Tech

Don't like PRISM? Here are few ways you can keep out the spooks

By Michael Mayday , Jun 09, 2013 10:56 AM EDT

The details surrounding the U.S. government's surveillance abilities, from obtaining the metadata associated with phone calls from wireless providers to allegedly being able to tap directly into the servers of nine major U.S. tech firms.

But there are ways of remaining somewhat untraceable in an increasingly public Internet environment.

One of the better methods of disguising your Internet activity is by masking your IP address - a series of numbers which identify a computer connected to the Internet - with software which lends anonymity to web browsing like Tor, or a Virtual Private Network.

Email, however, is a bit more difficult. If you've an email message you'd like to keep from prying eyes, you can use a variety of email encrypting programs like PGP or GPG - according to Slate, both are considered standards for confidential emails, and is often used by both investigative journalists and lawyers handling confidential information.

Secure messaging on mobile phones, too, has largely been compromised by government efforts. But those determined to send and receive private messages still have their options. As GigaOm reports, a few applications, like Vine, haven't been tapped by NSA agents, and, for now, offers the means of sending data which the U.S. government doesn't have access to.

Then there's Seecrypt, an application developed in South Africa which claims to protect cell users from having calls and text messages tracked, according to The Daily Caller. The secretive application, however, requires all parties involved to have the same application installed. Once installed, the application encrypts any call or message sent over its service.

There are, of course, other applications like Seecrypt. Silent Circle features many of the same abilities as Seecyrpt, while RedPhone and TextSecure keeps phone calls and text messages respectively encrypted. These services also require each user to have the same application.

It should be noted, however, that no method of encryption or deception is guaranteed to keep all of your communications and online activities secure. Trojans and other sorts of malware can compromise your security without you even knowing it by tracking keystrokes, taking screenshots of your computer and accessing private files. Such programs can render some encryption methods useless.

The revelations over the U.S. government's ability to track the activities of nearly any Internet user with relative ease has raised a massive debate on the proper balance between privacy and the means of fighting the war on terror. To some, that debate may seem one-sided, but there are means of making things difficult for organizations which like to snoop.

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