Do you really know how much information strangers can gather about you online?
Most likely, no.
However, thanks to a collaboration between NPR and ArsTechnica, you may be able to better understand just how badly your personal privacy is at risk.
Last week, ArsTechnica revealed how one of its reporters tested out a piece of professional surveillance equipment on an NPR employee to see just how much information it could find. The PwnPlug R2 was used to track all the online traffic from the reporter’s phone and computer and then sent it back to ArsTechnica for analysis. In effect, ArsTechnica became the NSA and the NPR reporter became you or I – or any another internet user.
What they found was nothing short of shocking.
Using just one small piece of professional surveillance equipment, ArsTechnica were able to put together a rough snapshot of the reporter’s life within 2 minutes – and all because of the apps and websites he had open on his iPhone. Even without touching his device, it was hemorrhaging information about him.
Over the next couple of days, they were able to gather a frankly shocking amount of data about the reporter and his online activity.
However, ArsTechnica found that much of the reporter’s life, including his work communications, were encrypted, meaning that they could not access that information. In fact, in their own words,
“Encryption, when applied consistently, at least helps to thwart casual passive surveillance.”
Low-grade or uneven encryption, the report found, was not entirely effective –even when certain websites claimed that they were encrypted.
Here at SurfEasy, we use bank-grade encryption with both our SurfEasy VPN an Private Browser products to ensure that you and your information are kept safe and secure online – even if surveillance equipment is being used against you.