The Windows Club

How to protect yourself from NSA spying & snooping

Ever since it has been made public that the US National Security Agency has a surveillance program named NSA Prism, that is checking out data packets moving into and outside of USA, the security and privacy concerns have increased not only in the country but all over the world. Though people do not like the government spying in the name of terrorism or whatever, it is happening nevertheless. This article tells you how to protect yourself from NSA spying & snooping, and other types of government surveillances. It does not claim it will protect you hundred percent but still, it will improve your chances of better privacy while you are on the Internet.

Protect yourself from NSA spying

Protect your Data – NSA Spying

The first thing that you need to do to prevent NSA spying in the US or any other government surveillance elsewhere is to encrypt your data. There are few good options available that assist you in encrypting your files so that when you send them across the Internet, the spying agencies could not understand the contents. You can use TrueCrypt or better still, VeraCrypt. Read our review of VeraCrypt to know more about the successor of TrueCrypt.

There are some other good alternatives as well. TrueCrypt is outdated and is not being updated anymore. Instead, the developers of TrueCrypt have taken to VeraCrypt, and since it is open source, you do not have to pay anything for it.

If you are using Microsoft Windows 7 or above, the built on encryption system of the operating system may also help protect yourself from NSA spying to some extent. BitLocker on the Go will help encrypt your files on the disk. If you send them over the Internet without decrypting them (i.e. after locking the drive or USB device), it would be tough for spying agencies to break the encryption. However, I would recommend VeraCrypt as it is much more reliable encryption.

There are certain paid encryption software as well – if you are willing to spend money on privacy and security of your data traveling on the Internet. If you are using paid encryption software, you get to keep the private key to yourself and thus, it will be much better protection against NSA or other spying agencies. You will have to do some research on the Internet to see which paid software would suit your needs within your budget. If you are using any such paid software and wish to share with others, you are welcome to use comment boxes for sharing the software name and features.

This post will show you how to Opt out of Data Tracking & Targetted ads on the Internet.

Encryption of Emails to prevent NSA spying

While the above section talked of individual files that you send as attachments to emails or for storage in the cloud, the body of email too has to be encrypted as it too may contain important information. There are not many programs that offer you free encryption for email text.

I remember using Comodo Certificate Manager that allows you to download a program that offers to encrypt and even digitally sign the emails you send. Such software will send two emails to the recipient when you send the latter an email. The first email from the software company would be a link to the email stored on their servers while the second mail would be a key that allows the recipient to view the email. To solve the problem of storing encrypted emails on third party servers and sending links plus key to the recipients, you may ask the recipients to install similar software on their computer. That way, the software would automatically decrypt the emails when they are received in the entirety.

Since emails also travel as data packets, it would be hard for NSA to pick up random packets and try to break the encryption as they’ll have to gather all packets and then use different decryption techniques to break the encryption. The method does not guarantee that your emails will always escape spying agencies but will sure reduce the chances of being broken.

If you cannot find Comodo Certificate Manager or if you find it difficult, you may use OpenPGP or JumbleMe, etc. services to encrypt the emails. Remember that the connections to the email servers too need to be encrypted so you need to use email clients that can use add-ons to encrypt the email text. Outlook, Thunderbird and almost all email clients support an end to end encryption. Also, remember that the popular email services do not provide much of encryption if you are working on emails using the browser as they cannot be integrated with likes of OpenPGP or Comodo email encryption. If you check emails from different devices, you may want to use portable versions of Thunderbird, etc. so that you do not have to install the clients on every device you use.

Use Social Media carefully to protect yourself from NSA spying

It is said that if it something secret, do not post it anywhere on the Internet. That is the best line of defense against NSA spying or other spying agencies interested in what you are doing on social media. I cannot ask you to stay away from social media as they’ve become an important part of our lives. But you sure can choose what to post and what to keep secret. The best method is to communicate directly with the “friends” you wish to share things with instead of posting it for all to see. I’d advise against “checking in” updates and providing access to social sites to your location.

Hide your Identity

This is yet another method that will provide some better protection against spying agencies. Use a virtual private network (VPN) that offers encryption that does not drop connections in the middle of a browsing session. You may also use browsers such as TOR (though there have reports that NSA found out a method to track you using reverse tracing). Such browsers create a maze so that even your ISP cannot figure out what you are up to. Coming back to VPN, there are plenty of free VPNs that would serve your purpose of hiding your identity from NSA. My personal favorite is a free version of Spotflux in case you need a recommendation.

VPNs encrypt the data leaving your computer until the data reaches their servers. From there, a tunnel is formed where data is almost inaccessible due to security measures provided by the VPN service providers. Thus, you will be safer against spying.

Make use of Detekt, a free anti-surveillance software for Windows.

This explains some methods on how to protect yourself from NSA spying. It also helps people in other countries where governments spy on their netizens. You might want to also take a look at this post – How to prevent being spied on by the Government.