Encrypt All the Things … from the NSA – Scrambls Edition

A while ago we posted a series of articles relating to privacy on social networks called “Encrypting Tweets for Your Fun & Not Their Profit.” In Part I we looked at the whole idea of encrypting social network content and asked for suggestions. We also mentioned some of the more well-known commercial offerings including Wickr and Phil Zimmerman-backed Silent Circle however those didn’t integrate at all with social networks. Instead users had to do all communication from within their proprietary walled gardens.

In our follow-up post we pulled together a list of tools that we found as well as those submitted by readers. The list included a number of promising free and open source options but in the end most were a little too premature. That led to our pick of a commercial web browser extension based service called Scambls that also offers a free tier for individuals.

Well … with the whole NSA thing happening, it seemed like a good time to remind all those privacy conscience people out there about this great tool. Scrambls is not only good for “encrypting your tweets for you fun and NOT their profit” but also for those concerned about the NSA looking in on their social network activities as well as any email or other web-based services. They also offer a local install that allows users to encrypt files the same way as well. This technique works great for file sharing services such as DropBox and Google Drive.

The key (no pun intended) behind Scrambls is the need for users to set up groups for sharing encrypted content. By default Scrambls provides the “Only Me” and “Everyone” groups but users are free to set up their own custom groups as well. And since the original purpose of Scrambls was for encryption of social network content, they also integrate with Twitter and Facebook to make creating groups pretty much point-and-click. Plus after users connect their Twitter account with Scrambls, the service also provides a “Twitter Followers” group as well (see image below).

With groups setup the next step is actually using the software to encrypt content. Log into Twitter and from the main Scrambls drop-down in your browser (first image below), select to “scrambl all text” or “scrambl marked text” (second image). I usually just stick with the scrambling only the marked text. In this case users simply put @@around the [email protected]@ to encrypt it. Next, choose the group you want to share with from the next drop-down (third image below). Here I chose Twitter followers for grecs.


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Finally in Twitter post a tweet and enclose any text you want encrypted with @@s. I put out a sample tweet for those interested in trying this service out. Just follow @grecs, sign up for a Scrambls account, and install the extension and you should be good to go.

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I plan on periodically tweeting special encrypted tidbits out for readers and followers. If you are interested in decrypting them, as above simply follow @grecs on Twitter and sign up for a Scrambls account. Today’s post pic is from BBB. See ya!

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