The Personal Digital Resilience Handbook is the essential guide to making your technology resilient - that is, reliable, robust, secure, private, and under your control. Technology is a vital foundation of our lives, and when it fails there can be devastating consequences like losing important files or having personal data stolen. If you feel like you are driving at 90mph on this technology freeway without a seatbelt and want to get some safety and control back, this book is for you. The first four chapters explain in easily-understandable detail how to make your computer and smartphone resilient, keep your files backed up, and use the Internet in a reliable, secure and private way. At the end of each chapter is a checklist you can use to measure your progress. Chapter five covers advanced topics for those who want to go a step further, including threat modeling, Linux and open-source software, an open-source smartphone, off-grid communications, Knowledge Reboot Kits and deleting your digital trail. Available in paperback edition for $13.58 and Kindle edition for $8.64.

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Check out: Table of Contents and Introduction (PDF format) and Book Cover (PNG format)

About the author


David Wild is Professor in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering at Indiana University where he researches and educates in crisis technologies, digital resilience, data science, data privacy, security and ethics, and biomedical data science. He is founder of the Crisis Technologies Innovation Lab that is researching and developing new digital technologies for the front line of emergency and disaster response. You can contact him by email at info@mydigitalresilience.com.

MyDigitalResilience Blog


The MyDigitalResilience Blog is a simple no-clutter blog where I will share additional content, ideas and thinking relating to digital resilience.

Links & Resources


Here are links are resources that are referenced in the handbook, including some recommendations from the author. Some of these links use an affiliate code which helps support this website.

Chapter 1: A Digitally Resilient Computer

Chapter 1 describes how to make your computer digitally resilient. Reinstalling the operating system: I recommend a "fresh start" for your computer, either by purchasing a new computer, or by reinstalling the operating system. Reinstallation instructions are available on the web for Windows 10 and MacOS. Passwords: when choosing a new secure password for your computer, make sure you are not re-using an old password that might have been breached. In particular, test any existing passwords at HaveIBeenPwned. Encryption: On Windows, you will need to use the Built-in Drive Encryption or Bitlocker. On MacOS, use the built-in FileVault. For extra security, use Veracrypt. Default cloud storage: once you have a backup strategy in place (Chapter 2), I recommend disabling the built-in OneDrive or iCloud storage, and deleting any content that is stored in these cloud services. You can do this on the OneDrive and iCloud websites. Sanitizing your computer: checking for existing malware can be done using Malwarebytes. For Windows machine, I also recommend using an antivirus such as the open-source ClamAV. Physical resilience: For desktop machines, a UPS can be valuable in preventing sudden loss of power to the computer, which could result in data loss. I have had a good experience with both the CyberPower CP10000AVRLCD ($119.99) and the APC BE600M1 ($74.99). I do not have specific recommendations for laptop bags as this is a matter of personal preference, but Amazon does have a wide selection of laptop bags available. For backup power for a laptop, I recommend a power bank with at least 20,000 mAh capacity and built-in solar charging, such as the GoerTek ES-982 ($55.99). If your webcam doesnt have a cover, I recommend either using tape to cover it when not in use, or for a more professional look a camera cover such as those from Silent Pocket. If your computer has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, you can also block the microphone with a Mic Lock.

Chapter 2: A Robust Digital Backup System

Chapter 2 describes how to keep your important files safe by using backups including cloud synchronization, peer-to-peer synchronization, and offline backups with SSD drives and USB flash drives. Synchronization: three popular cloud synchronization services that meet the requirement for zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption are Sync.com Pro Solo (setup instructions are here), Tresorit Business Plus, and SpiderOak OneBackup. For peer-to-peer synchronization, use SyncThing (setup instructions are here). SSD and USB drives: I have found Samsung SSD drives to be very reliable, such as the T5 2TB Portable SSD. My favorite USB flash drives are the ruggedized Gorilla Series (a 5-pack of 64GB drives is available on Amazon for $45.95), but pretty much any main brand USB flash drive is good. To encrypt an SSD or USB Flash Drive, use VeraCrypt device encryption. Email and social media: Email can be backed up using Thunderbird, and for social media instructions for downloading your data are available for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Chapter 3: Digitally Resilient Internet Use

Chapter 3 describes how to make sure you have reliable Internet connectivity, and use the Internet in a way that maximizes privacy, security and control. Internet reliability: you can get an idea of the overall reliability of services on the Outage Report website, for example, see outage history for Xfinity. Internet speed can be tested with the SpeedTest website. For an in-depth comparison of ISPs, see the USA Today comparison. Routers and cable modems: I have had good experience with the Netgear Nighthawk series of routers, such as the Nighthawk R7000P AC2300 ($219.99). For a mobile router, the NightHawk MR1100 ($349.99) is an excellent choice. Browsers: The two browsers I recommend are Firefox and Brave. For Firefox, I recommend install three add-ons: uBlock Origin, HTTPS Everywhere, and Firefox Multi-Account Containers. Passwords and security: make sure any passwords that you have used for a while haven't been breached at HaveIBeenPwned. My recommended password manager is KeePassXC but if you require online synchronization you can use Bitwarden. VPNs: you can check your current IP address at WhatIsMyIPAddress. VPN services are compared at ThatOnePrivacySite; my recommendations are ProtonVPN and Mullvad. VPNs can be run on your router particulary if you install DD-WRT (see installation instructions for ProtonVPN and Mullvad, but it will slow down your internet speeds greatly. A faster alternative is a dedicated firewall running PFSense. Evaluating online services: you can check historical outages of services on DownDetector. Email strategy: create a domain name at GoDaddy or NameCheap, and/or use a forwarding service such as Anonaddy. Phishing: familiarize yourself with the phishing examples on the Phishing.org website, and learn about Firefox phishing and malware protection. Masked credit cards: use Privacy.com or Abine Blur. Planting your flag: read about this on Brian Krebs' blog.

Chapter 4: A Digitally Resilient Smartphone

This chapter shows how to use a smartphone in a way that is robust, secure, private and under your control. Selecting phone and service: recommend iPhone or Google Pixel for Android. Phones can be bought second hand from sites such as eBay and Swappa. Always check the phone is not blacklisted. Check coverage for top-tier providers AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. MNVOs can also be used such as and Mint Mobile. First responders should consider the FirstNet service. Check service speed and reliablity with the OpenSignal app. VoIP phone service: Google Voice can be used to move your existing phone number to VoIP - see the instructions here. For multiple VoIP phone numbers, MySudo is an excellent option. Apps for resiliency include FEMA, Firefox Focus, KeePassDX, Lockdown Privacy, Magic Earth, MySudo, OpenSignal, OSMAnd, Privacy, ProtonVPN, PulsePoint, Quakefeed, RadarScope, Scanner Radio Pro (Play Store or App Store), Signal, Strongbox, Zello.

Advanced Digital Resilience

This chapter covers some special advanced digital resilience techniques. Linux: You can download Ubuntu Desktop and follow the instructions for creating a USB bootable flash drive on a Windows or MacOS computer. Check out the Getting Started guide and the Full Installation Guide for Ubuntu. Tails can be downloaded on the Tails website. Open source smartphone operating systems: select from GrapheneOS, CalyxOS and LineageOS. Download the F-droid and Aurora apps to download apps. Off-grid communications: check out information on amateur radio on the ARRL website. For amateur radios, cheap Chinese radios are now very popular, such as the Baofeng UV-5R ($39.75). For a more robust radio, consider the Yaesu FT-4XR ($79.95). For personal FRS radios, a good choice is the Motorola Talkabout T600 ($119.99). For an AM/FM radio, consider the Sangean MMR-88 ($69.99) that also includes a built-in weather radio. You can access the Primary Entry Point (PEP) radio map here. More information on weather radio can be found on the NOAA website, and my favorite weather radio is the Midland WR-400 ($69.99). Information about public safety radio frequencies and systems is on RadioReference, and a great all-round scanner that works with most systems is the Uniden Home Patrol 2 ($483.97). Mesh networking apps include Briar and Bridgefy. For better range, try GoTenna Mesh which can even be used to create city-wide coverage. Knowledge Reboot Kits: check out Project Gutenberg and Kiwix. Deleting your digital trail: Check out Michael Bazzell’s book Extreme Privacy: What it takes to Disappear Second Edition and the people search removal workbook. More information on USPS general delivery is here.

Updates


Here we will provide any upates to the information given in the handbook.

About this website


All material is (C) copyright 2020 by David Wild. This website is designed to be simple and accessible, and does not contain any trackers of any kind. Suggestions and corrections should be emailed to info@mydigitalresilience.com.