Even if you love to share photos, ideas, opinions and thoughts on social media networks, there is certainly plenty of information that you’d prefer to keep between yourself and a chosen few. Unfortunately, one of the developments witnessed in the recent past is increasing surveillance on people by government intelligence and security agencies. As a result, an increasing number of ordinary individuals want to learn how or if they can protect themselves from online mass government surveillance. Here are 3 effective steps you can take to protect yourself online in the ear mass government surveillance.
Use Off-the –Record Messaging (OTR)
One of the steps you can take to protect yourself from online mass government surveillance is to increase privacy for instant messaging. You can use Off-the-Record Messaging (OTR) for encrypting your instant messaging communications, preventing your instant messaging (IM) provider from reading them. Keep in mind that this is only possible with IM providers that permit the use of external IM apps and you will have to install an OTR-capable IM app on the devices you are using. OTR messaging can only secure communications when you are chatting with another user with an OTR-capable client.
Protect Your Phone Calls with Encrypted VoIP
An effective alternative to making unencrypted calls that can easily be tapped is to protect your phone conversations by making encrypted Internet (or VoIP) calls. You should however understand that the encryption technologies that are used with internet calling and the type as well as level of security offered vary widely.
Most internet phone as well as video conferencing technologies offer some sort of encryption, but in many cases not the encryption meant to safeguard against the service provider. This means that the service providers can be forced by the government to spy on you. A good alternative is to use end-to-end encrypted VoIP applications, many of which are based on a technology known as ZRTP. As with instant messaging, you can only make protected phone calls with other people who have compatible software on their devices.
Encrypt as much Personal Communications as Possible
Even if you don’t have end-to-end encrypted VoIP or OTR, you can still make sure you encrypt most of your internet traffic. If you are using EFF’s HTTPS browser ad-on for some of the popular web browsers, you can enhance protection for your web data by forcing sites to encrypt web pages whenever possible. In case you are browsing on a network that you don’t trust, such as a cyber café, use a virtual private network (VPN). More about VPN explained here.
These few small steps can help you make mass government surveillance a lot harder and expensive, not only against you but also generally against everyone else. Although this is not a comprehensive list and it will not offer complete protection from surveillance, each measure you take will help to protect you a lot more than average. It will also make attackers, whether government intelligence and security agencies or cyber criminals, have to work a lot harder.