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Short and sweet. You say you don't like the fact that your government is tracking you, listening to you, watching you, counting your clicks and storing your data?

Well, you can do something about it, you know.

Products have been out there for quite a while _ tested and (for the most part) open sourced _ and they work as well as or better than the mega-corpse products we all know and love (big roll eyes).

If you're willing to put in a bit of time, and you want to throw away that rather short choke chain and leash you've been on all these years, there are alternatives to Microchipsoft, rottenApple iOs, Faceplantbook, etc etc etc. that don't facilitate Big Broseff's boundless enthusiasm for * cough * keeping us safe.

Below the squiggle, a short list with links. Prepare to be liberated.
Read it. Spread it around. Share it. If you know some useful additions not listed, add to it in the comments.


Opting out of PRISM

Opt out of PRISM, the NSA’s global data surveillance program. Stop reporting your online activities to the American government with these free alternatives to proprietary software.
( * means either not completely open source, or not completely free, or for more advanced users )

Operating system:

Currently using-
    Apple OS X
    Google Chrome OS
    Microsoft Windows

    Instead, use →      GNU/Linux (Free, open source operating system).
                                Debian (Popular ethical GNU/Linux distribution).
                              * BSD (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, PC-BSD)
                                 Tails (Live CD/USB designed for privacy)

Web browser:

Currently using-
    Apple Safari
    Google Chrome
    Microsoft Internet Explorer

    Instead, use →      GNUzilla IceCat (GNU version of Firefox)
                                Mozilla Firefox (Open source web browser)
                                Tor Browser Bundle (Encrypted, anonymous browsing)


What follows is the list, sans direct links, of applications, browser extensions, social media alternatives, email clients and other tools that can be found on EFF's action page website: PRIZM break.

I urge you to go there and see what interests you. While not everyone is as concerned about our privacy as some of us are, at least let's make it a challenge for the mofos (yes, NSA, HBGary, politicians, Palantir, et al, I'm refering to YOU) who think all our data are belong to them.

Oh, and by the way, EFF is a non-profit that does this stuff for freedom, truth, justice, and what used to be the American way.

If you appreciate what they do for us, throw them some coin, offer them some help, give them a shout out, or otherwise show your appreciation HERE. Because they seriously rock.

(h/t long time activist, author, professor and twitter presence extraordinaire Biella Coleman.)




    Fix Tracking! (Guide to stop getting tracked online)
    Torbutton (Tor plugin for IceCat and Firefox) advanced*

Currently, if you are using these Web search engines

    Google Search
    Microsoft Bing
    Yahoo! Search

Instead, use


    DuckDuckGo (Anonymous, unlogged web searches) partly proprietary*
    Seeks Project (Open decentralized platform for collaborative search)
    Startpage (Private, unlogged web searches) proprietary*
    YaCy (Decentralized web search)

Currently using for Online transactions

    Google Wallet

Instead, try

    Bitcoin (P2P digital currency with no central authority)

Currently using for Email services

    Yahoo! Mail

Instead, use

    Bitmessage (Encrypted, decentralized email server) beta
    RiseUp (Secure and private email accounts) invite-only

For Email desktop clients

    Apple Mail
    Microsoft Outlook

Instead, use


    Icedove (Free version of Mozilla Thunderbird)
    Mozilla Thunderbird (Open source email application) mostly free*

For Email encryption, use


    Enigmail (An OpenPGP plugin for Thunderbird/Icedove)
    GNU Privacy Guard (Free OpenPGP implementation)
    Mailvelope (OpenPGP encryption for webmail)
    WebPG (GnuPG/PGP in your browser)

For online Maps, instead of

    Apple Maps
    Google Maps

Use this

    OpenStreetMap (Free, collaborative world wide map)

Instead of these for Cloud storage

    Apple iCloud
    Google Drive
    Microsoft SkyDrive


    ownCloud (Cloud data in your control)
    Sparkleshare (Self-hosted version control and file sync)
    Tahoe-LAFS (Free and open cloud storage system)

If you Social network with these


Try instead


    Diaspora* (Community-run, distributed social network)
    Friendica (Open source, free social web server)
    GNU Social (Self-hosted, decentralized social network)
    Movim (Private, decentralized social network server) (Self-hosted social stream server)
    Tent (Free, autonomous social network protocol)

For Instant messaging, instead of

    AOL Instant Messenger
    Google Talk
    OS X Messages
    Yahoo! Messenger

Use these

    Cryptocat (Private, encrypted online conversations)
    Off-the-Record Messaging (OTR) (Install and enable in Pidgin for encrypted chat)
    Pidgin (Open source chat program)
    Adium Pidgin for OS X (remember to enable OTR)
    RetroShare (Free, secure, P2P communications platform)

If you use these Video conferencing/VOIP programs,

    Google+ Hangouts
    Google Talk

Instead, use

    Jitsi (Encrypted text and video chat)
    Mumble (Encrypted, low-latency voice chat)

These Media publishing apps/sites


Can be replaced with


    GNU MediaGoblin (Decentralized media publishing platform)
    Piwigo (Free photo gallery platform)
    WordPress (Free website/blog CMS)
    Zenphoto (Free media website CMS)

If, for Document collaboration you use

    Google Docs

You can use these instead


    Ethercalc (Multi-user spreadsheet server)
    Etherpad (Open source, real-time collaborative documents)

If your Web analytics choice has been

    Google Analytics

Try the alternative,

    Piwik (Open source, self-hosted web analytics)

And some miscellaneous privacy apps for your Android


    CSIPSimple (Free, encrypted VOIP for Android)
    CyanogenMod (Aftermarket firmware for Android phones) mostly free*
    Gibberbot (Private, secure OTR messaging for Android)
    Orbot (Tor proxy for Android)
    RedPhone (Secure private calls for Android) mostly free*
    Replicant (Fully free Android distribution)
    TextSecure (Secure SMS/MMS communication for Android) mostly free*

And for your iOS, instead of using

    Apple iOS Messages
    Apple Mobile Safari
    WhatsApp Messenger



    ChatSecure (Encrypted IM for iOS)
    Onion Browser (Secure browsing for iOS) $0.99


Update- Guys, I wanted to answer as many questions as I could this morning but I'm fighting a sinus infection and feel like a wet monkey stuffed into a garbage bag. If anyone wants to chime in in comments and answer queries (as some have done. thanks!) it'd be great.
Thanks all. Peace and privacy aren't bad things.

Originally posted to Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 05:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by Anonymous Dkos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for making 'em work for it. (290+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, sebastianguy99, oortdust, CroneWit, One Pissed Off Liberal, GussieFN, dannobee, Pirogue, Free Jazz at High Noon, cotterperson, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, sceptical observer, wayoutinthestix, Burned, Pandora, Just Bob, foresterbob, Diana in NoVa, Anne was here, Arilca Mockingbird, boomerchick, xxdr zombiexx, gooderservice, pixxer, PsychoSavannah, rodentrancher, Joieau, jamess, blue91, Kentucky Kid, OLinda, Aunt Martha, asilomar, enhydra lutris, cany, jazzence, Siri, rivercard, kamarvt, Ricochet67, Lujane, myboo, psnyder, ctsteve, Hatrax, carpunder, peptabysmal, chicklet, True North, The Free Agent, kerflooey, also mom of 5, Alice Venturi, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Simplify, LynChi, MrJayTee, peglyn, politik, thomask, socal altvibe, WheninRome, edwardssl, asterkitty, Ginger1, zenox, Tod, hubcap, ItsaMathJoke, congenitalefty, MuskokaGord, solesse413, maybeeso in michigan, markthshark, bnasley, YucatanMan, flavor411, operculum, Jujuree, TheFatLadySings, Rosaura, NoMoreLies, Ginny in CO, Oaktown Girl, chrississippi, HoosierDeb, Oh Mary Oh, Shockwave, blueoasis, fumie, Liberal Thinking, jabney, pdxwoman, Desolations Angel, Publius2008, cwsmoke, greengemini, TiaRachel, SquirmyRooter, Chaddiwicker, EverGrateful, out of left field, LaFeminista, Justina, PeterHug, Another Grizzle, fiddlingnero, poligirl, dotsright, NapaJulie, katiec, madhaus, bsmechanic, myeye, radical simplicity, Words In Action, WakeUpNeo, Mr Robert, maxschell, begone, ogre, brentbent, Winston Sm1th, Agathena, wu ming, Gustogirl, SneakySnu, Dumbo, riverlover, Vico, FishOutofWater, slksfca, northsylvania, dov12348, NonnyO, Greyhound, Matt Z, Tinfoil Hat, Lady Libertine, rbird, dkmich, nswalls, hannah, emal, GreyHawk, jarbyus, OutcastsAndCastoffs, deben, edsbrooklyn, Ginsu, bookwoman, jjellin, liberte, RJDixon74135, DefendOurConstitution, Check077, Nag, Winter Rabbit, copymark, SadieSue, tle, TrueBlueMajority, 2thanks, semiot, bronte17, whenwego, stewarjt, boadicea, kck, marleycat, Susipsych, gerrilea, middleagedhousewife, dance you monster, J M F, zett, Timbuk3, Yellow Canary, this just in, p gorden lippy, Loonesta, gongee, beverlywoods, catilinus, Tom Anderson, Sherri in TX, madmsf, Cedwyn, MNDem999, rogeopa, niteskolar, Involuntary Exile, miscanthus, Marihilda, drdana, CJB, gypsytoo, yella dawg, Sybil Liberty, Ice Blue, davehouck, LinSea, poliwrangler, MKinTN, tapestry, AllanTBG, Pescadero Bill, boatjones, jguzman17, AgentOfProgress, BachFan, glitterscale, varro, Mother Mags, Sunspots, Polacolor, zbob, wader, sawgrass727, young voter, eyo, livingthedream, caul, Demeter Rising, Shakludanto, sunny skies, legendmn, No one gets out alive, Mac in Maine, athenap, drofx, some other george, GeorgeXVIII, Nica24, mungley, Assaf, Sun Tzu, political mutt, one of 8, pgm 01, The Rational Hatter, TracieLynn, Ray Pensador, spacejam, Ed in Montana, boran2, cosette, erratic, susakinovember, Haningchadus14, kellius, certainot, Lefty Coaster, sap, dsb, War on Error, Horsefeathers, joeschmeaux, Sanuk, SouthernLiberalinMD, windje, motherlu, slowbutsure, LucyandByron, leeleedee, lungfish, ksp, mbradshawlong, mahakali overdrive, millwood, roses, trumpeter, sb, MJ via Chicago, elfling, mint julep, DeusExMachina, addisnana, Funkygal, thenekkidtruth, Kristina40, elginblt, Renee, Yasuragi, shaharazade, CA ridebalanced, tardis10, KenBee, SoonerG, WSComn

    If we can't keep 'em honest, (and until there is a lot more oversight, it would appear we can't) at least we can keep 'em vewwy vewwy busy.

    Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

    by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 05:12:49 PM PDT

  •  Bitcoin transactions are tracked (14+ / 0-)

    Bitcoin transaction are recorded in a log. Every Bitcoin transaction is recorded in the block chain. This is a crucial part of Bitcoin, because it allows everyone to be sure that you aren't altering your records to give yourself more money that you actually have.

    •  Technically, tho there's 'TRACKING' & 'tracking' (17+ / 0-)

      This is not 'big brother' central authority tracking you, but the community itself keeping track of transactions.
      If the diary list was authored by me, rather than by EFF, I probably wouldn't have included Bitcoin, fwiw.

      Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment systems.

      The software is a community-driven, free, open-source project released under the MIT license.

      Bitcoin is not anonymous

      Some effort is required in order to protect your privacy with Bitcoin. All Bitcoin transactions are stored publicly and permanently on the network, which means anyone can see the balance and transactions of any Bitcoin address. However, the identity of the owner cannot be associated with their Bitcoin address until personal information is revealed by the owner during an exchange. This is why it is recommended for Bitcoin owners to use many different Bitcoin addresses; in fact, you should create a new one each time you receive money. This is especially important for public uses such as websites. You might also want to consider hiding your computer's IP address with a tool like Tor so that it cannot be logged.

      Bitcoin itself strongly recommends using anonymizing software so users remain, well, anonymous.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 05:56:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This should be a series of diaries or a group. (32+ / 0-)

    I think some explanation of the recommend technology is in order. Also, there has to be an honest discussion about the pros and cons of each recommendation.

    I would have also added a list for VPN's as well.

    More and more people need to use these alternatives so they feel less fringy. If you are into chatting and the majority of your contacts don't want to change, then installing Cryptocat isn't going to really help you. If you and your contacts aren't comfortable using private/public keys, then installing OpenPGP is of very limited use to you.

    My experience has been that you show/tell friends/family/associates about some of this stuff and they get all excited. But then they might download Tor and abandon it because of speed issues or other issues that makes it's use too different than what they are use to.

    In any instance, this should get some people started and perhaps it will spread. You don't have to make it easy for the government, ISP's, and other bad actors (of which there are many) to track/own you.

    The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

    by sebastianguy99 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 05:48:33 PM PDT

  •  Thanks, Lisa! (21+ / 0-)

    There's a good article at propublica -- not nearly as comprehensive as yours -- that also recommends EFF's HTTPS Everywhere for Firefox and Chrome.

    For several months I've been searching with DuckDuckGo, which is on your list, and have no qualms in recommending it. YMMV, of course. At that link, if you click on "anonymously" at the bottom, it takes you to there's an easy walk-through of how Google tracks us at More goodies there, including exposing how search engines use our information to put us in a "filter bubble" that manipulates our results.

    As you say, "keep 'em vewwy vewwy busy."

    "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

    by cotterperson on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 06:03:43 PM PDT

    •  I love propublica, they deserve (13+ / 0-)

      accolades and have done much heavy lifting for privacy and advocacy for the public, whereas most of what I've posted here is taken right from EFF's action pages.

      I've used https everywhere pretty much since its first offering, wouldn't surf without it. Ghostery is good, too. (don't tell anyone, but i use adblocker, also... tho i subscribe here so it matters not to markos' bottom line).

      Tor.... USE it. Now. PGP, also. I prefer hushmail to those listed above, but only because I'm used to it and it has a good, simple interface and encryption features.

      I used to use 'dogpile' as my searcher, because it was an aggregate that used all of the searches, even the old alta vista and some pretty defunct/unknowns.

      Thanks for your links. Def checking them out.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 06:28:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Moar search (12+ / 0-)


      Run by a Dutch company, which claims:

      No recording of users' IP addresses.
      No identifying cookies.
      No collection of personal data.
      No sharing personal data with third parties.
      Offering secure, encrypted connections (HTTPS/SSL)
      And a free proxy service that allows anonymous browsing of websites.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 08:03:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  TY. Great tool- ixquick has gotten (8+ / 0-)

        popular in savvy circles - kind of surprised it's not on EFF's list.

        This, btw, is from the 'about us' page of ixquick, regarding privacy:

        Ixquick Protects Your Privacy!

        The only search engine that does not record your IP address.
        Your privacy is under attack!

        Every time you use a regular search engine, your search data is recorded. Major search engines capture your IP address and use tracking cookies to make a record of your search terms, the time of your visit, and the links you choose - then they store that information in a giant database.

        Those searches reveal a shocking amount of personal information about you, such as your interests, family circumstances, political leanings, medical conditions, and more. This information is modern-day gold for marketers, government officials, black-hat hackers and criminals - all of whom would love to get their hands on your private search data.

        Why should you worry?

        Major search engines have quietly amassed the largest database of personal information on individuals ever collected. Unfortunately, this data can all too easily fall into the wrong hands. Consider the following story:

        In August 2006, the online world was jarred when AOL accidentally released three months' worth of aggregated search data from 650,000 of its users, publishing all the details in an online database.
        That database is still searchable. It is an absolute eye-opener to see the potential for privacy nightmares.

        Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

        by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 08:11:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks. I switched just now. n/t (5+ / 0-)

        "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

        by sceptical observer on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 12:19:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  lol (10+ / 0-)

    so I go to the CSIPSimple site to check it out and within seconds with no prompting from me up pops a little green box that tells me my exact make of phone, my provider, and that it's compatible with the app. I'm not even on my phone, I'm on my laptop. Sheesh.

  •  Has anyone ever escaped from PRIZM? (9+ / 0-)

    Wow, Lisa, I'm impressed!  You certainly are clued in!

    I'm thrilled to say that I already use Firefox and Thunderbird and have done so for years.  Someone told me that Thunderbird is so old-fashioned that "no one" uses it, but--(shrug)--it's served me well so far.

    I do need another e-mail address and was thinking of getting a gmail one because one of my Verizon e-mail addresses won't let me "send" mail.  I can receive it at that address but not send it.  Verizon will not help me with this as they do not support anything but Outlook.

    Going to save this diary for future reference and THANKS!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 06:10:07 PM PDT

  •  You should get the dKos public service award! nt (8+ / 0-)

    We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
    Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

    by pixxer on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 06:36:03 PM PDT

    •  Awww, thanks. I just shared what (5+ / 0-)

      EFF has put together with some explanation for the community. You guys need to figure out how much of this is worth investing some time and effort in. Ultimately, while I care about everyone's privacy, we each have to care about our own enough to do something about it now, until we collectively get our heads around what we can and should do for everyone's.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 07:32:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Steve Gibson, (12+ / 0-)
    Is your employer, school, or Internet provider
    eavesdropping on your secure connections?
  •  Just installed Ubuntu 13.04 on my new laptop (10+ / 0-)

    Microsoft is making it harder and harder to dual-boot a computer.
       Microsoft's UEFI (i.e. Secure Boot) prevents you from installing more than one operating system. You have to disable it in the BIOS. And even after I did that, there were "traces" in the master boot record that I had to clean up with some special software, before I could install Ubuntu.

    “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

    by gjohnsit on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 06:43:25 PM PDT

    •  Hmmm, my laptop (3+ / 0-)

      has had both since I brought it home and plugged her in last year. First thing I did was trash Norton, install Avast and Malwarebytes, then headed over to the Ubuntu shack.
      So new windows systems aren't friendly, huh? Care to share what your 'special software' is?  

      DH uses our desktop box, so we 'have' to use Microshaft crap because he likes the seamless interface with his productivity software from work, and as long as the keyboard works he's a happy camper.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 07:15:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lisa Lockwood, Demeter Rising

        I used fixparts.
           I've been researching it and it seems that Ubuntu can be installed with UEFI. But since I was downgrading from Win8 to Win7 (I can't stand Win8), that's probably where I ran into problems.

        “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

        by gjohnsit on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 09:04:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ya, well, that win8 problem is relevant (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gjohnsit, Demeter Rising

          because our desktop has been infected with it.

          Hate it. HATE it. So unintuitive and clumsy. Why take 1 or 2 steps to accomplish a task when you can take 5?
          Great logic.

          Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

          by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 09:15:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Or spend $50 with StarDock to make Windows 8 (0+ / 0-)

            behave like it should.  That includes a regular though highly customizable start menu, boot to the desktop by default, the ability to change themes and wallpapers even in Metro, and even run Metro apps in a regular desktop window just like regular software (the last one is a bit buggy as it is definitely a hack, relying on API interception/hooking and other dirty tricks).

            You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 01:55:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Do not confuse UEFI with UEFI secure boot as (3+ / 0-)

          they are two separate things.  Linux can handle UEFI just fine and assuming your implementation of "secure boot" lets you add your own keys then it will run just fine on secure boot without having to turn it off.  However, not all implementations of secure boot allow that, some are only on (with preloaded keys only) or off.  Also, some UEFI systems will only boot an OS with a certain label.  To be specific, if it doesn't claim to be Microsoft Windows or Red Hat Enterprise Linux then it won't even show up in the boot menu.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 01:53:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  CryptoCat (8+ / 0-)

    Steve is Steve Gibson from doing a podcast with Leo Laporte from, weekly podcast called Security Now.

    A little bit of the discussion:

    And Steve talks about PGP, too, how it's not secure if someone gets a hold of your laptop.

    Steve: Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. And I did install it on Firefox to play with it. It's a cute little tiny thing, 635K. And then you have to restart Firefox, and then you're there. So Cryptocat is a browser plugin-based secure chat system. And now we're going to spend the rest of this podcast explaining what secure chat is because it's different than, for example, PGP-style secure email. But so what I like about Cryptocat is that it lets - it's, like, almost no installation, and bang, there you are able to set up a chat relationship with anybody else in the world, and it is utterly secure.

    It is - there is - okay. And I have to define what "secure" means because, again, I'm using secure chat in a way that I haven't defined yet. But what I like about - the reason Cryptocat is fun is it's just zero friction to get into it. You load a plugin, and bang, you're going. So if there's anybody you want to do chat with, you can.

    On the other hand, it turns out the underlying protocol, which is what I find interesting, I mean, the client there is very nice. The underlying protocol is where the meat is, and this is where the use of the word "secure" comes into play. And the protocol is widely available. It's all over the place. It's been around some - Ian Goldberg is one of the coauthors of the protocol. He's been in math for a long time. He's now a cryptographer. He was - we once mentioned him because he's the guy that realized that Netscape Navigator's random number generator for its SSL connections was no good, and that completely crippled the security of Netscape Navigator's early SSL. That was Ian who figured this out in his early 20s. But he's delivered some papers about this from at least dating back to '05.

    So this OTR, that's the name of the protocol, Off The Record, and as I mentioned at the top of the show, it is already widely available, so you can use it in existing instant messaging clients. You would obviously need to use it at each end. And in fact it refuses not to have the other end being used if it's being used. The site where all of this can be found, and links, is Ian's site, which is, C-y-p-h-e-r-p-u-n-k-s dot ca, And /otr, sorry, slash Off The Record. I think if you just go to, it tells you you need login credentials, and so you want to go to /otr, which is a non-protected directory on that server.

    So Ian I looked at, like, so who is this guy. For three years in high school, so for I guess his last three years of high school, he was a member of Canada's team at the International Math Olympiad where successively he brought home a bronze, a silver, and a gold medal. He got his bachelor's in pure math from University of Waterloo in '95 when he was 22 years old, and that's when he uncovered the crucial flaw in Netscape Navigator's SSL random number generator. This is the random numbers that protect the choice of key when you're negotiating your symmetric cipher, and we all know that crypto needs really high-quality random number generators. It turns out that Netscape Navigator's wasn't very good. We've talked about that on podcasts in the past. This was Ian who found this. Then he went on to get his PhD at Berkeley with a thesis titled "A Pseudonymous Communications Infrastructure for the Internet." Today he's back in Waterloo as an associate professor and university research chair, and teaches some courses every quarter in security and privacy.

    So, okay. So what is secure chat, and how does that differ from, for example, secure email? What's the problem with secure email? Turns out there are some characteristics of secure email which you may not want in chat. For example, the way - we're familiar with PGP. And in general we're familiar with the typical secure crypto technology. Often in crypto protocols we talk about actors Alice and Bob, you know, A and B. And so Alice and Bob are our two guys. And so, for example, Alice and Bob each have public key pairs. And we're talking about the normal PGP model, the traditional protect your email communications. So they generate a public key pair. They keep their private keys private, and they make their public keys widely known.

    And Alice wants to send Bob a message. So she uses her private key to sign the hash of her message. And since only she has her private key, then only she is able to sign the hash of her message. So then, after signing it, she knows she's going to send it to Bob, and Bob has published his public key. So she uses his public key to encrypt the key that she uses to encrypt her message and sends that off to Bob. Well, only Bob knows his private key. So he's the only person who's able to decrypt the key that Alice used to encrypt the message. So he uses his private key, decrypts the key that Alice used, then decrypts the message.

    Now he wants to authenticate that it's from Alice. So she signed the message with her private key, which only she knows. So he verifies the signature using her public key. And if it verifies, he knows that only the matching private key could have been used to sign it. So that's our standard, here's how we authenticate and we encrypt, that is, we get privacy in something like PGP. That's the technology. And so, like, okay, that's everything we want; right? Well, maybe. But we can do better than that.

    And that's what these guys recognized when they created this notion of a secure chat protocol because, what if Bob's computer was grabbed by a bad guys? Maybe by criminals, by competitors, or I don't want to call the FBI "bad guys," but the point being that these two people, Alice and Bob, want to keep their communications private for whatever reason. So if the computer were subpoenaed by a three-letter initial organization or grabbed under the Patriot Act...

    Sorry, I don't feel like doing the math to embed the video where the discussion starts on this topic, so I let youtube do it for me with the link:

    More info with the entire podcast and transcript:

    Chatting Off the Record With OTR:  Episode 406

    •  I like Cryptocat just fine, used (2+ / 0-)

      since, well, since it was a kitten  >^.^<

      There was some dreck around the twittosphere a while back hinting it was compromised, somehow.... the big somehow.... but I don't think that's possible, far as I can tell.

      There are some greyhats who enjoy planting fears and watering them just to see what sprouts and who runs. I guess it was ever so. #STFUsec laughs at fear ;-)

      Bwahaha, @ cliffhanger 'three letter initial' comment. Will have to go to teh Tube and see how this ends.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 07:52:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I thought your previous reply was in (2+ / 0-)

        reference to this.  Sorry.  

        But I listened to everything Steve said, and I trust him, so I think it's secure ;)

        •  Well, and I trust (2+ / 0-)

          you, so there ya go ;->

          Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

          by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 07:57:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You are way, way, way ahead of me on this. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lisa Lockwood

            I "dabble" and try to learn what I can, but I know you're the expert, and I truly admire you for this, and appreciate all your contributions in this area.

            Sappy?  Yes.  But true ;)

            •  lol.... I, too, dabble. Less now (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              than I used to, with my Kaypro and dos prompt ::sigh::

              Thanks, you've always struck me as very knowledgeable, so I guess it's circular in a non firing squady kinda way ;-)

              Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

              by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 08:40:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  lol, you made me laugh. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lisa Lockwood

                No, no, no:  YOU are very good at this.  I know a little about a lot in this area but not a lot in any area.

                OT:  But HTC1 or S4?  I'm on the fence.  First android phone, current iPhone owner, but the 5 is way too small for me.


                •  Hmmmm. I gave the Job's my money (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  a while back and like the phone just phine.
                  DH has a Samsung Galaxy which he likes.
                  Kids all have apple phones and boxes.
                  I dunno, I just use it to text my kidlets and get me from point a to point b, and watch the weather - wouldn't use it for anything 'important'.

                  Heh, I was going to be a smart ass and say, 'oh you always struck me as being knowledgeable, right up till you said I was' But then I thought, 'but no one can see if you're smiling on teh t00bs.'

                  Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

                  by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 08:54:11 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  May be too late to reply but my 2 cents (0+ / 0-)

                  HTC1 battery life has gotten some good reviews but my HTC Evo & friends' other HTC phones have really awful battery life. Except for the lousy battery life I probably wouldn't have replaced my Evo so soon.

                  If you're interested in bigger--The Note II is wonderful. My eyes are, sadly, getting old (like the rest of me ;-) and I really find the phablet-size screen a joy to use. I thought the pen feature sounded gimmicky and I probably wouldn't use it but, man, is it handy. It sorta' reminds me of my old Palm Pilot but it's much more useful.

                  Here's a link to a comparison of the Note II & the S4--the S4 comes out ahead in most categories but for size alone, I wouldn't part with my Note II.


                  I even gave up the freedom of pre-paid (commitment issues) 'cause I got tired of waiting for the Note II to come to pre-paid. If you've got a store near you that will let you play with a Note II, I'd recommend checking it out.

                  Divide And Conquer only works if we allow ourselves to be divided--let's not

                  by EverGrateful on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 04:44:31 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Dreamwidth? (2+ / 0-)

    forked off of LiveJournal codebase, if I recall correctly.  not sure how open it is...

    •  More open than LiveJournal, (3+ / 0-)

      and much more protective of the users.

      Prayers and best wishes to those in Boston, in Texas, and for this week to be over without anything else happening.

      by Cassandra Waites on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 07:56:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can't comment, since i don't use (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maybeeso in michigan, martini

        either of them. But tell us about 'em and why you would rec one over the other?

        Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

        by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 08:04:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, for one thing, LJ is Russian now. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lisa Lockwood, martini

          DreamWidth is still US.

          LJ has a history of taking down content based on tenuous accusations. Research "livejournal strikethrough" and you'll get an idea of how that went down. Short version is that they once cleaned out all the content that might have anything to do with child abuse or rape of any aged target... by removing everything down to a Spanish language Nabokov discussion group that had no clue what the hell happened to them and every single rape survivor community and many rape and child abuse survivor's personal journals. There was also a wave of takedowns in fandom related to the powers that be not understanding child characters can in fact grow up in derivative fanworks and may not be their canon underage selves (aka post Deathly Hallows material being treated as if Harry Potter was still under eighteen, etc).

          In response, the leadership at DreamWidth discussed what they would do if similar Think Of The Children takedown requests from a third-party group were received and what the response to government requests of any sort would be (pretty much the minimum required by law, as I recall).

          DreamWidth also has a different friending model, where visibility does not necessarily work both ways. LJ, if you accept someone's permission to read friends only material, they pretty much have to gain access to yours. DreamWidth, you can accept permission to read friends only material without handing over the same.

          As a final recommendation, when some friends and I needed to have a closed community so we could talk with a time delay, we picked DreamWidth. This group included someone who couldn't be outed as being GLBT outside the group, and zie felt safe enough to give us the go-ahead to make the closed community there after looking over the TOS and Privacy Policy. This despite the fact all of us were still sitting on LJ accounts that had already friended each other years ago. So yeah, if one must use an LJ-style service, I'd recommend DreamWidth.

          Prayers and best wishes to those in Boston, in Texas, and for this week to be over without anything else happening.

          by Cassandra Waites on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 09:57:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Massively stupid question: (5+ / 0-)

    My apologies. I am a tech idiot.

    I just got a new HP all in one desktop. it came with windows 8. I guess that means it's Microsoft, right?

    can I somehow get out of using Microsoft, and use Linux or something instead?

    this was an invaluable diary. making a lot of changes tomorrow.

  •  Awesome list, and I wasn't aware of several of (6+ / 0-)

    these sites/tools; thank you.  However, there is still the problem of the network traffic.  Even if a website promises not to divulge or even keep certain information, you still had to send information or files through the nation's networks, and tapping the major trunks isn't that difficult to do.  It doesn't matter what OS or browser you use, or where you share your documents.  

    Hopefully we will someday reach a point where everything electronic that is personal - including communication - is fully encrypted, as for now anyway, that's really the only complete solution.  

    Thankfully, it seems our options are increasing, and a good example for one area is CryptoCat, which has already been discussed.  However, given that the inventor of PGP was reportedly investigated by the government and the product was for a time illegal in the US, I guess we'll just have to see how long this trend lasts.

    •  You can do most of that right now. (4+ / 0-)

      Back in the old days, Microsoft had to downgrade the encryption algorithms built into Windows, for all product exported because the US Military bitched about not being able to break the encryption, so they re-classified 128-bit (I think) as a weapon. Windows shipped to Europe with 64-bit.

      Needless to say it took about 10 minutes to upgrade that and the rules were quietly changed.

      These days you can use powerful encryption tools for all of your internet traffic, which will protect some stuff from snooping, but not all.

      When you connect to the internet, most do so via their ISP, or employer. Generally both those entities will record every page call and search your browser makes. They can also intercept every packet of information flowing through a link, and examine or record it. Facebook, for example, do not have to agree to share information if the NSA can tap the fibre-optic cables to the FB data centers.

      If you use a Virtual Private Network, then all the traffic to and from your computer is encrypted. All your employer or ISP will be able to see is a connection to a remote server. They can tell that data is flowing through the connection, but they cannot read it. They have no idea, and no way of knowing what you are browsing or searching for.

      This also obscures your geographic location. The VPN server knows where you are, but no one else does and even that can be further obscured. Most VPN companies do not keep records longer than a week - read their policies.

      This does not protect your Gmail, or Facebook, or other personally identifiable material that you disclose to other websites, but it does make it harder to track much of your online stuff back to you. It's cheap and there is very little overhead.

      I use a VPN for a regular connection from Oklahoma to London, and I get a streaming speed of anything up to 10 megabits per second through it.

      Implementing TOR adds considerably to the security, and it's a bit like protecting your home. You can't make it burglar proof, but you can persuade the burglar that the house next door is a better target.

      The thing about data-mining is that they are not looking for you. They are looking for words, phrases, patterns, and denying them your browsing means that they can't find any :)

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 12:40:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This list needs clarification to not be misleading (12+ / 0-)

    The diarist it is conflating privacy protection issues with an appeal to use open source alternatives to Microsoft but lets be clear, those two ideas have quite different implications.

    Let's start with the latter, I love Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird but those platforms offer no privacy advantages. If you do a Google search using Firefox, your info is just as trackable as when you do a Google search on Explorer or Safari. And using privacy mode in Firefox (and which is now all on those others search engines too) only keeps info from being documented in your web browser history. However, your browser history has nothing to do with trackable your internet activities are (Remember, privacy (or the lack of )is all about your internet provider; the search engines you use; whether you use cloud computing, social media etc.) It has very little to do with which web browsers or operating systems are loader on your machine.

    If you access your email through Thunderbird (which again is just a mode of access), your internet provider can still log those emails.  It is all about your emial account is a work account or Charter, Comcast, AT&T, or Gmail, Yahoo etc.. Information stored on the massive servers are what track you.  

    IxQuick is search engine that promotes itself as keeping no records of users' searches. So, it is a good alternative to Google but unfortunately it is not that effective as a search engine. But, even by using a no track search engine, like IxQuick, your on-line activities could still be tracked via your internet provider. To avoid this prospect, you have to get into the world of proxy servers and other fairly complicated security measures.

    To reiterate, using Firefox or any other web interface does NOTHING to get you of the PRISM tracking web.

    •  What I'm pointing people to is (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ginsu, cotterperson, MKinTN, young voter

      EFF's list of alternatives to Microsoft, Apple, Youtube, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, et al, and the unholy alliance between corporate behemoths and the Security State.

      No, the open source projects and software doesn't guarantee anyone's privacy. They respect our privacy, though, and that's a big deal lately.

      They can't/haven't/don't sell us out like the aforementioned, (at least, yet) so they're still friendly to the little guy and a much better option while we're figuring out what the heck to do about FISA, NSA, and our tattered Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      We need to talk with our wallets, our choices, our usage habits and we need to be heard. And not by a data analyst in a back room over at AT&T.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 09:12:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mozilla can't respect your privacy (6+ / 0-)

        I totally get the anti-corporate, open source argument. It can stand on its own merits but inaccurately melding those arguments with the privacy argument does not do anyone, any good.

        Look at your firefox search bar. When you click on the search engine manager, you get the defaults of google, bing, yahoo, twitter, amazon etc. Those are sources that Prizm monitors. Your web browser is an access point to these big search engines and data mining operations.

        And using Firefox does nothing about that analysts in the back room over at AT&T if your internet provider is in fact AT&T.

        I can tel that you really don't like counter message and I am sorry to be the broker of unpleasant truths but it is very hard protect your internet and cell phone activities from monitoring and switching your web browser and OW won't do it.  Open source software? I am with you 100% on is may merits but privacy is not among them.

        •  Actually, it is. The lack of backdoors (or at (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ginsu, Lisa Lockwood, cotterperson

          least the fact that it makes backdoors much harder to put in and hide) does help improve your privacy.  Of course, the fact that IE is horribly insecure doesn't help things either.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 02:03:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  FWIW, I'm sorry if I gave you the impression (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          that I 'really don't like counter message'. I responded to your comment with an (what seems to me, anyway) appropriate, albeit subjective answer. I didn't ignore you or your point, or try to argue with you. I simply explained further what the diary is trying to show people. They have options.

          I think the idea behind the diary is fairly clear, but in case it isn't, my objective is to let people here know that there are non-tracked or user customizable software alternatives (instead of the big guys like MS, Google, etc) that will help enhance their privacy and minimize online Big Brother spying/tracking. Most of those options are open sourced. Those options were enumerated by EFF, who has a shitload of tech and legal people who do nothing but deal with online privacy issues and challenge threats to our rights to same.

          I don't quite see how my response made it appear as though I am closing my eyes to 'unpleasant truths', but hey, if that's the case, I'm willing to be schooled.
          And if this response is likewise somehow demonstrative of me being closed minded, it isn't meant to be.

          Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

          by Lisa Lockwood on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 01:34:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Agree, because I must admit that I too got a whiff (4+ / 0-)

      of operating system evangelism masquerading as security advice.  For instance, I can say with confidence that my OS X configuration is every bit as secure as any linux configuration out there.  There are plenty of positive measures (many cited in the diary) which can be taken, regardless of operating system or software product -- and that is what users should be considering first.

      •  Really? Even if there are backdoors for the NSA (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lisa Lockwood, cotterperson

        built into the kernel and possibly even the hardware (unless you are using a hackintosh)?  I am guessing nobody outside of Apple has even looked for kernel level backdoors.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 02:02:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Come on, that borders on CT. Hardware backdoors? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          If that were the case, then everyone would already be screwed given that Intel processors are pretty much in every desktop now, be it OS X, Windows, or Linux.  Finally, if you think there is something fishy wth Apple's Darwin kernel, the source code is there for you to verify, change, recompile etc.

  •  If you stop shopping, the terrorists win (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miggles, ChemBob, Lisa Lockwood, davehouck

    As absurd and insulting as that admonition was, there's a hint of truth to it wrt this present situation. If we have to change our digital habits, methods and tools to evade government spying, then we've given up the fight (and in any case they'll eventually figure out ways to defeat our evasion). The point isn't to evade it, but to STOP it. The point isn't to be on the run, the point is to put THEM on the run, or at least stop them in their tracks.

    I want the spying to end. I want my life as I live it to go on.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 09:25:34 PM PDT

    •  But what if (0+ / 0-)

      You can't have what you want?

      Add the median effective tax rate, healthcare costs (20%?), education costs, and other things guaranteed in Denmark & Sweden, we pay MORE for LESS. Somebody's gotta pay the billionaires. They don't grow on trees. ☮ ♥ ☺

      by Words In Action on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 11:24:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kovie, I agree with your end point, (4+ / 0-)

      but, my point is- if and until we can force a level of transparency the government is currently unwilling to comply with, we should think about pro-actively protecting our right to not be tracked easily, to not be herded willingly down the  toll road the corporations want us to travel, and to think outside the box... laptop or desktop ;-)
      I want the spying to end, too. But until it does, why make it easier for them,  if there's something you can do to make it less likely that your every web session is an open book?

      Why reward microshaft and their ilk for bad behavior? Why fork over your hard earned money to companies that do not care about you or your privacy concerns?  

      Do you buy your gas from BP?
      Do you shop at Walmart?
      Do you watch Fox News?

      Let's make Do you use Windows, do you use Google, do you use Facebook the same as the first 3 - vote with your actions. That's all I'm sayin'.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 06:37:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not going to stop using Windows (0+ / 0-)

        Simply will not happen. Nor is it going to happen for most people. This is a solution for a fairly small set of people. Way too much work and adjustment to make these sorts of changes for most people, myself included. This is not the proper way to address this issue, which is to force the government and corporations to stop spying on people. I don't want to have to jump through hoops to live my life as I believe I should be able to.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 06:47:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's entirely your right and your decision. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Others may agree 100%.
          For those that do not, there are alternatives.

          Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

          by Lisa Lockwood on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 01:36:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I respect that (0+ / 0-)

            It's just an incomplete solution. The real one is adhering to the constitution. AFAIK, my continuing to use SW that can be and is quite likely being used to spy on me and millions of others is my own passive form of entrapment for government officials stupid enough to violate the constitution so egregiously and continuously. Let them spy on me. It'll come to haunt them someday when all this gets dealt with via the legal and political process.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 03:12:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Helpful, but given we know really nothing about (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    capabilities, you can't really know what is safe and what is not.

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 09:45:53 PM PDT

    •  That's true. But would you rather trust (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Google and Windows to look out for your interests, or would you like to be proactive?

      If you aren't sure how well your deadbolt on your front door works at keeping burglars out of your house, do you just say, oh well, I'll leave it unlocked until I'm sure it will keep out intruders?

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 06:39:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So far I like Witopia (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood, Sunspots

    for a VPN. I've seen good reviews from people who know more than I but can't find them now. It was easy to set up and they offer 24/7 live chat tech support.

    Does anyone know if the little mask icon on Firefox for Android (that's supposed to keep your identity private)  actually helps?

    Thanks for all the great info.

    Divide And Conquer only works if we allow ourselves to be divided--let's not

    by EverGrateful on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 10:22:13 PM PDT

    •  Can't speak directly for firefox... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lisa Lockwood, Sunspots, EverGrateful

      But for Chrome, it just means it doesn't save session information to the hard drive - no history, cache, or cookies between restarts.  So as long as your IP changes, Google, Bing, etc, effectively can't track you between restarts, unless you log in.

      It also means autocomplete won't have a record of previously visited URLs, or filled out form information.  Sites won't be able to store credentials on your browser to allow you to automatically login, etc.

      Once you're logged in, obviously sites can track you to their heart's content.

  •  What about Opera?? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polecat, Lisa Lockwood

    I've been using Opera for a number of years almost exclusively.  How does it stand up?  You haven't mentioned it at all.

    -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

    by GulfExpat on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 10:33:22 PM PDT

    •  If the argument against Chrome is based on (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lisa Lockwood

      it being closed source, I'd say newer versions of Opera fall in the same boat - it may actually more closed source than Chrome, since it's less clear what areas of the open source Chromium code base are different in Opera than are different in Chrome.  Older versions would presumably be worse than Chrome, since they were more closed source.

      If the concern is about Chrome being a Google product - Opera Software does not offer all the web services (That also track your usage of them) that Google does, so there may be less concern in that respect.  Though if you enter search queries in the search box, of course, your search provider is just as free to track you as if you used Chrome...or Firefox.

  •  Linux Mint - opinions within this context? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood

    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

    by Palamedes on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 10:56:05 PM PDT

    •  Mint (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      young voter, Cassandra Waites

      In comparison to Ubuntu, Linux Mint has much less code committed to it. In other words, it's a leaner cleaner operating system, elegant and quick but there are customizations you can do that make it better for privacy. Ubuntu has kind of ossified in the last few years whereas mint is much more tweakable.... MUCH.

      I'd do a clean install of firefox, for instance, rather than using the one it comes with.

      On the other hand, no guarantees of complete privacy but using Tor from an OpenBSD system is about as close as you can get.

      There's a mint user forum here that covers just about everything you can think of.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:27:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lisa great diary. (5+ / 0-)

    Like some others here, I would love to see each category of non-invasive software that you list broken out in a separate diary with instructions.  I think that would be a tremendous public service.

    Send your old shoes to the new George W. Bush library.

    by maxschell on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 11:36:52 PM PDT

  •  If you need more info: Tomorrow at 3 pm EST (4+ / 0-)

    Someone at the Guardian will be answering questions on metadata and how to protect yourself online.

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 12:20:30 AM PDT

  •  You Rock! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood, cotterperson

    If I can remember my damned work email, I'll share this with my department (computer services).

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

    by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 12:42:05 AM PDT

  •  I've been long waiting for the day when (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood, catwho

    I could cut the cord with Windows.  However, I'm addicted to games.  I fear that switching to another operating system means that one of my games (Like Sims 3 or GTA 4 or Far Cry) will stop working or become glitchy.

    •  I dual-boot. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lisa Lockwood

      I boot into Windows to game and use a couple of proprietary programs, use Linux for everything else. Admittedly rebooting does get old sometimes, though.

    •  The latest version of Ubuntu, (0+ / 0-)

      13.xx claims fantastic gaming resources. I'm not a gamer so you may have to look into it more before deciding whether it is going to work for you.

      There's a page HERE that gives an overview with links on the right for various options and how-tos.

      This page talks about the first things to do/adjust after loading Ubuntu for the first time, or if possible (better) during installation.

      One of the best options about Ubuntu (or Linux in general) is the privacy features:

      To speed up your workflow the Unity Dash offers you an overview of your recent application and file activity. Handy, for sure, but there might be files, folders or activities that you don’t want tracked.

      Along with an “Off” switch, the Privacy options available in the System Settings lets you choose what content is logged and what isn’t. Further more it offers up buttons to ‘clear’ data from given periods.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:08:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  • check it out has it all (3+ / 0-)

    Formed last year by a bunch of former NSA cryptologists and SF guys has email, vid, IM and file sharing along with a bunch of pissed off former colleagues.  It's a pay service but I bet it has the best encryption of any you listed. Cheers.

    When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross - Sinclair Lewis on the money in 1935

    by SmallAxe on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 01:31:49 AM PDT

    •  ty, will look at it. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not against pay services, by any means. If the service is worth paying for, why not?

      If it comes down to basic proactive protection for everyone, without excluding those who can't afford to plunk down their coins for the right to surf without being spied on every step of the way, I tend to be more supportive of the free open sourceware that is accessible to all, because it is inclusive.

      As someone else here commented, we shouldn't have to do this stuff- the law should be changed and oversight should be enhanced. AGREED! But, until that time, there are, as EFF has demonstrated, alternatives to the 'big box' software giants who are willing to let the NSA snoop into our lives without consequence.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 01:42:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  VPN's, hard drive encryption, long passwords (4+ / 0-)

    I believe encryption and privacy software are the new antivirus/firewall programs; a necessary, albeit inconvenient, layer of cyber security.

    I like TrueCrypt and DiskCryptor for hard drive encryption. I prefer the latter, but the former is probably a better choice for most people because it's better documented. For file-only encryption (e.g. of my dropbox files) I use AxCrypt. These are all free programs.

    There are lots of good VPN, some are free (may include ads or such), but I think it's worth paying for good one. I've been happy with BolehVPN.

    For passwords, it's important to use long ones with numbers, lower- and uppercase letters and some special symbols. My strategy is twofold (1) I use KeePass (free software) to store randomly generated passwords that it can auto-type into sites like DailyKos at the press of a hotkey or with a plugin called KeeFox (for firefox only). (2) I try to choose passwords that are easy to type quickly on the keyboard, so they may include, for example, 90909090 because that's quick to strum out with 2 fingers, or I use a shorter password combined with a key file. So, for example, my encrypted dropbox files require a keyfile to decrypt (+ a quick password) and the keyfile is on my local hard drive so even if someone gets my files from the cloud they couldn't bruteforce them without also hacking into my local computer and finding the keyfiles.

    However, when it comes to my smartphone and tablet (both android) I'm still mostly naked. I did install GibberBot for encrypted google talk (chats only), but it's going to be hard to get privacy on them because I like using the GPS, maps and other functions that give out my location. The convience is just too great...

  •  Thank you so much for putting that list together, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Lisa Lockwood

    I have a lot of work to do and you diary gives me a road-map on how to get going.

  •  exactly. don't want to be tracked? disconnect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Lisa Lockwood

    from tracking devices.  in a society where your personal information has a price, there is no other way.

    Macca's Meatless Monday

    by VL Baker on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 05:10:44 AM PDT

  •  Great list (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zett, Lisa Lockwood

    But I have a non tech savvy question. How do we know that the NSA is not collecting metadata from these programs and services?

    Are we just working on the assumption that since these are not products from the big boys that they are not being monitored?

    •  Open source means the code is open (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, EverGrateful

      and viewable. Coders and geeks can check each and every line of OpenBSD, for instance. If there is bad stuff there, it would be reported far and wide within the tech community.

      As far as 'services' we can assume nothing, but if a service says they respect my privacy as opposed to one that is revealed to have given all my data to uncle sam, the choice becomes easier.  

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:33:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  hm... i was thinking of switching to Thunderbird (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Lisa Lockwood

    thanks for the list

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 05:46:42 AM PDT

  •  I don't really get how these products (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood, catwho

    prevent tracking, since everything that goes through a telecom's servers is split such that the NSA gets an exact copy of everything that is sent.

    So, unless your ISP used carrier pigeons or smoke signals, or maybe the Pony Express - everything you send is going to be tracked the government regardless.

    Now, I could see a case being made that these products keep * companies * from tracking you . ..

  •  Since when (0+ / 0-)

    did we start pushing the Libertarian meme? This outrage is killing me... anyone that has been paying attention should know that this program has been going on since 2002 and was expanded through 2007. Don't any of you remember debating Obama's vote on FISA?

    •  Your message (0+ / 0-)

      has been approved by the NSA.

    •  Oh I remember Obama's 2008 telecom immunity (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lisa Lockwood, Sunspots

      vote alright. It almost cost him my vote.  Of course, he was free to roll over once he had the primary wrapped up.  So hey, why not?

      My anger isn't new on this issue. And if you think that not wanting the government to know your every call, web visit, and location is just a "libertarian" idea, then I shudder to think what you believe "liberal" ideas consist of.  

      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

      by bigtimecynic on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:06:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How is not wanting to be spied on (0+ / 0-)

      applicable only to Libertarians?
      What is the Party you self identify with?
      What are it's tenets?

      What has it's leader said on more than one occasion about privacy and transparency?

      If the outrage is 'killing' you, their are so many other things to read here. Climate issues, elections, pooties; there's something for everyone. If privacy and transparency aren't important to you, they are important enough to a sizable number of people to merit some discussion, as evidenced by the number of front page and rec'd list diaries on the subject.
      Thanks for weighing in, though. It's certainly your right to do so.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 01:48:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Lisa (7+ / 0-)

    and much respect (and a donation from me today) to the EFF.

    Here's what I tweeted about it---

    A middle finger was never so heartfelt...

    Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at Texas Kaos.

    by boadicea on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 06:34:47 AM PDT

  •   DuckDuckGo (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks Lisa.  Awesome list.

    I had never heard of DuckDuckGo, but pulled it up and will be using it until (if) I find a reason not to.  

    Pleasant surprise - it includes DuckDuckGo Goodies, a bunch of useful things.  Under "Everyday Goodies" there is Calculations, which includes one to calculate the number of days between 2 dates.  I've wanted something like that for years, just for fun.  I like to find reasons to celebrate, or just go out to lunch, and one I thought of was "metric birthdays".  Ie, when you are 2000 days old it is your 20th metric birthday (or 2nd, depending on if you want to celebrate 100's or 1000's, though I reserve the right to come up with names to differentiate and celebrate both).  

    And it was timely, as someone whose birthday I always celebrate will be celebrating 20,000 days later this summer.  She's in for a metric surprise.  You know what they say - if God had intended us to use the metric system, he would have given us 10 fingers.

    And though not a security issue, folks who want an alternative to Microsoft Office should give Open Office a try.  //

    Actually when I tried to find the link for OO, DuckDuckGo gave me a security warning, because the actual server is under apache.

  •  Someone smarter than me, please discuss proxy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots, Lisa Lockwood

    servers. Do any of the above services use them? From what I understand, these are basically servers you connect to, and the subsequent web trail you leave is difficult to trace to you specifically because the server anonymizes your activity..

    Also, it seems like this would be a great way for the NSA to trace people, by setting up fake or infiltrated proxy servers.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 06:59:22 AM PDT

  •  Browser: Opera (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood

    Any word on this browser regarding security etc. Have https everywhere for firefox but like Opera's quick load screen shots...which probably makes it easier for all to track!

    Thanks for your post..and wry humor!

  •  False security (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catwho, Lisa Lockwood

    Just changing what software you use isn't going to change much. The data still has to flow through servers owned by Telcoms, cable companies, government, etc...I think a VPN to a foreign country is the only way around it altogether, and who knows if that's really truly secure!?

  •  Good list, an important notes: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood

    Replacing only some things doesn't help much.

    E.g. switching from Chrome to Firefox, but continuing to use Goggle as a search engine, doesn't get you much. If you really want out, you need to replace every piece.

    Also, this list doesn't address cell phone usage. But it's a very good start.

    "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

    by nosleep4u on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:15:40 AM PDT

  •  rec x 100 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood

    Being in the tech field I'm aware of a lot of these alternatives but this is such a clear summary.  Consider the word spread.


    Nuance is lost upon those who choose not to look.

    by poliwrangler on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:17:45 AM PDT

  •  Love the diary title - love the diary even more! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosette, Lisa Lockwood


    FYI - the bluedog thing is about my dog ... I'm a liberal left winger and proud of it.

    by bluedogsd on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:37:23 AM PDT

  •  As someone who has done programming... (5+ / 0-)

    This isn't 100% accurate.  Even open source software is going to be pulling from APIs and libraries of other software, often without your own knowledge.  Open source != more secure - it means that if you really felt like it you could dig through the code and see how the program was written yourself.  Maybe download it, tweak a few things yourself, and recompile it.  Fix a bug and post it for everyone else to verify.

    Google APIs are EVERYWHERE on the Internet.  I mean FUCKING EVERYWHERE.  Why?  Because the Google Analytics engine is built into nearly any website that wishes to be ranked on the Google search.

    Unless you are 100% sure that a website you visit doesn't have Google code buried in it, you can't escape.  You can take a look for yourself, easily: Right click and hit "View Page Source."    Hit CTRL F and type in "Google."

    Look, even DKos has 41 hits.  Google APIs are the friggin second line of code.

    The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

    by catwho on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:42:24 AM PDT

    •  But the apis's and libraries are open (0+ / 0-)

      gcc's source code is available for read only access through svn -

      Pretty much any open source library is available in source code that you can compile unless it's something like mp3 playback or a video card driver or something else that's encumbered by patent.

      "Don't be defeatist, dear. It's very middle class." - Violet Crawley

      by nightsweat on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:10:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You can block many, if not all, of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      google analytics, adware, etc using things like Ghostery. You're correct, the list compiled by EFF and shared in the diary above doesn't guarantee 100% privacy. It doesn't claim to do so;  it does give people information about using some specific software/applications that helps keep them from being tracked.

      The software and applications EFF listed respects people's privacy, either in and of themselves, or by allowing users to customize preferences in order to opt out of being spied on.... unlike the big box companies like Yahoo and MS, who demonstrably, do not.

      Information is power. But; like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz ~1986-2013~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 02:11:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Deleted Bing from my bookmarks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood

    and replaced it with DuckDuckGo.  Will also be deleted Yahoo IM and replacing it with CryptoCat.  Thank you for the many helpful links and suggestions - I'll be incorporating more of them as well.  

  •  Google is becoming (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lungfish, Lisa Lockwood

    more and more useless anyway, all ads and irrelevant crapat the top.

    So I'll check out duckduckgo -- so far it looks OK.

    As far as linux goes though, that looks like the most insecure mess ever. I'll stick with OSX.

  •  OT question about PRISM: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood

    Imo it would help the average person understand what is going on if they called it 'employing optical splitters' instead of PRISM.
    The casual reader might imagine crystals and rainbows...
    and if the NSA et al wanted to obfuscate they would allow this misconception to linger.
    They really don't want to talk about the true nature what they are collecting, imnsho.
    thx for the product list, btw.

    Ask me how Obamacare has helped my family.

    by cosette on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:53:56 AM PDT

  •  anyone, please, if i go from OSX to linux will (0+ / 0-)

    everything i've go completely change?

    i mean, can i still run important apps i use to write, etc?

    is there a link i can go to to find out what the conversion will mean?

    thanks for the list.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:36:01 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, Lisa. I'll go through this later (0+ / 0-)

    I may have to actually educate myself more digitally in order to get these ducks in a row.

    Of course unfortunately, for full effectiveness I'd also have to use burner phones.

    Defending the theft of our freedom by the government is not a legitimate difference of opinion on a political matter -- it is a deeply un-American attitude that deserves nothing but scorn and derision.--Dallasdoc

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 11:17:44 AM PDT

  •  A word of caution about Ubuntu... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood

    With (I believe) release 12.04 and later, the OS does an automatic GeoIP lookup against a server at Canonical.  So, basically, Canonical has a record of where (in terms of IP address) your system is every time it boots with Internet access.

    There is no indication that Canonical is keeping that information or (if they do maintain records of it) sharing it with anyone else, but I don't like the fact that the OS "checks in" at all...

    Those with a desire to seriously "lock down" an Ubuntu environment should probably follow these instructions for killing off geoclue (the offending module)...

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 11:33:13 AM PDT

  •  Lisa, how about a non-hackable router? (0+ / 0-)

    Looks like NSA has been getting a lot of info by hacking routers and switches.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 11:38:08 AM PDT

  •  I've been generally pleased with DuckDuck Go (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood

    for about 80% of my web searching, but sometimes they seem to miss obvious things, and I'm forced to go with Google.  I find it's helpful to try DuckDuckGo first, and then only go to Google if I have to.  (I also go straight to the Google advanced search, so I don't have to put up with the stupid instant search suggestions.)

    "Optimism is better than despair." --Jack Layton, the late Canadian MP, liberal, and Christian.

    by lungfish on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 12:11:44 PM PDT

  •  But of course... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa Lockwood

    If you shift all of your internet presence to these services and websites, that will raise a big red flag to the folks who are tracking you now :-0

  •  Perhaps this is a side note but some people don't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    know that you can remove Geotagging from your photos.

    Don't think it'll help you PRISM break but it's probably wise to decide for yourself when your photos will be Geotagged.

    Divide And Conquer only works if we allow ourselves to be divided--let's not

    by EverGrateful on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 05:10:50 PM PDT

    •  Geotagging is latently dangerous IMHO (0+ / 0-)

      and opens you up to risks perhaps more likely than the NSA deciding you're the next contestant. Geotagged pictures of your cats reveal your home address.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:53:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  saved for reference (0+ / 0-)

    thanks...good info.

    The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. - Dante Alighieri

    by Persiflage on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 03:46:33 AM PDT

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