A bunch of you guys have been ranting and raving about online privacy and security now that the media is talking about online security and privacy.
Well, let me just tell you that in all probability, (in my opinion) you don’t have anything to worry about.
Unless you’re doing something radically and egregiously illegal, you’re safe.
Now I’m not one of those “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to be worried about” type guys.
I’m a paranoid person naturally, so can relate with many of you.
I’m mostly paranoid about ticks, spiders, other arachnids, and aliens though.
But many of my friends are paranoid, tinfoil hat types.
I respect that, and trust me; I’m more aware than anyone that UFOs and Aliens are real.
But, for those among my bretheren seriously distressed about security, who want to go off the grid, here are a few tools that can aid you in your quest.
And note; all of these tools are 100% free, and open source. Keep it free baby.
In any event, I wanted to share a few systems that will help you keep your online communication secure.
- Secure Browsing – (tor) If you want to really maintain secure browsing, check out the Tor Browser. Now, Tor is really easy to activate (I recommend using the portable version located here that doesn’t even require installation and can be placed safely on removable storage). It also includes no-script by default, so no shady third party scripts that may be able to determine your location will be enabled by default. This in conjunction with the encrypted and ip-based browsing function will please many of my tinfoil-hat wearing friends.
- Private Cloud Storage – (Sparkelshare) I myself love to use Skydrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive, but to be honest, these file storage systems aren’t really “private” as many of their administrators have openly admitted that they scan for any abnormalities. If you want your files to be truly anonymous, you should checkout a service called Sparkelshare; it basically enables cloud functionality while still hosting files locally. Pretty badass right? Well, it’s totally worth checking out if you have any intention of keeping your networked files strictly private.
- Encrypted Instant Messaging – (Pidgin) Pidgin is an awesome, light, clean instant messaging application that basically runs with all the major protocols. Unfortunately I don’t think it works with Skype at this time, but it works with literally every other messaging protocol you can imagine including AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and even IRC. The primary feature worthy of your notation as a tinfoil wearing dude is the end-to-end encryption capability using OTR. Want to keep your messaging safe? Use Pidgin.
- Secure Operating Systems – (Linux) I’m not a Linux fanboy. (umadbro?) Not at all. Reason being, is because the driver capability causes me to lose hair and with the frequency at which I install and build new systems, aint no one got time for that. :D. But in all seriousness, Linux is secure, open source, and totally worthy of your devotion, should you require a system that’s entirely private and secure. For me? I’ll stick with Windows 8. Because it’s beautiful, and much easier to navigate when introducing a wide and unique array of hardware subsets. Just my $.02.
- Anonymous Search Engines – (DuckDuckGo, Startpage) Even I get a tad cranked that Google, Bing and YouTube basically keep omnipresent tabs on every search string you ever engage. That’s annoying, do I want anyone really determining or otherwise mining the crazy stuff that I search for at 4 in the morning? I’d prefer to remain anonymous thanks. If you don’t want your kinky little secrets to be datamined, you might consider alternative and anonymous websearch engines like DuckDuckGo, or Startpage.
- Elite File Encryption – (TrueCrypt) Do you guys want to keep your files secure beyond all comprehension? TrueCrypt, in conjunction with a good algorithm (AES-256) and a very secure password will keep your files secure and encrypted to the point where a lost password will result in permanent loss of your data. TrueCrypt is capable of encrypting your entire drive, or creating encrypted bins. Supporting a wide array of symmetric algorithms and stenography methods, TrueCrypt is a tinfoil hat wearer’s wet dream. In my opinion, no backdoors for TrueCrypt exist and it’s a totally secure file encryption mechanism for static file encryption and storage. One negative aspect, is that the new release supporting Windows 8 hasn’t been supported yet. I understand the current version of TrueCrypt will work with Windows 8, but I can’t personally recommend it unless it’s officially supported. Your data is precious; so don’t rely upon an encryption method that’s not officially supported, because if the encryption breaks, you may suffer from permanent data loss. Hopefully Windows 8 compatibility will occur soon.
The problematic nature of those obsessed with security.
I’m someone who’s been studying computer science and Information systems for the entire duration of my life, so when it comes to IT security and information privacy, you’re preaching to the quire.
But in all seriousness, let me ask you a few questions.
What good is a private social network, if nobody’s there to hear your commentary?
What good is a private Instant Messaging protocol, if there’s nobody there to chat with?
What good is a private Operating System, if the driver function and lack of application support is incomprehensible?
What good is a private email messaging service, if you need a PhD in computer science to configure the system in the first place?
I leave you with that guys.
In any event, I hope at least you found this information helpful.
But damn, stay out of trouble.
Mr. Computer Science