Communications Security

by Ellis

     The right to privacy is an important concept. I hear people say all the time, “I have nothing to hide” and “If the government wants to look at my messages, who cares”. These attitudes are dangerous because they erode that right to privacy. You may not have anything to hide, but that doesn't mean you shouldn’t take basic precautions to protect your private information.

     If you are a 2nd Amendment advocate, you must understand that there are many people in this country who believe you shouldn’t be allowed to own guns. In fact, they actively seek to limit your ability to defend yourself.

     Ever feel like your phone is listening to you? Well, that’s because it is. Many tech companies have entire business models revolving around selling your information. You can guarantee that if you use a Google or Meta product your data is being collected and sold to 3rd parties. This is why it’s important to at least make an attempt to maintain privacy in what you read, watch, and send to friends and loved ones.

     No communication is truly secure. Think of it this way, if you whisper a secret to a friend, someone may overhear it, or your friend may talk about it later with someone else. Likewise, our data can be intercepted in transit and at the other end if the recipient isn’t secure.

     I’m not saying you need to throw away your smartphone and get a thumb drive using a bootable operating system like Tails. I’m also not an expert on communications security, but the following are some simple alternative tools that you can use to better protect your digital information.

Email- Protonmail

It isn’t as sleek as Gmail but being based in Switzerland it’s subject to much stricter EU privacy laws. The free plan offers most every feature you want from an email. Paid plans offer more if you like to hoard emails or have a business. If you are still using Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, Apple Mail, or Outlook as your primary email, you are using some of the least secure services that consistently spy on your inbox.

Calendar- Protonmail

They also have an encrypted calendar app for mobile with widgets.

Messaging- Signal Private Messenger

Normal text messages are not secure. Signal has end-to-end encryption and many other features which make it easier to use across different platforms. It’s a non-profit that is not run by any major tech company and has been a major tool in protecting free speech from government censorship around the world.

Web Browsing- Brave 

Ditch those slow browsers that spy on you like Gmail, Safari, Firefox, and Edge. Brave has a fantastic ad blocker. I go to Youtube through my browser instead of the app and I get zero ads. Sometimes websites won’t load correctly without turning off the ad blocker but it’s very easy to turn on and off.

Search Engine- Startpage 

One of the best search engines that still provides decent results because it uses Google’s index. DuckDuckGo is also good but search results don’t seem to be as concise.

Navigation- OsmAnd 

I have had the hardest time breaking away from Google Maps as my main navigation tool due to its ease of use and massive database. OsmAnd has better privacy and works offline but I have much less experience with it and the interface is not as easy.

VPN- You probably do not actually need one unless you are connecting from a country that blocks websites or you like to use public wifi. Tip: use your phone as a hotspot instead.

Investing time and money in firearms training is important, but don’t overlook your other rights. Invest some time and effort into securing all of what our founding fathers bequeathed us; including your right to privacy and free speech.