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Privacy Encryption

Keeping Your Data Private From the NSA (And Everyone Else) 622

Nerval's Lobster writes "If those newspaper reports are accurate, the NSA's surveillance programs are enormous and sophisticated, and rely on the latest in analytics software. In the face of that, is there any way to keep your communications truly private? Or should you resign yourself to saying or typing, 'Hi, NSA!' every time you make a phone call or send an email? Fortunately there are ways to gain a measure of security: HTTPS, Tor, SCP, SFTP, and the vendors who build software on top of those protocols. But those host-proof solutions offer security in exchange for some measure of inconvenience. If you lose your access credentials, you're likely toast: few highly secure services include a 'Forgot Your Password?' link, which can be easily engineered to reset a password and username without the account owner's knowledge. And while 'big' providers like Google provide some degree of encryption, they may give up user data in response to a court order. Also, all the privacy software in the world also can't prevent the NSA (or other entities) from capturing metadata and other information. What do you think is the best way to keep your data locked down? Or do you think it's all a lost cause?"
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Keeping Your Data Private From the NSA (And Everyone Else)

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  • by Ravaldy ( 2621787 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @01:50PM (#43987295)

    The problem is that your right maybe someone else's breach of freedom. That's always the issue.

    E.g. You eat peanuts, the guy beside you is allergic. He has to leave the event because he can't be within 20 metres of peanuts...

    Collection of information can protect citizens from crooks but also impede on said individuals privacy. Which one is more important? Is there a balance?

  • This is Stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rob Riggs ( 6418 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @01:50PM (#43987307) Homepage Journal

    None of those things will help you. To the NSA, the content of your email may be less important than with whom you are communicating. Yes, the care about the content of some emails, but their dragnet appears to be for network analysis -- sender, recipients, date, time, etc. The NSA almost certainly catalogs every DNS lookup you do. This is the stuff that is erroneously being referred to as metadata.

    One possibly surprising way to keep your communications private is to read/post your communications to a very public forum. That way the intended recipient is difficult to determine. Keep the communication slightly covert -- a little steganography goes a long way if you can fly under the radar. Just don't trust others with your privacy.

    Our rights are inalienable -- but only if we use them.

  • by Xaedalus ( 1192463 ) <(Xaedalys) (at) (> on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @01:54PM (#43987363)
    Do it to me. I'll make my invisible big brother wish he or she could sell everything and go Amish inside of a month. Do you know how many LEGAL actions are possible within the privacy of my own home? That I can do in the full knowledge that you'll HAVE to watch them? This goes both ways you know, what you see you can't unsee and at some point I can guarantee you I'll make you take everything out just so you never have to see any of it again.
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @02:14PM (#43987669)

    "Even there, however, the government can still potentially gain information on who you may be sharing the data with. "

    Not with OneSwarm []. It was specifically designed such that content is distributed throughout your OneSwarm network, and it is physically impossible to determine which node or nodes are supplying the data you are receiving via that network.

    It might be theoretically possible for them to find out who is in your network, with a lot of effort. But even if they managed to insert a node into your network, they could not tell with whom you are communicating. By design.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @03:04PM (#43988287) Homepage Journal

    And encrypting it screams "hey look at me look at me I'm saying something I don't want you to know about!"

    Huh? My mail server has been opportunistically encrypting all MTA traffic for the past decade and all of my remote access is via OpenVPN or ssh. My work involves conversations with clients that include, but are not limited to trade secrets, personally-identifiable medical records, and financial information. Damn right I don't want other people to know about that stuff, and the NSA is near the bottom of that list.

    The only change I'm going to make over this NSA tussle is to stop accepting plain HTTP on my own infrastructure. Sorry, IE on XP users - you're out of luck. The other 95% of the web will be better off if everybody makes the same change.

    I'll have to look through my logs to see if the same change can be made for mail yet.

  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:18PM (#43989615) Homepage

    This kind of argument re: "the person watching will be bored/frustrated" may have worked circa 1948, but nowadays computers can do the work. When there's something useful then the computer signals it. No muss, no fuss. I'm always stunned by how many people refuse to get into the 21st century with their thinking on this issue.

  • by snadrus ( 930168 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @06:00PM (#43990111) Homepage Journal

    This is how Lotus has worked for 20 years. Your log-in key is a file which is your public/private key and public keys of important servers (home server, various "main servers", adjacent domain servers). Then it's PGP all the way down. It's a simple menu option (often force-enabled by your admin) to have your client encrypt the message decryption key for each destination user.

    That's why their webmail requires that you upload the log-in key. And it expires according to your company password policy. The cert trust chain corresponds to the organization's servers, and cannot be spoofed without having the organization's keyfile (on admin server) or using the admin server itself (which is highly logged). This makes the encryption very tamper-proof (in 20 years I've never heard of it broken, and I'd know).

    But this is for organizations running Lotus internal and the organizations it peers with. AFAIK There's no direct + easy standard that does the same thing.

I've got a bad feeling about this.