Jacob Appelbaum

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Jacob Appelbaum

Jacob Appelbaum
Citizenship US
Fields Computer Science
Institutions University of Washington,[1]
Tor project,[2]
Known for Computer Security Research
former spokesperson for Wikileaks
Cult of the Dead Cow
spokesperson and developer[2]for The Tor Project[4]

Jacob Appelbaum is an independent computer security researcher and hacker. He is currently employed by the University of Washington,[1] and is a core member of the Tor project. 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 12[6] times at the US border after trips abroad, and seized a laptop and several mobile phones.

Appelbaum, under the handle "ioerror", has been an active member of the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective since 2008,[7] and is the co-founder of the San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge with Mitch Altman. He has worked for Greenpeace[8] and has volunteered for the Ruckus Society and the Rainforest Action Network.[9] He is also a photographer[10] and ambassador for the art group monochrom.[11]


Research and Activism

In 2005, Appelbaum gave two talks at the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress,[12] 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.[13][14] 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,[15][16] SSL certificate authorities[17] and smart parking meters.[18]

Investigation and Detainment

Upon returning to the US from the Netherlands on 29 July 2010, Appelbaum was detained for three hours at Newark airport by agents, according to anonymous sources. The sources told CNET that Appelbaum's bag was searched, receipts from his bag were photocopied, and his laptop was inspected, although in what manner was unclear.[19] Appelbaum reportedly refused to answer questions without a lawyer present and was not allowed to make a phone call. His three mobile phones were reportedly taken and not returned.[19] On 31 July he spoke at DEF CON and mentioned his phone being "seized". After speaking, he was approached by two FBI agents and questioned.[19][20]

According to CNET in an interview with Appelbaum, he told them that "other people who appeared in the address book of [his] seized cell phones also have encountered trouble at borders or in airports".[21]

On December 14, 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, including Julian Assange and Birgitta Jónsdóttir. 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.[22]

When Appelbaum returned from a vacation in Iceland on January 10, 2011, he was again detained by US Customs agents for 30 minutes at the Seattle airport. According to Appelbaum, the agents "specifically wanted laptops and cell phones and were visibly unhappy when they discovered nothing of the sort. I did however have a few USB thumb drives with a copy of the Bill of Rights encoded into the block device. They were unable to copy it."[23]

Similarly, Appelbaum was detained in Houston, Texas while returning from a trip to Siberia on April 12, 2011. He was again subject to detention on arrival in Seattle on June 14, 2011.

After being detained at Keflavik Airport on October 27, 2011 [24] when returning to the United States Appelbaum wrote about the experience on BoingBoing.net.[25]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Shapiro, Nina (22 December 2010). "Jacob Appelbaum, WikiLeaks Enabler and New University of Washington Employee, Is Working on . . . Who Knows?". Seattle Weekly. http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2010/12/jacob_appelbaum_wikileaks_enab.php. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Tor Project: Core People". Tor. https://www.torproject.org/people.html. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  3. "Noisebridge user page". Noisebridge. https://www.noisebridge.net/wiki/User:Ioerror. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  4. Rich, Nathaniel (1 December 2010). "Meet the Most Dangerous Man in Cyberspace: The American Face of Wikileaks". Rolling Stone magazine. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/17389/238944. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  5. McCullagh, Declan (17 July 2010). "Wikileaks editor skips NYC hacker event". CNET News. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20010866-83.html. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
    McCullagh, Declan (16 July 2010). "Feds look for Wikileaks founder at NYC hacker event". CNET News. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20010861-83.html. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
    Singel, Ryan (19 July 2010). "Wikileaks Reopens for Leakers". Wired. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/07/wikileaks_repair/. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  6. "monochrom". Jacob Appelbaum. https://twitter.com/#!/ioerror/statuses/129795832210915328. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  7. Cult of the Dead Cow Membership List, retrieved November 10, 2011
  8. Appelbaum, Jacob (22 June 2004). "Geeks Love Trees, Too". Greenpeace Weblog. http://weblog.greenpeace.org/intheforest/archives/001473.html#comments. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  9. Rich, Nathaniel (1 December 2010). "The American Wikileaks Hacker". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/meet-the-american-hacker-behind-wikileaks-20101201?page=4. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  10. Zahorsky, Ingmar (24 October 2006). "Talk w/ Jacob Appelbaum". Amateur Illustrator. http://www.amateurillustrator.com/articles/?p=138. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  11. "monochrom". monochrom. http://www.monochrom.at/english/monochrom.htm. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  12. "22nd Chaos Communication Congress: Jacob Appelbaum". https://events.ccc.de/congress/2005/fahrplan/speakers/165.en.html. Untrusted connection. 
  13. "Unlocking FileVault: An analysis of Apple's encrypted disk storage system". http://events.ccc.de/congress/2006/Fahrplan/events/1642.en.html. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  14. Jade, Charles (December 2006). "FileVault or VileFault?". Ars Technica. http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2006/12/6436.ars. Retrieved 6 August 2010. 
  15. Markoff, John (22 February 2008). "Researchers Find Way to Steal Encrypted Data". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/technology/22chip.html?_r=3&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  16. J. Alex Halderman, Seth D. Schoen, Nadia Heninger, 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. http://citp.princeton.edu/memory/. Retrieved 22 February 2008. 
  17. Krebs, Brian (30 December 2008). "Researchers Hack Internet Security Infrastructure". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/12/30/ST2008123001136.html. Retrieved 6 August 2010. 
  18. McCullagh, Declan (30 July 2009). "Hackers: We can bypass San Francisco e-parking meters". CNET News. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10300233-83.html. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Mills, Elinor (31 July 2010). "Researcher detained at US border, questioned about Wikileaks". CNET News. http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20012253-245.html. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  20. Greenwald, Glenn (9 November 2010). "Government harassing and intimidating Bradley Manning supporters". Salon.com. http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/11/09/manning. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  21. Elinor Mills (November 18, 2010). "Security researcher: I keep getting detained by feds". CNET. http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20023341-245.html. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  22. McCullagh, Declan (7 January 2011). "DOJ sends order to Twitter for Wikileaks-related account info". CNET News. http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20027893-281.html. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  23. Jardin, Xeni (12 January 2011). "Wikileaks volunteer detained and searched (again) by US agents". BoingBoing. http://www.boingboing.net/2011/01/12/wikileaks-volunteer-1.html. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  24. Fontain, Paul (27 October 2011). "Jacob Appelbaum Detained At Keflavík Airport". Grapeine. http://grapevine.is/News/ReadArticle/Jacob-Appelbaum-Detained-At-Keflavik-Airport. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  25. Appelbaum, Jacob (31 October 2011). "Air Space". BoingBoing. http://boingboing.net/2011/10/31/air-space-a-trip-through-an-airport-detention-center.html. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 

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