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Covering your Internet Tracks Leaflet

IQ – 1 December 2017

INTRODUCTION

These suggestions are primarily aimed at people that find themselves in need of greater security, privacy and anonymity for their electronic communications. They assume that your computer is running a version of MS Windows, but again the suggestions can apply to other operating systems or platforms that have similar software.

There is no such thing as a 100% secure communication over an electronic medium such as the global internet or telephony network. Many of the suggestions here do provide varying levels of security, privacy and anonymity (SPA). When these tools are implemented properly and used in conjunction with each other, your personal SPA will be greatly improved. By covering your tracks, you can reduce your chances of being on the receiving end of any unpleasantness. Needless to say, great care must be taken with your communications. Even with all the security in place, your SPA can still be compromised by the use of weak passphrases, the opening of attachments from unknown senders, inserting USB drives of dubious origins into your computer systems or careless revelations of identifiable details. The user (ie. you) is often the weakest link. Do stay safe by practising safe computing.

Disclaimer

This is not a complete guide and not all software is covered. Under no circumstances shall the author or CEMB be liable for direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages resulting from the use, misuse, or inability to use the software, even if the author or CEMB has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Ensure you’ve received the permission of the owner or operator of the computer or other devices before attempting any of the suggestions in this article. Use at your own risk.

Although not covered here, you may wish to invest in a number of Faraday pouches or bags to shield your mobile devices from surveillance or theft.

MOBILE DEVICES

Before you can secure your mobile devices it behooves you to reconsider your approach to contact management which can make things easier during subsequent steps. Although this contact management step is optional, it’s highly recommended. The majority of mobile devices run versions of either the Apple iOS or Google Android operating systems. You need to start by updating your contacts. If they are linked / synchronised with an email address (eg. Gmail), then log in to your email account (on a PC) and update your contacts from there. All changes will then propagate to your linked devices.

To update your contacts, change all telephone numbers to the proper international (E.164/ENUM) format. For example, consider the British phone number 07123 456789, you need to do the following to it:

  1. Drop all leading zeroes.
  2. Remove all non-numeric characters.
  3. Prepend the relevant country code.

The British phone number 07123 456789 will become +447123456789. This is the preferred format so update the telephone numbers for as many of your contacts as you can. Get into the habit of storing numbers in this format. Make a note of your own number in this format, you’ll need it later.

Always apply all software or operating system updates as soon as they become available. These include much needed security fixes. If you’re confident and are technically proficient, you may replace the device’s operating system with a custom one like LINEAGE OS, REPLICANT or RESURRECTION REMIX.

For secure encrypted messaging and calling for Android and iOS devices, go to SIGNAL and follow the link to install the SIGNAL PRIVATE MESSENGER application. This is a free, open-source application that makes use of your smartphone’s mobile data connection or wifi calling features. Note that this application is meant to replace your existing default messaging application. You will need to complete a short activation process using your own mobile number (in the above international format), then you’ll be good to go.

Another application to note for your mobile device is ORBOT. This lets you route your internet browsing over the TOR network. A good privacy-oriented browser is TENTA. There are desktop versions of some of the encrypted instant messaging applications below.

Modify each of your wifi network connections (or better still your router, see below) to ensure that you use the IP addresses at the bottom of the TENTA DNS SETUP GUIDE as your DNS, unless you decide to use OPENDNS or SIMPLE DNSCRYPT (see below).

Disable the wifi and location features if you’re in a public place and they’re not needed, this can easily be done by temporarily enabling the airplane or flight mode feature. Ensure that you encrypt your mobile device. This may take some time, you may want to ensure your device is charging during this crucial step and shouldn’t be interrupted. Afterwards, enable PIN / Passcodes and even SIM PIN and Voicemail PIN to further secure your smartphone.

Before you sell or dispose of your mobile device:

  1. Backup / export all your personal or important information (files, images, contacts, etc) to your encrypted cloud or any other external storage.
  2. Delink your device from your Apple or Gmail account.
  3. Delete all images or other personal files from your device.
  4. Clear all messaging and call history, including any notifications and search or browsing history.
  5. Clear all contacts and password keys from your mobile device, inc. SIM.
  6. Uninstall as many apps as you can, inc. clearing SD storage.
  7. Forget all networks or wireless access points.
  8. Ensure that you then encrypt your mobile device again.
  9. Perform a hard reset of your mobile device.
  10. You may then remove the SIM card and battery (if possible), then physically destroy the mobile device if you wish to dispose of it.

For additional security, consider enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) for various online services using a suitably secure authenticator application (avoid 2FA via SMS). An online guide to securing your iPhone is also available here: SECURE YOUR IPHONE.

DESKTOP / LAPTOP COMPUTERS

If you’re truly concerned that your privacy may have been compromised, don’t use your own computer. Go to an internet cafe or other public service such as a library and use the computer there if you can. Otherwise you should be reasonably safe by using your own computer with the following suggestions.

Avoid using versions of MS Windows; these are a relatively non-secure set of Operating Systems. Try to use secure distributions of Linux such as QUBES OS (preferred), SUBGRAPH OS, KODACHI LINUX, PUREOS or TAILS, the latter can be copied to a USB drive (or optical media such as CD, DVDs, etc) and run on any suitable computer. KALI LINUX is a very useful operating system, geared more towards penetration testing and security auditing. Many of these Linux (and BSD) distributions can be run directly from optical media or USB so you can use them before installing anything on your computer. Take the time to learn about open-source operating systems, start by bookmarking the DISTROWATCH site.

If you’re running a version of MS Windows, encrypt your hard drive (or at the very least the partition / drive that holds your personal files). You can use VERACRYPT.

If you’ve access to the router and can update its settings, log in to it using your computer’s web browser then note the existing DNS IP addresses and write these down in case you need to undo this step. These would be the addresses for your Internet Service Provider’s DNS. Consider changing the existing DNS IP addresses to ones provided by OPENNIC PROJECT, OPENDNS or TENTADNS:

  • 99.192.182.100
  • 66.244.159.100
  • 99.192.182.200
  • 66.244.159.200

Save your updated configuration then restart your router.

If you don’t have access to your router or are unable to update your DNS configuration, then you should use SIMPLE DNSCRYPT on your computer. Remember to modify your adapter settings (via your Control Panel > Network Connections or type ncpa.cpl from the command line, then update IPv4) to ensure that the preferred DNS is set to 127.0.0.1. Once this is configured then go to the following site, you should see a welcome page with an orange tick: AM I USNG OPENDNS?

You may also test whether your computer is leaking your DNS queries, with instructions how to resolve them here: DNS LEAK TEST.

A good free anti-malware and firewall will help keep out any intruders. On MS Windows, a good firewall is GLASSWIRE. On Linux, a good firewall is PFSENSE.

If you want to make use of the Cloud to store your personal files, then opt for secure zero-knowledge services like TRESORIT or even ORC.

To make use of the various anonymisation networks, you can install either:

They may need some configuration but they are recommended if you wish to conduct your online communications anonymously. Take great care to configure them as a Relay, not as an Exit Node. Many well-known social media and other hidden services, including illicit services, are accessible via these anonymisation networks which provide improved end-to-end security.

A very useful application is BATCHPURIFIER. This tool can help remove your hidden information or metadata from multiple files (eg. photos or images). The metadata can be used to trace when, where and how the file was created (among other things). Removing all this information from files before you store or share them will greatly aid your security, privacy and anonymity (SPA).

To hide your messages in other files, you can use free steganography software like:

Share these modified files by first uploading them to an anonymous service (see below).

Another great application is KEEPASS PASSWORD SAFE. This is a free, open-source password manager that lets you store your many passwords securely. There are versions for Android and iOS for use on mobile devices.

Email is a very important service for many reasons. Presently there are many email service providers that offer varying levels of security. However, most suffer from one significant flaw: their metadata is sent with the message in clear text. This does not bode well for your SPA. As a result of recent events, efforts are underway to completely redesign email for the modern era with intrinsic security known as Email 3.0.

The DARK MAIL TECHNICAL ALLIANCE is leading the effort, however the protocols have a name: DIME. To date, there is one provider offering DIME emails: LAVABIT

But what if you’re unable to use the new DIME email services? There is a simple process that you can use to communicate using any email service. Here’s how it works:

  1. Person A registers with a new email account and notes the login credentials (ie. username and password).
  2. Person A logs in and drafts a message, but does not send it. The message is saved in the drafts folder.
  3. Person A logs out.
  4. Person A gives the login credentials to their trusted contact Person B, in person.
  5. Person B then logs in to the same email account.
  6. Person B can then read the saved message from Person A in the drafts folder, then deletes it.
  7. Person B replies by creating a new message and saving that into the drafts folder.
  8. Person B logs out.
  9. Person A can then log back in and read the saved message from Person B before composing a reply as above.

This communication can take place without a single message being emailed through any server or domain, which makes surveillance very difficult. This requires the participants to access the same email account and some degree of coordination between them. Also, remember to change your email settings to disallow tracking and other so-called features. There are many helpful tips available online, specifically how to improve your email’s SPA.

Your browsers are important too. The two major browsers are GOOGLE CHROME and MOZILLA FIREFOX. If your Operating System is a 64-bit OS, use 64-bit versions of these browsers. Firefox is recommended for security. There are many other browsers you may wish to consider, eg. TENTA. Be sure to keep them updated and configured properly at all times.

There are many useful applications, settings and browser tests detailed in PRIVACY TOOLS, RESTORE PRIVACY and HOW’S MY TLS. You may also test whether your browser is protected against online tracking techniques, instructions how to resolve them here: PANOPTICLICK.

Set your home pages in all browsers to either DUCKDUCKGO, STARTPAGE or QWANT and also bookmark and use the following sites:

The OTR site lets you send self-destructing messages and files to your contacts, anonymously. A facility for encrypted chat is also available. This is purely browser-based, no installation of any software is necessary. In each browser you should search for and install the following extensions / add-ons / plugins:

There are also free applications that can be downloaded and installed for secure instant messaging:

You should also consider using services or extensions that function as secure VPNs such as:

These let you route your browsing activities through virtual private networks or remote proxies located in different jurisdictions. Do not access your email, financial or other personal sites through them, unless they have sufficient security in place, nor should you use any untrusted proxy with handling your personal business (ie. those that require login credentials or financial information). The OTR site for secure and anonymous real-time communication is recommended. Ensure that whichever browser you use, you’re familiar with its Incognito or Private Browsing Mode and that it’s configured to clear its cache automatically when it’s closed.

Further information is contained in this excellent article: THE ULTIMATE PRIVACY GUIDE.

After emptying your computer’s Recycle Bin, you may use some useful MS Windows commands, eg. CIPHER ensures that no deleted file in a directory can be recovered.

Other useful software:

  • RING – Alternative to Skype.
  • MASTODON – Alternative to Twitter.
  • DISCORD – Alternative to Skype and TeamSpeak.
  • LIBREOFFICE – Alternative to Microsoft Office.
  • ETCHER – Burn images to SD Cards and USB drives.
  • ZULU – Alternative to Oracle Java SDK.

There is a great deal of information available regarding counter surveillance that couldn’t be included because it’s outside the scope of this article.

SUMMARY

On mobile devices, secure communication is of the utmost importance. Install the free open-source application SIGNAL on your smartphone. There is also a version of Signal available for desktop computers. Phone encryption and periodic clearance of search and location histories are advised. Set a strong passphrase and the remote lock, locate and erase feature.

On computers, many tools can be installed but some websites like OTR can be accessed by any modern browser. Check your browser’s privacy and security settings and schedule it to clear your entire cache and history (especially when your browser is closed) periodically. Limit your cached web content to 0MB and enable tracking protection. Ensure you sign up to a DIME-compliant email service. Updating your DNS / Router settings is highly recommended. Harden your social media privacy settings (SECURE FACEBOOK or FACEBOOK PRIVACY) by placing your associates in distinct groups and setting their permissions accordingly, or better yet try to keep your presence on social media to a minimum. Remember to log out of every site you have logged into when you are done. Be aware that an increasing quantity of your personal information, contacts, views, habits and locations can be scraped from your online presence and sold to third parties. If this point is of particular concern, consider using MASTODON.

Hopefully the information detailed here will help you cover your internet tracks more effectively and assure your personal safety.

Join us on 10 December for an End-Year celebration

Dear friend

End-Year drinks

We hope you will be able to join Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) for an end-year celebration on Sunday 10 December 2017 from 2-6pm near London Kings Cross.

Speakers will include Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell, CEMB spokespersons Maryam Namazie and Sadia Hameed, Morrocan Ex-Muslim Council Founder Imad Iddine Habib and Jordanian atheist Mohammed AlKhadra, amongst others. There will be music by DJ Zee Jay, dancing, comedy by Kate Smurthwaite and more. It will be a fun, relaxing afternoon with CEMB friends and activists.

Tickets are £25, including a drink and appetisers. The event is selling out fast so get your ticket today. (Please note: No tickets will be sold at the door. Venue details will be sent to those who have purchased tickets.)

We certainly hope to see you there or if you don’t live in London, at events we will be speaking at, including in Boston, NYC, Stockholm and Melbourne.

Just recently, we returned from the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany in Cologne. A video marking the anniversary can be seen here. See also an interesting interview with ex-Muslim Rana Ahmad about being an atheist in Saudi Arabia filmed at that event.

Also recently, Maryam reviewed a new book by “religious scholar” Reza Aslan in The Freethinker. You can read it here: God: A Human History – a rescue attempt by Reza Aslan.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

To mark 25 November, ex-Muslims from CEMB, Atheist Republic, Ex-Muslims of Jordan, Muslimish and others called for the rejection of verse 4:34 in the Quran which promotes violence against women. Religiously sanctioned violence against women is still violence against women – the Quran is no exception. See video here: Say No to Quran 4:34. #Quran434NoMore.

Support Us

Thank you for your wonderful support over the past year. We hope you will continue to support our work and join us at various actions and events. If you would like to donate to our work, please do so. Any amount helps and no amount is too small. If you would like to volunteer with our organisation, too, please get in touch. We are currently looking for professional graphic designers and also a filmmaker to edit and finalise a short film on ex-Muslim women.

If we don’t see you at our end-year event, have a lovely holiday and New Year and hope to work together in the coming year towards ending blasphemy and apostasy laws and for secularism and free expression.

Warm wishes
Maryam Namazie and Sadia Hameed
Spokespersons
CEMB, BM Box 1919, London, WC1N 3XX
exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com
ex-muslim.org.uk

End-Year CEMB Celebration

Join Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain to celebrate the end of 2017 and bring in the New Year.

Date: Sunday 10 December 2017

Time: 2-6pm

Place: Kings Cross

With CEMB spokespersons Maryam Namazie and Sadia Hameed, Jordanian atheist Mohammed AlKhadra, Comedian Kate Smurthwaite and more.

Tickets: £25 including a drink and appetisers plus speeches, music and dancing with DJ Zee Jay.  Get  your tickets today!

Venue details will be sent to those who have purchased tickets.

Hope to see you there!

Our spokesperson, Maryam Namazie, was invited by Dabran Platform to speak at the Founding Congress of Enlightenment Feminism in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan (photos below). She spoke about Islam and Islamism as the greatest stumbling blocks for women’s emancipation and how Islamists target women and girls first – whether in Tehran, Peshawar or Manchester. Here’s her speech:

Islam and Islamism – the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation*
(Suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton said: “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.”)
Maryam Namazie
The First Enlightenment Feminism Congress, Sulaymaniyah

It’s such an honour to be here at the founding Congress of Enlightenment Feminism. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak about how Islam and Islamism are the greatest obstacles to women’s emancipation.

The first time I realised Islam and the Islamists hate women was when I was around 12. Prior to that, my ‘Muslim’ family and friends were secular and practiced religion in various ways – some fasting, some drinking alcohol whilst others not, mostly women not wearing the veil and never any segregation at our social gatherings, schools, workplaces… Then it all changed.

The Hezbollah came to my school, which was mixed, in order to segregate the boys from the girls – though we ran circles around them. It was the beginnings of the Islamic movement’s suppression of a left-leaning revolution against the Shah’s dictatorship and beginnings of the notorious ‘morality police’.

Even though at the time we were children – though not to them – they saw us girls as the source of fitnah in society.

As you know, In one Hadith Mohammed, Islam’s prophet says: ‘I have left behind no fitnah more harmful to men, than women'(Al-Bukhari, Muslim).

Of course hatred of women is a recurring theme in all major religions. There is a Jewish prayer recited by men that says: ‘Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler the universe who has not created me a woman’. In the Bible: ‘A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be quiet.’ (1 Timothy 2:11-14) This is also evident in Hinduism, Buddhism…

As US Suffragette Elizabeth Stanton said: ‘Every form of religion, which has breathed upon this earth has degraded women’.

Women are the first targets of religion in power and it’s always a sign of worse to come, hence the saying: ‘the freedom of society is measured by the freedom of women’.

For those who only see the surface, there is an apparent contradiction that is often not understood.

On the one hand, Islamic law and states are the beginning of the end of women’s rights, freethought and democratic politics.

A pillar of Islamist rule is the attempt to erase women from the public space.

Artist Phillip Toledano has done a series on Iranian Censorship of women calling it “Portraits of Absence”. It shows how black markers erase women’s bodies from packaging, magazines, adverts.

The chador or the burqa and niqab are really the fabric version of this black marker. Erased, devoid of humanity, Disappeared.

Like the disappeared of Argentina, or the thousands buried in mass graves in Khavaran during the massacre of political prisoners by the Iranian regime in the 1980s.

A perfect world for the Islamists is a world devoid of women in the public space. Bound, gagged, not seen or heard.

As Egyptian writer Mona Eltahawy says: ‘All religions are obsessed with [a woman’s] vagina’ and women are ‘traumatised into feminism’.

So on the one hand, Islamists want to erase women from the public space; on the other hand, women are everywhere – making sure they are seen and heard:

• This Enlightenment Feminist Congress is a perfect example.

• Or nude protest, which is the opposite of the commodification/objectification of women and an important form of resistance given Islam’s hatred of women’s bodies.

• Or the unveiling movement in Iran even though veiling is compulsory and punishable with up to two months in prison and fines. There is an app called Gershad to warn you of the locations of the morality police in Iran.

• Discarded veils are strewn on route by women who have fled Daesh-held territory.

• And the burst of colours underneath the black shrouds being removed once women have reached liberated areas have become iconic. As have images of Kurdish fighters breaking Daesh signs telling women to wear a mobile prison.

This female presence is palpable in all areas, including against gender segregation – for example in the demand to end segregation in stadiums – to abolishing Sharia family laws – such as in Rojava and Algeria.

The extent of control of women and their bodies is a measure of the power and influence of the Islamists just as the extent of women’s autonomy is a measure of the resistance against Islam, Islamism, and religious ‘morality’.

The protests in Afghanistan against the killings of Farkhunda and Rokhshana are another perfect example with banners reading: ‘We must get rid of the filthy hands of the merchants of religion from our country so that we are not daily witness to the murders of Farkhundas and Rokhshanas’.

Those only looking at the surface, see women’s active presence and resistance and wrongly credit Islam and Islamism.

In Iran, for example, they credit the ‘reformist’ faction of the Iranian regime.

They will also claim that women’s condition in Iran is better than women in Saudi Arabia as if it is thanks to the regime and Sharia law!

To me, it’s like crediting apartheid in South Africa for the black liberation movement or segregation in the US for the civil rights movement.

Have you noticed also how when it comes to women’s rights, it’s always compared to the lowest common denominator – never the highest? Why compare the status of women in Iran with Saudi Arabia; why not with Iceland?

This absurdity is only possible today because of identity politics and cultural relativism, which no longer acknowledges citizens and human beings but homogenised religious identities that unsurprisingly coincide with the impositions of Islamists and the ruling class.

This is why everything from gender segregation to the veil and Sharia are sanitised and legitimised at the expense of women’s rights.

And criticism deemed ‘Islamophobic’ – a political term used to scaremonger people into silence.

Or we are accused of ‘hurting public sentiment’ as if ‘the public’ is one mass and does not comprise of individuals with as many sentiments as there are people.

Only in a world where identity politics and cultural relativism reign supreme can the likes of Islamic feminism be given any credence.

But in my opinion Islam can never be feminist.

Religion can never emancipate women.

The late Iranian worker-communist Mansoor Hekmat said in an interview entitled ‘Islam is part of the lumpenism in society‘:

‘…no theology is liberating. Theology is the antithesis of liberation. It signifies keeping people ignorant, obstructing their independent thought and consigning them to an unknown creator and world. Liberation theology is nonsense. It is like saying liberation fascism; it is a contradiction in terms. Theology cannot be liberating, regardless of whether it is the Christian, Buddhist or Islamic version. For 19th century intellectuals, liberation before anything else meant liberation from religion and the fetters of imposed thought. Now, theology has become liberating?’

The US Suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton once said: ‘The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation’.

Today, we can clearly say: Islam and Islamism are the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.

In fact any positive change in women’s condition, is not thanks to Islamic laws, states or Islam but despite it. It’s in fact thanks to women’s resistance against Islam and Islamism.

Of course that is not to say that believing women, Muslim women, cannot be feminists. Of course they can – just as men can be feminists and women misogynists – but one can only be feminist if women’s emancipation trumps religion. Whilst people – even believers – can be feminists, religion cannot. Religion is fundamentally patriarchal and anti-woman.

It aims to police women’s behaviour and sexuality and defend male and by extension community and national ‘honour’. In identity-based ‘politics … women are seen not as individuals with rights but as bearers of their community’s honour, to be protected or raped, depending who they are‘. Daesh’s Yazidi sex slaves are the most heinous case in point.

‘Islamic feminists’ like Shirin Ebadi will say that women have full rights under Islam and if they don’t it is ‘not Islam at fault but patriarchal culture that uses interpretation to justify whatever it wants’.

Yet the Quran and Hadith are overflowing with anti-women rules and regulations. Stoning to death for adultery, for example, is in a Hadith, while wife beating is in the Quran.

Islamic feminists will say the mistreatment of women is because of ‘bad’ interpretations. The problem with ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ interpretations is that yours is just one of many. Even if you have a ‘good’ interpretation, it is the Islamists who decide. They run the state; they make the laws. But more importantly, are there ‘good’ interpretations that are good enough for 21st century women?

If you follow the ‘good’ interpretations, you will soon realise the absurdity of this line of defence.

Take Sura al-Nisa (the women), [the fourth chapter] in the Quran 4:34, where it says: ‘As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly) . . . ‘

‘Islamic feminists’ will say that men have been made to wait, are not obliged to beat their wives, and when they do, they must not leave marks and beat their wives with thin sticks…

These are the justifications of those who are more concerned with defending Islam, than defending women’s rights.

From a women’s rights perspective, no woman should be beaten – ‘disobedient’ or not. Full stop. End of story.

If you want women’s liberation, you cannot leave women’s rights and lives at the mercy of religious rules and interpretations.

You have to choose – do you side with women’s rights or religion – you cannot defend both as they are antithetical to each other.

The fight for women’s liberation is a fight against Islam and Islamism.

Also, it is a fight for secularism – the complete separation of religion from the state. Secularism is a precondition for women’s emancipation. Secularism is a women’s issue.

Rather than excuse and justify ‘good’ religious interpretations and ‘moderate’ or ‘reformist’ Islamists, it would serve our societies better to defend citizenship rights irrespective of beliefs. It would serve our societies better to insist on secularism and women’s equality – not western, not eastern but universal.

Long live women’s freedom.

Thank you.

 

  

 

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