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Chicago Cryptoparty

Greetings Chicagoans!

Check out our new Google group. We're using it just as a placeholder 'til we can get some more-secure mailing list set up. Or at least something that Google doesn't read.

There we've established sections for Q&A, meeting recaps, meeting planning, crypto tool-sharing, and privacy news links.

Next meeting


4-8pm is now the set time for the next party, on Sunday, Feb. 3, at Pumping Station: One at 3519 N Elston. Count on it like Saturday morning cartoons.

(Are those still on anymore? Anyone care to share any at the next party?)

      • UPDATE: Please bring layers of clothing to add/shed because we're not sure how well the heating works in some areas of the space that we may have to use.***

Regardless, we'll have a nice round of applause for any cool PS1 peeps who show up. You can drink at PS1, so bring your own booze and snacks, and if you wanna bring enough of something to share, that'd be awesome but not necessary.

Also our buddy Steve from TOOOL, the locksport society, has confirmed his attendance and willingness to share a bit about physical security. We'll be spies for lulz before you know it.

The plan:

- bring your own drinks, snacks, laptops, awesome security software/hardware

- we might head out for an additional drink afterward, or pizza, or movie, or something. We're flexible.

- we'll probably sign some keys, so you might bring a photo ID or your most convincing fake

- we'll probably split up into two groups for 45-90 minutes, just to facilitate some quick teaching and minimize the time wasted by folks who already know a lot.

Group one - folks who need to learn to use crypto tools Group two - folks who already know how to use some crypto tools

- If you feel confident enough to teach a short seminar on a subject, let me know at; I'll make sure we make time. Otherwise it's teach- and learn-at-will. And hangouts. And Q&A, maybe in a separate section of the space.

Last meeting = awesome.

It was Saturday, Dec. 15, at freegeek Chicago. We collected and $63 to Freegeek for the use of the space. Thanks to all who contributed!

Encrypted communication

Any sensitive thoughts can be directed to, with a public key at If you're not sure how to search and import from the keyserver, just ask and Brandon will send it along.

Why should you come to a Cryptoparty?

In 2012 your life is heavily integrated into the internet, whether you like it or not. And organizations control our information: our data, the very record of our lives. In some cases corporations save everything in hopes they can someday profit; in others governments passively parse information on us that we didn't allow them to before the digital age. Much more rarely, there's a "traditional" malicious hacker who knows more than we know about how our data is kept.

From ALL these invasions of privacy, let's start to take that power back.

If you're still wondering whether privacy is a value worth protecting (maybe you think you "have nothing to hide"?), read this and see if you wonder: [1]


"Cellphones as trackers": [2]

Data-siphoning by government: [3]

Some excellent insight to the idea of a cryptoparty: Cryptoparties, danger and why you(the hacker) should help.

One favorite quote from the last piece there: "Crypto, like the ideas of a free press and independent judiciary, is something that few people can find fault with existing. ... While crypto might be political, it is always political in favour of the current underdog. And unless you are sitting pretty atop a billion in gold bullion and a private army, chances are you or your descendants are going to be there at some point."

Our goals

  • Provide a fun, chill environment for any and everyone (activists, journalists, newbies, techies, artists, your grandma) to come learn the importance of using safe internet practices, basic encryption methods and strong security culture in general.
  • Meet new friends and network! (or don't, if you wanna be super anonymous ;P)

What we'll cover

  • While we're only loosely organized yet, a good contingent of us have some killer credentials. We'll hit the basics first and continue down the line. The CryptoParty Handbook has a good outline, but the following bullets represent a short version contributed by a local hacker/dev friend.
  • A big thing we'll try to stress is where the holes are and could be if you're not careful. When your encryption is strong enough to not be breakable by major governments, so-called operational security becomes the weakest link and will be hit first.
  • The basics of Tor. On your computers as a browser, socks proxy or on your phone. What its capabilities and limitations are.
  • PGP/GPG. Using e-mail encryption is key for ANYONE on the internet.
  • Off-the-record(OTR) instant messaging.
  • File and disk encryption.
  • Cell phone security.

What you should bring

  • If at a booze-friendly venue like PS:1... booze! And snacks. If at the more modest FreeGeek, just snacks!
  • Your laptop, if you have one, and/or Android smartphone. As time and teachers allow, we'll help you set up some systems of encryption.
  • A few spare bucks, if you have any, for food we might order or if the hosting organization wants to ask for donations.
  • Your sense of community and a funny hat


  • Many people believe beer makes a good party, and we tend to agree. Silly hacker movies, anyone?
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