>> Prism: What to do

2013-06-18

While following the recent international events, I (and probably everyone else) heard about the NSA and Prism. Now I always distrusted big companies, especially the ones from the US, because I know money and power are everything over there. If they want to spy on you, they can. Now there is something you can do (read this, or this post will make less sense) to at least limit the amount of information about yourself getting to those people.

Obviously, you don’t want to use Apple hardware (which I don’t anyway, but that is another story), as Apple is infamous for invading user’s privacy. Chrome OS is insecure, as Google makes money of ad targeting, which is, you guessed it, gathering your information. And Windows, well, who seriously trusts Microsoft? The alternatives listed are a bunch of Linuxes and BSDs, although I think they are recommending the wrong distros, beginners should try something like Mint, Crunchbang or openSUSE.

The browsers are the same story, no Chrome, no Safari, no IE (as if anyone would miss it), you don’t know, what they are actually doing, and while browsing, you give away an awful lot of personal data. Technically, your browser could send you whole browsing history (including “incognito mode”, the only one saying nothing gets saved is your browser), your Downloads, your login data and more to someone. The right choices here are Firefox, Chromium (which I guess is okay, haven’t read the source myself) and smaller browsers like surf or luakit.

The next interesting point is websearching. Again, Google is bad, who knew? Yahoo and Bing, too. I’d say, use DuckDuckGo. I use it as my main search engine for some months now and prefer it over Google. While Google sometimes gives me better results, most of the time, DDG does good. Be sure to have a look at the bang commands.

To make this a bit shorter, be careful, which email provider you use, they can read everything you write and receive. Self-hosting is sadly no real option here, unless you have access to a static IP and a TLD. Cloud-storage providers can access all your files saved to them, you can self-host using ownCloud or Seafile. Be careful what to enter on any social networks, even if “private”. You can either opt-out completely or stay with the big ones (namely Facebook), as using a small social network misses the point.

The instant messaging section is quite hard. Safe are IRC, Pidgin, Cryptocat, Mumble, Jitsi. Unsafe are all big desktop clients (GTalk, Skype, MSN/Live Messenger, …) and Whatsapp as well.

There are some more options for the guys with the tin foil hats, such as using Tor permanently, only use end-to-end encrypted websites and disable all scripts and plugins, then use custom DNS-servers and stuff like this, but chances are, someone will see where you are browsing, like the guy standing behind you.