"Just install this OS / app — it's secure"

published Jan 11, 2022

Stop wishing for childish solutions. There is no out-of-the-box solution to your problems of information security and digital sovereignity.

"Just install this OS / app — it's secure"

To improve your information security and digital sovereignity stance, you need to first set aside all technical / computer minutiae, then concentrate on concrete answers to the following big questions:

  1. Which category of threats do you want to be safe against?
    • Untrustworthy or dangerous acquaintances?
    • A spouse or parent without boundaries?
    • Losing control of your digital life?
    • Online censorship?
    • Physical violence or retaliation?
    • Abusive governments?
  2. Which habits are you willing to revisit and change to improve your stance?
    • Running the latest TAILS OS and Tor for "security" is pointless make-work, if all you do is use Web services that own your data — like Facebook or Gmail.
    • Maybe you enjoy those Google Photos a lot; perhaps buy a Raspberry Pi and use Photoprism to do the same things — and then you never have to worry about Google cutting you off from your account.
  3. What do you intend to do with, and how do you intend to use, your computer and data — that is not negotiable for you?
    • If you cannot go without PC games, you will not be running Qubes OS today.
    • Perhaps you have 200+ apps on your phone.  Do you need them all?  For those you need, are there substitutes that respect your privacy?
    • Anything you decide is fine — but you must at least know your boundaries.

The point of the exercise is: if you don't have concrete answers, not even the most advanced tradecraft can help you attain your goal.  So you must have concrete answers — if at all possible, written down in paper.  Can't solve a problem if you don't know what the problem even is.

In this blog we're fond of saying: if you want to get to the North Pole, you need to know at least two things:

  1. Where the North Pole is.
  2. Where you currently are.

If you don't have answers to these questions, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you will not be going to the North Pole today.