Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Going Dark: Introduction to Internet Privacy

This is the first in series of articles covering the process of making online internet activity as private as it can be.


I don't do anything illegal (except maybe crossing the road not at crossings).
I have no motivation legally to do any of this.
Privacy is a fundamental necessity of freedom of speech (and by association all  other aspects of freedom).
Over the past few years government rules have been forcing their way into the lives of ordinary citizens, and have lately been getting more intrusive and comprehensive.
When I first read "1984" by George Orwell (in about 1986) the descriptions of government surveillance were abhorrent, over the last 10 years in particular, government internet surveillance has become such a common topic, that the main stream seems to accept this as "the way things are going". This is not acceptable.

Addressing "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about"

Time and again you will hear this, it is a logical fallacy, within a non sequiter.
I use the curtains in my house, not because I am doing anything illegal, I just want privacy.
Once private information is recorded, it is only a matter of time before it falls into the wrong hands.
Even if it contains no evidence of illegal activity, it can be used against you.
Examples: Criminals can use the information to rob you electronically, or physically (work out when you are not home).
Evidence of legal but embarrassing activity can be/are used for blackmail (often forcing you into illegal activity... then they have got you).
Evidence of illegal activities by Friends can be used to extort action from you.
A good case study is the incriminating evidence the mafia in the US had on J. Edgar Hoover, which compelled him to ignore fundamental Mob activity through the 50s, 60s and 70s

This is all very well, but what is really important here is not so much the consequences, but the fundamentals of Freedom. I just want privacy for its own sake.


"Going Dark" on the internet means leaving no trace of your activities that can be traced or recorded.

These are the main tools I will look at;

TOR - A system for secure untrackable communications, if used correctly.
TrueCrypt - An open source encryption program that can scramble files so no-one can read them without a password.
HTTPS - Secure connections to Web servers from your browser.
OpenDNS - An independent source for Website address resolution.
Freenet - System of securely distributing files across the internet either publicly (standard) or only with Friends (Dark)
VPNs - not my preference for security/privacy, and Ill explain why, but they can be used.

General Security - Discussion topics.

Your home router/Wifi etc etc could probably be hacked within minutes even if you have done everything right.

Your computer could be infected/compromised and you would never know it.

Enough with the Torrents! borrow/swap  a DVD / BluRay with a friend or just buy the bloody things.

Your iPhone is nothing like secure and can never be made so.

Assume everything is compromised unless you specifically know it isnt.

OpenSource is the only reliable source of secure software.

Privacy friendly sites can still be legally compelled to give up your data even if they dont want to.

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