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Encrypt Your Communications with Silent Circle

Millions of us are always on, always connected and accelerating our use of the internet for everything from tweeting a LOLCat video to banking, stock trading, or sending private emails. As such you’d better believe that the crackers and hackers are trying to figure out any possible way to vacuum data you would rather keep private for their own nefarious purposes…

…and the number of attacks will continue to grow, especially as more people globally have faster internet access and powerful connected devices brimming over with all sorts of personal data like credit cards, social security numbers, bank and stock account information, and those photos you took of yourself you probably shouldn’t have. 

Phil Zimmerman photo

Phil Zimmerman

Today is the debut of Silent Circle, the brainchild of cryptography and encryption expert Phil Zimmerman, and they offer a number of encrypted services for voice, text, video, email and more.

Is secure communications necessary? Since virtually everyone I meet is completely clueless about the insecurity of coffee shop wifi, sending private stuff by email, or how trivial it is to track everything they do online, then yes. If I receive one more email from someone in my social circle which contains usernames and passwords, a PDF with their social security number in it, or a reply to one of our email offers with the customer’s credit card information in the email — all of which are in-the-clear and ready to be harvested by anyone with access to email or email relay servers around the internet — I’m going to blow a gasket.

Phil Zimmerman is a guy who made a name for himself when he released Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) back in 1991, a technology which inadvertently was released by him in a Usenet news group (he thought the “U.S.” Usenet designation meant postings weren’t accessible offshore). Turns out the code found its way on to the internet since all of Usenet was available to anyone, anywhere they were connected. The U.S. Customs service went after him for allegedly violating the Arms Export Control Act (the U.S. government long considered cryptography a munition) but, after three years, all charges were dropped. I became aware of Zimmerman in the early 1990s because of that and watched what happened to see if this guy would get thrown in to federal prison.

But wait…isn’t technology like Silent Circle the National Security Agency’s (NSA) worst nightmare?

Yes, citizen’s securing their communications is the NSA’s worst nightmare, especially if we do it en masse. I’m sure the NSA would prefer that U.S. citizens or immigrants would simply make all of our communications open and accessible, all searches and surveillance without any probable cause legal, make it simple to allow us all to be tracked with our mobile devices, and that we would stop blogging and using social media to teach others how to get around governmental controls. Especially since the NSA is building a $2 Billion data storage center in Utah and they need all of our private data to fill it up and justify the expenditure (sarcasm intended).

Silent Text

Of course, under the nebulous “war on terror” the NSA already started siphoning ALL of our internet-centric communications through their warrantless wiretapping and “Oops!” they got caught having, “…been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans” according to this New York Times article.

Is that OK with you? Is it fine if you are tracked and all of your personal communications, interactions, web surfing, texts and voice calls are stored by the government for who-knows-how-long? It isn’t for me and it certainly isn’t the foundation upon which this country was founded, or the principles for which people fought and died for over our country’s history.

Silent Circle enables YOU to be in control of your communications and its privacy. Phone calls, texts, video calls, and email are all encrypted between you and the person(s) with whom you’re communicating. Here is more about it from Phil Zimmerman himself:

Silent Circle is not free. In fact, it can be seen as expensive unless you are highly paranoid, have a startup business or enterprise organization, or you travel internationally frequently. As excited as I am about their offerings, even $20/month is a lot of dough, especially since at a minimum I’d like my wife and I on a plan or even a family plan to include my young adult children.

Still, the “table stakes” to play in this internet game are going up due to cybercriminals and, unless you’re willing and ready to gamble your privacy, credit rating and identity, I suggest you at least consider some service this secure.

About Steve Borsch

I'm CEO of Marketing Directions, Inc., a trend forecasting, consulting and publishing firm in Minnesota. Prior to that I was Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Lawson Software in St. Paul where I was responsible for all partnerships at this major vendor of enterprise resource planning software products and services. Read more about me here unless you're already weary of me telling you how incredible and awesome I am.

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