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Air gaps might be conceptually simple, but they're hard to maintain in practice.The truth is that nobody wants a computer that never receives files from the Internet and never sends files out into the Internet.I also recommended using an air gap, which physically isolates a computer or local network of computers from the Internet.

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Malware can silently write data to a USB stick, but it can't spin the CD-R up to 1000 rpm without your noticing.

This means that the malware can only write to the disk when you write to the disk.

Since we know that computers connected to the Internet are vulnerable to outside hacking, an air gap should protect against those attacks.

There are a lot of systems that use -- or should use -- air gaps: classified military networks, nuclear power plant controls, medical equipment, avionics, and so on. I hope human rights organizations in repressive countries are doing the same.

Note: the first company to market a USB stick with a light that indicates a write operation -- not read write; I've got one of those -- wins a prize. When moving files on and off your air-gapped computer, use the absolute smallest storage device you can. If an air-gapped computer is compromised, the malware is going to try to sneak data off it using that media.

While malware can easily hide stolen files from you, it can't break the laws of physics.

Consider physically disabling the wireless capability, so it doesn't get turned on by accident. If you need to install new software, download it anonymously from a random network, put it on some removable media, and then manually transfer it to the air-gapped computer. This should be standard practice for all the computers you own, but it's especially important for an air-gapped computer. Turn off all macro capabilities you can on the air-gapped computer. Only use trusted media to move files on and off air-gapped computers.

This is by no means perfect, but it's an attempt to make it harder for the attacker to target your computer. Don't worry too much about patching your system; in general, the risk of the executable code is worse than the risk of not having your patches up to date. A USB stick you purchase from a store is safer than one given to you by someone you don't know -- or one you find in a parking lot. For file transfer, a writable optical disk (CD or DVD) is safer than a USB stick.

Since I started working with Snowden's documents, I have been using a number of tools to try to stay secure from the NSA.

The advice I shared included using Tor, preferring certain cryptography over others, and using public-domain encryption wherever possible.

Business-card-sized mini-CDs can have capacity as low as 30 MB. Sometimes you'll be moving public files and it won't matter, but sometimes you won't be, and it will.

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