By Darren Chaker, I typically post on TOR and give talks about cyber security, but could not resist to comment on the recent efforts by San Diego District Attorney to weaken encryption. First – it’s a pointless effort. In short, when USA manufactured encryption products are weakened, simply buy Russian, or any of the “546 encryption products from outside the US” per encryption guru Bruce Schneier. Besides the hype, the fact is the bill will never pass, but good to keep your options in mind!
On this note, and in honor of those who want to attack our privacy, I would suggest:
1. Use a PIN, at least 6 digits for our phone and turn on encryption; do NOT use finger print to get in your phone as you can be forced to swipe your finger (mixed cases say yes and no, currently before the Ninth Circuit);
2. Encrypt your computer’s hard drive – BitLocker is good for Windows (Windows 10 Pro comes with it – do NOT save back up pass-phrase to Outlook email as there’s an option to do so – and do not write it down), BestCrypt is another one of my favorites. Apple computers and tablets (as well as Android tablets) come with encryption, so turn it on. Once encrypted, the hard drive is a useless brick – just be sure your pass-phrase (aka password) is complex;
3. Use a history wiping utility – CCleaner is free and a good product for the typical person to wipe internet history, delete digital tracks, and wipe hard drive at least once a week; CyberScrub or East-Tec do the same, but with additional options, and are cheap ($20-60 range). This keeps deleted info truly deleted, and computer history use – history. It also speeds up your computer;
4. Encrypt (WPA2) your WiFi connection with a password (do not use the factory PW); if you want ultra security, get a secure router, I use Sophos;
5. When using free Wi-Fi, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) – this secures your info when away from home, and prevents the coffee shop selling your browsing data to third parties – remember – if it’s free – YOU are the product. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are perfect places for predators and hackers to perpetrate their cybercrimes. If they happen to get a hold of your personal information, you could very well be the next victim of identity theft! Password-protected home Wi-Fi networks though somewhat safer are also highly vulnerable to sophisticated hackers. Wi-Fi security becomes even more critical if you are a frequent traveler or student who needs to use Wi-Fi connections at hotels, airports, coffee shops or university campuses to access the Internet; and
6. Go into your Google settings, and pause all search history, YouTube viewing history, location history, etc. While at it, delete the history too. If you like everything you do to be archived and available, that’s cool too. You decide your privacy fate.
Do not support efforts to weaken encryption since it undermines domestic ingenuity, competitiveness, and a person can simply purchase foreign made products.
The above is the tip of privacy iceberg. It’s not everything one needs to do, but it is a lot more than most do. Keep in mind, doing the above helps protect the common folks, to the corporate executive whose computer is taken by a foreign company who wants to salvage corporate secrets from it.