Several decades ago, spy movies and TV shows flaunted all sorts of high tech gadgetry that viewers of the time would have considered almost magic. Devices that allow you to hear through walls, pens that double as listening apparatuses and rings that contain miniature wireless cameras were just some of the many pieces of kit that made a lot of spy movie fans salivate.
In today’s ultra-high tech world, most of these gadgets seem old-fashioned, obsolete and outdated. Currently, many devices are readily available or are easily obtainable that will do all these things and more without the high cost of research and development that was required by the secret organisations and governments of that time. This can be somewhat disturbing because a moderately determined and knowledgeable individual could take advantage of these technologies to perform a detailed level of surveillance on you, your family and your environment.
But what is being done about privacy issues and the like? There is a very convincing argument that US citizens have given up on defending their right to privacy. If governments won’t protect their citizens, then citizens have to find ways to protect themselves. There are several ways that citizens of today can take matters into their own hands and protect themselves from unwanted digital surveillance.
Physically protect your Internet connection. Make sure the cable carrying the Internet connection into your home, be it a telephony cable for xDSL or a coaxial cable for a cable modem, is properly shielded. The simplest thing a would-be eavesdropper could do is tap the cable without even piercing it, just by detecting and recording the electromagnetic fluctuations that spill into the environment around the cable itself. Today, many types of cables are available with shields or screens such as CY cables, a type of control cable, mains cables and Ethernet cables. Although the shielding provided for these is not always for the purpose of protection from surveillance, the result is the same.
Encrypt your data. When using any communication device, if your data is not encrypted in some form, if it is intercepted at any stage of its journey to its destination, it will be legible to anyone obtaining it. Remember, data today does not only include the text of your email or your bank account password. It could mean your voice conversations, your video conferences and your photos – essentially anything that can be digitised and transferred over the Internet. To solve this, it is possible to encrypt pretty much your entire digital life, including your phone, your email, your browser and your hard drives.
Use online anonymity tools. Tools such as Tor protect your anonymity online by routing your data through a global network of volunteer servers. If you install and use such a service, you can hide who you are from corporate and mass surveillance organisations.
Oh, and don’t forget to use a hard to guess password for all your online services. Although it is easier to use the same password for everything, it’s worth the inconvenience to choose a different password for each service.