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Edward Snowden Shares Online Privacy Tips

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Edward Snowden knows a lot about how NSA surveillance works so when he offers tips on protecting online privacy, you should definitely listen to him. During a virtual interview with the New Yorker magazine, Snowden talked in length about digital privacy, discussed why encryption is the need of the hour and shared tips on how to protect online privacy in the age of surveillance. The interview was held as a part of the The New Yorker Festival in early October and was conducted by Jane Mayer through Google Hangouts.
Stressing that online privacy is the right of every individual; Snowden said that privacy isn’t only about hiding information. He also elaborated how people who claim that they have nothing to hide are in fact giving up their right to privacy and justifying the surveillance conducted by the intelligence agencies. He further stated that people should know more about the secret programs run by the NSA and also argued that the government must be able to justify the intrusive surveillance conducted by it.

While discussing tips on protecting online privacy, Snowden said that companies which collaborate with the governments and compromise the security of their own products should not be entrusted with personal data. He was especially critical of Dropbox and advised everyone not to use it since the service doesn’t support encryption. It is a common knowledge that while Dropbox encrypts files stored on its servers and during transit; it doesn’t support encryption for data stored on users’ devices. Snowden advised people to switch to secure alternatives like SpiderOak which not only offer the same functionality as Dropbox but also encrypt local copies of files.

During the call, Snowden praised the security features introduced by Apple and rejected claims that enhanced encryption available in iOS would hinder efforts to fight crime. He also noted that while Facebook and Google have improved their security features, they still remain dangerous services that should be avoided by privacy conscious people. He further recommended that people should cover their online tracks with programs like DoNotTrackMe to ensure that their web activities or personal data cannot be captured by social networks, data collection companies or ad trackers.

Snowden also advised people to switch to secure communication programs and not to trust the services offered by the wireless providers. While noting that the metadata information (list of calls made and websites visited) is extremely difficult to secure on a technical level, he mentioned that there are solutions available in the market that offer end-to-end security for communications. Apps like RedPhone, Silent Circle and TextSecure encrypt all types of communications (including calls and text messages) so you can communicate without having to worry about the surveillance conducted by the carriers or the intelligence agencies.

In addition to following the above tips, you can also benefit from the advice that Edward Snowden shared few months back. During an earlier call, Snowden had advised people to use a disk encryption program (such as TrueCrypt) to encrypt data stored on their devices, make use of SSL and browser plugins (NoScript, Block Prism, ScriptSafe etc.) to secure their browsing sessions and start using Tor for greater anonymity on the net.

January 15, 2015

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