I use DuckDuckGo for search because it’s advertised not to track you or your searches.
I Use ProtonMail, for email, it costs $4 a month and offers a host of privacy features, including anonymous sign-up and end-to-end encryption.
I use Apple Maps instead of Waze and Google Maps. It is much more private.
2) Fool Google and Facebook—The ads you see online are based on the sites, searches, and Facebook posts that get your interest. Some rebels, therefore, throw a wrench into the machinery — by demonstrating phony interests.
Tips: Every once in a while, Google something completely nutty just to mess with their algorithm.
Switch your gender and birthdates when asked.
3) Avoid Unnecessary Web Tracking—I understand you may enjoy seeing ads that align with your interests. You could argue that they’re actually more useful than irrelevant ones.
But you may be like me and millions of others who are creeped out by the tracking that produces those targeted ads.
Tip: I use Ghostery, a free plug-in for most web browsers that blocks the trackers and lists them by category.
4) Avoid Public Wi-Fi—Most public Wi-Fi networks in hotels, airports, and coffee shops are eavesdroppable, even if they require a password to connect. Nearby people, using their phones or laptops, can easily see everything you’re sending or receiving (email and website contents, for example) using free “sniffer” programs.
You don’t have to worry about Social, WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessages, all of which encrypt your messages before they even leave your phone or laptop. Using websites whose addresses begin with https are also safe; they, too, encrypt their data before it’s sent to your browser (and vice versa).
(Caution: Even if the site’s address begins with https, the bad guys can still see which sites you visit—they just can’t see what you do there once you’re connected.
Tip: A Virtual Private Network program. These phone and computer apps encrypt everything you send or receive — and, as a bonus, mask your location. I use TunnelBear, it’s available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. It’s free for up to 500 megabytes a month, or $60 a year for up to five devices. I paid the 60 bucks and I’m glad I did.
5) Use Apple—You may not like Apple’s phones, their operating systems, or their looks but the one thing Apple gets right is valuing your data security. Purely in terms of data, Apple serves you; and Google and Facebook serve you to the sharks.
Tips: Use Apple Maps and Safari (Apple’s web browser) because your searches and trips aren’t linked to you. Safari’s “don’t track me” features are turned on as the factory setting. Use Apple Pay, because Apple receives no information about the item, the store, or the price.
Apple can afford to tout these privacy features because it’s a hardware company. Its business model depends on us giving them our money. Google and Facebook make their money by selling our info to other people.
6) Never Use the Sign in with Facebook or Google Feature—It allows them to track you on other sites.
Tip: Register the long way, with an email address and password.
7) Never Tell Facebook Where You Were Born or Date of Birth—That’s 98 percent of someone stealing your identity!
Tips: Don’t use a straight-on photo of yourself (like a passport photo, driver’s license, graduation photo) that someone can use on a fake ID.
Avoid sharing your personal data online AND offline. We give a lot of information away, not just on social media, but places we go where people automatically ask us all of these questions. ‘What magazines do you read?’ ‘What’s your job?’ ‘Do you earn between this and that amount of money?’” Why answer if you don’t have to?
8) Use A Password Manager—to generate stronger passwords and use a different password for every site.
Tip: I use LastPass. It is free and user-friendly.
9) Create A Different Email Address For Every Service You Use—Then you can tell which one has shared your info, and create filters to silence them if necessary.
Tip: When you choose a Gmail address, you actually get more than just “[email protected]” Here are two different ways you can modify your Gmail address and still get your mail:
For me, the real value in being able to manipulate your email address is that it makes it really easy to filter on those variants. For example you could use [email protected] when you sign up for online banking and then set up a filter to automatically star, archive or label emails addressed to hikingfan+bank. You can also use this when you register for a service and think they might share your information. For example, I added “+donation” when I gave money to a political organization once, and now when I see emails from other groups to that address, I know how they got it. Solution: filtered to auto-delete.
10) Avoid Using Apps On Your Cellphone As Much As Possible
Tip: Instead, I go to the associated website on your phone’s browser: for example, www.dailybeast.com. Your data is still tracked there, but not as much as it would be by the app. I have now deleted over 40 apps from my cellphone. Many of these apps are very invasive and track everything and everywhere you go.
Biggest Tip: Don’t Use Facebook.
But if you are like me and it is a vital place to encourage others and stand up for American values—then take some time and delete or fake every piece of information on your profile and delete all other info (i.e. your fav movies, etc) and meticulously go through all privacy settings and set them at the highest security value.
Credits: David Pogue, Google Blog, Bob Gellman, Yuri Litvinenko, Shaun Breidbart, Frank Paiano, Barry Joseph, Jamie Winterton, Lauren Taubman, Aaron Soice, Joel Potischman, Frank Abagnale, and Matt McHenry.