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Keeping Your Data Private From the NSA (And Everyone Else)

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the secret-nsa-quantum-computer-knows-all dept.

Privacy 622

Nerval's Lobster writes "If those newspaper reports are accurate, the NSA's surveillance programs are enormous and sophisticated, and rely on the latest in analytics software. In the face of that, is there any way to keep your communications truly private? Or should you resign yourself to saying or typing, 'Hi, NSA!' every time you make a phone call or send an email? Fortunately there are ways to gain a measure of security: HTTPS, Tor, SCP, SFTP, and the vendors who build software on top of those protocols. But those host-proof solutions offer security in exchange for some measure of inconvenience. If you lose your access credentials, you're likely toast: few highly secure services include a 'Forgot Your Password?' link, which can be easily engineered to reset a password and username without the account owner's knowledge. And while 'big' providers like Google provide some degree of encryption, they may give up user data in response to a court order. Also, all the privacy software in the world also can't prevent the NSA (or other entities) from capturing metadata and other information. What do you think is the best way to keep your data locked down? Or do you think it's all a lost cause?"

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I hide my data in big wheels of cheese (4, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year ago | (#43986307)

It stinks, but I can see if anyone's been intruding. So far it is totally secure.

Re:I hide my data in big wheels of cheese (4, Funny)

Beavertank (1178717) | about a year ago | (#43986451)

Until someone develops a data weevil to burrow into all cheese-based encryption systems and retrieve the hidden data.

Re:I hide my data in big wheels of cheese (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986561)

Actually, we're on to you. I work for the NSA in the cheese department. We have secret methods of turning milk into "18-month cave-aged gouda" within 23 minutes.

Re:I hide my data in big wheels of cheese (5, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#43986647)

Your Swiss cheese security is full of holes!

Re:I hide my data in big wheels of cheese (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986709)

It stinks, but I can see if anyone's been intruding. So far it is totally secure.

Not for long, unless you have frequent cat patrols to defend the big cheese from those pesky rat commandos.

Can't have it all. (-1, Flamebait)

houbou (1097327) | about a year ago | (#43986335)

Those who worry are usually those who have something to hide or something criminal in the works.. Bottom line, you can't care about this, unless you do wrong or plan on doing wrong. That's kinda how I see it.

Re: Can't have it all. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986387)

I don't want "it all". I just want our government to respect our rights and our Constitution. Is that too much to ask?

Re: Can't have it all. (5, Funny)

JockTroll (996521) | about a year ago | (#43986483)

I DO want it all. I want it all. I want it all. I want it all. And I want it NOW!

Re: Can't have it all. (3, Funny)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year ago | (#43986603)

ok, but shipping takes a few days...

Re:Can't have it all. (5, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about a year ago | (#43986407)

Those who worry are usually those who have something to hide or something criminal in the works.

You won't mind me wiretapping your phones, installing caneras in your home and adding keyloggers to your computers? You're not a criminal with anything to hide, right?

Re:Can't have it all. (4, Insightful)

atom1c (2868995) | about a year ago | (#43986455)

That's silly. Privacy is a constitutional right -- so important that it's part of the original Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments). To state that the desire to MAINTAIN your right to privacy means you have ill intent to "do wrong" (whatever the hell THAT means) is saying that nobody has any rights whatsoever -- since whatever is "granted" is as easily revocable and ostensibly temporary.

Furthermore, what constitutes "wrong"? Who's the judge? It's a moral characterization to actions of an inalienable right afforded by our founding fathers. Your statements simply don't make sense.

Re: Can't have it all. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986567)

Actually, privacy isn't mentioned in the Bill of Rights at all. It has been inferred though not explicitly mentioned.

Re:Can't have it all. (0, Flamebait)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year ago | (#43986611)

That's silly. Privacy is a constitutional right -- so important that it's part of the original Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments)

I must have missed it.... where is privacy protected by the constitution?

(Hint: it's not in the fourth amendment.)

Re:Can't have it all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986727)

I would say it is within the 4th amendment. I think that's what it means to have my papers, effects, and person be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Re:Can't have it all. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986733)

Hint: It's the part that indicates the list isn't all inclusive and that reserves all rights not enumerated therein to the people. Or is that too far in for you to read?

Re:Can't have it all. (-1, Flamebait)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about a year ago | (#43986829)

You seem to make a bug presumption that they've actually read the entire Bill of Rights. All they need to know is that Rush Limbaugh says there's no such right.

Re:Can't have it all. (0)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#43986739)

I must have missed it.... where is privacy protected by the constitution?

I must have missed it... where is the government spying on its citizens allowed in the constitution?

(Hint: it's either a war power, or the 4th amendment. If you want to call it a war power, note that Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them)

Re:Can't have it all. (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about a year ago | (#43986783)

9th Amendment.

Re:Can't have it all. (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year ago | (#43986961)

This presupposes that privacy is a right, rather than a privilege.

Re:Can't have it all. (2)

fnj (64210) | about a year ago | (#43986913)

We get it. I believe the reason that there is no right to privacy, the right to be left the hell alone, guaranteed in the Constitution including the original Bill of Rights is that no one of that time could have been reasonably expected to foresee that it would ever become an issue. The technical means for mass gross intrusion, and the present extreme degree of police state, could not possibly have been imagined at that time. One can criticise the oversight as a failure of imagination, but nobody is perfect.

OTOH, the failure to recognize the problem and provide a new Amendment to banish it in modern times is an egregious failure of the system.

Re:Can't have it all. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986799)

Just goes to show you the founding fathers must have been criminals according to the popular belief of "no reason to worry if you have nothing to hide".

Welcome to the New America brought to you by "Fair and Balanced" reporting.

Re:Can't have it all. (1)

SiliconSeraph (996818) | about a year ago | (#43986919)

Antonin Scalia would disagree with you.

Re: Can't have it all. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986459)

Your an idiot. Every American should be concerned since its yet another attack on our rights

Re: Can't have it all. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986619)

Your an idiot.

/facepalm

Re: Can't have it all. (1)

1s44c (552956) | about a year ago | (#43986699)

Everyone should be concerned because all the other governments will see the US doing this and copy it.

Re: Can't have it all. (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43986827)

Everyone should be concerned because all the other governments will see the US doing this and copy it.

And the next time the US chastises another government for this kind of thing, they'll get told to blow it out their rear.

As you say, Google, Microsoft, et al have established the precedent they'll be willing to do this ... so every other government is going to tell them they want the exact same level of monitoring, and will expect to get it.

Re: Can't have it all. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986465)

When you trigger an investigation by using one of their keywords and they beat your door down without a warrant while holding you and your family at gunpoint I hope you have the same mindset.

Re:Can't have it all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986473)

The problem is when what your government defines as "doing wrong" and what you define as "doing wrong" (or what your society defines as "wrong") are two different things.

If one decides to do a search on the technical aspects of building an IED, simply for curiosity's sake, is that "doing wrong?" You and your government may disagree on that.

Re:Can't have it all. (2)

Beavertank (1178717) | about a year ago | (#43986513)

Then you're looking at it wrong. Everyone has a right of privacy, and everyone is entitled to care (or not) about preserving that right. When a portion of a government tries to stomp on that right they've done a serious injury to you, and while you're free not to care about it, I'm also free to care a LOT about it without being faced with the accusation that I must "do wrong or plan on doing wrong" because I care about my rights.

Re:Can't have it all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986517)

Exactly. If you have nothing to hide, then you don't need to worry. Privacy is for pussies.

YOU have an Al-Qaeda bomb hidden under you scrotum, don't you?!?! If you have nothing to hide you'll pull down your pants and prove me wrong. If you don't, then we all know its true that you are a dirty Al-Qaeda terrorist who is planning on blowing up everyone in the room plus your scrotum!

Re:Can't have it all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986525)

We assume you don't have any blinds, drapes, or other window coverings in your domicile either then, right?

Re:Can't have it all. (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43986585)

Bottom line, you can't care about this, unless you do wrong or plan on doing wrong.

"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him." Cardinal Richelieu.

See, when your government spies on everything you do, sooner or later someone will come along and decide that since they already have this information, they can use it for other things.

If you don't grasp this, I suggest you read more about Joseph McCarthy -- America is entirely capable of political persecution as any other government.

Bottom line, with your attitude, you deserve to be dragged off in the night, because you're part of the problem with the complacency and people not seeing what's really wrong here. That's kinda how I see it.

Since you're not part of the solution, you are the problem.

Twenty years ago, the US would make jokes about "papers please" and the Soviets. Now, that's just normal routine.

Re:Can't have it all. (2, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#43986661)

Or you're a tea party supporter trying to start a nonprofit.

Re:Can't have it all. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986939)

Or you're a tea party supporter trying to start a nonprofit.

That's because there's nobody in the Tea Party who believes in the concept of 'non-profit' unless they can use it for political purposes.

Re:Can't have it all. (5, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | about a year ago | (#43986665)

The old 'if you are innocent you have nothing to fear' argument. I thought that one went out of fashion when the German Jews realized that being innocent is no defense again tyrants.

Re:Can't have it all. (4, Informative)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43986797)

Is not their problem if you feel that you don't have anything to hide. You could be committing 3 felonies a day [wsj.com] without being aware of it. Anything that you did in your past could be used against you, even if not a matter of national security, or against some friend to frame you if they think you did something wrong. And could be in your side to prove that you are innocent, something that could be costly if even possible.

And not forget that the **AA are in bed with them, the wrong you did could be having a background music in the video you took in a birthday party or that silly theme that you were singing with your friends when drunk.

Don't think just in the present, and your precarious today's safety, Things will change. And for worse.

Re:Can't have it all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986803)

So Voyeurism does not exist in your world then? The government is wholesale stalking the populace, there are laws against that.

Re:Can't have it all. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986871)

Chronic levels of stupidity and naivety may one day be considered an executable offense. When that day comes, the definers of the word criminal, know exactly where to find this guy.

Re:Can't have it all. (4, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43986877)

Those who worry are usually those who have something to hide or something criminal in the works.. Bottom line, you can't care about this, unless you do wrong or plan on doing wrong. That's kinda how I see it.

Security concerns are not about common people, or even criminals being tracked. It's aboud political opposition being tracked.

Snowden said he could listen in on conversations of anyone he wanted, including powerful people, and proceeded to do so as a test. No one came to get him for doing so without a warrant.

Among hundreds, maybe thousands of agents, it's trivial to insert an operative to listen to opposition.

He says he has data ready to release in case he's arrested. I hope it includes embarrasing conversations of said powerful people. Maybe then these jackasses will wake up.

All people want is a system design that tracks and records everything the government does, as it tracks and records everyhing we do, from Twitterers to opposition discussing political planning.

That currently does not exist.

Re:Can't have it all. (4, Insightful)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | about a year ago | (#43986893)

I'll presume that you're a troll but you drag out the age old "If you've got nothing to hide... argument"
Here are a couple of issues with this argument.

1. Retroactive violation of new laws:
Let's imagine that you're a smoker and that you smoke in your house. The government could pass a law saying "Smoking is not allowed inside any building. Anyone caught must pay a $500 fine." They can now either go back and look at their surveillance data and retroactively charge you for smoking in your house in the past or they can put you on a list of people to watch and then catch you smoking in your house.

2. If this is your stance that you have nothing to hide.... I presume that you don't have shades. Why don't you post your credit card statement on your front door for your neighbors to inspect "Hey, you've got nothing to hide". In fact let's make your browsing history completely public. How about your health records?

You may nothing to hide but I suspect you're also not eager to share your personal details with the world.

Re:Can't have it all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986909)

Are you sure you haven't broken any laws comrade? May I inspect your computers to see if you have?

Re:Can't have it all. (3, Insightful)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#43986937)

While in theory I agree. Then again what the government is doing is criminal. Did you not see the /. post yesterday about relational metadata and how it can be used. It was a very interesting read, and I actually did RTFA. It showed how innocuous data mining like this could be used to identify people, in this case the data was used to show how seemingly innocent data could point to potential threats in this case it was Paul Revere.

I can fully see how this can be used to stop terrorist attacks, but so far we have finger pointing from every corner that says our intelligence community has had prior knowledge of several potential attacks and neglected to follow through. It is far more likely this will be used against law abiding citizens. What if I am a law abiding citizen but I begin speaking out against the injustices the administration is committing in the name of fighting terror and they use my data to pin point and come after me. I've committed no crime other than I could be labeled a terrorist for speaking up for my rights.

The way I see it it's just another way the government can abuse or circumvent checks and balances that were put in place to protect our rights.

Do you honestly want your government to know every minute detail of your life?

Re: Can't have it all. (5, Insightful)

PetiePooo (606423) | about a year ago | (#43986999)

Wrong, wrong, wrong! And wrong!

It's a common fallacy spouted by those who foist surveillance on us. See here, [theartofprivacy.com] here, [ssrn.com] or any other of the many hits when you search for privacy "nothing to hide" [lmgtfy.com]

It goes right along with the "privacy and security are mutually exclusive" [securitymanagement.com] fallacy.

People like you that are trading your long-term liberty and privacy for a current sense of security are going to rue this day eventually. These essential freedoms need constant vigilance. Many of our forefathers died defending them. They're rolling in their graves now seeing how so many are nonchalantly pissing them away.

Here's your homework. Go read the Constitution of the United States of America. No, really. Read it line by line and understand why some say it's the most important and influential document created in the last 1000 years.

"Love" these self-referencing Slashdot submissions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986339)

Is this a Dice thing or has this been going on longer? Smells like a pathetic attempt at SEO.

Run your own servers and use encryption (5, Informative)

kullnd (760403) | about a year ago | (#43986349)

Only way you can keep your data yours while sitting at rest is to have it on your own servers and utilize proper encryption and security on those servers. That means don't use "cloud" anything unless it's on equipment you own, run your own email servers, etc. Remember that even doing this, emails that you send to other people can be accessed through whatever servers they use.

Re:Run your own servers and use encryption (1)

tha_toadman (1266560) | about a year ago | (#43986397)

Agreed. Skip the "cloud" and run your own solution.

Re:Run your own servers and use encryption (3, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year ago | (#43986779)

Yes, which is why i've been using PGP for emails to/from my more nerdy family and friends for a while.
Used to be a free plugin for those of us cursed with using Outlook, now paid.
I should take a closer look at this, I suppose:
http://code.google.com/p/outlook-privacy-plugin/ [google.com]

Of course, other options exist. Enigmail for Thunderbird works OK too, apparantly...

Is it just me, but how hard would it have been for Microsoft, Apple & Lotus/IBM to have rolled this type of functionality into the base product?
(And don't tell me a corp like Exxon or whatever would find it too hard to swap certificates with its major supplier & customers, also presumably mostly big corporations with a vested interest in keeping their emails secure)
Why did they not, eh? Conspiracy theorists, off you go!

Re:Run your own servers and use encryption (4, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year ago | (#43986949)

But the NSA says it's just collecting the metadata on communications, not the actual communications. So while encrypting the message in your email may prevent them from (easily) reading your email, they still see that you sent or received an email and who it was coming or going to.

Re:Run your own servers and use encryption (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#43986781)

Even there, however, the government can still potentially gain information on who you may be sharing the data with. We have encrypted VPN pipes to our branch offices. Yes, the government cannot (likely) determine the content that goes through those encrypted pipes, but it can sure tell where the data is going. You only gain partial privacy. Even anonymizing networks are potentially vulnerable at their boundaries.

Re:Run your own servers and use encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43987011)

If you never communication any data with other people you would be of no interest to the NSA.

SneakerNet (2)

User1138 (2948625) | about a year ago | (#43986381)

I think that the regular postal mail is still protected from the NSA. They have to have a really good reason to open that otherwise the postal service gets real touchy. The nice part about electronic communication is that it is so easy to tap. in addition, I think as we have seen over in Iraq and Afghanistan that the SneakerNet approach does work. In this, someone creates a document or multiple documents, places them on a flash drive, and then either hand delivers or uses a courier. While most likely impractical for common documents in the united states, if someone was up to something that they truly wanted to keep secret they could employ this approach. Or be somewhere where the pneumatic tube system was still intact. Those things were so cool, I kinda miss them.

Re:SneakerNet (3, Insightful)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#43986641)

The USPS, however, still takes a picture of both sides of every envelope (and obviously time, date, location) and stores it.

Re:SneakerNet (2)

gatkinso (15975) | about a year ago | (#43987017)

In the 1970's banks had developed technology to read the magnetic MICR text on checks through an envelope to presort incoming mail. (MICR is that wierd font used for account and routing number at the bottom of a check)

Security through obscurity (5, Informative)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43986403)

1. Use an email provider nobody's heard about.
2. Keep social network data private, more importantly don't post anything sensitive.
3. Don't engage in terrorism, they really hate that.
4. Somewhere between "get off Windows" and use a live disk, I don't think any OS is truly secure.
5. Don't save anything locally, keep your accounts hidden, no email notifications.

Wave at the black SUV outside your window as not having any traceable data may warrant suspicion in itself.

Move to SA (either one).

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43986741)

Move to SA (either one).

San Antonio?
South Africa?
Saudi Arabia?
Sexaholics Anonymous?

Ok, I give up, which 2 were you thinking of?

Re:Security through obscurity (0)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#43986857)

I vote Sexaholics Anonymous. You never know when one of the women there might have a relapse. ;)

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43986975)

South America
South Africa

Why would you move to San Antonio, do you think it's exempt from the NSA or something? lol

Joining sexaholics... well that might distract them for while and provide you with pleasant unintentional consequences.

Re:Security through obscurity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986745)

SA = South Africa || Saudi Arabia || San Antonio

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43986991)

Saudi Arabia is even more oppressive...

Re:Security through obscurity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986977)

Pfft. I live in San Antonio. Why would an extremely military-friendly city with its own NSA datacenter be a good place to move for data privacy?

Move here for the best tacos in North America, cheap housing and the most obsessed basketball fans you will ever meet (the Heat needed police escort just to get into town yesterday, because they knew our fans are just that crazy).

Re:Security through obscurity (3, Insightful)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about a year ago | (#43987005)

2. Keep social network data private, more importantly don't post anything sensitive.

Are you serious? How about "don't participate in an online social network"?

Just knowing your set of friends or contacts is enough to extrapolate a huge amount of information about you. So, even if the ONLY data you provide a social network is your friends, that's already a LOT of information.

The classic study on this was probably about five years ago now, where someone showed how it was possible to predict (to a reasonably high degree of certainty) whether you were gay or not using just your list of friends.

More recently, it's been shown how easy it is to guess Social Security numbers -- for people of certain ages -- with just things like a birthplace (often same as home town) and approximate birth date, which can often be extrapolated just from a friend list. ("He's friends with a bunch of people all from the same town, and they're all about the same age -- probably high school friends, therefore....")

Of course, the NSA probably can figure out your SS#, birthdate, birthplace, and similar information without going to any trouble. But the point is that you can often be significantly profiled on a social network even if you never post anything and only accept friend requests from people you know.

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43987019)

For email, better use your own server, and don't mean one hosted in Amazon or Rackspace.

Regarding terrorism, you should be aware that this surveillance is mainly to protect the government from the enemies of the government, the more scary of them is the people, is why they are so vocal going against whisteblowers.

And about moving, most of internet goes thru US anyway, most of mail, most of social networks, no matter where you live. Some countries have their own version of PRISM too, and some could be "friendly" enough with US or US companies to have branches there. But living elsewhere puts you a bit farther from their information control.

Loosening ties with US or US based companies in general, using alternate solutions, seem to be the right approach.

Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986417)

If you have a social media account, what the NSA does is not what would be most concerning.

Re:Does it matter? (0, Offtopic)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#43986621)

Are you channeling your inner Hillary Clinton by saying "What difference does it make?"

Re:Does it matter? (2)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#43986701)

Wait, you don't have a social media account, Comrade? Why are you being anti-social? Don't you like our society?

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43987009)

Wait, you don't have a social media account, Comrade? Why are you being anti-social? Don't you like our society?

No, he has a socialist media account.

*rimshot*

No Single Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986431)

Maybe it's like the alternative energy business: multiple types and multiple solutions that can form a functional patchwork.

Wrong question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986435)

You are looking for a technical answer to a problem that isn't technical. It is a people problem. We put these people in power and let them get away with this crap. Most people are to apathetic or sheepish to care.

Game the system ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986469)

Just game the system. I've started typing random shit in gmail before I do anything ... let 'em see lots of false positives.

You know, I'm glad nobody KILLED OBAMA. Durka durka, mohammed jihad. Monsanto sucks. Bush was a simpleton. Death to American cheese.

Gotta go, someone's at the door ...

Client side encryption, and cascade ciphers (2)

ron_ivi (607351) | about a year ago | (#43986499)

ISTM data should be encrypted *before* it goes to the cloud.

That has some UI implications (i.e. gmail can't search the bodies of your encrypted emails). But still seems like a better idea to have your email on your client anyway; so why not have the search index there as well.

Three men can keep a secret... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986539)

...if two of them are dead. Viva la revolucion! Or whatever.

On a more serious note: it's not private if you let it out of you in some manner. Want Cheetos? Pay with cash, and don't let the NSA learn about your high-caloric, high-sodium diet.

And stop googling, "How to make an atomic [insert whatever here]." It doesn't help your cause.

Lol (5, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | about a year ago | (#43986557)

As with all things, assume that your communications are going to be monitored, whether electronic or not. I know, I know, it's not the answer you want; but the truth is...we put innocent people to death. If we are willing to do that, and not tear down our societies in an act of grief over the loss of a single innocent life, looking deeply within and without as to how or why we allowed this to happen, and how we can prevent it from ever happening again, then caring about protecting your privacy from the monsters waiting outside your door is the wrong approach. You're fighting Evil himself, and he aims to win by any means; if putting a gun to the head of one your children's heads to get you to decrypt your hard drive is what it takes, then he will do it, no hesitation.

Re:Lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986917)

So true, however, don't confuse true evil with fear, ignorance and incompetence. True evil is very very rare (about 2% of the population is capable of this, but even orders of magnitude less than these 2% are really out to harm others and abuse nature).

Fear, ignorance and incompetence can be overcome and conquered. Both within oneself, and in others. In fact, such conquest is rewarding FOR EVERYONE. (Yes, every true villain _love_ being finally beaten by a true hero!)

Captcha: averages

simple steps to increase privacy (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986569)

use Duck Duck Go for search
use NoScript and AdBlock plus in Mozilla Firefox for browsing
use MEGA for cloud storage if at all
use your own email address
use Tor for private browsing
keep what you want to yourself to yourself

Forget security (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | about a year ago | (#43986577)

The weak link of the chain is you. And they have very convincing methods [britannica.com] to get what they want, especially if you have the habit of hiding your data in a suspicious way.

Easy (5, Funny)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#43986597)

Live in a cabin in the mountains that is over 100 miles from the nearest cell phone tower. Also ensure that you have top cover so satellite surveillance cannot see your house. Add enough insulating material (dirt would be easiest) above your cabin so that there is little/no thermal footprint. And never leave your new found cabin, since cars and feet all leave tracks.

Re:Easy (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43986853)

Live in a cabin in the mountains that is over 100 miles from the nearest cell phone tower. Also ensure that you have top cover so satellite surveillance cannot see your house. Add enough insulating material (dirt would be easiest) above your cabin so that there is little/no thermal footprint. And never leave your new found cabin, since cars and feet all leave tracks.

I cover my footprints with aluminum foil, so the satellites and drones can't spot them.

Re:Easy (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#43986901)

Way ahead of you on that one.
Now how the hell did I post this? For that matter, how did I read your post. Something is wrong with my system.

SSL / TLS ? (2)

oduesp (1302043) | about a year ago | (#43986633)

If facebook, google are right to say that NSA did not have a direct access to their servers and that NSA actually had all emails and stuff that means that they were able to decipher all SSL / TLS encrypted communications or that they have the private keys of those big content provider. No ?

Re:SSL / TLS ? (3, Informative)

Java Pimp (98454) | about a year ago | (#43986775)

No. SSL/TLS only encrypts data in transit. Once it reaches it's destination, i.e. Google, it is decrypted so it can be processed.

One name (2)

mr100percent (57156) | about a year ago | (#43986635)

PGP. It's good enough for WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden and good enough for me

Possible, but not practical (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986649)

While one could attempt to encrypt everything that you send over the internet, and everything that you store in a "cloud", it simply isn't practical.

HTTPS (and other SSL/TLS-enabled network protocols) can protect the data going over the wire from snooping, but it does nothing to protect the data at the endpoints. In particular, if one of the end-points is a service provider your data ends up sitting on their disks in plaintext.

Email could be encrypted using something like S/MIME, but that requires that *everyone* that you send email to has an email certificate and is setup to handle S/MIME emails.

You cannot *ever* use any "free" internet service (anything from Google, Facebook, etc). Almost all of the data that you store on such services is stored in plaintext on the provider's systems. Even most of the for-pay services store your information in plaintext. Why? Because if the data residing on their servers is really encrypted, they cannot take any action on that data on your behalf. Google could not send emails for you if they cannot read your address book, for example. AWS cannot operate if it doesn't have the ability to read your data stored in their cloud. etc, etc, etc.

There are some cloud storage systems in which your data-at-rest on the provider's systems is encrypted. However, the only service that those types of systems can provide is to ship the encrypted data back to you where you decrypt it locally to do something. Even then, one has to check carefully to ensure that they are doing the key management correctly such that the only place that has access to the plaintext version of your keys is your local workstation. This does keep your data secure,but relegates the service provider to being nothing more than an internet-connected, encrypted hard drive. All computations performed on your data can only be done on your local workstation (i.e. no "cloud" services for your data other than the delivery of the encrypted data back to your workstation).

Basically, if you are performing any sort of communication over the Internet, or are trying to make use of any sort of hosted service, you are pretty much sunk. If you have lots of money and time, you can try to setup your own servers/cloud - and as long as you can prevent hackers from compromising your systems you can keep your plaintext data hidden behind your firewalls and export only services to the Internet - but that is a lot of work and money to do and it is notoriously difficult to keep all hackers out if you should become a target of interest.

Talk to myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986655)

For security purposes, I try not to communicate with other people. To stave off the loneliness, I have fractured my psyche into multiple personalities and just talk to myself.

Solutions = encryption + decentralization (3, Informative)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year ago | (#43986671)

The solution is encrypt everything (OpenPGP for emails, etc.), plus decentralization. If everyone either hosted their own email, or used a minor hosting company, then it would be much more difficult for the NSA to round up all those emails. Then, if even half the population used OpenPGP for emails, we could hide in the mass, and the NSA etc. will have no hope of reading all those emails.

As soon as you have just a few spots (e.g. FarceBook, Google-, Murdoch'sSpace) that host the significant majority of a certain type of communication, then you have a huge weak spot. Solution is decentralization and federation.

Use tools like Diaspora, StatusNet, Jabber, SIP, and email. Don't use tools like Skype, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, Facebook, etc.

See also: http://autonomo.us/ [autonomo.us] and particularly Reducing vulnerability to massive spying with free network services? [autonomo.us]

Re:Solutions = encryption + decentralization (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year ago | (#43986765)

And I meant to mention, use client side encryption as well.
* Install Ubuntu and tick the box that asks if you want to encrypt your home directory (and keep backups, Deja Dup makes it easy, though it isn't a perfect tool). Or use the feature that allows you to do this on your system.
* Use TrueCrypt or a similar tool that enables plausible deniability; in addition to the full system encryption.
* Also practice hiding stuff. Take up radio astronomy and thus have an excuse for large files of apparently random noise.

Good luck.

Why the hell are people accepting this? (5, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#43986691)

This is the kind of crap that was held up as examples of why communist countries were so much worse than the US.
People, the government is supposed to work for you, not the other way around.

Re:Why the hell are people accepting this? (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43986957)

This is the kind of crap that was held up as examples of why communist countries were so much worse than the US.

People, the government is supposed to work for you, not the other way around.

How many times in the last 12 years have you heard "the President's job is to keep us safe"?

How many times in the last 12 years have you heard "the President's job is to keep us free"?

Most people vote for low taxes, baseball stadiums, security theater, and enforcing their values on everyone else. Freedom and privacy get trumped by too many of those things.

Do Something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986711)

I think we can agree that the NSA is gathering ALL data including phone conversations. In order to get around that pesky 4th Amendment they probably encrypt the data until they get a key from the FISA court and/or congress. All of our moaning and whining probably won't change this. I, for one, intend to explore the use of a Raspberry Pi or a BeagleBone to make a voice scrambler. At least I can keep conversations with family and friends out of their hands. Any ideas on this?

Fighting the impossible fight. (5, Insightful)

Dputiger (561114) | about a year ago | (#43986723)

The problem with heavily encrypted solutions is that they rely on human perfection. There was a story a few months back about Sabu. He eluded the FBI for months until, in a hotel room, he made the mistake of logging into IRC without using Tor first.

That was all it took. One non-Tor login, and the FBI had him.

Human beings are not designed for constant watchfulness. We make mistakes. We screw up. Even if *you* stay perfect, the person or persons you're communicating with may not, and if the FBI or NSA wants the details of what you're talking about, they can "break" the encryption at either end of the conversation. Maybe they can't find you -- but if they find the people you're talking to, they can still grab the info.

I'm not saying that all security is useless, or that there's no benefit to raising the bar. My point is that the solution to this is to *stop spying.* Because, in the long run, almost everyone screws up.

Re:Fighting the impossible fight. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986973)

That's why we need tools to make cryptography the default choice.

Check out: http://eccentric-authentication.org/blog/2013/06/07/run-it-yourself.html [eccentric-...cation.org]

Disclaimer: it's my site.

Forget it (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year ago | (#43986757)

Q: Is there any way to keep your communications truly private?

A: No.

The NSA has worked on infiltrating highly secure military networks in the past, it would be foolish to think you can keep data away from them and use the Internet at the same time.

Perhaps things like inventing your own symmetric key end-to-end encryption software on the basis of combining existing technology and algorithms (+ hand to hand key distribution) or hooking up random number generators to your computer and producing and distributing OTPs may callenge and potentially annoy them for some time. That's about it.

HTTPS is not safe either (3, Insightful)

j1976 (618621) | about a year ago | (#43986821)

So, in an effort to hide from NSA you go all out HTTPS. However, to avoid getting those pesky "this site is dangerous!!!" messages browsers show you on self-signed certificates, you buy your keys from any of the larger certificate authorities. Safe? Sorry, no. Almost all those CAs work under American jurisdiction, or on delegation from American CAs. Assuming NSA doesn't get the keys in other ways, all they have to do to get them is to ask the CA and the company would have to hand them over.

With those private keys available they can listen in on the HTTPS conversations in real time, and there is no way for the participants of the conversation to know this.

Amusingly enough, the safest bid (well, to hide from NSA at least) would be to use self-signed keys despite all the browser warnings.

If you still want to get valid keys, here is an interesting discussion [riseup.net] on which CA to choose.

The only way (1)

Jay Vollmer (2882139) | about a year ago | (#43986883)

I use quadruple ROT13 encryption. I've never felt so safe!

Twitter (3, Funny)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year ago | (#43986895)

I only use one time pads when tweeting.


...puts a crimp in the number of followers though.

Best way (1)

musth (901919) | about a year ago | (#43986921)

What do you think is the best way to keep your data locked down?

Get out of the US now, and strive to overthrow the political/military/intelligence assholes who run it.

HTTPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986941)

The question you have to ask with regard to HTTPS is where does the tunnel end and is there only one tunnel between the site provider and the user. The most popular CDN operates in a manner such that the data is unencrypted in their servers. There is a tunnel from the user to the CDN and from the CDN to the site provider but there is a small break in between. I have long been suspicious about that point.

Stop paying the NSA (5, Insightful)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#43986943)

So let me get this straight. You've got a military that spends trillions of dollars. You've got eight national defence organizations screwing with your own citizens. And a) you think that you can dodge an organization that has spent that many dollars purely to find you, and b) you think that you don't have a cultural problem?

Where do you think all of those funds come from? For every tax dollar that you spend, how much goes to military, para-military, and anti-crime organizations? How much of it winds up in actual crime? Are you spending more on anti-crime than you would on crime in the first place?

Maybe you should solve the actual problem. Maybe you should start electing officials who spend your money on things that you like, instead of things that you dislike. I can't vote for you.

And correct me if I'm wrong -- you see, my country earned its independence by asking nicely -- doesn't your country believe in violently fighting your own government to break free of restrictions to your freedoms? Have you forgotten how to do that? Your right to fight would seem to be the only freedom for which you do fight, and then you don't use that right to protect your other freedoms.

One of these days, you'll wake up to realize that you've kept the right, but eliminated the opportunity. What good is the right to bear arms when you can't get away with using it?

Encryption ecnryption encryption. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986947)

Really people, its for you, its for me, its for everybody. Everybody has something to hide. I have often told people they should encrypt their disk, they often say there is no real reason for them to use encryption but then you give some examples. Ranging from legal to illegal things they have.
For example do you want your mother to see your porn? I wouldn't care too much, but its probably for the best that she doesn't see all my porn.
How about movies or games you gotten from less legal places, you don't want the cops to find those.
Passwords and other general information like bank passwords. You would be surprised how many people save those in some txt or whatever. Your laptop being stolen could also result in your bank being emptied.

Face it, you have things to hide. Things to hide from all kinds of people. Its impossible for people to do only those things the law allows because the law is big and old. It spans many things that once upon a time may have indeed been bad but no longer are.

The reality is, you want to hide your stuff from everybody. And you fucking should.

In the long run? STOP VOTING FOR HIGHER TAXES! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43986965)

What the hell do you think funds these programs? Unicorn farts?

Do you think it's bad now? How bad do you think it would be if the US government ever gains total control of the health care industry?

Gotta wonder about the cognitive abilities of people who rail about the NSA invading their privacy yet seem to love the idea of that same government in control of health care. Talk about literal prostate-exam loss-of-privacy.

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