Encrypted Chatrooms & VoIP Applications

Encrypted chatrooms and VoIP services, such as like WhatsApp and Telegram, are not only great for business communications, but they critically important for human rights defenders and political activists fighting around the world – especially in at risk or oppressive countries. It is important to understand that even if you are living in a country which has banned Tor, VPN’s or applications such as Telegram, and you are afraid to use/install those programs out of fear of persecution, encrypted chatrooms can be equally as easy to use and remain 100% legal to boot.

For example, even in countries like Egypt, Iran, Pakistan – et cetera – which have either outright or periodically banned VoIP services such as Telegram and Viber, other chatroom-based services like Chatbox or Slack are still free and legal to own, and can be used to protect private communications all the same. In fact, political activists in countries such as Ethiopia and Egypt are known to have used encrypted chat services to safely coordinate communications, rallies and protests in times of great civil unrest, such as during the Oromo protests and Rabba Massacre. I know this because I was there on the front-lines helping to set up their accounts.

It’s usually free to sign up for these services, and all you need is a verified email address or phone number to login. Then, once enrolled, you can encrypt your chatroom by setting up a custom name/URL for it and requiring password authentication for entry. This assures that only the people you give the URL address to will be able to find it, and only those who know the password to it will be able to enter. Additionally, once set up, you can even set up individual channels within the chatroom itself for a duel level of security/encryption. This includes setting custom rules for different channels, such as requiring Administrator approval for access. This assures that if even someone is able to brute-force their way into your chatroom itself, there are still protocols in place to protect individual communications and information within the chatroom itself.

Additionally, especially if you are doing activism or human rights work, or feel that your life/security could be in danger for the work you do, it is always recommended to never use your real life identity or personal email accounts to set up an encrypted chatroom or channel. Instead, you should always create an online alias and use it to register a new account within an encrypted email service provider, such as ProtonMail or Tutanota. Obviously, this advice need not apply for those of you who are using these services for business purposes. Lastly, some chatroom services actually offer built in video chats, allowing for a third means to make secure voice connections outside of standard phone calls or VoIP services.

For more information on how to keep a safe, private and Anonymous identity online, please read the following tutorial: https://anonhq.com/anonymous-security-guide-2-0/

For more information on different encrypted email service providers and how you can make the switch, please read the following link: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/making-the-switch-to-encrypted-emails/

Best/Top Chatroom Service Providers:

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP):

While VoIP services are not necessarily essential for everyday phone use, they do offer critical protections for political activists, journalists, researchers and citizens living under oppressive regimes all around the world. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, which is just a fancy way of saying they transport all calls and messages over established internet connections, rather than routing them through your telecommunications or phone service provider – such as AT&T or Verizon.

In areas like the United States and European Union, VoIP services are important to own because they prevent your data from being intercepted, recorded or stolen by telecommunications companies and other interested 3rd parties, such as Governments, thus protecting any information you send across the wires. VoIP services also offer the ability to encrypt messages or calls between like users, further protecting customer privacy. By comparison, both of these options are unavailable on standard text messages or phone calls straight from your phone provider. In politically oppressive countries around the world, VoIP services are even more important because they offer a critical means to bypass Government imposed restrictions or blockades on national telecommunications on a local level, while also allowing users to make international calls entirely for free.

While this might sound a bit complex or advanced, once installed, operating a VoIP connection/application is no more different or complicated than making a regular phone call or sending traditional text messages. Instead of using your normal texts messages or phone App, you simply download a VoIP App and log into that to make/receive calls and texts – it’s literally that easy. Lastly, VoIP connections offer a secondary means to reach your contacts, should your phone lose service, go out of cell tower range or come under blackout. Rather than relying on the signal strength of your network service provider of choice, all you need is an active internet connection to utilize a VoIP services.

The Best/Top VoIP Service Providers:

 

Miscellaneous Tips, Tricks & Security ‘Hacks’

The following information will help you both secure your computer straight from the start menu and help you restore you computer back to safety if it is ever compromised.

First, you should make sure that your firewall is turned on. Even if you know nothing at all about computers or security, turning on your firewall literally takes no skill, it is already pre-configured by your computer manufacturer and you just have to make sure that it is turned on. If you really want to take the time, I recommend going through your firewall’s settings, checking the rules and entering the terms onto a Google search just so you can learn yourself something new about them.

Second, if you haven’t done so already, you should encrypt your computer. If for some reason you are still unaware, “encryption” is just a fancy word for creating password entry. If you ever leave your computer unattended in a public setting or live in a house with multiple people, you should always makes sure that no one can use your computer without authorization. Meaning that when your computer starts, before anyone can physically access anything or do anything on it, they have to enter the correct password first. Setting this up is incredibly easy and you can edit or select this option straight from the settings on your computers start menu.

The next option is extremely critical, but is something which is often overlooked. You are going to want to make sure to disable remote access to your computer. Believe it or not, anyone whom knows anything about hacking can physically access/use your device through something as simple as Windows cmd if they share the same internet connection or know your IP Address. If you do not disable remote access to your computer you are essentially leaving the door wide open for anyone to walk through or exploit.

Lastly, if at any point in time you believe that you have downloaded any virus, Malware or Spyware, you can simply go to your computers start menu and search for “system restore.” All you have to do is find a date before you believe you contracted the virus, select it and restore you computers settings/files back to that date. This will restore your computers systems as it existed on that date. However, just note that while you will be losing the virus from your computer, you will also be losing all of the files, documents, pictures or anything else you have created or saved since that date. While it does not work every time or with some of its stronger versions, this should literally be your first move if you ever contract ransomware.

External Hard Drive

This next bit is something that I almost never see included in other online security tutorials, which is why I am including it here today. If you want a fool proof way to secure, protect and back up all of your most important files, you should invest in what is known as an external hard drive. You can buy a USB external hard drive in any major box store for anywhere from $75 – $200 and it fully ensures that if your computer ever gets compromised, all of your files and data is backed up.

External hard drives are extremely important if you wind up getting a serious computer virus, such as ransomware. An external hard drive will allow you to completely wipe your computers data, clear the virus off your systems and then re-load your files right back onto your computer as if nothing ever happened. Considering that most ransomware will charge your thousands of dollars to un-encrypt your data, an external hard drive back up is literally a $100 fix to a $1,000 problem. Always remember, backup, backup, backup your data – buy a USB!

Moreover, if you live in an at risk country and are ever worried about someone gaining remote access to or searching your computer, you can keep programs like Tor or TAILS on your external hard drive for safekeeping. If necessary, a USB is also much easier to hide or destroy if it ever comes to that point. You can also set up separate encryption for your USB, making it impossible to search without authentication.

How to Encrypt Your USB: https://www.online-tech-tips.com/computer-tips/encrypt-usb-flash-drive/

Learn Linux

Contrary to popular belief, even if you are using a “Windows Computer,” you do not actually have to run Windows as your primary operating system. While learning how to use and install Linux is not necessary and often times a useless nerd skill, there is no debating that Linux systems are far more secure than Windows or Apple will ever be. Therefore, if you are truly interested in learning a new skill or improving your cyber security practices, then learning Linux systems should be at the top of your priority list.

I am not going to teach you how to do this in this article or any other for that matter, that is what they make Google and YouTube for. Instead, I will just tell you what the world’s most secure operating system is; TAILS.

Download TAILS Here: https://tails.boum.org/install/download/index.en.htmlhttps://tails.boum.org/install/download/index.en.html

Why Windows Is More Secure Than Linux: http://www.pcworld.com/article/202452/why_linux_is_more_secure_than_windows.html

Sweet cmd Commands

If your network connection ever starts to become slow or your web pages simply aren’t loading as fast as normal, there is a simple trick that will automatically speed your internet connection back up, without disconnecting you from the internet or requiring your internet router to be reset. The best part is, not only will the following command sequence speed your internet connection back up, but it can also negate DDoS attacks and will kick any 3rd parties, such as hacker, off your computer/connection every time it is used.

Simply go to start menu, open cmd and type in the following sequence exactly as it is written below – don’t actually type “(enter),” that is simply where you press enter before typing the next command:

  • title H4x0r (press enter)
  • color a (enter)
  • echo off (enter)
  • cls (enter)
  • ipconfig/flushdns (enter)
  • ipconfig/release (enter)
  • ipconfig/renew (enter)

Please note that only the sequence in bold is necessary, the first part is just for fun 😛

Random Helpful Links

Test Hyperlinkes for Malicious/Hidden Content, Such As IP Loggers, Before You Click Them: http://onlinelinkscan.com/

Test Recent Downloads for Malicious Content/Viruses: https://virscan.org/

Encrypt Your Hard Drive: http://www.pcworld.com/article/153826/data_encryption_tools.html

Encrypt Individual Your Files on Windows, Linux & Mac: http://www.howtogeek.com/195124/how-to-easily-encrypt-files-on-windows-linux-and-mac-os-x/

Enable BIOS Protection: http://www.pcworld.com/article/158292/Enable_BIOS_Passwords_for_Extra_Security.html

pfSense Firewall – The Worlds Most Used/Trusted Open Source Firewall: https://www.pfsense.org/download/

How To Enable Quad9 DNS service from IBM: https://www.quad9.net/

How to Enable Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1. Privacy Based DNS Service: https://1.1.1.1/