Sunday, November 15, 2015

Edward Snowdon's Security Advice for Internet Users


Journalist Micah Lee met Edward Snowden in his exile in Moscow, Russia.  Lee described in an article their meeting and what advice Snowden has for the average digital user.  In most of Snowden’s interviews he speaks broadly about the importance of privacy, surveillance reform, and encryption. 

Here are some easy, but important snippets from their conversation. It will help people of all technical backgrounds understand and begin to strengthen their own security and reclaim a level of privacy:

Step 1: Encrypt your Phone Calls and Text Messages. 
You can do that through the smartphone app SIGNAL, by Open Whisper Systems.  It is free, and you can just download it immediately.  And anybody you are talking to now, their communications, if it’s intercepted, can’t be read by adversaries.  SIGNAL is available for iOS and Android, and, unlike a lot of security tools, is very easy to use. 

Step 2: Encrypt your Hard Disk.
This way if your computer is stolen the information is not obtainable to an adversary — pictures, where you live, where you work, where your kids are, where you go to school. Micah Lee wrote a couple of months ago a great article how to encrypt your laptop
Snowdon: “At every page that you land on, information is being stolen. It’s being collected, intercepted, analyzed, and stored by governments, foreign and domestic, and by companies. You can reduce this by taking a few key steps.”

Step 3: Use a Password Manager, such as KeePassX
One of the main things that gets people’s private information exposed, are data dumps. Lee: “Your credentials may be revealed because some service you stopped using in 2007 gets hacked, and your password that you were using for that one site also works for your Gmail account. A password manager allows you to create unique passwords for every site that are unbreakable, but you don’t have the burden of memorizing them.  Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, GitHub, Battle, and tons of other services all support two-factor authentication." 

Step 4: Use Tor, a Free Software  
Snowden: “I think Tor is the most important privacy-enhancing technology project being used today. I use Tor personally all the time. Tor provides a measure of security and allows you to disassociate your physical location.  Tor Browser is a great way to selectively use Tor to look something up and not leave a trace that you did it. It can also help bypass censorship when you’re on a network where certain sites are blocked.

“You don’t need to hide everything from the adversary.  You don’t need to live a paranoid life, off the grid, in hiding, in the woods in Montana.  What we do need to protect are the facts of our activities, our beliefs, and our lives that could be used against us in manners that are contrary to our interests.  Everybody doesn’t need to know everything about us. The idea here is that sharing is OK, but it should always be voluntary.”

Read the whole interview with Edward Snowdon on Micah Lee’s site, and get lots of more in-dept information about all things internet security.  And don’t miss all the other valuable tips in the articles at Lee’s site. 


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