Internet Security in the Age of Obama

Internet security is no longer for the paranoid only.  James Lakely recently wrote, here on AT, an article about our New Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, and his desire to quell the internet.  This was followed by another AT article regarding Obama's Czar of Chillin'. What we need are methods and means to deal with such threats.  How to hide in plain sight, or encrypt and obscure information.

Therefore, to assist fellow patriots in the War on Freedom that is coming out of Washington DC, I propose you begin to construct your own Counterintelligence Tool bag.   This topic is quite broad, and this is not a how-to or treatise, merely something to get you thinking in the right direction.

Surfing the Web anonymously

It is always good to be able to surf anonymously when one deals with Czarist oppressors, but most "normal" users have no idea how to do this, or even what it means.  Surfing anonymously means you are able to go to sites like this one, with your actual internet address and other information obscured. 

I hope you like onions, because one of the most used methods to fix this is called Tor, an "onion router" and fortunately for you, it can run on Windows, Mac OSX, Linux and BSD.  More fortunately, it is a free download.  There is a plugin, a module that you can download for Firefox, that permits you to click a button and deal with Tor from right inside your browser.

Don't like all the hassle of downloading and setting it all up?  Good. I got tired of all of this too, and preferred something more portable, in fact, bootable from a USB "thumb drive."  This solution may not be for everyone, but worth a look is Incognito, and its companion Rockate.

If all this is still too much grief, get out your wallet and get one of the most worthwhile devices you can own, an Ironkey. These devices are not for the careless. If you forget your password, and lock yourself out, they really can't get you back in, and your data is lost, and the Ironkey becomes unusable.  Ah, but for the faithful AT reader, a great tool in the war against the oppressors!

Add a device of your choice from Yoggie, and you're locked up a lot tighter than most businesses I've seen.

Email Encryption

Why let anyone, especially Obama, read your email? What you need is to be able to encrypt your email!  There are enterprise and complex methods for such things, but PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) or the Open Source Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG) are very robust in this department.

For those of you who use the Thunderbird email system, there is a plugin which will handle all your encryption needs, and provides you with control of your encryption system.

You can even learn about "port forwarding" - which is where you use a secure tunneling program (ssh -or "secure shell") to forward connections to your own PC and then securely out to your email server, or to surf the web, etc.  This is covered in O'Reilly's "Linux Server Hacks" and applies to most ssh programs - many of which are free for download.  Also, for Windows users, "Tunnelier."

Free Wi-Fi

Sometimes it is useful for the hapless Conservative to be as sneaky as a street-bum liberal.  Discussion of how to break into someone else's Wi-Fi connection, is beyond the scope of this article, and unnecessary.

What you do need, however, is a way to find a connection should you need one.  There are many corporations which provide such things, as are there local coffee houses and other smaller businesses that provide free Wi-Fi to their customers. All you have to do is keep a list of the ones in your area, or in the area where you will be.  A web search for will locate many sites, this is one of them.

Equipped with your laptop, notepad or other smaller computing device, you are now ready to march onward using Tor and your other tricks, from a free connection, that is even more difficult to trace.  Just keep an open eye out for mall and shopping center cameras (I told you, we are acting like paranoid liberals in this section.)

Since Ironkey keeps your browsing history and passwords locked up, it is a good tool.  Other methods of leaving fewer or no footprints come from the Linux world.  Most distributions of Linux have built in options for disk encryption.

There are several distributions of what is called, "Bootable Distros" for the Linux operating system, that are made to boot from a CD, DVD, or Thumb drive, and capable of running on a large variety of hardware.

One of the more popular ones was written by Karl Knopper, and is called Knoppix.  This can be taken along as a CD or DVD and also booted from a thumb drive.  You can customize most of these "distros" and save your information to the thumb drive, so you have your whole "Desktop Environment" in your pocket.

Just think! You can visit a friend, boot your own desktop that you carry with you, and when you are done, shutdown / restart -take out your thumb drive, and leave no trace!

(Hint: you can do this at home, too!)

There are far too many "distros" to list, but I am sure there is one that will suit you, from the simple to the totally well loaded with tools versions. For those of you who like lots of disk space, the OcZ thumbdrives, can reach sizes of 64 Gigabytes.

(That's a lot of computing space in your pocket!)

Further reading:

Silence on the Wire

Steal This Computer Book 4.0

Linux Pro Magazine

Linux Format Magazine

Hackin9 Magazine