Speaking to a packed exhibit hall through a Google Hangout, which was passed through seven proxies, Edward Snowden said the keys to protecting the public from government surveillance is encryption and civilian oversight. The world's most famous whistleblower has said it before, but reiterated it for the SXSW crowd, that end-to-end encryption would go a long way towards protecting user data from both spying and attackers. Many current communications systems, like the aforementioned Hangout, encrypt data at either end, but companies often decrypt your information in between because it needs to harvest data in order to serve up ads. If communications are encrypted the entire time, mass surveillance of the sort that the NSA has engaged in becomes extremely difficult and prohibitively expensive. Of course, if you're a target of the NSA, encryption won't be able to protect you. However, breaking through those protections would require a much more targeted attack, rather than a broad collection of data.