Warning: The Android operating system provided with phones and tablets is often modified with the addition of proprietary applications from Google or others and may compromise your privacy. We strongly recommend replacing it with Replicant (or compile Android from source for your device).
A must read: Mission Impossible: Hardening Android for Security and Privacy, by Mike Perry at The Tor Blog.
Google Public DNS permanently logs your ISP and location information for analysis. Your IP address is also stored for 24 hours.
OpenNIC has not adopted an official policy concerning log query privacy/anonymization. More information here.
For more email providers, take a look at Privacy-Conscious Email Services. Please decide for yourself whether if you trust them with your data. For more discussion about safe email providers, please see issue #461.
MyKolab is hosted in Switzerland and benefits from the strong Swiss privacy laws. It is run exclusively with free software and using the service supports the development of Kolab. Also, it lets you export all your data at any time.
Why not Hushmail? See 'compromises to email privacy'.
If you have the technical aptitude, consider running your own mail server.
Bitmessage is a promising alternative to email, but it has not yet been audited by security professionals. Use at your own risk. If you decide to try out Bitmessage, make sure to generate a completely random ID to greatly reduce the probability of ID collisions.
RetroShare has not been thoroughly audited by security professionals for possible security issues.
Switching from a proprietary service like Gmail to one of the more transparently-run email services on PRISM Break is the first step to a secure email account.
The second step is getting you and your contacts to encrypt your plain text messages with PGP encryption. This section contains free email clients that support PGP.
Read the Email Self-Defense guide by the Free Software Foundation to learn how to encrypt your email messages.
Here is a guide by Security In A Box to encrypting your email with Mozilla Thunderbird, GNU Privacy Guard (GPG), and Enigmail.
Find out more about the differences between Mozilla Thunderbird and Icedove.
Cloud file storage is also available via Chwala/iRony components of Kolab with the capability to integrate various storage backends. Files are accessible via storage layer access options, WebDAV and Kolab web interface integrating Roundcube.
Tarsnap is not recommended on PRISM Break due to its lack of anonymous payment options and strict copyright on the client that makes it difficult to replace the service in the event Tarsnap is shut down.
BitTorrent Sync, MEGA, and SpiderOak are services that are built on either partially or fully proprietary software. They will not be recommended on PRISM Break until they open source the entirety of their codebase.
With closed source software, you need to have 100% trust in the vendor because there's nothing except for their morality in the way of them leaking your personal information. Even if you can vouch for their integrity, proprietary software invariably has more uncaught security bugs and exploits because there are fewer eyes examining the source code.
Another alternative to cloud storage is local backup with external hard drives and USB flash drives. This method is reliably more secure than storing data on a network, but comes at a convenience cost.
The Bitcoin blockchain is a decentralized, public ledger of all transactions in the Bitcoin network.
“It may be the TCP/ip-of money.” —Paul Buchheit
“Off-the-Record Messaging, commonly referred to as OTR, is a cryptographic protocol that provides strong encryption for instant messaging conversations. OTR uses a combination of the AES symmetric-key algorithm, the Diffie–Hellman key exchange, and the SHA-1 hash function. In addition to authentication and encryption, OTR provides perfect forward secrecy and malleable encryption.
The primary motivation behind the protocol was providing deniability for the conversation participants while keeping conversations confidential, like a private conversation in real life, or off the record in journalism sourcing.”
A beginner’s guide to running your own mail server is available here: “NSA-proof your e-mail in 2 hours”.
Kolab integrates Roundcube into its webclient and offers desktop clients as well. Recent versions also feature a file cloud turning it into a complete solution for personal information management.
What is an MTA?
“Within Internet message handling services (MHS), a message transfer agent or mail transfer agent (MTA) or mail relay is software that transfers electronic mail messages from one computer to another using a client–server application architecture. An MTA implements both the client (sending) and server (receiving) portions of the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.
The terms mail server, mail exchanger, and MX host may also refer to a computer performing the MTA function. The Domain Name System (DNS) associates a mail server to a domain with mail exchanger (MX) resource records containing the domain name of a host providing MTA services.”
A mesh network is a decentralized peer-to-peer network, with user-controlled physical links that are usually wireless.
“Mesh networking (topology) is a type of networking where each node must not only capture and disseminate its own data, but also serve as a relay for other nodes, that is, it must collaborate to propagate the data in the network.“
iOS and WP are proprietary operating systems whose source code are not available for auditing by third parties. You should entrust neither your communications nor your data to a black box device.
If you have system administration knowledge, please strongly consider running an instance of pump.io (or something else) for your friends, family, or favorite community. Many of them would be willing and grateful to escape Facebook if you provide them a way out.
For those of you without your own server, RetroShare is the easiest way to start your own encrypted social network.
Encrypted virtual private network (VPN) technology can be used by ordinary Internet users to connect to proxy servers for the purpose of protecting one’s identity and online footprint.
More on Wikipedia.
Installing your own add-ons into Tor Browser is not recommended, as they may bypass Tor or otherwise harm your anonymity and privacy. Check the EFF's Panopticlick to see how trackable your browser configuration is by third parties.
If you're using a Firefox-based browser, you can safeguard your browsing habits and stop advertising companies from tracking you by installing uBlock Origin, Request Policy, and HTTPS Everywhere.
A more advanced alternative to Request Policy would be uMatrix.
Why is Adblock Plus not recommended? Adblock Plus shows “acceptable ads” by default, which works against the purpose of the add-on. Either disable acceptable ads or use uBlock Origin instead.
Try to use Tor Browser for all of your web surfing. It will offer you far better anonymity than any other browser. Make sure to learn the basics of Tor before using it. If the site you want to visit will not work in Tor Browser, try Firefox intead, but realize these browsers do not anonymize your ip by default.
Tor Browser notes: Using Tor Browser to sign into websites that contain your real ID is counterproductive, and may trip the site's fraud protection. Make sure to check for HTTPS before signing in to a website through Tor. Signing into HTTP websites can result in your ID being captured by a Tor exit node.
Firefox notes: This browser uses Google search by default: replace it with a more private alternative. Iceweasel is a rebranded version of Firefox that does not have to follow Mozilla Trademark Policy.
Why are Chromium, SRWare Iron, et al. not recommended on PRISM Break? More info here.
Warning for mobile devices & Tor: Websites using HTML5 <video> tags will leak <video>-related DNS queries and data transfer outside of Tor.
There is also a DuckDuckGo hidden service at 3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion for Tor users.
MetaGer is a SaaS by the German non-profit SUMA e.V. that provides you with anonymous meta search results.
Startpage is a SaaS hosted in the USA and the Netherlands that provides you with anonymous Google search and image results through a free proxy.
Ixquick (run by the same company as Startpage) is a meta search engine that returns combined results from nearly 100 sources - excluding Google.
“If you spend time contributing to OpenStreetMap you are helping a good cause, and building a geographic database of the world which is free and open for all and forever.”