Scrambled (digital) life

Personal, Programming

For those that knows me, it’s not a surprise that I’m a bit paranoid with digital security. But in a good sense, I believe, because I do not suffer from this condition. It is a active and rational decision to be constantly aware of digital dangers. I am also very tolerant towards including extras security steps on the daily habits.

Inspired on two Brazilian stories involving cryptography, I decided to take a closer look into personal encryption. One from the fraudulent banker that could never be convicted because all the evidences were in his encrypted desktop computer. The federal police were never able to crack it. The other one was a forgotten laptop with major corporate secrets. The company? Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company and one of the top oil companies in the planet. Petrobras said that the secrets were safe: the strong encryption would hold any eyes from looking inside.

Imagine if suddenly someone steals your computer. Aren’t you going to be crazy?! Your personal photos, family stuff, work notes and free access to email and banking from the machine.

Note: I am talking about only encrypting the hard drive, so it is only useful for avoiding losing data in case of someone stealing your computer. Nothing else. Simple but efficient.

About 2 years ago, I discovered an open source product that I loved: Truecrypt. It promised total protection for people like you and me. Being open source also adds much trust: not only I will not be locked with a single provider, but the method could be tested and commented by hundreds of eyes.

My desktop is unbreakable ever since. With powerful processors we have today, it is easy to turn all disks encrypted. Even the main Windows and Linux hard drives are protected. So if a theft steals my PC, I will lose the hardware but not the software. The information inside is unreachable. Even for USA government 😉 Ever. Hear that Obama? Ever! And the performance drop is unnoticeable. Amazing. I’m a happy customer.

On whole in the wall I was always worried but never dealt until: my smartphone. No need to say that it is probably the most vulnerable hardware that we own (we carry it everywhere) and it is full with important information. Easy to lose it somewhere or to be robbed. The information can be shared thru the world. Finally I tried on my beloved Galaxy S3. One thing I knew I would gave to give up is the convenience of easy and fast access to my phone; entering a strong passwords all the time, because the whole point of the encryption is to lock other people out! For some, it it just a too heavy burden. For me it was not. A small price to pay.

While the encryption of the memory card was excellent, using it on the main phone’s memory compromised too much the performance. Odd. From boot to app switching, the lagging response was irritating. After two weeks, I had to revert it. Immediately it started to respond. I’m now gathering some strength to try this again. I’m going to read more to see what I did wrong. I know it is worthy.

Do you scramble your digital life or it can be read in plain view?