Essential Encryption Tools You Need in The Post-Snowden Era

TJ Farhadi

Regardless of political standpoint, Snowden opened a can of worms that can’t be unopened. Encryption technology, once the domain of tech-geeks, is going mainstream. Encryption is now as essential to your device as social apps or an internet browser (if you care about who’s reading your emails, that is). In 2016 there are a collection of programs available that will ensure your privacy while also allowing you to release your inner-whistleblower.

Here’s our rundown of the top 5 essential encryption tools.  


1. Cyph Private Messenger

Cyph is a game-changing, brand new messenger that is completely secure. Cyph was founded by two former engineers of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and their goal is to “defend the world from mass surveillance.” What’s great about Cyph is that it does not require any form of signing up or downloading of an app. You can access a Cyph chat by either going to or by going on the main website and clicking “start new Cyph” which creates a link to send to a discreet friend. Cyph works on any medium the link is clicked upon creating a new paradigm of private chatting. Sorry Snapchat.  




2. Tor

Tor has been around for a bit but it’s still quite possibly the most essential encryption technology on the market. Tor is an open network that is designed to defend against traffic analysis as well as various forms of surveillance. Citizen Four documentarian and Snowden NSA document leaker Laura Poitras is quoted on the main Tor page that, “Edward Snowden would not have been able to contact me without Tor and other free software encryption projects. Tor is an essential tool, and it needs our support.” Tor has now expanded into the browser territory with the Tor browser. Whereas Tor requires a bit of know-how with computers, the browser simplifies it, requiring zero installation.  


3. Tails

The creators of Tor have also recently released their own operating system, Tails, and it’s great and easy to use! The operating system can be started from practically any device—whether it be DVD, USB stick, or SD card—everything works as soon as you load it up. The operating system forces the computer to go through the Tor network and utilizes “state-of-the-art cryptographic tools” to encrypt all files.  




4. SecureDrop

SecureDrop is the magnum opus of whistleblower technology. Created by Aaron Swartz, Securedrop is an open-source submission system that allows one to securely acquire documents as well as communicate anonymously with their sources. As well as encrypting data that is sent or received, SecureDrop prides itself in minimization of metadata, no logging, and no third party servers—all for the price of $0. SecureDrop is currently managed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation.  


5. VeraCrypt

Last but certainly not least, VeraCrypt is quite interesting in that it is an addition to the aforementioned programs and adds enhanced security via algorithms. VeraCrypt encrypts systems and partitions to help make new developments in surveillance technology unable to crack through your security efforts. VeraCrypt is marketed as the alternative to the similar Truecrypt and is arguably better in that 1. it’s free and 2. it has better security options—allowing you to create encrypted virtual drives as well as completely encrypt physical drives.  


TJ Farhadi
Author, Home Automation

TJ Farhadi is seriously concerned with anything having to do with automation and AI. In addition to seeking out the latest and greatest technologies, he loves kayaking across Lake Union.