- ONLINE SECURITY (aka, stop using your damn gmail to contact me!)
- I've posted this on various forums, but it's worth repeating. I am very conscious about privacy and safety, and take many steps to keep myself protected (256-bit SSL VPN and secure, private email service). about 3/4 of peopel who contact me are the same way.
- But for some reason, about 1/4 of my inbox is messages from people who still don't take any steps at all to be private or secure. I get emails from gmail, yahoo, hotmail, .edu, and even an occasional .aol or .icloud account!
- Now, I'm not sure how anyone could miss the news for the last two years that Edward Snowden has revealed that the authroties in the United States are literally harvesting EVERY email sent and received in America. Or maybe people hear that story and think, "Well, maybe every OTHER American, but MY gmails are magically exempt! I'm sure my online activity is perfectly safe, right?"
- No, it's not. The authorites ARE, in fact, tracking and storing all of those emails. If you're not using encryption, your emails and cell phone data are--not "might be"--netted by the NSA and LE.
- Gmail may be the worst offender of all. Gmail offers almost NO privacy protection, and even shares total access to your accounts with authorities, no warrant required. This includes allowing searching your inbox for keywords to identify what you are sending and receiving, if it is of legal interest. (Google even lets advertisers pay to keyword-scan your inbox). Plus, gmail often blocks emails sent over the TOR network, which I do, so many of my emails to gmail users never arrive. Don't be fooled by occasional online stories about how gmail is "beefing up" its privacy and security; that just means they're doing more to make sur eyour account isn't literally hacked. As for advertisers and authorities having full access to your data, that continues as normal.
- Yahoo and Hotmail allow third-party advertisers to literally BUY your address book. I constantly get fake emails that come from yahoo.com email accounts belonging to people who had previously corresdponded with me. Have they been hacked? No, this isn't hacking, this is yahoo's and hotmail's routine business practices. They ALLOW third parties to access your accounts and send commercial emails to people in your address books. What's worse, they often send these messages as group messages, which means when I get this spam from your yahoo account, and it shows me EVERYONE ELSE in your address book in the header who also received the same email. That means I can see all your girlfriends' email addresses, all the emails of people involved in illegial contraband that you've done business with, your boss' email address, ALL OF IT. And likewise, they can see mine. If you do business with me using your yahoo or hotmail accounts, it's a matter of time before evryone else in your address book also knows you've done business with me.
- Here's what to do instead:
- Stop using gmails, yahoo, hotmail, and other non-secure emails to contact me. Stop using your cellphone to email me.
- Instead, sign up for a proper, secure, encrypted email account. The best on the planet is protonmail, but you have to sign up and wait for them to expand their bandwidth enough to add new members. Once you get notified that you've been added to their service, bingo! It's free, you just have to wait for it. Oh, and they have an Android app now!
- Anonymousspeech is the next best. It's a paid service, though, although you can sign up for a two-week free trial (so make sure you don't dawdle about your business if you use it!).
- Tutanova is another good option, but make ure you don't use their "password protected message" option to email me because obviously I can't read it if you do. Just email me from tutanova without the password lock on your message.
- Sources: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/14/google-gmail-users-privacy-email-lawsuit
- and: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1337837/Google-Why-let-creepy-company-spy-emails.html
- and: http://www.propublica.org/special/no-warrant-no-problem-how-the-government-can-still-get-your-digital-data
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