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The first, a public key, is sent out to those who users want to send them encrypted messages, which they then install on their device. The second, a private key, is used to decrypt the messages sent to the user, and should never be shared. PGP and GPG are software implementations of cryptography that are worth looking into for peace of mind in business and home use. Secure, Encrypted Web Browsing. Besides reading emails and chat messages, the government, hackers, and other adversaries can typically glean a lot of information about a person based on their internet browsing patterns and history.

To prevent this, one good technology to use is Tor.

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The Tor package, when installed on a device, allows users to channel their internet browsing through multiple other computers on the network, each with its own level of nested encryption much like the layers in an onion. Each time information is passed between computers, the data only knows what layer it came from and where it is going next. Thus, if it is ever intercepted, it is very difficult to trace what IP address the information originated at.

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The layered nature of the Tor network also makes it useful for avoiding firewalls imposed by a government. As well, sites can be hidden in the Tor browser from the rest of the internet. Further, the peer-to-peer nature of Tor means that the network exists as long as there are computers running it, so it cannot be taken down. While this may seem like a source for shady anonymous activity, government agents and the military also use Tor.

The Tor Browser Bundle uses a modified version of the Firefox web browser which allows for low latency anonymous browsing, and is available for download for free from The Tor Project. Revolutionary Applications. In late January , during the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East, the Egyptian government shut down nearly all internet and cellular service in the country. Popular bloggers had already been imprisoned in Egypt for years for speaking out against the government or religion, and Twitter was fast becoming one of the fastest and most reliable news sources regarding the revolution.

To avoid this type of persecution by governments, activists can turn to cryptography applications for aid. Cryptocat , for example, offers encrypted chat services in an easy-to-use and visually appealing browser extension. Twister , a microblogging application currently being developed in Brazil following the mass protests there, uses the BitTorrent and BitCoin protocols to function as a peer-to-peer, decentralized, and encrypted Twitter-like service, intended for revolutionaries and other activists to use to spread news without fear of the government persecuting them.

Twister is currently in alpha and thus is very difficult to compile without software development experience, but you can learn more about it by visiting the development site. The Bitcoin Cryptocurrency. In , the online currency known as Bitcoin surged in prominence, popularity, recognition and value. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency , which means that it is both created and distributed through cryptographic means in this case, Bitcoins are created through SHA cryptographic hashing on specialized hardware, and transferred using public-key encryption.

PGP encryption uses a serial combination of hashing, data compression, symmetric-key cryptography, and finally public-key cryptography; each step uses one of several supported algorithms. Each public key is bound to a username or an e-mail address. The first version of this system was generally known as a web of trust to contrast with the X. Current versions of PGP encryption include both options through an automated key management server.

As PGP evolves, versions that support newer features and algorithms are able to create encrypted messages that older PGP systems cannot decrypt, even with a valid private key.

PGP can be used to send messages confidentially. For this, PGP combines symmetric-key encryption and public-key encryption.

How do I use GPG/PGP on a mac?

The message is encrypted using a symmetric encryption algorithm, which requires a symmetric key. Each symmetric key is used only once and is also called a session key. The message and its session key are sent to the receiver. Just enable a passcode, and Apple's data protection software automatically kicks in. Just don't forget your password! As with all things encryption, if you forget your password your data is locked away forever.

This one's big, too.

For many people, email is a primary form of communication, especially for work-related messages and the attachments that come with them. And when there are trade secrets at stake, you can bet hackers want to intervene. The NSA has been intervening for years.


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There are a couple of ways to encrypt your email. Probably the easiest method, end-to-end encryption in Gmail , was just announced as part of the Reset the Net day of action.

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This new feature arrives in the form of a Chrome Extension that will encrypt all data leaving your browser. You can't download it quite yet, though Google's made the code available to developers so they can make it better. Meanwhile, there's Quick Encrypt , a Chrome Extension that you can download now, but it only encrypts selections of text. To do email encryption right, though, you really need to encrypt not just the content of your messages—both new and old— but also your connection to the email server.

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If you use a mail client like Outlook or Thunderbird, make sure the box for encrypted connections is checked in your settings. If you download the Privacy Pack, you'll also get GPGTools and Enigmail , two suites of software that boost encryption offerings in mail clients. None of the above are perfect solutions. If you're really worried about email security, you might consider just signing up for a secure email service.


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Not only does Kolab encrypt your email and calendar, it also stores all of the data in Switzerland, where some of the world's toughest privacy laws and best data security. That's the high-stakes reality of real security.

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Next up is the ol' web browser. You know by now how https is the encryption standard on the web and— Heartbleed aside —it works okay. However, not all websites are equipped to send and receive data over an https connection. Of course, if you really want a secure browser, you should just use Tor. The anonymous browser made famous by the Silk Road is also Edward Snowden's browser of choice. It's actually not just a browser, either, but a whole suite of software that relays your web traffic through several other computers known as Tor Relays before it arrives at its destination.

That means that nobody can trace the connection back to your computer, at least if your using Tor correctly. It's not exactly encryption, but it's an effective alternative.

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