NSA-proofing: how to hide data from online surveillance
As John McAfee announces plans to thwart NSA snooping, we round up ways to protect your privacy
IN THE wake of the Edward Snowden leak, which revealed the extent to which governments keep track of internet users, online security pioneer John McAfee has announced details a new product that would block monitoring organisations. Here's what he is proposing, and some other tips for maintaining online security:
McAfee's new device will protect users from surveillance by the National Security Agency, he says. It is expected to cost less than $100 and would elude "government surveillance by creating localised, super-secure networks", according to The Independent. McAfee describes how the device protects a user's identity: "D-Central doesn't know who you are," he says. "Every few minutes, [it] changes its identification. Since the networks are invisible to each other and in constant flux there is simply no way to tell who is doing what, when or where."
Encrypt your emails
According to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, encryption is still the most effective way to protect your online correspondence. He told The Guardian: "Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on". Reputable third party crypto systems include the Pretty Good Privacy program (PGP) and Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG), which offer 'end-to-end' encryption, ensuring that messages are protected throughout their journey. However, users are told to be suspicious of encryption software from large providers. "My guess is that most encryption products from large US companies have NSA-friendly back doors, and many foreign ones probably do as well", says Bruce Schneier, a journalist who worked on the NSA files.
This is a free software program which makes it very difficult to trace online activity. It redirects traffic through thousands of relays, hiding the user's location and activity. The NSA will still target Tor users, "but it's more work for them," says Schneier. "The less obvious you are, the safer you are." Tor is the program that was used to maintain the anonymity of users of the recently closed down Silk Road website.
HTTPS is a simple but secure way to protect your online activity. It is a secure version of hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), the way content is transferred from a web server to a browser. HTTPS uses encryption between the server and your browser, preventing those watching the traffic go past from seeing what's happening. Using a browser plug-in called HTTPS Everywhere will make websites that support HTTPS use it by default, so your browsing will automatically be more secure. This won't offer cast-iron protection against NSA snooping, but it will make the agency's job more difficult - and thus more costly. "Our best defence is to make surveillance of us as expensive as possible," says Shneier.
Don't use Facebook
While these tools are available to protect your email correspondence and internet activity, "there's nothing you can do to make using Facebook better — no encryption, no anything can make Facebook safe from the NSA", according to Atlantic Wire. ·