Surveillance Self-Defense Checklist

The Intercept
The Intercept
Published in
2 min readJan 18, 2017


There are a few steps journalists, activists, and everyone else can take to maximize their security. These recommendations are grouped by difficulty level, starting with resources for beginners.

Basic steps

🗸 Download the Signal app to send secure messages and make private calls.

🗸 Install the Privacy Badger browser plugin to block ads and third-party trackers.

🗸 Install HTTPS Everywhere browser plugin to encrypt your communication with many major websites.

🗸 Strengthen your passwords. Use a password manager like LastPass, 1Password, or Dashlane to keep track of them.

🗸 Enable two-factor authentication on your email, Slack, and social accounts.

🗸 Install software updates promptly. They often fix security bugs and make you less prone to being hacked.

Intermediate steps

🗸 Use PGP encryption to communicate securely over email.

🗸 Turn off geotagging for photos taken on your phone.

🗸 Encrypt your smartphone and your hard drive.

🗸 Download the Tor Browser to use the internet without being tracked.

🗸 Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to use when on public Wi-Fi.

Advanced steps

🗸 Use virtual machines to isolate risky files and programs in case you’re hacked.

🗸 Switch to the Qubes operating system if you’re handling very sensitive information.

Other guides for improving your security

Surveillance Self-Defense Against the Trump Administration

Securing Your Digital Life Like a Normal Person

Digital Security Training Resources for Security Trainers

Surveillance Self-Defense: Tips for Safer Online Communications

Edward Snowden Explains How to Reclaim Your Privacy

Chatting in Secret While We’re All Being Watched