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How to NSA proof your phone

  • Secure your calls and text messages
  • We go through the free options for phone security
  • Are these applications really secure?
Written by James Sandri
16/10/2013

In light of recent events, security has become a hot topic for internet users. With the NSA snooping on call logs and reading your Facebook messages (apparently), how we can protect our data has become the question of the moment. Well then...how do we? The great news is that there are quite a few reputable services available that will allow you to secure your phone from outside surveillance.




 

 

 

RedPhone is a free, open source Android application from WhisperSystems that offers end to end encryption for calls and texts. Essentially it is a VoIP service similar to Skype and Viber that runs over your phones data connection rather than through your providers phone protocol effectively bypassing their call logs and records. RedPhone works by initiating calls to other RedPhone users and requiring a password to decrypt the transmission. The only downside to RedPhone would be the long list of bugs that are plaguing users of the app. Good news is that it’s free though and more than worth giving a go if you’re interested in securing your conversations.

Another option is the commercial application
Silent Phone. Working on a subscription basis, Silent Phone offers you a circle of “Silent” applications for Android, iPhone and desktop computers. Bundled in with these applications is encrypted voice, video and text messaging. A good feature of Silent Phone is that you can actually call out to non-Silent phones and still encrypt one half of the conversation, a good compromise over regular, unencrypted calls.    

Now that’s calls covered but what about text messaging? Also from WhisperSystems is an Android application called TextSecure that replaces your stock SMS/TXT application and replaces it with their own that both encrypts outgoing and all received SMS messages. So if you lose your phone, you don’t have to worry about those embarrassing messages catching up on you. TextSecure works the same as RedPhone and SilentPhone in the sense it requires the application  to be on both the sending phone and the receiving phone for the encryption to work. The downside to TextSecure is that because it uses the SMS protocol rather than online instanting messaging, all the data your provider captures about your SMS messages can be accessed via PRISM. A great alternative to to TextSecure is Gibberbot that essentially offers the same features with the bonus of being an online messager diverting your provider from tracking the messages.

 

In this day and age almost every phone has access to the internet through their cellular network. So how do we encrypt this data as well? A great application for iPhone users is Onion Browser that offers the Tor network (more information here) on your phones internet browser. It’s a $1 application that will protect your personal data when browsing online. The same thing can be achieved on Android phones with an application called OrBot.

For more information on the PRISM, the NSA and the Tor network please read our editorial on the subject here.

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