Computer Security in the Face of a Hostile Government

I recently gave a talk to some Pomona College undergrads about how to secure their various devices (computers and phones in particular). I tried to focus on clear and concrete advice. I got tons of help on twitter, and I ultimately came up with a slides for a talk and a security checklist.

First: I’d like to encourage other people to give this talk. Let me know how it goes, and I’ll update the slides or checklist. I’m probably not the best person to do this sort of “lay” outreach. (It was hardly “lay” in any case—I think most of the audience were CS majors.) Maybe you are?

Second: I’d appreciate your feedback. I’d like to keep the slides and checklist up to date. I unfortunately don’t have the time right now to build up more permanent advice à la Decent Security.

Third: I am fundamentally on board with Taylor Swift’s attitude to security. There is so much fear and condescension around security that many people—even CS majors!—have turned off to it. While academic security research can be really interesting, it’s at least as important to have direct, concrete advice for people without significant expertise. In many ways we’re further along than we used to be—Signal, HDD encryption, SSL/TLS—but in some ways we’re worse off (JS drive-by attacks). Whose responsibility is it to educate and protect computer users, if not us? And if not now—when?

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