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Friendica Ideas Open source Privacy Projects Raspberry Pi Technology Uncategorized

Prism break

If you haven’t heard about the Prism scandal, you should read a bit about it. But basically, numerous large companies based in the US have allowed private information of their users to be accessible to the government (the NSA, to be more exact). Maybe even yours, if you’ve ever interacted with companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and others.

As mentioned on the Prism-Break website, there are lots of alternatives to the services and software most of us currently use. And surprisingly, it should’t be that hard to switch to a more secure and privacy-protecting solution to your daily internet-related needs.

Here is my personal ‘Prism break’ roadmap, or a security todo list:
Note: work in progress, subject to change.


Biggest challenge as far as I can see. The concept itself is sadly not really that secure.

Must have:

  • highly reliable (so no self-hosted solutions are acceptable)
  • web client for easy accessibility
  • address based on own domain name (and email address), e.g. me at dejvino dot com
  • at least country-local hosting (i.e. here in Czech Republic for me)

Should have:

  • contacts
  • calendar

Could have:

  • email content encryption. Currently it seems pretty impractical, but who knows. Maybe there is a usable solution?

Some cheap web-hosting with emails? http://hosting.wedos.com/cs/webhosting.html


Similar to email. Doesn’t require 100% availability.


  • own secure Jabber/XMPP server? Could be self-hosted / VPS. Expensive, hard to maintain.
  • rented server? server-side history is hard to come by. Only Google has got it all…

Should have:

  • encrypted transmission
  • secured history saved on server side

Web hosting

I’m currently using external paid services. I might switch to a more custom solution, i.e. home server.

Raspberry Pi anyone? … UPDATE: nope, it could work for really simple services, but running anything more sophisticated results in long response times. And since I’ve got big plans, it is not the right solution.

Cloud storage

Dropbox has been a great service — lots of free space, great tools on Windows as well as on Android.
I’m in the process of switching to a more controlled ownCloud server solution.

Must have:

  • web interface
  • handle large files
  • access restrictions
  • per-user space limits (quotas)
  • PC client (Windows)

Should have:

  • online music streamer
  • public file-linking capability
  • applications / plugins / extensions

Could have:

  • Android client
  • synchronization / backup support

Social media

Friendica is a project I’ve been using a bit and am planing to use a bit more. But the other “standard” ones still seem quite usable, to some extent.

Should have:

  • RSS-feed-reader-like view
  • responsive design / client for Android
  • integration of different social networks

TODO: move Friendica to a more powerful server. It is quite CPU-demanding.

Web browsing

Type Current New Status
Browser Google Chrome Firefox DONE
Passwords KeePass KeePass + KeeFox DONE
Plugins DoNotTrackMe, HTTPS Everywhere, … see FixTracking.com as a handy guide. DONE


4 replies on “Prism break”

I’m doing a similar thing, but I disagree on certain points.

As e-mail is a mission critical application, I would refrain from running it at home. Therefore, you can run it: a) on a hosted server, which is expensive; b) on your own server in a server house, which is hideously expensive; c) having a provider that’s not located in a problematic country. Like wedos.net, which I am using as of today. 30 CZK/mo, 5 GB, no bandwidth quota. And it has webhosting.

Also, instead of OwnCloud, which has a terrible codebase (many forked libraries and high HW usage), I would recommend SparkleShare. It’s essentially Dropbox, it’s leaner than OwnCloud, and it has an app for Android too.

This is just a first draft with work in fairly early stages, so any input is welcomed.

Email — I agree. Home hosting would be ideal in an ideal world with 100% availability, but this would never be the case. Using a webhosting provider seems to be the best solution and as you mentioned, it is not even that expensive.
SparkleShare — I haven’t heard about this, thanks for pointing it out. I’ll try. I’ve got some experience running ownCloud. It was surprisingly usable and it shows potential, but I’m open to alternatives.

Ad OwnCloud: It runs, but maintenance is a huge pain. I, as a Fedora package maintainer, can’t not see it 🙂 .

I have come to the (painful) conclusion that email has to be paid for. My research came up with http://www.runbox.com, which is based in Oslo, Norway. The web interface is not so great so it is back to using an MUA. Claws Mail is amazing.

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