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22-Jan-2020 17:29

Since I started working with Snowden's documents, I have been using a number of tools to try to stay secure from the NSA.

The advice I shared included using Tor, preferring certain cryptography over others, and using public-domain encryption wherever possible.

Consider physically disabling the wireless capability, so it doesn't get turned on by accident. If you need to install new software, download it anonymously from a random network, put it on some removable media, and then manually transfer it to the air-gapped computer. This should be standard practice for all the computers you own, but it's especially important for an air-gapped computer. Turn off all macro capabilities you can on the air-gapped computer. Only use trusted media to move files on and off air-gapped computers.

This is by no means perfect, but it's an attempt to make it harder for the attacker to target your computer. Don't worry too much about patching your system; in general, the risk of the executable code is worse than the risk of not having your patches up to date. A USB stick you purchase from a store is safer than one given to you by someone you don't know -- or one you find in a parking lot. For file transfer, a writable optical disk (CD or DVD) is safer than a USB stick.

There are a lot of systems that use -- or should use -- air gaps: classified military networks, nuclear power plant controls, medical equipment, avionics, and so on. I hope human rights organizations in repressive countries are doing the same.But for Windows full-disk encryption it's that, Microsoft's Bit Locker, or Symantec's PGPDisk -- and I am more worried about large US corporations being pressured by the NSA than I am about True Crypt.) 3.Once you have your computer configured, never directly connect it to the Internet again. Minimize the amount of executable code you move onto the air-gapped computer. Microsoft Office files and PDFs are more dangerous, since they might have embedded macros.(The ultra-paranoid way to do this is to buy two identical computers, configure one using the above method, upload the results to a cloud-based anti-virus checker, and transfer the results of that to the air gap machine using a one-way process.) 2.Install the minimum software set you need to do your job, and disable all operating system services that you won't need.

There are a lot of systems that use -- or should use -- air gaps: classified military networks, nuclear power plant controls, medical equipment, avionics, and so on. I hope human rights organizations in repressive countries are doing the same.

But for Windows full-disk encryption it's that, Microsoft's Bit Locker, or Symantec's PGPDisk -- and I am more worried about large US corporations being pressured by the NSA than I am about True Crypt.) 3.

Once you have your computer configured, never directly connect it to the Internet again. Minimize the amount of executable code you move onto the air-gapped computer. Microsoft Office files and PDFs are more dangerous, since they might have embedded macros.

(The ultra-paranoid way to do this is to buy two identical computers, configure one using the above method, upload the results to a cloud-based anti-virus checker, and transfer the results of that to the air gap machine using a one-way process.) 2.

Install the minimum software set you need to do your job, and disable all operating system services that you won't need.

So if you use a tiny transfer device, it can only steal a very small amount of data at a time.