In recent years, a lot of concern has come regarding government spying on internet activity. Although the NSA continues to monitor the internet activity of Americans, it has simply become a way of life. Everyone knows their internet activity is being looked at, and we have accepted it.
However, this question remains: How is the government monitoring internet activity? Many people are not aware of the methods they are using.
Method 1: Your Phone Records
The Patriot Act allows the U.S. government to keep phone records. The NSA doesn’t keep the records of specific individuals, but the agency has records of every international and domestic telephone call made in the United States. If you called your uncle last week, NSA spying was in full force. The NSA has a record of the time you made the call, how long you were on the phone, and the telephone number you dialed.
Method 2: Internet Services Must Cooperate with the Government
Google, Facebook, and other top online services have stated that the government has forced them to pass on records about customers. The PRISM program has much to do with this. For instance, Facebook can pass on messages, emails, and documents to the NSA.
Method 3: Device Hacking
If you think that your mobile phone, you are possibly reading this with, is secure, there are all sorts of doorways out there that the NSA has created. It can hack into IT systems and electronic devices anytime. This isn’t true for every device, however, because the FBI had an issue hacking an Apple iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino terrorists. A great deal of controversy came about because creating a “backdoor” to the iPhone for the FBI would create a vulnerability that hackers could use to hack these extremely secure devices.
Method 4: Security Devices Aren’t Foolproof
The NSA has talked manufacturers into making some of their products vulnerable so that those devices can be accessed. This is very similar to what the FBI wanted Apple to do, but the demand was made after the iPhone was manufactured without such vulnerabilities. In this case, the NSA has gotten electronics companies to create backdoors.
Method 5: Cell Towers Do More Than Relay Calls
A cell tower looks rather simple. We all know them to be necessary for making cell phone calls. These towers also give you the capability to connect to the internet, which means the NSA is keeping a record of where you are. When you make a call, your cell phone company knows it’s you. Once upon a time, detailed calling was necessary (some customers still request it). The wireless company would send a bill detailing all calls and texts made on the account. The government has this same information because of the unique identifier in your phone that tells the cell tower that you are permitted to make a call.
Method 6: Internet Lines Are Tapped Around the World
Even if you leave the U.S., you’re still being tracked. The NSA has managed to track people no matter where they are. Consider that there are massive fiber-optic cables under the sea. The amount of data that moves through these cables is amazing. The NSA can work with other intelligence agencies around the world to gather desired data about anyone.
Method 7: Foreign Companies Get Hacked
Companies in other countries are getting hacked. Everything from major credit card networks to wire transfer companies can be breached so data can be gathered about a person. An example of data that can be gathered by hacking a foreign company is an email you may have sent it. The NSA can also look at financial transactions within foreign financial networks.
Method 8: Your Spending Habits Are Tracked
NSA monitoring also goes as far as tracking your spending habits. This is how the purchases of a criminal can be tracked so quickly. Between credit card and bank account transactions, everything you spend can be tracked. The NSA even knows how you get your money. This is especially true if you carry out your transactions online.
Method 9: Email Isn’t Foolproof
Gmail and Yahoo are among the free email services that have been hacked. This means that the contents of the emails have been viewed. In fact, Yahoo just revealed that all 3 billion accounts on its servers were hacked in 2013. That means someone out there has personal details and so much more. This is disturbing because that information could be used in many ways. Unfortunately, the NSA already can quickly access private email accounts unless they are encrypted. If the NSA encounters encrypted email, even it isn’t advanced enough to decipher the contents of the email.
How to Protect Yourself from Government Spying on Internet Activity
To protect yourself online from NSA surveillance, you can do several things, such as use a VPN. There are affordable solutions online that mask your IP. This can help when you want to keep activities and details private.
You also want to be careful when sharing where you are. For instance, a Facebook check-in can reveal where you are. Logging out of Google is also a smart idea because Google tracks your location. If you log into your Google account and go to Google Maps, there is a feature called Google Maps Timeline that tells you where you have been and when you were there. This history goes back years. If you aren’t logged into Google, this activity isn’t tracked. You can also stop Google Maps Tracking.
Lastly, be careful about doing financial transactions online. Get a prepaid card not attached to other accounts or refrain from making the transactions at all.
Combine this with getting an encrypted email account at Secure Swiss Data, and you can have a much more secure online presence. When using encrypted email, like that offered by Secure Swiss Data, your most personal or proprietary pieces of electronic communication can be protected against hackers and the NSA.