Edward Snowden's tips on personal privacy in a wired world
Edward Snowden has provided advice on reasonably straightforward ways that people can protect their online privacy.
Snowden, who is living in Russia after revealing details of classified US government surveillance programmes, said security was important to reclaim a level of privacy.
"Because when you think about who the victims of surveillance are, on a day-to-day basis, you're thinking about people who are in abusive spousal relationships, you're thinking about people who are concerned about stalkers, you're thinking about children who are concerned about their parents overhearing things," Snowden recently told online publication The Intercept.
"If you interact with the internet … the typical methods of communication today betray you silently, quietly, invisibly, at every click.
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"At every page that you land on, information is being stolen. It's being collected, intercepted, analysed, and stored by governments, foreign and domestic, and by companies. You can reduce this by taking a few key steps. Basic things."
Snowden's key steps for protecting online privacy:
Encrypt phone calls and text messages
This can be done using the smartphone app Signal, by Open Whisper Systems. It is free and can be downloaded immediately. Both people in the conversation need to have Signal.
"And anybody you're talking to now, their communications, if it's intercepted, can't be read by adversaries," Snowden said.
Encrypt your hard disk
"...so that if your computer is stolen the information isn't obtainable to an adversary - pictures, where you live, where you work, where your kids are, where you go to school".
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 memorising them," Snowden said.
Data dumps are a danger. People's details may be revealed because some service they used in the past gets hacked, with the password they used on that site also providing access to other sites.
Someone trying to get into another person's account would need both the password and a physical device, such as a phone, belonging to their target. To gain access information from, say, a text message is needed.
"I think Tor is the most important privacy-enhancing technology project being used today. I use Tor personally all the time...That's not to say that Tor is bulletproof."
Tor bounces communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers around the world. It prevents somebody watching your internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.
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Think about the context of your smartphone usage
"The problem with cellphones is they're basically always talking about you, even when you're not using them," Snowden said. "Are you carrying a device that, by virtue of simply having it on your person, places you in a historic record in a place that you don't want to be associated with, even if it's something as simple as your place of worship?"