Edward Snowden reveals that the threat to your email is real. What can you do about it?
By Frederick D., Security Consultant, for Q Wealth Report
Have you noticed how every so often lately the information revealed by Edward Snowden continues to be in the news? That was true this week as well.
We all give lip service to how serious the issues are that Mr. Snowden raised about governmental agencies covertly spying on individuals. We even may have lamented how that is a breach of our privacy. However, have we begun to tune out those persistent news reports thinking it doesn’t apply to us?
Do we really understand how easy it is for our email messages to be monitored? The threat to your email is real.
This weekend a British satirist, John Oliver, broadcast an interview he had with Edward Snowden in Moscow. The video is available on YouTube. Be advised that the language is very coarse. If you choose to watch the video, the interview portion with Mr. Snowden starts at about the 13:45 mark. The salient point made about the threat to your email is contained in this text transcript, which I have cleaned up a bit from the original language used:
Edward Snowden: If you have your email somewhere like Gmail, hosted on a server overseas, or transferred overseas, or anytime crosses over the borders of the United States, your junk ends up in the database.
John Oliver: So it doesn’t have to be sending your [junk] to a German?
Edward Snowden: No. Even if you’re sending it to someone within the United States. Your wholly domestic communication between you and your wife can go from New York to London and back and get caught up in the database.
John Oliver: How are they going to see my [junk]? I’m only concerned about my [junk].
Edward Snowden: When you send your junk through Gmail, for example, that’s stored on Google’s servers. Google moves data from data center to data center, invisibly to you without your knowledge, your data could be moved outside the borders of the United States…
John Oliver: (Head in hands) Oh no…
Edward Snowden: …temporarily. When your junk was passed by Gmail, the NSA caught a copy of that.
By “junk” Mr. Oliver is referring to pictures that were meant to be private. However, the text of messages sent are just as easily intercepted and a copy made. The implications of this are huge.
Did you know that, if you use Gmail for instance, your messages and attachments (perhaps a photo of your “junk”) are copied from data center to data center around the world without your knowledge? During that transfer your messages and attachments can be easily intercepted.
The threat to your email is real. The actions you can take to protect yourself are easy and well within your reach.
One of the actions you can take is to encrypt your email messages. Encrypting your email messages also encrypts any attachments to the message as well. We recently wrote a blog post entitled The POTUS Uses Email Encryption and You Can Too. You don’t have to leave your email messages as secure as writing a post card.
Another of the actions you can take is to ALWAYS practice safe computing and use an offshore VPN when accessing the Internet. Especially is this true when using a public WiFi hotspot. We recommend using the Cryptohippie Road Warrior VPN suite. To learn more about this product please visit our sister web site, SecureLaptop.org, and read their article about the Road Warrior VPN suite.
Finally, if you are a paid subscriber, learn how to balance computer security with usability by downloading a copy of the new Q Wealth report The Complete Guide to Computer Security…for Mere Mortals. It is available now in the special reports section of the Members Area.
The threat to your email is real. You can protect your privacy. Take action today!