Article on privacy apps

June 8, 2014 |

The Age has run a story titled Edward Snowden and Reset the Net: Eight ways to take back your online privacy regarding the various apps, programs and procedures to enhance privacy on line.

It provides:

A year ago, Edward Snowden’s leaks about the US mass surveillance program made headlines around the world.

Now he’s urging internet users to stop relying on governments to protect their rights online and claw back their privacy themselves.

“We’re past the point where citizens are entirely dependent on governments to defend our privacy, we don’t have to ask for our privacy, we can take it back,” said Mr Snowden, speaking via video link at the Personal Democracy Forum conference in New York.

The forum was part of Reset the Net, a day of pro-privacy action supported by a coalition of tech companies, human rights and privacy groups that have come together to protest mass surveillance.

“This is the beginning of a moment where we the people begin to protect our universal human rights with the laws of nature rather than the laws of nations,” said Mr Snowden in a statement for initiative.

Reset the Net includes a pack of apps to do exactly that. Here are the recommendations:

Safe texting

To protect your SMS messages from interception, the Reset the Net coalition recommends four apps:

  • ChatSecure: available on Android or Apple devices
  • RedPhone: available on Android devices

Smarter passwords

Even if your password is better than “password” or your name followed by your birthday, most are still fairly easily cracked.

Reset the Net makes the following suggestions to improve the security of password-protected accounts:

  • Don’t use the same password for every account
  • The only safe passwords today are long and complicated enough to be too hard to remember, so you’ll need to write it down
  • Use the Master Password app which generates a new password every time you visit a login

Protecting your computer

Browsing history, communications and purchases can all be tracked on unencrypted browsers.

Here is some software and apps to prevent snooping:

  • Tor is designed to block people from discovering your location or browsing habits. It is available for Mac, Microsoft and GNU/Linux computers.
  • Adium is a Mac software that encrypts conversations on Facebook, search engine DuckDuckGo and similar platforms.
  • Pidgin is a Microsoft and GNU/Linux equivalent of Adium.

The first Reset the Net day comes exactly a year after websites began publishing information leaked by Mr Snowden about the US National Security Agency’s indiscriminate collection of phone and web data.

Tech companies involved in Reset the Net day include Dropbox, Twitter, Mozilla, DuckDuckGo, Reddit and Google, which has begun testing software to encrypt email.

But the exact nature of the relationship between the NSA and tech companies is unclear, particularly the extent to which companies collaborate with the intelligence gathering body.

Several tech companies, including Google, Microsoft Apple and Facebook, have expanded their privacy policies to notify users when governments request their data.

Companies have so far chosen to make internal security upgrades rather than lobby the US government with their significant user bases, and budgets.



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