Your Threat Model is Not My Threat Model

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While this is something I’ve thought about quite a bit, for quite a while, the abundance of attention my blog has gotten recently has made it apparent that this needs to be said:

Your threat model is not my threat model.

I know that with regards to privacy and security, the threat at the front of many minds is a certain three-letter agency whose dragnet surveillance was exposed publicly in 2013.

The Snowden revelations have changed mainstream public discourse around privacy and security, bringing these importance of these issues to light for many who have lead lives of safety and complacency. The problem is, for many of us, privacy and safety have been concerns for a very long time, and dragnet surveillance is the least of our worries.

I know many of you are worried about your communications being stored in a database, accessible to the state in the event that you ever become a person of interest, deserving of further scrutiny. I will not tell you that it is an invalid concern. I WILL tell you that there are other guides out there for you, your concern is not MY primary concern, and my writing (aside from this piece) will probably never center you.

Many others of you are concerned with corporations like Google and Facebook collecting data to sell to third parties for purposes of targeted advertising. Again, I will not tell you that your concerns are not valid concerns. Again, I am unlikely to center those concerns.

Still others of you are savvy enough to be interested in using technical tools to keep yourselves safe from spying, regardless of its source. There are many guides out there relevant to your interests. I believe in advocating the skills and tools that the least savvy among us can use, because I believe that being non-technical shouldn’t mean being insecure.

I will always center the non-technical. I will always center those facing real, physical threat from unsophisticated attackers; adversaries who have no resources but time and malice ARE an advanced persistent threat, they are worthy of being addressed, and those who need to defend against them are underserved by the security community.

If your threat model identifies your primary adversaries as Google and the NSA, I will not tell you you’re wrong, but I will say that you’re extremely lucky. I would trade my adversaries for yours in a heartbeat. That said, I am here to help those who face threats like stalking, like abusive exes, like overbearing parents who cannot accept who they are. I am here to protect those who have snooping employers and prying frenemies. I am here to prioritize the people for whom extensive privacy guides are not written, and for whom a lack of privacy will have a very real, very detrimental affect.

I’m here for the people like me, for the people whose threat model mirrors my own, and because we deserve to be safe.

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Elle Armageddon

Elle Armageddon is a Bay Area-born feminist, activist, blogger, glitter enthusiast, and smartass. In addition to writing, furiously tweeting, and mucking around with a chemistry set that looks suspiciously like a bar, you can also find her providing medical and legal support for protesters, babysitting her niblings, and climbing things at her local gym. If you'd like to support her writing, you may do so at https://patreon.com/armageddon She can also be found on Twitter: @OaklandElle

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