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How to foil the NSA and GCHQ with strong encryption

Column Now is the time to secure your communications
Fri Feb 28 2014, 16:05

"Ye are many - they are few." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

THE MOST INTERESTING DEVICE shown at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this week was the secure Blackphone developed by Silent Circle and Geeksphone.

The Blackphone features anonymous search, automatic disabling of non-trusted WiFi hotspots, and private texting, calling and file transfer capabilities. It's available to the general public, and bundles additional security features that apparently go beyond the basic messaging security provided by Blackberry to enterprise customers in its Blackberry Messaging (BBM) service.

US-based aerospace and defence firm Boeing also unveiled its own Black phone - not to be confused with the Silent Circle and Geeksphone Blackphone - at MWC this week, but that appears to be restricted for sale only to government security agencies and defence industry customers, and therefore likely won't be available to the public through mobile operators or in retail shops.

The Five Eyes national security agencies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, along with their governments' military industrial complex 'defence' contractors, clearly know that wireless and internet communications are presently insecure, if only as evidenced by their interest in the strong encryption and other security technologies embedded in Boeing's Black phone.

However, in actuality this is not least because those very same governments are conducting panoptican surveillance of the phone and internet traffic generated by everyone, including their own citizens and those of other countries all over the world. This was explosively exposed by US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden beginning last summer and in continuing revelations this year that are only becoming more horrifying in their implications.

It's obvious that our imperial masters of the New World Order, along with their spooks and military myrmidons, don't want the secrecy of their machinations compromised by conducting their activities with reasonable openness and transparency. Instead, they seek to maintain tight security around their own communications, meanwhile conducting illegal surveillance of everyone else, and that includes you, without any regard to the rights of ordinary citizens.

If this state of affairs bothers you in the least as a responsible, law-abiding citizen, the Blackphone offers the means to keep your personal communications reasonably secure. That is the reason the Blackphone struck me as the most interesting device that appeared at MWC earlier this week.

If I were looking for my next smartphone, I'd definitely take a close look at the Blackphone. If you happen to be in the market for a smartphone or will be in the future, and ubiquitous, illegal, outrageously high-handed government surveillance rubs you the wrong way, perhaps you might want to consider the Blackphone.

Whether or not you're interested in the Blackphone to secure your phone calls and messages from unwarranted snooping by government intelligence agencies in the US, UK and elsewhere, there are other measures you can take to keep your private communications secure from the prying Five Eyes and others, and these have become easier to use in recent years.

There's Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) for email as implemented by the OpenPGP Alliance and the GnuPG project for all major operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, Android and iOS. There are also a number of secure email service providers.

For online chat, there's the Off The Record (OTR) plugin for Pidgin with several implementations. Pidgin and OTR are supported by Google's Gchat service. Other secure messaging services also exist, including Blackberry's BBM.

These won't secure the content of your phone calls or metadata about calls, emails or chat messages, but if everyone starts using strong encryption, the vast communications data archives that are being collected daily on an ongoing basis by the NSA, GCHQ and some other governments' surveillance agencies likely will be rendered all but useless due to the high volume of encrypted traffic.

In my opinion, that's a very encouraging prospect. µ


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