Open Source Encryption Tools to Protect #Privacy #nsa (Updated 11/18/2014)

I was totally unprepared for today’s bombshell revelations describing the NSA’s efforts to defeat encryption. Not only does the worst possible hypothetical I discussed appear to be true, but it’s true on a scale I couldn’t even imagine. I’m no longer the crank. I wasn’t even close to cranky enough.Source: On the NSA

For all my fellow cranks out there, a concise list of my free open source software (FOSS) favorites. All these solutions take advantage of AES-256 encryption. 

Here is what you will find in this blog entry:

  1. Encrypted Email and Encryption Tools
  2. Encrypt Your Files and/or Folders, and/or external USB drives
  3. Security and Encryption in Your Internet Browser
  4. Mobile Phone Apps

At the end of each section, I share my recommendation.

1. Encrypted Email & Encryption Tools

  • Non-US-based Encrypted email service providers:
  • Email client with PGP/GPG Support:
  • For encrypting email messages:
  • Recommendation: For end to end encrypted email, I use Tutanota.de currently, but I would also use Fourmilab’s encryption AES-256 algorithm to encrypt email content (metadata is still exposed).


        2. Encrypt Your Files/Folders

          • Use TAILS Disk Utilities to create encrypted USB External Drives; read this tutorial
          • Minilock – From their web site: “miniLock uses your email and secret passphrase to generate a miniLock ID. miniLock IDs are small and easy to share online — anyone can use your ID to encrypt files to you, and you can encrypt files to friends using their miniLock IDs.” It is quite easy to use, even on a Chromebook.
          • Secure Space Encryptor (SSE) tool (lets you encrypt folders of files into one). Runs on Win/Mac/Linux. Watch this video.
          • AESCrypt.com (encrypts file by file, available for Win/Mac/Linux)
          • Axantum AxCrypt (open source) – works great on Windows, not so much on other platforms (unless you’re using WINE)
        • For passwords security: 
          • KeepassX and never save your Keepassx file on Dropbox or anywhere in cloud. 
        • For encrypted chat/messaging sessions (good luck with this…encrypt your text on top of this):
        • Share top secret files (encrypt them) via the Web using…
          • OnionShare. Here is some more info about it: OnionShare lets you securely and anonymously share a file of any size with someone.
          • BitTorrent Sync

          Recommendation: TAILS is my new friend for encrypted content, and I often use the Disk Utility to encrypt external USB drives now that Truecrypt is defunct. I also use Keepassx to track my passwords. I wish more educators would take advantage of these tools since that would help prevent data breaches of student/staff personally identifiable information!


          3. Security & Encryption in Your Internet Browser

            • TAILS – This is the way to go and works great. Read the Linux Journal for getting started guide, although TAILS Documentation is easy to follow. This is a very nice package for encrypting everything and also supports encrypted USB external drives.
            • Use Tor Browser Project (the 2.4 version, not 2.3) to protect your location; it comes with HTTPS Everywhere
            • Browser add-ons:
              1. AdBlock for Firefox/Chrome – Blocks banners, pop-ups and video ads – even on Facebook and YouTube and Protects your online privacy
              2. Facebook Privacy List for Adblock Plus – Enhances AdBlock Plus.
              3. Facebook Disconnect for Chrome and Firefox – Facebook is notified whenever you visit one of the more than one million sites on the web that use Facebook Connect and has a history of leaking personally-identifiable information to third parties. This turns off data flow.
              4. Priv3 for Firefox – The Priv3 Firefox extension lets you remain logged in to the social networking sites you use and still browse the web, knowing that those third-party sites only learn where you go on the web when you want them to. 
              5. Ghostery – Ghostery looks for third-party page elements (or “trackers”) on the web pages you visit and notifies you that these things are present, and which companies operate them. If you wish, choose to block the trackers they operate.
              6. Do Not Track Plus, and for fun,
              7. HTTPS Everywhere
            Recommendation: Use TAILS if you must be encrypted. Otherwise, adding all this stuff to your browser of choice will be a pain.

            4. Mobile Phone Apps
            1. Telegram – Works on iOS and Android to send end-to-end encrypted SMS. Offers text, image and voice messages that are encrypted if you use their encrypted chat option.
            2. Wickr – https://www.mywickr.com/en/index.php
              Great for text, voice messages that are encrypted and protected.
            3. Threema ($1.99) – Works on iOS and Android to send end-to-end encrypted SMS
            4. RedPhone – https://whispersystems.org/
              Encrypted calls on Android phones.
            5. Finally, if you really want to attempt security from the operating system up, give Replicant OS for Android phones a try.

            Recommendation: Of these messaging apps, I’m using the free open source and no-cost Telegram. Works great! As to Replicant OS, I’m not so sure and given my current phone so I can’t switch to that.


            Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com


            Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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