“When you say, ‘I don’t care about the right to privacy because I have nothing to hide’, that’s no different than saying, ‘I don’t care about freedom of speech because I have nothing to say.’” – Edward Snowden
The world was taken aback by the revelations made by NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, about the state of surveillance in the United States.
Not only did we come to terms with the fact that our society is eerily resembling the fictional, futuristic world of George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984, we were also forced to rethink privacy and what it means to safeguard ourselves from secret surveillance.
Now in theaters is the anticipated thriller, Snowden (see trailer here). A film about the untold story of Edward Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone. In tribute to the release, we’re highlighting basic measures you can take to protect your privacy online – as recommended by Snowden himself.
1. Encrypt your hard drive
“You should encrypt your hard disk, so that if your computer is stolen the information isn’t obtainable to an adversary.” – Snowden
Encryption is a step up from only having antivirus software installed. By encrypting your hard drive, you’re taking a preventative measure that will keep hackers from potentially accessing your photos, info about where you live, work, etc.
2. Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication helps guard you if your password is ever stolen or left exposed. The provider of your account will send you a secondary means of authentication, such as a text message or a security question to confirm. A common example is the PIN number required along with your bank card. One form is not enough security, so two are required.
Enable two-factor authentication for your accounts (such as online banking and email accounts) to add a layer of security.
3. Consider using a secure browser like Tor
“I think Tor is the most important privacy-enhancing technology project being used today.” – Snowden
Tor is a volunteer-based network that helps protect your privacy on the Internet. Tor keeps websites from tracking you, connects you to sites that are blocked, allows you to communicate safely and prevents websites from knowing where you are. Use the Tor Browser so others can’t track your behavior and interests.
4. Use a password manager
“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.” – Snowden
Do you find yourself recycling the same password over and over? You’re not alone. Simple, easy-to-remember passwords have become a habit for most of us. It’s just a bad practice.
A password manager creates and stores strong passwords for all of your accounts. The only one you need to remember is the one to open your password manager. Make it a strong one.
5. Encrypt your phone calls and text messages
6. Reconsider your use of Facebook, Google and Dropbox
Though you might not be able to consider daily life without these tools, you may want to do so if you value your privacy. Snowden refers to Facebook and Google as “dangerous services” and notes how Dropbox lacks local encryption. He recommends SpiderOak as a safe alternative to Dropbox. As for Facebook, your life will be just fine without it. And as for a safer search engine, use Tor Browser, or DuckDuckGo instead of Google.
As Snowden said, “Most of the things that we send everyday are electronically naked.” Meaning, without protection, these things – most of which is our personal information, behavior and conversations – can be abused by an interceptor.
Apply these tips today to take better control of your privacy.