Recent events in the United States (along with other countries) and even commercials for companies like LifeLock are bringing the concepts of how to properly secure your computer back into focus. For example the LifeLock commercial which shows the doctor leaving his laptop in the taxi, emphasize the importance of encryption. While LifeLock is using this to sell their protection, the reality is that the doctor (and everyone) should have taken steps to ensure that your data is protected. The need for services like LifeLock would be reduced, if either the entire computer, or at the very least, the personal information about the patients, was encrypted.
In the case of the NSA, and other law enforcement agencies, it doesn’t matter if you’re innocent or guilty of committing a crime. If you are detained, or suspected of committing a crime, then they will search your computer and other data devices. Think that your computer is password protected so that will stop them? Think again. Law enforcement agencies have tools that will read the data on your drive–even though it’s protected by a password. The only potential solution is completely encrypting the drive. While this isn’t a perfect solution, it’s at least better than nothing.
There are many ways of encrypting your computer, depending on what operating system you’re using. And each has their strengths and weaknesses. It’s up to you to decide which method you want to use and to make it work.
Before I go on, I want to emphasize some points about this topic…
In the case of Edward Snowden, and Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, I don’t think they’re heroes or traitors. I think they’re criminals. Pure and simple. There are laws concerning what they did, and they violated those. Not to mention the policies in their respective companies/military services that were violated. I don’t condone their actions or their reasons for their actions.
For the people who think that what these two did made a difference (because they exposed what the Government was doing), it really didn’t matter. Here’s what happened after the documents were released (in the case of Edward Snowden): He fled for his life, and became a man without a country. The NSA requested (and received) re-authorisation to continue doing the surveillance that he exposed. They continue to do it today. The partner of the reporter who wrote the articles based on Snowden’s documents was detained in London. Even though he was released, they kept all of his computer equipment–including an X-Box. The company who hosted the email service that Snowden used was forced to shut down, due to receiving a FISA warrant. Groklaw (who isn’t involved in this situation at all) chose to shut down, in fear of having to make the same choices that Lavabit had to make.
At the end of the day, it’s not a question of guilt or innocence. It’s a question of privacy. And it’s a question about whether you want to enforce your right to privacy or not.
So what are your options, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
My plan is to do some research on your options, and give you all of the details that I can find. I should note that this is NOT the same thing as email encryption. I’ll discuss that in a separate topic as well. Please feel free to comment with your answers to my question. I’ll confirm and add them into my articles in the future.