Have you heard about Sir Edward Coke? He’s all the rage nowadays in US politics and media, heavily praised are his actions, and his motives. Even his private properties and his opinions about them are subject to long discussions with sincere approval. Now, let’s guess, who the guy is:
- Donald Trump‘s chief British officer, the P-E’s gonna transfer his real-estate empire to (of course just namely!) He’s also an ex-MI6, dealing with mass surveillance. Rumor has it, that he somehow wired all the houses that passed through Trumps network.
- An ex British attorney general, who one time told the court that “each of the condemned would be drawn backwards to his death, by a horse, his head near the ground. They were to be “put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both. Their genitals would be cut off and burnt before their eyes, and their bowels and hearts removed. They would then be decapitated, and the dismembered parts of their bodies displayed so that they might become “prey for the fowls of the air”.
- The dying leader of the Coca-Cola Company, who lost the original Cola recipe somewhere in one of his huge castles (it was in a XIX. century cola bottle), and now he’s conducting a Willy Wonka style search with dozens children to find it. He will adopt the child who finds it, and the lucky infant will inherit 33%.
Now, surprisingly maybe, but the correct answer is: “b”. He was an attorney general of England, and it’s not his tormenting judgements or proper sense of crime/punishment ratios, that earned him this late honor. Sir Edward Coke, ruled that a man’s house is his castle. He declared, that a homeowner could protect himself and his privacy from the king’s agents. And here comes the actual politics. President-elect Donald Trump has a clear and openly voiced affection towards government surveillance, and criticism of encryption technologies. This indicates, that if you value privacy, and are unlucky enough to live anywhere on earth, now is the time to prepare for difficult times ahead. In simpler words: just maybe he will not respect the walls of your castle!
(Nancy Morgan Hart, an American colonist living in Georgia defends her home and children against invading British soldiers during the American Revolutionary War. According to legend, Hart captured and killed British soldiers during the war. (AP Photo)
Ok, so problem detected, that’s half the solution! But how would an expert do it? Timothy Summers Director of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Engagement, at the University of Maryland and founder of WikiBreach wrote about his suggestions lately.
To sum things up, you must be selective with your online tools and habits and also be meticulously precise by not leaving a soft underbelly, when it comes to protecting your data. Lets start with our favorite: instant messaging communications. It must pass through an end-to-end encryption service, like Signal, or Crypttalk. (Someone said Skype? A real joker.) Big players like Whatsapp and Viber also switched to end-to-end, but just lately, which means, that it wasn’t in their original book. Tim seems to go along with it, but I personally opt for the Apps which were built to encrypt in the first place. Both exists for iOS and Android and regarding usage, both parties should install the same application.
You might want to send emails too, so there’s ProtonMail, Tutanota, Posteo.de, Kolab Now and Countermail all of them with the magic end-to-end encryption, and they also encrypt everything on their servers. Gmail’s not here, and that’s for a reason.
If you use browsers, which you surely do, you need a basic set of privacy protecting plugins. Tim names two: uBlock Origin (kills mainly ads) and Privacy Badger (kills ’em all), but I would add Ghostery (kills social media tracking) and the good old Adblock Plus (massacres ads). Theses plugins represent slightly different business models, and here’s the key for choosing the right one. If you prefer to go without any tracing at all: its Privacy Badger. All the others need some fine tuning, and manual iteration for a complete protection.
If you came this far, you are as good as protected, still, you can hide behind a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which is like your data is hidden in an internet inside the internet. This of course unmistakably labels you a poker pro (just kidding) or a guy with something to hide. Well hidden behind your chosen toolset, you might want to ditvh Google searches, and use DuckDuckGo instead, which doesn’t record the search terms.
Oh yes, and there’s the Tor browser, which a serious guy would consider to hide his/her traffic completely, but don’t use that. That’s the path to the dark side!
(cover image credit: Viktor Justin)