Wire iOS Update: Brave & Snowhaze Support

Recently I wrote a full review of Wire Secure Messenger. One of my complaints in the article was the lack of support for integrated browsers other than Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. I am happy to report that based (at least in part) on that article Wire now offers support for both Brave and Snowhaze. Continue reading “Wire iOS Update: Brave & Snowhaze Support”

Extreme Uses of Privacy.com Part II

In my last article I discussed how I use Privacy.com cards on very regular basis. My hope is to inspire you to use privacy cards in as many facets of your daily life as possible. That being said, using privacy cards in person is hardly sunshine and rainbows. I have had some failures along the way (besides the Double Supreme Extra Cheese Incident), resulting in some rather awkward situations. Continue reading “Extreme Uses of Privacy.com Part II”

Big Changes to Private Internet Access iOS

I have been a fan of Private Internet Access for a long time. Back in December I began looking at some other VPN options for iOS. This was due to one major limiting feature: the PIA iOS app did not support OpenVPN. This has changed recently and the Private Internet Access iOS app is now better than ever. Continue reading “Big Changes to Private Internet Access iOS”

Book Review: Hunting El Chapo

I have used Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman as a case study for cell phone interception in my classes for several years. Only now do I have the full story of how the world’s most notorious drug trafficker was brought down due to his reliance on electronic communications. If you have an interest in how government agencies exploit cell phone activity you should read Hunting El Chapo by Andrew Hogan. The technical specifics are dated but the concepts, like link and network analysis, are not. Continue reading “Book Review: Hunting El Chapo”

Extreme Uses of Privacy.com

Note: This is a guest post from my friend Scrappy. We’ve met in person a couple of times and he has really impressed me with his dedication to privacy, and pushing the limits of Privacy.com. He wanted to share some of his experiences and I am very appreciative.

Ever since I listened to Episode 15 of the Complete Privacy & Security (CPS) Podcast I have been hooked on private payments. For those of you that are new to the privacy world and have not heard of privacy.com,  it’s a free service that allows an individual to create masked debit card numbers. These can be used to make purchases without companies knowing who you bank with and your individual debit/credit card numbers. Continue reading “Extreme Uses of Privacy.com”

Five Steps to Protecting Your Home Address

Achieving comprehensive personal privacy is a complicated goal involving a lot of complex, discrete steps. On this blog I (and on the podcast we) spend a lot of time focusing on the highly specific, individual steps. Often we fail to provide a lot of context for why we’re doing them, or how they fit into the bigger picture. This was called to my attention recently when an old friend contacted me. He has a legitimate safety reason to wish to be more private, and asked me for advice. Unfortunately, I don’t have a single blog post or podcast episode I could offer him that effectively introduces the basic steps of protecting your home address. Continue reading “Five Steps to Protecting Your Home Address”

The Most Private VPN: Mullvad VPN

In my search for iOS-friendly VPNs, I ran across of Mullvad VPN a review by ThatOnePrivacyGuy. If you follow TOPG you know he doesn’t suffer shoddy VPNs and is extremely exacting in his review methodology. He’s also beholden to no one, and if it ain’t right, he’ll say so. I don’t agree with everything he says, but if he says something is “easily has one of the best VPNs [he’s] ever seen or used,” it’s worth taking a look at. My review of this VPN probably isn’t going to tell you much that you can’t learn from his, but there are a couple of features that I wanted to shine a bit more of a light on. Continue reading “The Most Private VPN: Mullvad VPN”

Columbia SC Surveillance Safari

I used to spend a lot of time in South Carolina’s capital city. I had regular work trips to Columbia, usually lasting two to three weeks at a time. I hadn’t been back in several years, but recently I had the opportunity to spend a weekend there, and something has changed. Columbia has implemented a very broad public surveillance system. This post will touch on the Columbia SC surveillance system and discuss some of the implications this raises. Continue reading “Columbia SC Surveillance Safari”

Encrypt Your Thoughts with Standard Notes

I am and always have been fan of note-taking applications. I am a prolific note-taker, and while I like taking notes on paper, I don’t always have my favorite notebook on hand. So, I resort to taking notes on my phone. For a while I used Codebook Secure Notebook despite it’s $3.99 cost. The ability to encrypt my notes made the cost worth it, but they lost me when a password manager was rolled into it. When iOS rolled out its encrypted version of Notes, I migrated to this. iOS’ Notes have become overly complicated, so I’m been looking for a replacement. Recently several podcast listeners wrote in about Standard Notes, so I gave it a try. Continue reading “Encrypt Your Thoughts with Standard Notes”

Privacy Hack: iOS Low Power Mode

Recently my iPhone dropped below 10% and the low-power mode indicator popped on. As soon as I plugged the phone in I switched off low power mode and then wondered why I was in such a hurry to do so. So, I look into iOS low power mode to see exactly what it is doing. What I found surprised me, and made me realize I should probably leave it on more.

What iOS Low Power Mode Does

The iOS Low Power Mode setting is not one that is given too much thought by most people, but it is a pretty heavy-duty feature. First, it disables some settings that consume a lot of power. These include mail fetching and background app refresh. Low Power Mode also adjust screen brightness to be a bit lower. It has some impact on other visual settings, as well, because it throttles the phone’s CPU and GPU. Tests have shown that low power mode can slow the phone by approximately 40%. This might be a problem for you if you run graphics-heavy applications like games.

The most important adjustment to me is found on Apple’s support site. According to Apple, iOS Low Power Mode “reduces or affects” the Hey Siri functionality. Since there is no global setting to disable Hey Siri in iOS 11, I want to minimize it to the maximum possible extent.

iOS Low Power Mode 0

How I Use Low Power Mode

Unfortunately, this setting is only enabled when the user enables it or when power drops below 10%. The phone reverts to normal power mode when it reaches an 80% charge. You will have to go back in and reenable Low Power Mode. It is easy to forget to do, but I’ve made a habit of checking this setting every morning when I first unlock my phone upon leaving the house. Because it minimizes Hey Siri and background app refresh (and extends my battery life!) I want to leave it on all the time. You can make this process a bit easier by adding iOS Low Power Mode to your phone’s Control Center (Settings >> Control Center >> Customize Controls).

To be clear, this isn’t an extreme privacy intervention. It’s a very small, incremental upgrade. Some of you may not like the reduction in speed (especially on older phones) but I run so few apps I have yet to notice. I have also been exceptionally pleased with the extended battery life. To be able to get some additional privacy benefit from that is a bonus.