How Encryption Works To Protect Your Email, IM and Phone Calls

Public-key-crypto-1“One interesting thing we learned from Snowden: ‘Encryption works,'” writes Jon Evans, explaining your various options for encrypting email, instant messaging and phone calls at Techcrunch:

Everyone is worried about the wrong things. Since Edward Snowden exposed the incipient NSA panopticon, the civil libertarians are worried that their Internet conversations and phone metadata are being tracked; the national-security conservatives claim to be worried that terrorists will start hiding their tracks; but both sides should really be worried about different things entirely.

Online surveillance is the one kind that can actually be stopped. One interesting thing we learned from Snowden: “Encryption works.” Right now almost all Internet traffic is completely unencrypted, or badly encrypted, or only encrypted until it reaches the first set of servers, or your host encrypts all data with the same key. But these are all, in theory, solvable problems.

If we don’t want governments (or anyone else) spying on our Internet traffic and our phone conversations, then we can stop them from doing so. Tools that seem to successfully ward off the full might of the NSA already exist: PGP for email, OTR for instant messaging, RedPhone for voice calls.

Now, these tools are all, to varying degrees, a huge pain to use. This is partly because security is hard and partly because the world could really use an anti-surveillance Jony Ive. But as time goes on, they and their ilk will become more user-friendly, and it’s only a matter of time before tools which can withstand (most of) the full might of the NSA become simple enough that their use is fairly widespread…

[continues at Techcrunch]

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  • bob james

    let the cyber war begin!

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