kunoichi

Top ways to encrypt your communications

In Anonymity, Cryptography, Espionage, Privacy on October 19, 2006 at 12:29 pm

Encryption is an ideal solution for those anxious that their private communications may be being intercepted and unmasked. Many of these methods have been discussed in previous posts, so I have brought them all together here in a comprehensive article, listing the best encryption methods depending on your choice of communication:

Contents:

Web browsing
Email
File encryption
SMS
Other
Disclaimer and encryption info you need to know!

Web Browsing

While you browse the web, your IP address will be logged by almost every server you visit. In order to remain anonymous online, you could try using an anonymous proxy, such as Ninja Proxy or Anonymous Index which will hide your IP address; instead the proxy’s IP will be registered.

However, a far more secure method of encryption while browsing is to use TOR: a network of virtual tunnels which allow individuals and groups to improve their privacy and security on the internet:
To create a private network pathway with Tor, the user’s software or client incrementally builds a circuit of encrypted connections through servers on the network. The circuit is extended one hop at a time, and each server along the way knows only which server gave it data and which server it is giving data to. No individual server ever knows the complete path that a data packet has taken. The client negotiates a separate set of encryption keys for each hop along the circuit to ensure that each hop can’t trace these connections as they pass through. (Tor.eff.org)
Since TOR needs to be installed on the computer you use to access the encrypted network, you may also wish to try out the new TorPark browser:

Download Torpark and put it on a USB Flash keychain. Plug it into any internet terminal whether at home, school, or public. Run Torpark.exe and it will launch a Tor circuit connection, which creates an encrypted tunnel from your computer indirectly to a Tor exit computer, allowing you to surf the internet anonymously.

Torpark is like a lighter version of TOR with the added bonus of portability, allowing you to access the web anonymously no matter where you are.

Email

You can encrypt your emails using email encryption software which is available for free from PGPi.org. The software works well with many email software types including Eudora and Outlook. PGPi software provides you with a public key which you can supply to friends and associates so they can be sure that the email originated from you. The strength of this public key encryption lies in that only you have access to the private key used for encryption and it is virtually impossible to derive this from the public one.

A web based encryption service is available from Hushmail.com, which provides a free webmail service in which your pass-phrase acts as a key. The provider of this service is based in Ireland and has no way of recovering your pass-phrase or of reading your emails.

File encryption

If you are a regular reader of my articles, you will already be familiar with PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). PGP can be used to encrypt almost any file using 1024(+) bit encryption software to ensure your files cannot be read without the correct passphrase and encryption key. PGP can also be used as a method of digitally signing documents and emails to ensure they can only be read by the person to whom they are intended.

PGP software can be downloaded for free from PGPi.org.

SMS

You can now encrypt your SMS communications too!

CryptoSMS is compatible with Series 60 handsets which encrypts the content of your SMS with a “triple layer crypto laminate”, to ensure your private messages are thoroughly protected from snoopers and interception. You can download a free trial of Crypto SMS from their website, which limits you to a passphrase of up to eight characters (stronger encryption requires a longer passphrase!). Full registration for use on a single device costs just $10, though the company do offer free lifetime registrations for approved software testers, as well as to bona fide political, religious, and activist organisations (please visit CryptoSMS for full details)

For those of you who don’t have a series 60 handset, you could use Circle Tech’s SMS 007 instead, which is compatible with all java enabled handsets. This software provides a lesser level of encryption, but is still ideal for those who wish to maintain their privacy as it uses an AES symmetric cipher.

Other methods of encrypting communications

In a previous article, I explored the possibilities of encrypting VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) calls. Phil Zimmerman, the creator of PGP has released encryption software for VOIP users: Zfone:

Zfone uses a new protocol called ZRTP, which is better than the other approaches to secure VoIP, because it achieves security without reliance on a PKI, key certification, trust models, certificate authorities, or key management complexity that bedevils the email encryption world. It also does not rely on SIP signaling for the key management, and in fact does not rely on any servers at all. (Phil Zimmerman)

Zfone is currently available as a Beta download from the and is set to mark the standard for VOIP encryption.

For non-electronic communications, you could always rely on codes and ciphers for encryption! For more advice on this subject, visit
EspionageInfo.com.

Disclaimer and encryption info you need to know!

There has been much controversy recently about the use of encryption to secure private communications, particularly in regards to the current threat of terrorism. As I highlighted in the article, “Will data encryption become illegal?”, it is illegal in several countries to use encryption software. In the UK, computer users may be forced to hand over their encryption keys upon request with the threat of criminal proceedings to those who refuse! You should be aware of laws applicable to your country before attempting to use encryption software (see The Crypto Law Survey for more details). Be wise about your use of encryption software; as always, Kunoichi will not be held responsible for your actions!

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