PRISM, NSA’s global surveillance program, accesses your private information through the servers of the major technology companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Everyday users who make use of software, hardware, websites, search engines, or email created by these technology giants are being monitored by PRISM. The rule of thumb is that any data stored by the major tech giants is being accessed by the NSA.
Protecting your privacy means switching away from these proprietary services. For the most part, these adjustments are not difficult, and can be accomplished by non-technical users. Most of the alternatives are free, and anyone can begin using them within a few minutes.
Web Searches and Browsers
Search engines such as Yahoo, Bing, and Google store massive amounts of data, such as search history, IP addresses, location, and more. Three alternatives that do not store or track your information include DuckDuckGo, MetaGer, and Startpage. Peer-to-peer software such as Seeks Project and YaCy allow decentralized – and thus untracked – searches.
Avoid all of the mainstream browsers, such as Safari, Chrome, IE, and Opera. The most secure browser is Tor, a browsing package which automatically relays traffic through a series of nodes to protect your privacy. Tor has been linked to many illegal activities and websites in the past, because it is so secure. This is also why it is a good option for browsing securely. Firefox and GNUzilla Ice Cat are other free options that can be secured from PRISM snooping.
Even if you are browsing stealthily, the major companies still monitor your movement through website trackers. Getting these browser add-ons will help you move silently through the web.
- Adblock Edge helps block ads and trackers
- Disconnect disconnects you from privacy invasions from major companies such as Facebook and Google
- HTTPS Everywhere forces websites to use a secure protocol when possible
- Ghostery, like Disconnect, helps block site trackers
If you use any of the major proprietary operating systems, you private data, location, search habits, and other personal information is most likely compromised. Fortunately, there are a number of secure, free operating systems. Linux, an open-sourced operating system has been around for decades. It is free and easy to install, and there are several distributions, or versions, available for download.
- Debian-based distributions such as Mint
- Fedora, a free version of the enterprise-grade Linux distribution Red Hat
Gentoo, which is based on Linux or FreeBSD
- Ubuntu has potential security leaks, so it should be avoided.
For users who are security-conscious to the point of being paranoid, FreeBSD or OpenBSD are very secure operating system options.
Almost all email programs and services are run by one of the giants, and they are all susceptible to PRISM’s invasion. The most secure option is to create your own mail server, or have a developer do it for you, in conjunction with encryption software such as PGP. Paid services such as MyKolab out of Switzerland come highly recommended.
These browser, operating system and software alternatives give users the opportunity to further protect their private data and information that is being collected by PRISM.
This article was provided by Joe Restivo, editor and contributor of http://InternetPaymentServices.net