2013 brought us the revelation that the government is all over our personal information, snooping through phone records and internet activity. To combat this, 2014 brought us new tools and methods to stop this (unfortunately legal) invasion of privacy.Though it is impossible to completely block out the National Security Agency from your life, there are a few steps you can take to make it slightly more difficult to be spied on.
On the internet:
If you are going to store data online, use Google services. Google has spent a lot of money this year working to make themselves the safest place on the internet, according to IT World.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt said. “We massively encrypted our internal systems,” he said. “It’s generally viewed that this level of encryption is unbreakable in our lifetime by any sets of human beings in any way. We’ll see if that’s really true.”
When surfing the internet, you may have noticed your recent searches spawning advertisements on unrelated sites. If it bothers you that your searches are being tracked, you can browse in private mode in most browsers. For the extreme individual, there is also the Tor Project, which allows you to browse privately over encrypted channels, according to the The Blaze.
On your phone:
Make sure you buy an encrypted phone. Apple and Google phones have the highest level of security and their newest phones will lock down messages, contacts, and photos stored on the phone, keeping them away from anyone (including the NSA) who might want your data. However, many phones automatically store data in the cloud, which is not safe from government spying. Turning off automatic cloud storage is simple to do but you risk losing all data if your phone is lost or broken, according to The Hill.
Android users should use encrypted apps such as TextSecure or WhatsApp to send and receive messages and iPhone users should use Apple’s iMessage serve. To protect yourself when making phone calls, use Whisper System’s apps RedPhone for Android users and Signal for iPhone users.
Completely shutting yourself off from the government is impossible while using devices. Your phone is, at its core, a tracking device that allows anyone with the technical skills to locate your exact location.
“Spying on the content of cell phone communications is trivially easy,” said Eva Galperin, who works for digital rights advocate Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), according to The Hill.
However, these tips can allow for a small amount of privacy in an age where nothing is private.