Saturday, October 26, 2013

Protecting Your Data And Files From the NSA Snoops

Now that the word is out that the NSA plans to try to shut down media outlets, and that likely includes certain blogs as well, people may wish to know how to muster some kind of defense against the indiscriminate mass spying – repeatedly justified as “necessary for our security” – but which any old spooker hack would use to try and frighten the weak-willed. But as Mother Jones (Nov.-Dec., p. 27) and other sources have reported, even Patriot Act co-author Jim Sensenbrenner was “Stunned at what the NSA had become.” The referenced article (‘Troll on the Hill’) is about how Republican Rep.Justin Amash tried his best (along with liberal Dem Rep John Conyers) to rein in these mutants – and he almost succeeded by the final vote, until the Obamanites brought heavy pressure to bear on any waverers.

Anyway, the latest news from the UK Guardian today is that the head of the embattled National Security Agency, General Keith Alexander, is accusing journalists of "selling" his agency's documents” and is calling for an end to the steady stream of public disclosures of secrets "snatched" by former contractor Edward Snowden. In other words, this guy wants the media outlets shut down! Anyone recall how the Gestapo started doing the same shit in Germany before the Enabling Act? Probably not! Alexander reportedly complained on the Defense Department's "Armed With Science" blog.

”I think it's wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000 – whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these – you know it just doesn't make sense.

We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don't know how to do that. That's more of the courts and the policy-makers but, from my perspective, it's wrong to allow this to go on,"

Jeebus, hasn’t this character been taught the First Amendment? Evidently no more than he was taught the 4th. This stuff is now in the public domain, sir, so basically you are trying to close the barn door after the cows escaped when it was left open – by your own contractors and their massive snooping apparatus!

As Mr. Greenwald added:

“There are 25,000 employees of the NSA (and many tens of thousands more who work for private contracts assigned to the agency). Maybe one of them can tell The General about this thing called "the first amendment".

Well, Glen, clearly they think a punk congress will put through another Enabling Act followed by a newer version of the old Reich laws – where the Nazis tossed German newspaper editors into camps for not keeping quiet. But you know, “he who forgets the past is doomed to repeat it”.

Anyway, let’s move on to how to protect your files from the snoopers, as delivered in an inset box within the same MJ article:

1) Use open source software. Sources with software publicly available are more secure than anything developed by Microsoft, Apple or Google. Open source platforms include Firefox for your browser and Thunderbird for your email,

2) Hide your location. This can be done by installing the easily downloadable Tor Browser, which is pre-configured to mask your IP address and therefore your location.

3) Encrypt: Yeah, we’ve known since last month that NSA’s spooks have defeated most commercially available encryption- but scrambling your online activities can still foil most hackers and snoops with too much time on their hands. The easily installable browser HTTPS everywhere encrypts your web activity. For email, use Pretty Good Privacy.

4) Mind the air gap: If you’re serious about being a modern day ‘Deep Throat’ (like the one that revealed the Watergate stuff to Woodward and Bernstein) build a computer that’s never been used so hasn’t been fucked up using backdoors by snoops. If you want to deliver a secure file to another, encrypt it first and physically deliver via USB stick.

5) Divorce Your Freakin’ Phone: In July, a federal appeals court ruled that the government can obtain your location from carriers without a warrant. Again, another 4th amendment violation. You can minimize what you share by disabling tracking functions on your apps, oh, and turning off your phone when not in use.

6) Use a pass phrase: A string of random common words, i.e. ‘jose lama tequila mountain’ is way easier to recall and way harder to crack than a single word. Because pass phrases are significantly longer than passwords they carry more bits of entropy so are more difficult to crack.

To see the entire presentation, ‘How to Lock Down Your Data’, go to the Mother Jones site or see p. 31 of the magazine.

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