When it came to light that law enforcement has issued millions of annual requests/demands to the wireless carriers (AT&T, Verizon, etc) to hand over user data, we all got a little concerned. Our carriers know everything about us, and according to findings by Rep. Markey (D-MA), "Information shared with law enforcement includes data such as geolocation information, content of text messages, wiretaps, among others."
But! We have weapons. Here are some tricks to help protect your privacy.
THEY CAN SUBPOENA YOUR TEXT MESSAGES
The basic idea: you can encrypt your text messages so even if they're handed over to, you know, whoever, they won't be readable. It's password protection, really.
iOS: Your friends will hate you, but Encrypt SMS is a good tool for iOS. It costs a buck, and will encrypt your text message with AES-256 security, the same basically unbreakable encryption used by Julian Assange to protect his "thermonuclear" insurance file. Both you and the recipient have to have this app installed, and the messages themselves are password-protected. This should protect you from unwanted spying from your carrier.
THEY CAN TAP YOUR PHONE CALLS
Law enforcement has also been after the content of phone calls. Turns out you can encrypt those too, though not quite as easily.
iOS: The big player here is CellCrypt, which is really designed for government use more than consumer use (they have a hefty yearly fee, for example). Also, if you are paranoid, you might note that CellCrypt is cuddly with Verizon. You could try Kryptos instead, which also has AES-256 encryption and costs only $10 per month extra.
Android: WhisperSys also makes an app called RedPhone, which encrypts your phone calls end-to-end. Pretty sweet!
THEY CAN SEE EVERYTHING ON THE NETWORK
...So don't use the network! You can use Wi-Fi for most communications, especially if you live in a city with lots of hotspots. Of course, that comes with its own headaches--Wi-Fi hotspots are very easily hacked--but at least you won't be dealing with the carriers. And given that the carriers seem okay with giving "tower dumps"--basically, all of the info from one tower, which could mean the data from thousands of users--it could only help your privacy to stay away from those towers.
Apple's iMessage, which communicates between Apple devices, uses a data connection that is not routed through your carrier's servers the way SMS texting is. It'll take advantage of Wi-Fi if you're on a Wi-Fi network, which is a good thing to do whenever it's available--it's much harder for your wireless carrier to monitor (or, less scarily but more annoyingly, to wildly overcharge for) Wi-Fi use. BlackBerry Messenger, which has its own encryption, is similar--although its encryption doesn't work when the police seize your phone.
You could try a VoIP option to replace your carrier-monitored phone calls, but those are not always more secure. TextPlus and Talkatone, for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, all set you up with a new number/address and allow you to make phone calls and send text messages over a data network like Wi-Fi. But! According to their privacy policies, they also store your messages and usage history, and will hand over that data if needed--just like the carriers. So encryption is really more important here than which service you use. CSipSimple is a VoIP app with much more intense security--it sets up its own container for the call, while apparently not interfering with the actual content of the call at all.
THEY CAN TELL WHERE YOU ARE
One of the scariest bits of information carriers (and thus law enforcement) has access to is your precise location, which can be gotten both from precise GPS coordinates and from tower triangulation--figuring out where you are based on how strong your signal is from each of several towers. This causes well-deserved freakouts every once in awhile. There are ways to keep your phone from knowing where you are, though. Both iOS and Android have fairly simple ways to opt out of location tracking in the settings.
Android: Go to Settings, then Location Services. Uncheck all of the boxes.
iOS: Go to Settings, then Privacy, then Location Services. Unswitch all of the switches.
The problem is that both Android and iOS keep your location cached on your device, which could be bad if anyone every confiscates it. If you root your Android device or jailbreak your iOS device, you can find apps to get rid of all that data. Lifehacker recommends Location Cache for Android and Untrackerd for iOS.
Once that's all taken care of, perhaps you'd like to go old-school with an offline map? Galileo is a decent one for iOS, and Android users can just use the offline version of the built in Google Maps. Or they can try one of several others, like MapDroyd.
And, of course, you can just throw your phone into airplane mode when you're not using it to prevent it from gathering any data.
Drive over the Manhattan Bridge at night on a weekday. Heave your phone into the East River. Buy a beeper, and only use pay phones. Never use the same pay phone twice. Congratulations, you are safe.
If you are fearful of data on your cell phone being found out, then you must be personally ready at a moments notice to destroy your own phone completely. It is lawful for you to destroy your own property and not to incriminate yourself too.
Of course, this will not help you, if the athorities have been listening to your conversations, coping your data already remotely and have all you phone company calling and data records on file. In this case, you maybe already screwed. Good luck! ;)
There are those that may say, only those who are doing illegal activities should be fearful. But from a remote location, it is up to a government agency to decide if you are doing anything illegal and NSA data collection agency does have the legal right to monitor communications with or without a warrant with the current anti terrorist laws on file.
It seems now, everyone is under the microscope of judgement.
FYI: If you read the article of what the NSA data base is capable of accessing in communication, breaking encryption keys is easy.
I am really surprise how much I keep repeating this link and it get no attention from readers and PoPSCI.
This NSA data base communication monitoring center is major technology with extremely fast super computers too.
I am upet at this article...I don't mention the easiest way to avoid the authorities from getting your cell info.
Stop using it, seriously, stop using the cell phone and they can't track you, they can't get you data and texts. How hard is that?
State Troopers can park they car and identify cars as they pass by. Traffic cams at intersections can identify and track you car. Your cell phone with GPS obvivously tracks you and you dumb phone can be trianglated and track you too via cell phone towers. You home computer IP and Mac address in your NIC identifies and tacks you.
Everytime you make a transaction via you bank card or credit card, you are being recorded and traced.
You car computer, keeps a data base of your driving habits. Prior to 9/11 all communications incoming and outgoing from the USA were electroncially monitored, but with developments of technology, software all communications of the world are being monitored.
If you cell phone is power if, this is only a led, light indication it is off. It still can be on and listening to the rooms conversations, without your knowledge. Do you leave you camera plugged into you home computer or is the camera built into your laptop? Just because the light to those things shows off, does not mean it is off. Many articles have already been written, about how people remotely watch other people via their own laptop cameras.
Pretty much all modern faxs and copiers use hard drives to keep copy of what you scan and if you this unit is attach to a network and internet, yes it can be hack and the copies transfered else where.
Nice you home is secure, because you pay for electronic monitoring security system. Just be aware, big brother government will make good use of it too, to monitor you.
Ok, you open up your computer and you look at your file, nice. Just to let you know, you only see what is allowed for you to see. You do not see what is hidden in your computer and you will never attempt to seach for the thing you are not aware of in the first place, there are hidden folder, files and hidden programs opperating without your knowledge or consent.
It nice to have a wonderful digital stero system, attach to you digital flat screen tv, attach to you wireless internet. FYI, speakers can also be microphones and listen too and they sound can be transfer over the internet easily.
I find it apalling that any of this is even necessary. That fact the the gov't that we elect can sit there and spy on us just drives me crazy. If there is a verifiable need to "spy" on a person then go to a judge, get a warrant and press on, but these tower dumps are obsurd! How can they legaly justify these? This is just another example of how the gov't is slowly chipping away at our rights and liberties.
Since now ok to fly drones across the USA, remember a drone can also be helicopter or anything else remote controlled.
Now add the fact, a drone can carry a listen device or a laser listen device. The laser can shine a beam on a window and listen to conversations in a room. It can also hear clicks on a computer keyboard and with good software produces the keys of the typist (logins-passwords-words and conversations), prior to it being decrypted and sent over the internet.
See life in all its beautiful colors, and
from different perspectives too!
caradoc01 Did you not read the "fail-safe" bit at the end?
Also I went to download the RedPhone, but it seems to be gone...?
I just assume that the government knows anything they want to. If they wanted they could come arrest me for every illegal thing I have ever done but then they would arrest millions of people. Just don't do anything "too" illegal and they won't/can't care about it.
I also would love for some authority to knock on my door and accuse me of doing something because I sent out a text saying I did it.
You would like to think that we elect our representatives, but it's completely run by money and motives. The government is broken and all it accomplishes is covering up it's own tracks.
I have one. Stop mindlessly voting based on a political party you just KNOW is less bad than that other evil one. Based on a couple of worthless talking points.
Bush passed patriot act which I hated, (interestingly was democrat vice president Joe Biden's original law) dems were up in arms how dare they. Then obama their guy gets in and expands the patriot act to spy on the american people to attack us more than the people trying to blow us up. But since its their guy the dems quickly shut up and started cheering him instead, and since the repubs originally passed it they don't say much either.
Like magic a police state and all it takes is blindly supporting your political party. Rather than the person who really is the lesser of two evils. If we start voting intelligently we might even end up with better candidates, that would be nice. Look at the choices we've had obama yuck, romney yuck, obama double yuck, mccain yuck, bush kerry bush gore yuckarama. In this election romney is the lesser of two evils, worst case scenario is he's as bad as obama / bush best case he's better at least there's a chance for improvement. He's the better option this time.
Our dear USA govenment is simuliar to a person with a narcissistic personality disorder. They feel they are correct in all their decisions and ingore all their mistakes. They are unstoppable in managing money, when it comes to spending it on themselves. They glorify and exagerate all their accomplishments. They are only nice to others, if it benefits themselves and to the root of it all is insecurity, which is why the government is paranoid now of ALL USA citizens and ALL people of the world and feel justified in monitoring their communications.
I feel the USA budget system is broken and busted, beyong repair. The government can not make unselfish intelligent beneficial decisons for the public anymore. Social security and medicare has been declared dead in 10 to 20 years. It all just makes me feel depressed and well "f#ck" for the future. It is a scary kind of depression.
Oh then add the distance of the 1% rich is so well above and beyond the other 99% working folk and continue to own everything and make profit, while the rest of us just struggle along in life.
The world populations is out of control. World recources are getting less and less and the world human population is over whelming planet Earth.
I think I will just go home and love my family more and try to be nice to all the other people around me too!!!!! I am not going to be apart of this madness, nope. If the sh#t for the world hits the fan, I want to live and die a decent man and Christian, despite what ever the world brings.
it's gotten worse, in st. Louis missouri they've been conducting martial law training in the streets of the bloody city. leaked reports said that the police were only told that the dirt would hit the fan in September - October. worse yet is that Obama has recently pushed in laws and regulations that allow him to invoke martial law without consent of congress, this would be a suspension of the electoral process as well as civil liberties. the only fail safe that kept the government from using it to suppress our people was Congress itself holding the only right to declare it. in my book this is grounds for a civil bloody war, this is not cool.
this article has become extremely useful though, i've stopped carrying a cellphone personally but a time is coming very quickly when we'll be ditching them in the street so that they can't track us.
to mars or bust!
If you wish to temporarily turn off the ability to track you and listen to your conversations, just remove the battery from your cell phone, when you not using it.
Good day! ;)
D13 and all, it's not treason and it's not anarchy to overthrow the government and replace it with something we think is better. That's a constitutional right of all Americans. The trick is getting it to happen before your movement is usurped by someone else with bad intent. The other half of the trick is actually coming up with a better system. Everyone complaints about the weather/government, but nobody ever does anything about it.
To haywall's comment, anonymity is your only real defense. Don't be too important or too rich or too poor or too opinionated or too anything else. That's what focuses their attention on you. Otherwise, you're just a nameless face in a nameless crowd. That's me!
The most important tool you own is the 2 1/2 pounds greasy jello between your ears. Use it and don't whine about something you lost years ago Privacy does not exist anymore and until this civilization crumbles to dust you wont have privacy as our grand fathers had
So after reading the article and comments I have to say the security is good for kipping out local snoops but what you really need is mega money and connections because if the government decides to take a notice of you, your SOL.
When in doubt leave the phone home. Don't text sensitive stuff and keep your conversation to vague innuendoes. Brave new world we are moving into. Keep your wits about you.
Shoosh...... they are listening....
See life in all its beautiful colors, and
from different perspectives too!
Rest assured that any data retrieval by big, nosy prying government brothers is only circumstantial. Why? Because just because it's your device doesn't mean all the data received was your doing. There are many hackers out there and that would be to your benefit. Also, you would have a case saying that you lost your phone/computer, and in the time it took to stop anyone from using it, someone used up a lot of your data, and you can argue that it has happened to you many times.
So, it will not be easy to prove. Also, be clever. Confuse, distort, throw people off by using different names, etc.......
In other words, be your own security.
I wonder if this is why some of the better phones have batteries that can not be removed? I just assume that everything I say or text is recorded somewhere, a computer checks for key words or .... If anything is unusual a real person takes a look. In the 1950's the British figured out how to tap a phone that was not plugged in. ( they used microwave reflected off the diaphragm in the headset) I wonder how far the spy game has come. My guess is VERY far. FYI all antennas with power on them are broadcasting.