Is it actually possible to avoid big brother? Here are five steps that can help

Jun 07, 2013 at 6:42 PM ET

As the brouhaha over the National Security Agency’s PRISM program continues, many are wondering if it’s still possible to keep their personal data private. With the help of security analysts, we scoured the web for the most popular ways to safeguard your privacy. Because of the vast and unprecedented scope of PRISM, even if you take these steps, you still might not be able to completely preserve your privacy. But if you’re really worried (or determined), and don’t want to communicate via homing pigeon, this might help.

1.) Don’t use your home computer, your Facebook account, your  AIM screen name or any online program that can be traced back to your offline identity. It’s like putting a return address on an envelope.

2.) Don’t connect to the Internet at home. Don’t provide Internet service providers with your billing information and only go online from public locations. Think Kinko’s people.

3.) Mask your IP address by connecting to proxy servers with encrypted traffic using a virtual private network (VPN) or the onion router (TOR). This will allow you to go online anonymously, according to the “Handbook for Cyber Dissidents,” a key component of this guide by Anonymous, the infamous hacking collective, which has been known to help activists in Turkey, Syria and Bahrain, among other countries.

4) Encrypt your communications. Many web sites support  SSL encryption, which hide all your queries on a particular website. You’ll know that you are in the SSL version when the URL of the website begins with https rather than http. You can also use Silent Circle, an encryption service that bills itself as a way for users to talk, email and text one another without being monitored.

5.) Install a virtual machine program on your computer. This remote access dummy computer can help you avoid potential trojans if you restart it frequently throughout the day.