Other than the fact that it’s pretty much impossible without being highly disciplined and the knowledge to use the right technology the right way, this article in the Times provides some practical advice that will prevent you from being a victim of a roving hacker. It’s a variation of making sure you have sneakers on when running from the bear. You don’t need to outrun the bear, you just need to be faster than the other guy.
One very astute observation made in the article is that privacy enhancing technologies are not built into the internet or the products and services we use in connection with the internet. Why is that? Who has a vested interest in making sure that doesn’t happen?
The most important observation in the article, and the one step that is so often skipped or not done thoroughly, even by experienced practitioners, is the “know your threat” step (stated as “know your adversary” in the article). If you spend 5 minutes on it, you’re probably spending 4 times longer than most people. You should be spending a very long time on it. It’s the foundation upon which the house of security will be built. It’s cheaper to build it right the first time, rather than having to keep tacking on addition after addition, or just having to demolish it and start again.
Of course, as a user of Tor and Hushmail, why is it that some networks (like the coffee shop network I am in right now), won’t let me use either? Hmmmm . . . . Time for a little VPN, Tor and Hushmail. While it no silver bullet, it will make the bear work a bit harder to eat me. Hopefully he’ll decide to eat that nice lady sitting next to me instead.