

 

We support Chrome 29+, Firefox, Opera, Desktop Client and Android (iOS is coming soon). To make an audio call, the caller and recipient need to have a microphone, video call requires a camera. If you use browsers, make sure to enable your microphone and camera.

 

 

- On Chrome it will ask once at the first time you make a call, it will display “Allow” and “Deny” buttons below the address bar.

 

- On Firefox it will ask every time you make a call (be sure to chose a correct microphone and camera).

 

 

If you hear no sound, after the call is made, please check your speaker and check the volume button on the right top corner of Unseen chat window (is it on with enough volume or not).

 

 

If you get the error message “Media permission denied”, it means the recipient does not enable Microphone or Camera (they may not have that).

 

 

If you get the error message “Failed to get local SDP” from Browsers / Desktop App, the recipient might cache old library of our previous release. You need to tell them clear browser cache or clear the desktop application cache (by click on the Unseen tray icon –> clear cache).

 

 

If you get the error message “Failed to get local SDP” from Android to your friends, you need to check:

 

 

- Your Unseen Android app needs to be at least 1.5.2 above. We have an Android release v1.5.2 on 05/31/2014 that fixes the issue one way calling to Desktop application, Chrome < 35 and Opera.

 

- You need to restart your Phone after installing Unseen Android so it will be able to work correctly with browsers and the desktop application.

 

 

If you get the error message “No / SSL”, the recipient may not available or can not connect to our server.

 

 

If you receive error message “Call sevice is not available” on Android phone, you are not connected to our SIP server. There are some reasons for this:

 

 

- First you should try to log out and login again, try to make the call again.

 

- If this still happens, you can go to the settings of the App –> Call Settings –> Change the transport protocol to UDP

 

- If it still doesn’t work, your network may block the connection (some mobile networks block UDP 5060, TCP 5060) or your phone version is locked (by blocking TCP 5060 or UDP 5060). You can troubleshoot this by using a wifi connection instead of the 3G / 4G network. If it still doesn’t work, please help us by using your terminal / command line with following command:

 

 

telnet ssig.unseen.is 5000

 

 

telnet ssig.unseen.is 5060

 

 

and give us your screenshot.

 

 

Here is our test between Supported browsers, desktop client and Android:

calling tests

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Unseen Supports Firefox + Chrome + Opera for Audio/Video Calling!!

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We just pushed out this email to our users, if you are not on it yet, here’s some valuable information:

Greetings,


We’ve got some very good news.  The battle between Chrome and Firefox for WebRTC security is now over and Chrome and Firefox are now compatible for WebRTC calling!  We’re very happy with this event and Unseen is now able to offer secure calling for both Firefox and Chrome!  We had a bit of a disruption, as Chrome updated to version 35 and they changed the security protocol to make it compatible with Firefox, but our team worked very hard and pulled some all-nighters to get things working.  This means you can now make audio and video calls securely using Unseen from any of the following devices:

Android
Chrome Browser
Firefox Browser
Windows Desktop Client
Mac Desktop Client
Ubuntu Desktop Client
That covers about 70% of the browser market, so now about 1 billion people can use Unseen for secure and private calling right from their browser, without downloading or installing a thing, using the peer to peer connection and DTLS encryption that’s built in!  How cool is that?
Be sure to tell your friends know that they can use Chrome OR Firefox to do web based calling now, the quality is quite spectacular.  Be sure to ALLOW your browser to access your microphone and videocamera when you make your call.  On Chrome, you only need to do that once, Firefox requires this approval before every call, but we expect in the future, you’ll just approve Unseen.is once and you’ll be in business!
Let us know of any bugs at support@unseen.is
Check it out now HERE
Group Conference Calling – chat.unseen.is – Ready for Testing

Xg86zxB-small We have also launched a new site you’ll be sure to want to try out, it’s our updated group calling feature for audio and video calling.  No account is required for your privacy, but it’ll require everyone to use Firefox or Chrome.  There’s a built in text chat room, too.  Nothing is saved with this service, so it’s extremely private.  You can choose between a relay server in Iceland or the US (for our Asian customers).

Let us know what you think about this new service, we expect to integrate many of these features into the regular Unseen web site and apps within the next couple of weeks, so we’d really appreciate it if you take it for a try.

android

 
Updates to Android

We made a push earlier this afternoon (Iceland time)  for the Android and updated to v1.5 beta to fix compatibility for calling between platforms:
- Video / Audio Call to Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Unseen Desktop client is wokring properly with DTLS encryption
- Added support for TURN server (needed in the case of symmetric NAT)
- Support Chrome version 35
- Other improvements
Bug fixes:
- User not able to login when the username contains uppercase character
NOTE: You will need to UNINSTALL the old version first, then restart the phone after installation for the calling feature working properly to Web and Desktop App.  It’s available from our site and the Google Play store at these links:
Updates to WebApp and Desktop Clients (Win, Mac, Ubuntu)
Bug fixes:
- The link is shortened
- Could not send email invitation, so you can now invite all your friends!
- A bug that was preventing people from adding contacts is fixed
- other bugs
New:
- Chrome / Firefox / Opera / Unseen desktop client compatible calling (important)
- We Added some more Emoji emoticons and dynamic emoticons
- Add Contact Dialog: add a default avatar for result contact when search Contact, this should make it easier.
Improvements:
- Enhanced file sharing encryption.  More
NOTE: If you have the desktop client, you will need to click on the Unseen Icon at the right top corner of Ubuntu or Mac to chose “Clear Cache”
You won’t need to download anything for this to take effect, just go to Profile, Clear the Cache, then logout and log back in again.

Unseen Premium

You can still get a great deal with Unseen Premium.  As you can see from our emails and from the performance of the site, things are starting to come along very nicely.  We’re delivering huge improvements in performance, features and security almost every week, we’ve got almost 35 engineers working on Unseen.
In the very near future, we will be moving to monthly pricing, so if you have been thinking about it, now might be the time to get a Lifetime Premium account.  Our Lifetime Premium account is the way you can help support development of this important project — we decided against using traditional Venture Capital to focus on providing our users and customers with the best security we could give them — so our funding comes from our team themselves and our customers.
If you choose Lifetime Premium, you’ll never get another bill from us for the basic services and it’s only $79, we think it’s going to be an incredible deal and you’ll be doing something good by supporting our project.
That’s it for this update.  Thanks for all your support of our important project.  Because of your kind words and suggestions, we’re making Unseen better almost every day.
Best Always,
The Unseen Team
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Does True Randomness Exist?

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Randomness is the basis of many aspects of cryptography.  It’s used as a key part of nearly all encryption algorithms to generate keys and many cryptographers will tell you privately that they don’t know if that’s where the major weakness is for cryptography, but they have their suspicions.  If that’s true, the lack of true “randomness” could be a major weakness in encryption.

Looking at our world, everything around us seems chaotic, random and jumbled.  But is it?  Car horns honk, static noise on the radio, people walking on the street, all of these things look random. However, science has discovered the existence of other dimensions that exist in micro-cosmic spaces which is why you can’t see them.  Scientists can’t see them either, but they have proven this mathematically.  If there’s math that demonstrates the existence of these hidden dimensions, couldn’t math also be used to “see” things in these higher dimensions?  That’s one principle of discovering the true nature of randomness, finding a mathematical relationship between the things that appear random and converting them into a much simpler formula that shows the true, underlying order to these things.  With the correct formula, you could see through the randomness and use that knowledge to “predict” with some precision a set of results that would remove some or all of the randomness from the equation.  Even narrowing down the possible solutions can make encryption a lot easier to break using today’s desktop computers, not to mention quantum computers.

Viewing things from a higher level, things that appear random and chaotic are actually very clear and well ordered.  Buddhism teaches this aspect of wisdom, from Sakyamuni through many enlightened people today, they’ll say things like “everything is very well ordered” and “nothing happens without reason”.   They are able to look into these other dimensions and when they do so without any intention, things are very clearly seen.

These observations by calm and rational minds point out something very important;  if nothing is truly random, where can you look to see the order?  People with abilities to “see” into other dimensions point out a way to break through “randomness” and to see the order.  You can learn more about that in this book, link: Zhuan Falun.  High level math and super and quantum computers can explore this area today and break through the “randomness”, which makes it possible to substantially lower the number of possible solutions to a cypher.  Not everyone working at Unseen.is is a cryptography expert, though we have a few who are expert in this domain.  However, most of the people at Unseen.is do meditate, so we understand this principle from another angle.

If high powered computing power available to various security agencies can “look into” or simulate other dimensions to see through “randomness”, breaking encryption is a much simpler task.  Then the issue becomes one of obfuscation, hiding things in plain sight.  ”I didn’t see it, but it was right in front of me” comes to mind.

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The Four Kinds of Encryption

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We’ve met some VERY interesting people in our journey with Unseen.is.  We’ve connected with active hackers, cryptographers, former contractors (not Edward Snowden, but people like him in some regards), technologists at the largest companies, etc.  People are all fascinated by what we’re trying to do — it’s really a work in progress, but it gets better every day.  The goal of course is to give people some real security for their valuable communications.

When we tell people “if it’s publicly available, it’s already cracked”, quite a few people don’t believe us.  That’s OK, you just haven’t had a chance to listen in on the conversations we’ve had with people in a position to know what’s really happening.  There is theory and then there’s reality.  We look at the results.

One person we’ve spoken to told us there were four kinds of encryption;

1.  Toy encryption.  This is stuff used by school kids and is so easy to break, it’s like a joke.  Sadly, some of this kind of very weak stuff is still in use where stronger crypto should be used.

2. Pretty Good Encryption.  This is allowed to be exported around the world and it’s all broken by the major security services who have distributed tools to other countries and probably by some of the largest criminal gangs, too.  It includes the standard encryption most people know about, i.e. RSA, AES, SSL, etc.

3.  High Quality Encryption.  These are less publicly known algorithms and they are used by the largest corporations and banks that need real security.  Export is strictly forbidden from the US, though local laws vary in different countries.  Not easy to find.

4. Weapon.  This is the highest grade and the security agencies consider this to be a weapon on par with atomic weapons and those kinds of secrets.  We’ve known a couple of people who were told to stop working in cryptography.  They either join the “team” or shut down.

Are “weapons” like this illegal?  Actually, isn’t that admitting that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword? Actually, how could something that’s purely defensive, like encryption, be used offensively like some kind of weapon? Isn’t that changing the definition to control the discussion and twist the meaning? That’s the sort of thing they used to do in the former Soviet Union under communism, turn the truth on its head purely for political gain and more power over people. We don’t see how encryption could ever be a “weapon”, it’s really just an envelope other people can’t open. So in that regard it’s more of a shield that can be used to protect your personal, owned by you information.

In the U.S., the first amendment lets you have freedom of speech and it doesn’t say how you have to speak.  People there are also allowed to own real weapons, quite a few people own and carry guns in the U.S.  We were told that you might win in court there, as none of these things are against the law in most places (from what our lawyers tell us) and they are all definitely legal in Iceland.  However, there is a point where things go “beyond the legal system” and extra-legal violence becomes reality.   Night time visitors carrying flashlights in the dark and that sort of thing.

 

 

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Who is Funding Unseen.is?

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One of our customers heard a rumor floating around last week that IBM had funded Unseen.is.  Actually, we have absolutely no corporate, government or venture capital financing.  We don’t believe it’s possible to serve two masters and for us, the users of our system are the reason we’re here.  Unseen.is has to-date been funded from these four sources, in no particular order:

  1. Profits from another web site we run, Before It’s News.  Many of the features we are building will be needed for this and other news web sites.  Censorship is going to be a big problem, we’re already seeing the first signs of that with degraded internet performance.  It’s also possible that tiered bandwidth service could make it difficult to connect with services that provide privacy.  Occasionally you might see references to Before It’s News from Unseen.is, like the email that went out inadvertently last week — we’re cleaning many of those up.
  2. You.  When you buy the premium service, you’re help us to defray costs and get to a positive business cycle sooner.  We especially treasure your feedback and good wishes for our team.
  3. Our team.  Everyone working here could make a more working at Big Internet Companies and some of our team members left jobs that pay a lot more to work here.  We have of course given them stock in the company.  Money is nice to have, but it’s not the main motivation of our team.
  4. My pocket.  I’ve had some successful companies in the past and can’t think of anything better to leave behind for everyone than a secure way to communicate privately.

To date, we’ve spent a bit over $1 million to develop the service.  If we had gone the venture capital (VC) route, we would have spent somewhere between $5-10 million to get where we are today.  We’d also have picked up some “partners” and while there are definitely good VC’s, we don’t think this kind of business can be built using this kind of money because of potential influence that might be exercised counter to the best interests of our users.  This is why we haven’t taken any VC money, not a penny.  However, there are other companies trying to build private and secure communications and they have decided to take VC money.  Here’s a bit of background on that process.

When you take VC money, you are going down a different path than the one Unseen.is is on.  While there are many successful companies that have taken VC money, there is an inherent conflict of interest with the VC’s, their investors and people who have influence over the VC’s and the goals of our company and the users we serve.  This isn’t to say anything bad about VC’s or the people who work there, there are definitely some good ones.  The group you take your funding from will change your priorities, that’s all.

The first round of VC funding is typically $5-10 million for a business like ours and VC’s almost never invest alone.  That’s not enough money for the company to become profitable, and they will never give you enough with your first round, they need to put $25-50 million to work on each deal they are in to make it worth their time.  A billion dollar fund will typically invest in only 20 companies because that will keep 2-3 partners busy full time.  Most of the large funds have several funds, they raise a new one every few years.  If you start with two VC’s and you are successful, you’ll end up with a constellation of them, they all want to put as much of their money to work in a good deal as possible.

VC funds are very lucrative to run.  The partner’s money makes up a small fraction of the fund, most of which comes from a list of several hundred pension funds, family offices (wealthy families like the Walton family of Walmart fame, or Michael Dell’s family, for example) and wealthy individuals.  Partners typically receive a 2% management fee per year, which can be higher for funds with a great track record, as well as 20% carried interest, which comes from the profits, once the investors are paid back their initial investment.  Many successful VC’s have accumulated fortunes of hundreds of millions or even a billion dollars and this money is typically run offshore from places like the Cayman Islands, where financial privacy and favorable tax laws are found.  The successful VC’s have made their investors rich, too, and helped to create some of the biggest companies in technology and in many ways, they do serve society in a positive way.

However, for a company that takes their money, VC’s have several places where they exercise control and have control exercised on them.  First, the VC’s themselves might have interests in other companies or relationships that they don’t want impaired.  This could be companies they are invested in at the same time (e.g. Yahoo and Google or Apple and Google) where there could be conflicts of interest.   Even companies related by interlocking directors can exert influence over certain companies.  Second, the investors in a fund also exert influence on a VC by threatening to withhold funding from a subsequent venture fund, as an extreme example.  This is usually unspoken, but tempers the VC’s behavior.  Lastly, some other businesses that a VC has an interest in might be regulated by various entities, who would then have influence over the VC.  ”Nice TV station license you’ve got there, it would be a shame to see anything happen to it” comes to mind for those with government licenses.  There are many points of leverage.

Here’s an example, a fund that might invest in businesses in our category…In-Q-Tel and this is what it says on their front page (note: we haven’t received any funding from In-Q-Tel or any other venture capital fund and Unseen.is has nothing to do with the following companies or funds):

We identify, adapt, and deliver innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the Central Intelligence Agency and broader U.S. Intelligence Community.

Here’s a bit more about the intelligence agency partners In-Q-Tel has:

While CIA remains our primary partner, IQT has broadened its scope in recent years to support other agencies within the IC, such as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T). This expansion has allowed our partners to benefit from technology developments that are jointly funded, reducing risk and fostering better inter-agency information sharing and operations.

Our primary point of engagement with the IC is through the In-Q-Tel Interface Center (also known as the QIC), housed in the Central Intelligence Agency. Comprised of experienced CIA officers, the QIC provides a direct connection to the IC’s technology leaders and end users, ensuring our strategies and investments are on target. Each partner agency sponsors a similar team of interface staff tasked with helping to facilitate relevant technology deployment, transition, and acceptance within the respective agency.

If you’d to have a sponsor like this for your business, I’m certain they would be a great financial and strategic partner, they have a good track record and plenty of money and connections to other funds and they could probably get you a lucrative government contract while they are at it.  Here’s a list of some of the other funds and institutions In-Q-Tel is or has been affiliated or associated with (note: Unseen.is has no association with any of these institutions):

  • AT&T
  • Cisco
  • Federal Express
  • Greylock
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Kissinger and Associates
  • Kleiner Perkins
  • Netscape
  • Stanford University

This is an “A” list of connections by any measure and there are many other connections to all the other largest venture capital firms, such as Accel Parners (who were one of the main investors in Facebook).

Connections go beyond a particular fund, the world of VC’s is a very private club.  For example, Wickr, a company focused on private and secure communications for mobile devices received an investment of $9 million, as reported by Tech Crunch:

The investment was led by Alsop Louie Partners, a VC that has backed companies that include Twitch and Justin.tv. Last year the VC took a big swing towards privacy, raising a $100 million fund to back security companies. That has included a round of an undisclosed amount in cybersecurity startup DeviceAuthority.

Other backers include Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation; Gilman Louie, former head of the C.I.A.’s venture arm In-Q-Tel; networking company Juniper; former counterterrorism tsar Richard A. Clarke; Eileen Burbidge of Passion Capital in London and other investors that are not being made public.

We’re not saying it’s bad to take money from these people; for some businesses, it makes perfect sense.  However, there are also advantages of not taking money from this kind of funding source.  It’s definitely more difficult and there are many things Unseen.is could upgrade and build faster if we had the resources from a $9 million funding round.  Increasing our tech team, building out more server capacity and secure data centers earlier in our development, promotion and marketing and other staffing could be improved — these things would definitely move things a lot faster.  However, the price of hardware, the ability to reach a huge market and the availability of opensource technology significantly lowers the amount of capital required to build this kind of business.  In the end, we think our users will be better served the way we are funding Unseen.is, with all the warts and wrinkles this involves.

 

 

 

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