Privacy Programs Recommended by Phil Zimmerman

October 31, 2014

Phil Zimmerman Privacy RecommendationThere are plenty of products out there offering security, or at least the promises of it; choosing them can be difficult.

Phil Zimmerman, the founder of PGP, has some recommendations for products that can provide a lot more privacy for users. The thing to keep in mind is that one always has to balance out the expense of these items with their real needs. Some of them can get pricey and, in some cases, they may not be necessary. For everyday people, however, even inexpensive solutions can provide increased privacy, sometimes quite effectively.

PGP GNUPGP for Email

PGP is an acronym for Pretty Good Privacy. There is an open source version of the software, which uses a public and a private key to excellent privacy protection. One of the things this option has going for it aside from Zimmerman’s recommendation is the fact that it is public domain and people have tried very hard to find weaknesses in it and, to date, none are known.

Pidgin with OTR for Instant Messaging

The Pidgin instant messaging client can be secured with a plug-in called Off the Record or OTR. Pidgin allows you to use the popular chat networks, as well as many of the off the beaten path messaging services, as well. It will work with Google, Yahoo, MSN, IRC and other very popular chat clients.

The Off the Record plug-in provides authentication, encryption, deniability and protection for your private encryption key. Essentially, you’ll know who you’re talking to is actually the person they claim to be, your conversations will be encrypted and, if they are retrieved, they can’t be tied to you. This is a nice privacy enhancement for people who need to use IM services a great deal and who want to do so more securely.

Silent Circle for Voice

Silent Circle can provide privacy for more types of communication and voice communication. Its voice communication privacy benefits are substantial, however. It works on the iOS and Android platforms, can be used with the most popular cellular network types and provides encrypted video and voice conferencing from Windows computers.

In addition to these privacy enhancements, it can also provide encrypted text communication and encrypted email communication. Communication can be set up so that text messages delete themselves.

All of these privacy services are recommended by Zimmerman and, between the three of them, provide excellent security for the most popular types of communication.

While it is possible, as some writers have pointed out, that the NSA and other agencies known to spy on digital communications might be capable of defeating these security methods, it hasn’t been demonstrated yet.

It is also notable that, even within the last month, law enforcement agencies have been clamoring for device manufacturers to give investigators some sort of special method of accessing encrypted devices. As Bit Coin Not Bombs points out, that doesn’t suggest that the government has figured out how to access those devices.

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