Internet security and data protection
Dedicated to Internet-warriors ;-)
In brief, use TOR for safer browsing and TORCHAT for communications to increase your protection. Never use your domestic email because it's easily accessed by authorities. Americans should use Canadian or better Asian/European providers, Russians can use American ones. Even better use protected mail services. This is not ideal protection but makes it much more difficult to control your messages.
There is no anonymity over the Internet for a long time. Byelorussia, China, Russia, Turkmenistan and many other states implemented total control over the Internet and can bring you to the court due to your activities, for instance comment in the blog. How to protect your privacy?
First of all, there is NO PERFECT PROTECTION, you can just minimize your risks. If the control exists in the country that it is possible to see what particular user has done over the Internet and which sites he visited. however, due to enormously big traffic, this option is used only if you are under investigation, they simply have no resources to check everybody, otherwise all child molesters would have been already captured and terrorists eliminated. Also, it is possible to track ALL users, who visited particular site from your country. Again, they cannot visit everyone in person.
So, what to do to minimize risks?
0) Never use names, nicknames, passwords, emails, images and your habits from real life for your "hidden" Internet life
1) Use programs, which mask your Internet presence (hide real IP and encrypt traffic).
Important: even these programs do not provide 100% safety. Check product descriptions. From the other hand they even allow you to reach sites censored (and blocked) on national level because you connect to them through foreign servers.
One more thing - even under these programs do not use for registration on "risky" sites your main email / real identity.
3) Delete browser history (bookmarks, cookies, files, history) manually or using programs like CCleaner. Alternatively, you can use TOR-protected Firefox installed on encrypted disk (see below)
4) Also you can use phone card registered not on your name (or non-registered at all). Be aware that IMEI (unique identification number) of your mobile, modem or router is stored by provider anyway and it could be legal proof in the court.
Limitations: if you are already under serious investigation - they can try to define your location through satellite (rumors, but still worth to consider) or GSM nods.
5) Do not neglect data encryption on your computer (HDD or flash memory). It'll take 100 years to decrypt it unless password is not received from you under torture.
6) Gmail, Hotmail, LiveJoyrnal, etc. - they release your information to the law-enforcement agencies in case of official inquiry. Full stop. Furthermore, SSL traffic could be intercepted. So consider what you are writing and saying. A good news from hushmail/hush/cyber-rights:
Does Hush/Cyber-Rights.Net have a "back door" that can be accessed by government agencies?
However, personally, I do not trust much them. Read about its hushmail security problems here.
7) As for Skype and other VoIP systems - it's difficult to say without deep technical knowledge. In brief - yes, it's possible to crack and hack everything. Do not hold your conversation and other history but still keep in mind that chat could be decrypted with rather high possibility. Voice/video calls - most likely no, unless there is secret mic installed somewhere in your room.
!!! Keep in mind that situation devastatingly changed on June 2011 after Microsoft's takeover of Skype. Microsoft has a reputation of a corporation, which cooperates with local authorities at highest possible extend to benefit from easy commerce and piracy fight by them. As a result now Skype source code as well as encryption codes are being passed over to respective agencies.
!!!! Last update on July 2012 - Microsoft agreed to COMPLETELY COOPERATE with authorities and made changes to the Skype code leaving "backdoors" allowing to connect to voice and video conversations. All instant messages are stored for 30 days. Also they implemented special "spy" mode. What does it mean? Previously, conversation security key has been generated by clients - i.e. your computer. Now they can enable key generating ON SERVER for targeted client. This key is to be handed over to cops. When authorities are for you they simply send a request to Microsoft (often without any court decision) and ups... Microsoft decrypt your chat/voice conversation for them.
Skype is a bloody black hole now. Try Hamachi instead, at least for chat.
USING SKYPE IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS FOR YOUR PRIVACY
In brief, law enforcement agencies has full access to your skype history - without any court decision. This is confirmed and proven information.
Check this out: http://www.slate.com/id/2095777/,
8) For the people who are really under the risk of pursuing by federal agencies, there is still a good way to protect applications and especially messengers from being infecting and compromised. Infecting most often happen during various Windows "updates" and never caught by anti-virus programs.
What to do then?
- Install Linux instead of Windows (sounds horrible, ain't it? :-) or better download DSL - http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/, install it on USB and run from USB.
- Even if Linux is installed on hard drive it is compulsory to install protected programs onto USB drive (USB flash, for instance).Everything, which Linux run on USB cannot be infected through Internet. USB must be secured and accessed only through password/certificate login. One more thing to mention - Windows apps do not run on Linix. Special version needed :)
- Finally you insert flash card to USB, load program under Linux environment and talk more securely via Skype, etc.
9) for detailed description read Anonymous blogging article
The last thing to mention - do not confess even if you are caught. It might happen that all these IP and other details will not be sufficient for the court, but your confession brings you a sentence.