Net Privacy, Security, Free Speech — resources

Internet Privacy

Unfortunately, network privacy is not yet the default in most environments.  The security of proprietary “closed source” software is highly suspect as there is no way to determine whether it has hidden agendas or “backdoors”.  Indeed much is known to be flawed or malicious and new malice can be inserted with every update.  The move toward open source software will play an important role in achieving a private and secure internet.

The following collection of resources cannot possibly keep up with the burgeoning gallimaufry of  choices but is at least a place to start.

Major Movements

The Privacy Pack

The Reset The Net movement with the endorsement of the Electronic Freedom Foundation recommends using The Privacy Pack, a collection of free, open-source applications for Android, Windows and Linux.

The following are steps that can be taken to secure your presence on the Internet, and by securing your own presence you will be supporting others by helping to reduce the general efficacy of global intrusive and malicious surveillance.   Some of these steps are very simple, others require installing and learning new software and even operating systems.  We will start with the easy ones.

Prism Break

A thorough and expanding compendium of privacy resources.

Simple Steps — with increasing complexity

Searching the net in private, a growing but perpetually incomplete list of resources

Popular search engine record your searches and link them to you, largely for promotional purposes but also to keep a record for sale or analysis by many bodies that may purchase or otherwise access its contents.  Very simple solution:  use a search engine that does not record your searches or identity.  Just make one of these your default search engine.

Privacy Search Engines


Duck Duck Go

Anonymous encrypted email   Probably the best encrypted anonymous email.  This site is just an informational page but very worth reading.  TOR must be used to access the mail system.

Mail1click   This  free encrypted and anonymous email service is part of  Kryptotel Security Systems  which also provides a wide range of commercial encrypted security services with servers and network nodes in dozens of countries.  All email uses solid encryption but only to other Mail1click users.  Of course one can always double encrypt the contents separately for added security.  Mail1click also has the most useful and extensive WYSIWYG text editor we’ve seen.


Cryptoheaven is a premier commercial provider of zero-knowledge secure email, encrypted email hosting, messaging and online storage.




Thanks to the historical efforts of Whitfield Diffie and Phil Zimmerman, Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), later to become GnuPG is the ideal open source cryptographic system — well, not quite.  Though the software itself is excellent and apparently without weaknesses, it is still being created by nerdy geeks who have no concept of how to make software turnkey and simple.  GnuPG takes some installing and then a plugin is needed for the mail handler which will invoke the pre-installed system.  One day they will realize that one choice and a one-click install is the only way the world will start using the package on a large scale.  GnuPG still fails the Greenwald test.

Silent Circle: After closing down when threatened with being forced to reveal client data, Silent Circle has reformed in Canada with an End to End encryption system for phone communications that cannot be intercepted even by the service itself:

KryptoPhone   Encrypted Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP).  Full encryption to other KryptoPhone users, enhanced security to other users.  Supports a wide variety of hardware devices.


Web Surfing Anonymity

The TOR (The Onion Router) project.

“Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.” “Tor is for web browsers, instant messaging clients, and more.” TOR is free and open source for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android:  TOR is supported by donations and volunteers.  All connections are multiply encrypted through three servers on their way to the destination making it very difficult to identify the origin and destination machines.  Encryption prevents content visibility up to the last step to the destination machine.  This last step may also be encrypted if https protocol is used by the destination server.  TOR attempts to assure that it is used.

Although TOR provides excellent security and privacy, there are still potential flaws in the system ranging from user error, to compromised operating systems and even potentially malicious nodes within the volunteer TOR network.    It’s still probably the best encrypted and anonymized system though speed can be a problem.

Virtual Private Networks

VPNs provide varying levels of security and anonymity by routing and possibly also encrypting network communications. Most VPNs permit the user to choose the country the user will appear to be from.  VPNs have a big potential flaw in that, unlike TOR, they are not decentralized and are managed by a known business entity which may be subject to political and economic coercion.

Free VPNs

Anonymox is a browser plugin that provides anonymous access to the net. Free version is limited to a few IPs and lower speed.   Very simple and easy to use, anonymox is probably the first system to try out.

VPN Gate  An excellent free VPN.  Run as an experiment by the graduate school of the University of Tsukoba in Japan,  VPN Gate attempts to bypass state implemented barriers to international Internet use.  It enables computers in China to access Youtube for example.  However, VPN Gate does keep logs and prohibits illegal activities explaining that the logs will be made available to authorities in cases of criminality.  This is policy is a bit baffling as laws differ from country to country and within some countries, accessing youtube is in itself illegal.  It would also seem likely that countries whose citizens VPN Gate enables to bypass censorship may well claim that other criminality is taking place.   VPN gate is probably a good system for journalists and dissidents but not for illegal trafficking and net piracy.

Commercial VPNs

 Kryptotel Security Systems  provides extensive international network VPN support and is headquartered in The Seychelles and Dubai.

 Private Internet Access. Free trial

Hot Spot Shield provides encrypted anonymous communications globally. Free version. Hotspot Shield was used to bypass government censorship during the Arab Spring protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Strong VPN provides encrypted anonymous communications globally. No free version.

One good collection of other VPNs is to be found at BestVPN which rates them according to region, purpose and price.

Secure File Sharing

Mega: The Kim Dotcom secure storage system that does not retain access to client files.


Rationale for Privacy

Collected articles on the problems and importance of Internet privacy

Passive acceptance of surveillance is the greatest threat to Internet freedom

Surveillance Puts a Damper on Democratic Dissent

Snowden’s Legacy — a premature retrospective