[SATLUG] A few more privacy questions

Brad Knowles brad at shub-internet.org
Tue Feb 28 21:41:06 CST 2012

On Feb 28, 2012, at 6:41 PM, cdv7 at sbcglobal.net wrote:

> Important : Please offer some simple how-to instructions for encrypting with GnuPG. Question: If an encrypted message is sent to a non-Linux user will they have trouble opening it?

Depends on how intelligent they are.  If they're the average AOL user, then they will have problems clicking on a single button, so you would be completely out of luck with them.  More intelligent people might already have GPG installed, or might be able to install and configure it without too much trouble.

Most businesses probably won't have GPG, and there is a good likelihood that their user accounts will be set up so that they can't add software themselves -- they would have to get one of the network admins to add the software for them.  And then we get back to the average AOL user problem.

> I had a G-Mail account which I deleted (removing my web history first) but it is still attached to my Thunderbird account under All Folders in the bar to the left.
> Question: How do I remove the attached G-Mail account?

You'd need to go into your Thunderbird preferences and delete the account from there, but it's been years since I tried to use Thunderbird so I can't give you any more specifics than that.

> I tried this plugin the Electronic Frontier Foundation recommended but sadly, I received a download error message.
> http://www.customizegoogle.com/

Don't know anything about that one, but it sounds like a good idea.

> EFF also recommended using web proxies and anonymizing software.
> Tor seemed to offer the highest level of security but you have to change the way you do things in order for it to work the way they intend. Anonymizer is easier to use but less effective and not free also, Privoxy by itself (not bundled with Tor). Perhaps the best choice? Opinions please.

You'd have to make sure that you are connecting to your anonymizing proxy using SSL, and even that wouldn't be hard to subvert.  Tor will most likely be painfully slow, as a result of all the people using it to try to hide their porn-related activity.  Moreover, Tor is very closely watched by certain groups, so that they can try to figure out who is really doing what.  In my book, using Tor is like hanging a great big huge sign around your neck that is flashing bright lights and screaming "DON'T LOOK AT ME!!!  I DON'T WANT YOU TO SEE WHAT I'M DOING!!!"

I can't speak for any of the other proxies, only that whatever you use you will be putting all your trust in whomever is running that site.  Not only will you be trusting them to "not be evil", but you'd also be trusting them to be fully competent 100% of the time, and to never allow ignorance or lack of resources to stand in the way of keeping their site fully and properly secured.  And you'd be trusting them to be willing to violate the law and tell you when the FBI has given them a National Security Letter and is monitoring all SSL traffic into and out of their site, even though that information is supposed to be classified.

> In closing, can anyone recommend a good open source search engine? I checked online and noticed that Lucene seemed to be favored but I am looking for one that is much more user-friendly.

I use duckduckgo.com.  I think they screen-scrape Google, but they anonymize all your information before they go perform the search on your behalf.  That means you don't get Google Instant, but overall it has worked pretty well for me.

Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>
LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>

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