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Jimmy the Lock: Herr Schulz Brings Spy-Proofing to Your Phone

Former member of the German Parliament stumps for encryption

By Wayne Alan Brenner, 3:20PM, Wed. Mar. 12

Totally encrypted.
Totally encrypted.

He seems a bit nervous, this man called Jimmy Schulz, this former member of German Parliament who's standing behind a microphone at a podium in a ballroom of the Omni Hotel in downtown Austin, Texas.

Herr Schulz isn't nervous because he's got some European version of Jason Bourne on his trail – although, who knows, ultimately? – and he's not even, necessarily, nervous per se. He's just very intent and excited, is all. He's evangelical about the knowledge he's brought to SXSW Interactive to share with whoever's at his "How to Make Your Smartphone Tap-Proof" session.

Schulz is a German-born member of that country's liberal Free Democratic Party. He's also a UT alumnus in political science with a lingering taste for breakfast tacos. He's also someone who's had his phone hacked while visiting German troops in Afghanistan, and whose since-corrected assumptions about online privacy led to his address book (containing private digits for the entire German Parliament and beyond) being uploaded by certain elements other than those with a proven Need To Know. And now, like a reformed smoker, he's taken it upon himself (and CyberSolutions Ltd., the company of which he's CEO) to let you know that what you're failing to do, privacywise, can be very bad for you.

[Note: You did listen to Edward Snowden's SXSW talk, right?]

OK, so: You want privacy online, then you want encryption. You want encryption for basic messaging, then you want to look into a brace of companies offering such, particularly (says Schulz, a fervent user) a company called Threema.

You want to shift into what Schulz calls Full Paranoid Mode, then you'll want to engage with open-source programs especially, and you'll also want to retain anonymity by buying phone cards in Sweden and utilizing Ubuntu this and Gnu that and so on with so many acronyms and protocols that Schulz cuts himself off, aware that his spiel's taking on the gobbedlygook of a William Gibson thriller written in the style of Hugo Gernsback. And I'll cut myself off here, too, except to mention that the software that was known for reliable encryption back in the day – Pretty Good Privacy aka PGP, created by Phil Zimmerman in 1991 – is still, quel surprise, considered among the best in these ffwd times. And to give you a few links to places Schulz advises as reliable cloud-based services for taking care of your business without anyone getting into your business: www.boxcryptor.com, www.wuala.com, www.owncloud.com, and – oh, look, a familiar name: www.bittorrent.com.

Go safely, friend. And go in stealth.

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