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Forum Post: The digital toolkit for the 21st century activist

Posted 6 years ago on Sept. 25, 2011, 12:58 a.m. EST by mleon (53) from New York, NY
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

I wrote this a while ago, this is for someone who plans on taping the protests. much needed. An activists guide to online anonymitty. A crash course.

<p> Why?

<p> In this turbulent times, there are few certianties. Many activists have told me that now is the worst time for violent crackdowns on activists, and if certain online groups are any indication. Many diffrent groups, from the government, to private institution, to mercenary groups under the banner of "security companies" will try and stifle your efforts.

<p> What: To peacefully demonstrate against whatever evil you see in this world by exposing it. I am sure you are familiar with more traditional acitivist techniques, and I am the wrong person to ask. However, in this online digital age, having an online presence to spread your message is a must. Whistle Blowers included, as you are the best hope with the most damning evidence of wrong doing. Its not just enough to have an idea you need to communicate it. Many times you'd want to communicate either pseudononmyously or anonymously, because lets face it, if an organization is doing something wrong, chances are they've taken measures to snuff out dissent, and to encourage more whistleblowers(and activist), you need more anonymittity. To do so, you need to user a computer. You need to learn all the tricks they didn't teach you in computer class.

<p> HOW This guide is the mere basics, meant to point you in the right dirrection.

<p> THINGS TO LEARN: Things you can do in your spare time on your computer for free. Basics Disk and file Encryption, the various methods of how it works, and how to apply it.

<A href=http://www.truecrypt.org/>Truecrypt</a> - learn to use that

<A href=http://www.7-zip.org/7z.html>7 zip</a> - learn a little about that too.

<p> Both are free, easy to user, and work on Mac, linux, windows, point and click.

<p> Learn to use the basics of linux. You don't need to be an expert on linux though. Why? its flexible, live distro's are needed.
http://www.linux.ie/newusers/beginners-linux-guide/<br> http://www.ubuntu.com/

<p> Next we have TOR(The onion router)<p>

<A href=https://www.torproject.org/>TOR WEBSITE</a>

<A HREF=https://www.torproject.org/docs/documentation.html.en>A quick Guide</a>

<p> What TOR does basicly, is it hides the source, and hence the location of your computer. It uses layered encryption so each node only knows the location of the next node, and no one can read the traffic or destination except the last node. Once set up its easy to use, but read the quick guide. TOR does notIts not so straight foward.
In linux TOR is split up into several programs, you need all of them:
TOR - base package that does all the work, runs in background, and on command line
Vidalia - GUI front end. Very easy and strait foward to user. Essential for desktop operations
(there are alternatives to this keep that in mind) Torbutton - plugin for firefox that keeps browsing anonymous and routes it over the TOR network. Use with vidalia for max effect
polipo - local privacy proxy that filters out personal information before sending to TOR, then to the internet(there ARE alternatives to this too, keep that in mind) torsocks - command line back end to make any program user tor. just type usewithtor <commandline>. great for putting in desktop shortcuts as a prefix.

<p> While you can use any browser with tor via "usewithtor browsercommand", only firefox has the plug in, that does its best to block all extranious information that could otherwise give away your identity.


<p> All the tools you need, and a friendly easy to use desktop that leaves no trace of activies anywhere. It can be used from any computer, and doesn't access that computers hard drive at all. This is a concept, and there are many live CD/USB projects out there. There are tools to make them as well. You need to find or MAKE one that works for you.

<p> http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=incognito<br> http://www.seedpeer.com/details/3818404/arch-party-mix-0-4-1.html<br> http://tails.boum.org/

<p> Gives you a good idea what you need. Its a little outdated though, and might not suit your needs. At very least it needs truecrypt, TOR, firefox + torbutton, and basic media players and readers(audio, video, .doc,.pdf, etc...).

<p> To make a CD you need burning software, that burns .iso files. take your pick
http://download.cnet.com/windows/cd-burners/ to make a flash disk out of an .img/.iso file you need a byte copy program. linux command DD works.<d> dd if=filename_of_image of=/dev/sdX1 BS=4096 - linux

<p> Where sdX is the name of the device(a, b, c, etc...).

PROTIP:Try using a GUI disk partitioner to make and partitions, and it will also give device name and path. Its also good, if possible via image to make two partitions on your USB stick, the first for the OS, the second for data. Write the OS for the first partition, and then make it bootable.

<p> If your already a big linux guy and want to try making your own live distro

<A HREF=http://uck.sourceforge.net/>Ubuntu Customization kit</a> customize ubuntu install media for your own purposes(works as a live CD a well) good for beginners

<A HREF=http://larch.berlios.de/>Larch a tool for making arch linux based live media</a>(advanced mode, novice beware)

<p> Now you have an idea on what software you need and how to augment your digital life with it. Just remember, that technology by itself won't protect you, and you need to seperate your private world from the one that contains your personal, real life information. Do not do both at the same time...ever. Next section.


<B>HARDWARE</b> This is the basic hardware you need.<p>

Laptop - because they contain a whole computer that can be easily grabbed, thrown in a bag and transported anywhere. Make sure you get a latop sutiable for this task. Netbooks are by far the best idea. Features that you should look for.

  • long battery life
  • small and lightweight
  • wireless card, a premium for ones that support the latest standards(N at this time)
  • wired ethernet, a premium for ones that support the latest standards(gigabit ethernet)
  • at least 3 USB ports, a premium if they suppoort the latest standards (USB 3.0)
  • a premium for flash card readers like cameras have(not neccary though). In order of importance
  • MMC/SD(include micro and mini), CF, XD, MS, then everything else <p> You also need a bag for the laptop, sleeves, or other pouches that can be thrown in larger bags or go-kits are recommended. the laptop bag also needs room for acessories. They making taking out. <p> Accessories - at very least you need a a charger, and usb cables for your laptop. you need one USB cable for every device on you that you can plug in (phone included). Also its a good idea to get a standard ethernet cable, and perhaps a crossover cable if you can make them(hard to find in stores). <p> Camera - find a simple to user video camera that syncs easily with a computer. your phone might work. 5 megapixels or better recommended(more the better) make sure you keep the cables with the camera(see some redundancy here, good thing). make sure it doesn't look out of place. <p> Cell phone - make sure you have one that can be plugged into your computer. make sure its reliable reasonable rugged, and doesn't look out of place <p> USB sticks -at least two or three. See making a live USB stick earlier. make sure they don't look out of place. <p> USB stick, cell phone, laptop, camera - don't spend too much on these things. expect them to get lost/broken. make sure they are all replaceable. <p> Dump disk - get a large external hard drive, larger and faster the better. Use this to store things of importance. make sure you have some form of encryption set up. we talked about this earlier. truecrypt and AES zip files. truecrypt I think works better. manner is up to you, but make sure to not just encrypt, but HIDE the data somehow. Use this to store information from leaks from the web, and/or footage/leaks YOU have. <p> Second Desktop -get an old, but usable machine to play around with, mabey teach yourself linux, and/or do work you don't want on your main machine. They are cheap enough try ebay. <p> make sure nothing you have looks out of place.



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