01/11/2016

How to configure your privacy and security settings

Digital privacy and security - image by Kaboompics
Digital privacy and security - image by Kaboompics
For over a ten years I have been experimenting and learning about openness, sharing and promotion. Now I am researching about security and privacy so that I can continue to use everything that I like. Technology is changing so fast and you can easily miss news like this: 

Let me share some ideas about how to configure your privacy and security settings having in mind that this should be the part of our basic culture from now on. 


GOOGLE

Google account - privacy and security settings
Google account - privacy and security settings
 General
If you want to check permissions for recordings of your browsing history and location data, or to change security settings, easiest way to do it is by using your Android 6.0 mobile phone: Settings > Google. You can also use browser and this link for older versions of Android, iOS and more convenient access: https://myaccount.google.com/ You will be amazed to see some of the data collected about you. Good news is that you will be able to delete it.


Mobile devices 

Almost all applications on your smartphone are asking for access to your contacts, location data, microphone and etc. Why do they need it? Do you really need location to read books for example? 
In Android 6.0 you can set each of them using "Permissions" tab. Interesting fact is that once I did it for applications produced by Google I have received a lot of reminders to turn them back again with a message like "This app will not work properly". There is no way to turn off that message like you can do it for some other apps. 

Turn off location services whenever you don't need them for navigation or etc. and off course "Location History": https://www.google.com/maps/timeline.

Turn off WiFi, Bluetooth and mobile connection whenever you can. It can be used to track you when moving in shopping malls, office space and etc. This will also save energy in your battery.

Don't use free WiFi access points. I know that this sounds crazy and too much to ask but mobile data transfer is now available for a small amount of money. When you have to use it, try to login to your company or personal private network using VPN. When traveling abroad, use offline maps and prepare whatever you can in advanced. Sometimes, paper is just enough. 

Lock your phone with PIN so that you have to enter a set of numbers to unlock it. After a day or two you will be able to unlock it in less than 2 second. 

Protect you SMS and email with passwords. 

Encrypt storage (internal and external like SD card) so that it is not easily accessible if someone steals it or you lose it. It is available in Android phones and you just need to click yes and to wait 15 minutes for process to be finished. 

Use official application markets like Google Play for Android or F-Droid which is all about open source and privacy.

Hide the notification content from the lock screen. It should be visible only when you unlock device. You will be alerted that there is something new but nobody will be able to see the content except you. 


GENERAL PRIVACY AND SECURITY

Surveilance - image by Matthew Wiebe from StockSnap
Surveillance - image by Matthew Wiebe from StockSnap

 Browsing internet 

Use private browsing by default (supported by almost any browser) so that you don't record history, collect tracking cookies and share other data. At least don't accept third-party cookies. You can bookmark most visited sites and type few words. Don't be lazy. 

Firefox supports "Don Not Track" option which is telling sites that you don't want to be tracked and is presenting you more details about the pages you are visiting. You can read more about this topic on their page "Privacy and security settings".

Search 
DuckDuckGo doesn't record your searches. It is not always good as top search engines but it can generate a very interesting results which will never come when using Google or Bing for example. There is a mobile app too or you can set it as a default search engine in your browser.

Email
Gmail is scanning all your emails in order to produce a better search results and to give you customized promoted links. If you have read the news from the beginning you will understand that they are also combining your contacts, location, browsing history, content of the communication and other records to build a full profile of you. Somehow I don't like that. 

Think about alternatives. For example, Protonmail. You probably don't want all of the medical, bank, travel, family and friends data to be scanned. 

Messengers
Most of the instant messengers like Viber of WhatsAPP now support end to end encryption. Think about Signal because you can use it for SMS too. Try not to share your online presence and profile photo with anyone outside your contacts because they will use them to promote the app, and for a great number of different "creative" purposes.

Cloud
Dropbox is phenomenal service and you should use it, just think what you store there. If you for example delete a big chunk of files you will get the message similar to this "We have noticed that you have deleted a big number of files. Don't worry, we have kept them for one month for you...". Makes you think...

Don't backup your photos to Google drive or any similar service. You can take 10 minutes each month to download them to your computer. Right?



Hope that you will find this useful. If you have some more time, please listen to this three episodes of a podcast serial about privacy and leave your comments below: 

2 comments:

  1. Very helpful and worthy article, as always from the author. Many thanks to Tihomir!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jana.

      Do you care about your privacy?
      Have you tried some of those settings?

      Thank you.

      Best,

      Tihomir

      Delete

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