With both governments and corporations trying their best to (illegally) access our private data, our privacy is being increasingly violated to the point that we almost don't have any left.
Not to mention the black hat hackers who work independently of them, or interdependently with them.
When we visit a website (or access any online server), the following can easily happen:
- The Domain Name Server (DNS) also knows that you visited a particular website. The DNS tells your computer the IP address of the domain name that you entered on the URL bar of your web browser. Every time to want to visit a website using its domain name, your computer normally sends a query to the DNS.
- Your ISP records every website that you visit. Furthermore, if the website you visited is not protected by a CA-issued SSL certificate, your ISP will also know everything that you sent to (and received from) the website.
- The web browser you are using can record everything. This includes what websites you visit, and what your passwords and private messages are, and send them to who-knows-where. You should make sure that your browser is open-source and verified to be safe.
- The operating system (OS) itself of your desktop/laptop/smartphone is probably the biggest spyware in your device. Unless you use open-source OS such as Linux distributions, your Windows or Mac (or closed-source Linux OS) is most probably tracking everything you do on the device.
- The hardware of your device can also track your activity at the machine level. The firmware of the motherboard, RAM, storage, CPU, etc. can have spyware, and it is up to you to check each of them for such malware.
You see, from the Internet servers themselves down to your device, your privacy can be invaded.
Nonetheless, even Edward Snowden himself does not want us to dispose of all electronic devices and live off-grid.
Instead, Snowden simply wants us to do the following:
- Use open-source software for your device OS and any app in it as much as possible.
- For all your communications, use end-to-end encrypted apps (such as Signal) as much as possible.
- Try to always use the Tor browser for all your web browsing (as long as it does not interfere with your essential online activities such as accessing your bank account, whose bank can raise suspicion when they notice that you suddenly logged in from another country)
- Be certain that your devices and hardware are "clean" (free of embedded spyware).
- Check the reputation of the individual or company that provides your software and hardware.
Simple steps can ensure that our privacy remains in our hands. Let us fight the stigma that hiding something is evil.