Digital communications are everything, the way data travels over the internet, the way we browse the web, every email, text message and phone call we make. It is all fed from one provider to another, all over the world with billions of simultaneous connections and data being sent across these lines.
If you weren’t already aware, the data that feeds all over the internet is stored somewhere. As much as we would all like to believe what we do on the Internet is anonymous, it may be the exact opposite. You may be leaving a a bigger paper trail online than you do in your personal life offline. It seems hard to believe and almost unrealistic, but how is this possible? The communication is digital, it feeds over the world, how does anyone know anything about you online?
Well for one, advertisers track and harvest customer data for maximum profit. Internet users are worth billions of dollars, so why not track every single piece of communication you use and how?
Without straining on advertisers, we are here to talk about the government. As the title states, we want to talk about encrypting communications. Why would we want to encrypt our communications? Well every website that you visit, every webpage you read, every email you receive, the NSA can too. Now to some that may seem routine, the government can invade on your personal life when the desire. Though its unconstitutional, some find it a daily routine. Lay down and have their rights steamrolled by their, what they believe to be, leaders. Okay, the NSA can read your communication, not a big deal to some people.
Well how about knowing that the NSA and government agencies store that data? That is correct, the NSA stores billions of digital communications everyday. These communications include websites you visit, emails, packet data, downloads, text messages, phone calls among hundreds of other lines of communication. Nearly everything that is transferred throughout the internet is intercepted and stored by the NSA. Ex-NSA contractor, Edward Snowden leaked documents not only confirming these allegations, but showing blatant proof of the tracking grids agencies utilize. Now okay, the NSA is storing all these communications, some are still not worried. Nothing in there is of value and it has to be purged at some point in time, right?
Now that the NSA has nearly all lines of communications tapped and stored, the NSA has built their own Google called: ICREACH. Not only that, but the NSA stores all the intercepted communications for five years before purging any file they claim. Now five years is a long time to store such data. ICREACH is not only storing the files, but holding them is a nice easy-to-use search engine. The NSA can search any type of file, any person, any phone number, find any document they desire and siphon through any form of communication they previously stole.
Now that we know how these digital communications are being stolen, is there anything we can do about this? Yes, the Internet can be tapped as well as encrypted. Below are five easy ways to start encrypting your communications. This will stop the NSA, hackers and just about any agency from being able to steal your communications and read them. Everyone has a right to privacy, take your online rights back.
1) Use a Secure Email Provider – This is the easiest strategy that most fail to utilize. Email tells a lot about a person. Email contains personal communications between family and friends, they contain email receipts for nearly all online purchases, and contain your general interests for email lists you sign up for. With the NSA being able to intercept and read your emails from commercial providers such as Google, Yahoo, Yandex, Mail among others, it is fully insecure. Agencies can reap your communications and store them in their massive database.
Choosing a Secure Email Provider from the list will stop the NSA from being able to read any of your emails during transit and where they land. When you receive emails, receipts and communications, the NSA has nearly no way of obtaining the communications. They are encrypted during transit and remain encrypted within storage. Meaning if the agency intercepted the providers database or their data lines, communications would be jumbled and unreadable. Essentially, the data would be useless.
Now a secure email is only secure to another secure email provider. Example: If your communicating to someone from Gmail, Google and NSA can intercept that persons mailbox and communications, all emails sent to and from Gmail can be read and stored. To get started, setup an email forwarder on your current provider and change emails on your personal online accounts. It is highly recommended to make the switch, one day we can hope for encryption to be a universal right.
2) Utilize a VPN – A Virtual Private Network is the best way to secure internet communications on the backend. When you visit nearly any website on the internet, anyone on the same connection can see everything anyone on the network is doing. Hackers at public coffee shops can steal your login credentials, the NSA can spy on your home connection and your ISP can watch everything you do. Not only is this an invasion of every fundamental privacy right, it is scary. You can learn a lot about someones internet history and how they navigate the web.
Utilizing a VPN is simple and the privacy benefits surpass other technologies. Once you choose a VPN provider the setup is simple, download the program and hit connect. When you connect to a VPN all activities or anything you do online is encrypted. When you visit a website, login to a website or download anything online. it is encrypted by default. Meaning the NSA cannot see what your doing, your ISP cannot see what your doing nor can any attacker or hacker online. The best VPN on the market is Private Internet Access. Our Private Internet Access Review overviews the service and its ease of use. It’s our personal choice along with hundreds of thousands of others.
3) Use a Private and Secure Search Engine – This line may leave you a bit puzzled, a secure search engine? Search engines are what guide us to content online. They solve our problems, find our solutions and tell us intimate answers we dare not ask anyone. Why is Google not going to harvest and abuse this data? They wont safeguard it and already abuse such data while the NSA is their right hand man in this operation. Google can tie every search, every website you visit and every email you send to your personal name and home address. Assuming you have created a pattern for yourself and are logged into your Gmail account while using Google.
Secure search engines don’t track you, don’t bubble you and don’t monetize you. They put you first, and monetizing second. Secure alternatives to Google are DuckDuckGo, StartPage and ixQuick. We personally recommend DuckDuckGo as it’s fast, easy and was nearly the first secure search engine.
4) Use Secure SMS Apps and Phone Call Products – Indeed, the NSA also collects SMS text messages and phone call records. And Yes, there is a solution to this. Secure smart phone apps are great alternatives to regular text messaging. Functionality is key as the apps still use your phone number and contacts, yet are end-to-end encrypted. Meaning it is physically impossible for the NSA or someone to decrypt the data without your device in their hands. They would then have to extract the private encryption keys from your device which would not be fast or simple.
5) HTTPS Everywhere – This is the most simple tip of all. Use HTTPS everywhere on your browsers and smart devices. The technology built by the Electronic Frontier Foundation is a program that will encrypt your internet by default where possible. It’s not nearly as good as a VPN, but defaults nearly everything to HTTPS when possible. It is a simple one click install and we highly recommend you use it on your computer, mobile phone and tablet if possible.
Encrypting your Internet is simple and one tiny switch can make the difference. Try a new search engine for a week and see how it pans out. Try a VPN for a month and see if you feel secure. The steps are simple yet people fail to execute cause the internet, online, digital or cyber world doesn’t seem real. It is very real, and poses more of a threat than some real life situations. With the NSA listening, your mobile phone may be prosecuting you while you think your having a private conversation.
Technology is a great innovation, now protect the innovation storing your life!