Earlier today,  NSA leaker Edward Snowden virtually joined Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist of the American Civil Liberties Union, at SXSW Interactive for a conversation about online privacy and Internet security.

Snowden, who spoke securely via a Google+ Hangout, discussed the need for Internet users to start taking online privacy more seriously. "The solution to the government spying on citizens is more encryption,” Snowden said. He explained that the Internet has to encourage online companies to encrypt their services, which will better help protect users.

The reason security isn’t a priority is because companies like Google exchange your information for the use of free services. Once companies encrypt their services it makes it much harder and more expensive for agencies like the NSA to run surveillance. 

Whether you agree with what Snowden did by leaking NSA data collection practices or not, one thing remains certain, he changed how companies think about privacy.

Snowden and Soghoian also talked about how the NSA, and the American government in particular, collects the most data on Internet users worldwide, not just its own citizens. Specifically, the U.S.—because of Silicon Valley and other huge tech companies that are here—enjoys an intelligence advantage that every other government doesn’t have. The issue isn’t necessarily the government collecting data on people but holding it for an unspecified amount of time.

Whether you agree with what Snowden did by leaking NSA data collection practices or not, one thing remains certain, he changed how companies think about privacy.

"Without Snowden’s disclosures tech companies wouldn’t have improved their own security,” Soghoian said. “Ed protected us from hackers at Starbucks, from stalkers and identity thieves. He made us pay attention and realize that we should have been encrypting before.”

One of the more pressing questions came via Twitter: What steps should the average person take now to secure a more secure digital experience?

Snowden said that there isn’t much we can do now to protect ourselves, but we can use full disk encryption to protect our hardware (like computers) in the event they are seized. As far as software: making sure you are using SSL services, whenever applicable, the NoScript browser plug-in, the Ghostery browser plug-in, and the TOR browser, are all ways that we can navigate the web more securely.

But the reality of the situation? If the NSA targets you, there really isn’t much you can do to escape.