Today we live in a world saturated with technology. What this means is that electronic security is a constant point of concern, not just for the IT industry, spies, or corporations, but for everyone who owns a phone, computer, car, or any other electronic device that has networking capability. And with the Internet of Things on the horizon, even everyday household items may become vulnerable to hackers.
Not all hacking is bad, The Internet of Things will give citizens unprecedented control over their own lives, some of these citizens will hack these everyday objects to fit the exact parameters that they wish for them to. Unfortunately, not everyone’s goals are so noble. Criminals have much to gain from hijacking control of elements of your life and turning them toward their own personal gain. Corporations have much to gain from having free access to your information so they can market to your more effectively. And governments have much to gain from knowing what everyone is doing, all the time, not just to deter crime, but also to suppress dissent. Welcome to the future. Welcome to the cyberpunk now.
The FBI used to maintain a page that gave advice on how and why to encrypt your devices to protect yourself from criminals. Recently, they discreetly removed this advice from their site, and simultaneously have begun working toward outlawing strong encryption. And it’s not just the FBI. One of the revelations to come out of the Snowden leaks has shown that the NSA and GCHQ have been attempting to breach encryption of all kinds. And in the UK, it has become effectively illegal to use strong encryption.
In effect, police and intelligence agencies want unbridled access to everything we do. There are a lot of problems with this. Many legitimate reasons exist for using encryption, and if a government can crack your encryption, so can any criminal. People may have sensitive information that they don’t want to share, such as in sexual assault cases. Corporations have reason to protect their trade secrets, so that competitors don’t under cut them or steal and implement their ideas first. Activists, journalists, and political dissidents are often targets for suppression, and encryption remains one of the most effective ways to remain free from this kind of suppression. Entities like our government, and corporations want complete access to our lives, and zero of the accountability that comes with this power. If it wasn’t for the efforts of a series of brave new outlaws, we wouldn’t know half of what is going on in the world.
Some great examples of these modern outlaws are Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange. Bradley Manning brought light to corruption and government cover-ups that occurred during the Afghanistan War, and for his trouble he still be detained in prison. Edward Snowden revealed the depths of surveillance that the NSA has subjected the entirety of the world to, and for his trouble he now lives in exile in Russia. Julian Assange has played a major role in exposing wrong doing in many countries, and even of corporations engaging in unlawful behavior, for his trouble he now lives in asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy located in London, and has done so, for four years.
A great example of encryption being deployed in a powerful way is the TOR network. The NSA and GCHQ have devoted untold resources to compromising the TOR network, but because of the powerful built-in encryption that TOR uses, these efforts have remained mostly fruitless. There have been slip ups in security, because of human error, but these problems have been remedied quickly and the system has remained resilient against attack from the outside.
This is why one of the solutions that has been proposed to not only keep the Internet free and secure, but also allow users to maintain their privacy, is to implement strong blanket encryption all across the Internet. This is the solution presented by Reset The Net. In the mean time, the individual is responsible for their own security, privacy, and freedom online. It is not, and will not be provided for you. Below, I have included a list of resources that will help you to protect yourself, and take an active role in preserving your privacy and freedom.
Reset the Net – Privacy Pack: https://pack.resetthenet.org/
Surveillance Self Defense: https://ssd.eff.org/
PRISM Break: https://prism-break.org/en/
Email Self Defense: https://emailselfdefense.fsf.org/en/
TOR Network: https://www.torproject.org/