Three Ways To Communicate Anonymously and Privately Online
There are more ways to communicate online now than ever. It can be overwhelming to choose which service to use. We often find ourselves communicating with one person via multiple channels (e.g. Facebook Messenger, texting, and Snapchat). Because our communication is spread across so many channels, it is vulnerable from many angles. By using one of the following services to communicate when sensitive data is involved, you can protect your information.
SecureDrop is an anonymous submission system by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. The system offers security and anonymity for whistleblowers and news sources, but must be used correctly. Media organizations use this to accept leaked documents or confidential news tips. The best SecureDrop systems will require using Tor to conceal your IP address or location information and avoid compromising your identity.
SecureDrop offers the following privacy features:
- Data Encryption
- No Logging of IP Addresses, browser, or computer
- No third parties
- Minimized metadata
PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)
A software engineer named Phil Zimmerman came up with PGP back in 1991. He was an activist looking for a way to securely transfer information over the internet.
This is how PGP works: You have a public key (to lock/encrypt the message) and a private key (to unlock/decrypt the message). You would send the public key to all your friends so that they can encrypt sensitive messages that they want to send to you. Once you receive an encrypted message, you use your private key to decrypt it.
PGP is used mostly for email encryption, it encrypts the content of the email. However, Pretty Good Privacy does not encrypt the subject and sender of the email, so be sure to never put sensitive information in these fields when using PGP.
Signal is a free, open-source messaging app for iPhone and Android. It encrypts phone calls and messages by default. Only you and the person you communicate with can read or listen to your conversations. The app has a range of settings that can add to the data security it provides. You can set it to delete messages after a given time, to protect you in case your device is lost or stolen. Signal is a project by Open Whisper Systems, which is endorsed by, whistle-blower and privacy advocate, Edward Snowden.
Signal began as a project to bring cryptography to the masses in a user-friendly app.
According to a post on Signal’s blog about its foundation, “at the time, the industry consensus was largely that encryption and cryptography would remain unusable, but we started Signal with the idea that private communication could be simple.”
Let us know if you have other services you use to communicate privately on the internet!
Learn More About Private Communications on The Intercept