Especially after the news about the NSA wiretapping scandal, people are becoming even more security-conscious—and that’s a good thing. Alarmingly, your private encrypted data may not be safe if the NSA demands that websites with your encrypted information turn over the decryption key, the key that can decrypt it all!
There’s one way to protect yourself: PIE, or Pre-Internet Encryption. The idea is that you (or actually, a program on your computer) encrypt the data before sending it to its destination. So if you encrypt a file to put on your cloud drive, and the NSA demands this data from your cloud provider along with the encryption key, then when they decrypt it they’re left with just the pseudorandom noise that is your encrypted data. Since the key remains solely in your possession, they have no way of obtaining it and no way of decrypting your data!
Of course, if you lose your private key, or forget the passphrase that unlocks it, you’ve lost your data forever! So keep that in a secure place.
This is an excellent way to send secure emails. You send the other party your public key, which encrypts email that only you can decrypt, and uses that to send you email. If you have the other party’s public key, you get two-way encryption that nobody but the two of you can read!
By far, the best way of doing this is Gnu Privacy Guard. This is proven secure encryption using the PGP standard and is open source software that has been vetted by many security experts. For email, I use EnigMail to send encrypted mail through Mozilla Thunderbird. If you want to send me encrypted email, just install OpenPGP and import my public key. It’s on pgp.mit.edu as Shane Killian (check the Photo ID to make sure you’ve got the right one) or you can copy and paste the key from here:
-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK----- Version: GnuPG v2.0.21 (MingW32) mQINBFIWjwIBEAC+MeVwW9gXo+9bWTYvJIDls2XmPUClsAZOjiv1W17KAyLR5Dq5 z9Vr1UyrZ35HtvIhymrxVzinY5R1nQ6e/X8jVt43fSxsKMCMSs5F+AqjFpY2d62T 1Nmj7jTojf5Cw55tLocofK7cEjr0EFTO4AR3aN/Duss9H7BZTNsmSl46fBfDgsF7 z61L/BknuEU0QX9rwsjryLn+NhpVL2d/Xh9U33Mr/70taIQdCnTbFpyDlbD6x0QS GPJp19z0wDl213gW3Ej1nBxgycA+JMPusFcz5EdvmrXKiwx6h1/TVyCvbaJVshLX 2+dcgb1qLaTJvKmbFO7TsjaT1E5DxPUZAG3F/hpVdgTJ5UP+IDP2sojh4ZXOKwq/ NVKeg4Ei8yYhv2wHGgBKtsM/lQSw07EIfKVdF+Bo5f/+QqULU/+HslTqP3MxlSNX 1AYZZjREXteVlDXO+aKrQRKSSvMJS6g6PrnFgL6GloVXM3atVVu4WhNjBSrR0B4/ yyxBqhvA9nIWqdVupsg9r3FVkjOjflUm3d1QQgCvh83gfH1XpjYxSZKw74HT3X2J ym7CfGkuTU8vtf41Eib/kuowIse6W6rOPu9xdUvAQbGGMv6NGDZayEepiZp9nFxm K2ctcSfYpLnUmczCd4p2rjr7RqkA9yHDpw61gxoSHboX3xvjgjBNZnC6lQARAQAB tCZTaGFuZSBLaWxsaWFuIDxzaGFuZUBzaGFuZWtpbGxpYW4ub3JnPokCOQQTAQIA IwUCUhaPAgIbDwcLCQgHAwIBBhUIAgkKCwQWAgMBAh4BAheAAAoJEHbJvFDoLLNa FH0QAIgQ1hqWpZ6G5OpOODXcm2cRv4wP361UjAsuq1Mt4uyU310w/9D/lql3doFC ji2C4El2GQ7rw3gio4p/khVgenZeQpnraEBDQvWwPNTHbIj5fKtOFRO6heODD3Vv cx7XMmfgZCn/CN1jXMumHJYVUr74w0rQESXylFZB1bNYjzha/ZYwgD0SRjl9eId8 9ilXCFFutM7vg/L5VEcbOwoqpVheuhdPBgk5AA3W0XZljCFFcZ0vRGs3Bel849Gd yCDSZxhoyBOL0U1nxrqBLU9fB0rsDckCahyOc/PZ3Lrl6LYYjYbqRB4tOXYNvqsY aRprTxpoP3FAtsDCFwXVUNoCAFUDda+ChY06AsIIQ4PFcxFZgdDyB5WqfKSaralo xLtIbOtQgWjD1xBtoV52JgAcmUwIPvkwLLb9YrqRTREGpi/GfPON6INxF3hTgu6b 4WplASs79shULSb9mi6CRTC4x1ONbRn3jPETVYXzCB+r+tlCt4HARamlwD+QpUNJ nsJZEQSs/o64vpaad5kHvUIfknapjQzDmUM2r5z7uXL8aZS1hv6kwHV4dauSbCgO TZRoT3epsQckGSsWduvSr942uzvOflDhifleTi7gHCfeVuYrHcqItcx5cltIKELO KYniiCJVcgZZCzvSAlGiZQ14XhT3VslWzVpWMplZTUa6Iygm =xTKA -----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----