Takeaways from NSA’s 2007 Internet how-to


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Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, it is now possible to browse the Internet as the National Security Agency would — or rather, the way it did back in 2007.

The recently released, unclassified “Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research,” is a massive, 651-page book created by the Center for Digital Content. Cleared for release April 19, the book — then a 12th edition — was last updated in late February 2007.

“My hope is that Untangling the Web will add to our knowledge of the Internet and the world while recognizing that the rock will always roll back down the hill at the end of the day,” states the author, whose name has been redacted.

The guide targets the average NSA employee, explaining the basics of Wikipedia, detailing language translation software, mapping services and providing a plethora of research how-tos. Much of the information is geared toward country research and profiling, with many conspicuous references to Iran, Afghanistan and Russia.

Though admittedly dated, the book provides some relevant information on maintaining Internet privacy and security. Here are some still useful tips provided in the guide:

1)    Use websites like Shields Up! that let you see what information is being provided about you as you surf the Internet.

2)    Regularly update and run an antivirus program (at least once a week).

3)    In general, do not open email attachments.

4)    Install and use firewall software and hardware.

5)    Use strong passwords and change them regularly.

6)    Do not download and install programs indiscriminately (read user agreements first).

7)    Install, routinely run and update spyware software.

8)    Configure your Internet browser to maximize security.

9)    If you have a wireless network, use a strong encryption.

10)  Clear private data from your Internet browser and make sure to include saved usernames, passwords and third-party cookies.

11)  Configure your Internet browser to clear its cache every time you close it.

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Cybersecurity, Department of Defense (DOD), Departments, National Security Agency (NSA), Tech
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