We can all agree that Donald Trump has been a loose canon since his campaign day and when it became apparent that he was taking office, the worry became a full blown concern for our safety and the safety of our country.
The thing that is going on in everyone’s mind right now is how to protect themselves from Trump’s National Security Agency (NSA). He has not yet outlined his surveillance plans but already many are looking on how to protect themselves from it.
The following are some of the ways listed that can help you to protect yourself from Trump’s surveillance plans, as they say, better safe than sorry. So here goes:
Enlist the Use of Signal
While using encryption to protect the messages we sent via our phones and emails has become an easy protection measure, thanks to programs like Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) which is the ultimate program to use if you do not want any of your information intercepted.
Since its first use in 1991, PGP has been an outstanding and unbreakable encryption program, even the NSA has not come up with a way to attack it.
Another protection option is Signal which is very easy to use. This app allows users to add each other by using their phone numbers then Signal provides a QR code that can be scanned to double check and ensure that there is nobody listening in in your conversations. As soon as the QR flashes green, that means it is a go and you can have your conversation.
Other alternatives that offer end-to-end encryption are iMessage from Apple and WhatsApp from Facebook.
WeChat and Google Hangouts are unencrypted which opens you up to the possibility of being tapped into. Other apps like Google Allo and Facebook Messenger also have the “optional” encrypted mode which can leave you open to having your privacy encroached on.
When it comes to your emails and text messages, they are easy to intercept which puts you in a vulnerable position because when you look at the both of them, they are a necessity.
Make Tor Your Friend
Also known as The Onion Router, it is free software that allows one to have anonymous communication. If you are guessing that this is the technology used by those who frequent a corner of the internet known as the Dark Web, then you are right. That would be the corner of the internet that houses a lot of illegal things imaginable by human beings.
Surprisingly enough, this technology was created by the United States state department with the aim of aiding activists in tyrannical countries to have a communication line without the worry of being intercepted.
Tor works by wrapping up data and information into bundles which are encrypted several times to dictate a path through a network of volunteer computers before getting to the final destination.
When the information reaches its destination, the server will not know where the request came from. The same applies to the middle servers as they will not know the user or the destination.
For even a more secure connection, Tor Hidden Services does a wonderful job of hiding the user’s activities on the net. If someone is busy snooping, they will not even realize that the user has visited a site because the user’s request does not make it to the surface web and it cannot determine who it was that even did it.
Some of the setbacks to using Tor are:
- Browsing will be difficult because of the nature of the network
- Internet speed will be reduced due to the limited capacity which imposes on the bandwidth constraints
- Some sites that are not comfortable with a user whom they cannot identify will block Tor
- The probability of messing up while using Tor is high e.g. sending some information over an unencrypted connection by accident, providing a fingerprint that can allow someone who is snooping to identify you
Enlist the Use of a Full Disk Encryption
If you own a Mac, a full disk encryption is probably already loaded, more so on the most recent version of macOS.
We cannot forget Windows users, especially those who have Windows 10 which has a slightly harder process but it is doable. The Microsoft full disk encryption feature known as BitLocker can be turned on by searching for “encryption” from the start menu, then you click on “Change device encryption settings” after which you click on “manage BitLocker” which turns it on. This can be done for other versions of Windows up to Vista and if you have a Windows program older than Vista you will have to upgrade.
The disadvantage with the full disk encryption is that if you forget your passwords when it is turned on, your data recovery will be futile.
Have Password Manager and Two Factor Authentication
It might seem futile to have a password in a world where the NSA has the ability to overrun it but it is worthwhile.
It is so because as usual, you are expected to secure all the accounts you have online with passwords, it does not need the genius to know that.
Using the likes of 1Password, Dashlane and LastPass will give you the option of generating and storing passwords that will be difficult for anyone to guess. To be even safer, you should use a different password for each and every online account you have.
Two-factor authentications are created to protect you even if you misplace your passwords. The way two-factor authentication works is by asking you to enter a code displayed on another device or for you to approve a sign-in when logging in. Popular sites that use two-factor authentications are Facebook, Google, Apple, and Twitter.
When logging into an app or into a device, there are questions that you should ask yourself like, do you really need to give your location settings? Do you really have to give access to your contacts? Can the information I share publicly to be used against me? What about the private information I share, can it be used against me if intercepted?
These and many other questions should help you decide on the type of protection you can use for yourself in Trump’s NSA.