In the past few years, we have seen numerous cases where criminals were traced back through their online activity. But that thing didn’t end there. Governments has been repeatedly accused for tracing innocent people’s activity too. In many countries different government are planning to pass the electronic surveillance law that basically invades user privacy. Not only the government, but there are so many “known and trusted” services also that keeps track of your virtual life.
Following are the tricks and tools that will protect you from such snooping.
Scramble your social networking posts
We have seen that Social networks can now be a prime source of evidence for many court cases. What things you share with your friends and public via Facebook, Twitter or Google + are very easily traced by government snoops.
If you want to send someone a private message via these social networking sites, and you want it keep it confidential, Let Scrambls (https://scrambls.com/) help you out. This tool encodes the data and the recipient needs to have this plugin/ add-on/ web service along with the password protection (optional) to be able to decode the message. This service is available as add-on extension for Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Internet Explorer.
Encrypt your web emails
While sending someone an email, check whether you are having the HTTPS connection or not. This is the actual concept behind the encryption, but again, if the recipient doesn’t have the HTTPS certification enabled, your message can still be intercepted. To save yourself from such situation, you can use this service called LOCKBIN (https://www.lockbin.com/), which helps you encode your message and password protects it. So unless the recipient has the correct combination, the message can’t be accessed. Recently the mobile version of Lockbin was also introduced. They also have an add-in for Microsoft Outlook.
Protect your online conversations
While chatting to your friends you can use IM (Instant Messaging) services, because they feature the “live” interaction that means that once you got offline, the conversation is deleted. This is rather a more secured approach then sending someone email and attachments. But, here is the catch, avoid AIM, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Gtalk because though they encrypt your conversation, but also, saves your conversation which can later be accessed.
You can prevent this interception by using some other IMs such as Pidgin (www.pidgin.im), Miranda IM (http://www.miranda-im.org) and install its Off-the-record (OTR) plug-in, this will help you to have the conversation without doing any rocket science behind that to encrypt it, as this plug-in automatically does this task for you. You can also integrate Pidgin with your facebook account.
Alternatively, you can try Abine’s free tool Facebook Encrypted Chat (http://www.abine.com/facebook.php) which can be bookmarked on your browser and whenever you want to make your conversation go stealth protected just drag the bookmarklet.
Encrypted Versions of the website
Whenever you are accessing a website, make sure that you have landed on its HTTPS certified page, this helps you from getting others to figure out about your online activities. For instance when you go to https://encrypted.google.com/ and make some searches it is not possible for your ISP, and even Google to know what exactly you were searching for. But again, you don’t always land up in the HTTPS pages by default, for this you can install HTTPS Everywhere (https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere), it’s an extension available for Chrome and Firefox that forces your browser to use the secured version of a website.
But here is the catch, Encrypted pages are usually a little slower as compared to its unsecured versions. And, while installing this extension you will see a warning dialogue from your browser, ignore it, the warning message only points out that this add-on is going to alter many settings of it. Getting security intercept alert to have better security, what an irony!
And finally, TOR
Rumor has it that soldiers during war time are suggested to use TOR for accessing the internet.US Navy, activists, journalist, NGO chose this bundle to keep their conversation anonymous and fully encrypted.
TOR (https://www.torproject.org/index.html.en) protects your location and private data from being compromised. It uses software called “onion proxy” to apply various layers of encryption to your web connection. It sends data over virtual tunnels so that the servers can’t pin point your location.
This browser can not only be used to protect your digital identity, but also to access websites that your ISP (or office network administrator) might have blocked.
But again, Tor is also slow, but I guess this is a fair deal in exchange to your online anonymity and government from spying on you.