Author Topic: PC and android phone privacy  (Read 718 times)

PC and android phone privacy
« on: February 23, 2021, 01:44:39 pm »
I am mulling over a clean install as oppose to a clone (new large nvme drive to install) of my pc and got to thinking about what apps I could use on it for the most privacy.  I know for instance duckduckgo is touted as less intrusive than google but then there is teh Internets in general.  I am curious as to what people use on a pc platform and why.   Is there a more privacy-secure email service than Gmail for instance: there must be!    There is no point trying to switch me to Apple, nor to Linux.  It will be Windows 10 that I will be working with.

And then that got me thinking about my android phone.  I am considering a new phone, a Sony.  They don't dick about with android and built in apps like Samsung does but of course android is still Google underneath.  Again, I am not planning to switch to Apple.

Thoughts and experiences please.  And once again, please don't bother suggesting that I switch to Apple or even Linux in the case of the pc- it just is not going to happen.  Thanks.  🙂

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2021, 01:46:38 pm »
First question: Privacy from whom?
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2021, 02:29:08 pm »
As many organisations as possible.  For instance, I recall the WhatsApp thread and how Facebook shares all manner of stuff with their affiliates.  I know others do too such as Google.  What I was thinking about is how do I contain this sort of activity without simply not using these devices online.

My only social media activity for a couple of years now has been here and WhatsApp.  I am not active and even tried to delete my Facebook account apparently without success and simply don't use other social media.  All of my email is currently through Gmail accounts and I do like a bit of YouTube and Netflix and I use a Zoom account for keeping in touch with friends and family.

Oh, and I don't do online banking but I do shop online and use either paypal or a dedicated credit card exclusively for online shopping.

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2021, 02:57:59 pm »
For email I use

https://protonmail.com/

It’s end to end encrypted.

For end to end encrypted instant messaging or phone calls you obviously have Signal. You can have it on both desktop and phone.

I use DuckDuckGo for search , it works just fine.

For browser I use Firefox with the privacy badger plugin from EFF https://www.eff.org/


Kim

  • Timelord
Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2021, 04:56:34 pm »
For email I use

https://protonmail.com/

It’s end to end encrypted.

How does that work, given that about 99.3% of email users have no encryption support?
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2021, 05:36:42 pm »
For email I use

https://protonmail.com/

It’s end to end encrypted.

How does that work, given that about 99.3% of email users have no encryption support?

Visit their site and you can read for yourself.  Essentially they get a link to an encrypted copy if the email and you share a pass phrase with them if you want it encrypted for non proton mail users.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2021, 05:40:50 pm »
For email I use

https://protonmail.com/

It’s end to end encrypted.

How does that work, given that about 99.3% of email users have no encryption support?

Visit their site and you can read for yourself.  Essentially they get a link and you share a pass phrase with them if you want it encrypted for non proton mail users.

That would appear to be stretching the definition of 'email'.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2021, 05:42:46 pm »
For a start, turn off all the data collection stuff that Microsoft allows you to turn off on Win 10, which has been designed to collect as much data as possible.

Firefox add ons:
No script
U block origin
Disconnect
CookieMaster
Privacy Badger

Turn off third party cookies, only allow cookies for websites individually. Set browser to delete cookies on exit.

Ecosia is another search engine, although the results are actually from Bing/Mcrosoft, they seem to have privacy policies.

Log off from Gmail after checking email and delete cookies, don't visit Google sites (Youtube, Google etc) whilst logged into Gmail. Maybe have a separate browser for email.






fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2021, 07:40:30 pm »
For Firefox, you can use container tabs. You can open each site in a container, and it will keep the cookies etc separate, so they can't be accessed by any other sites.
Good for stopping Facebook from tracking you with all of those "Like" buttons on other sites.

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2021, 06:20:11 pm »
Privacy is much more than changing a few apps and settings. Getting anywhere near a semblence of privacy when you are on-line actually requires a lot of effort and, unless you are willing to go great lengths, is almost damn near impossible.

That said, you can considerably raise the bar for companies trying to hoover up your data points in order to model you, predict your behaviour and ultimately sell to you or manipulate how you vote etc..

First two steps:

1. Stop using Windows. (If you do use Windows, you need to look at some DNS blocking so that telemetry traffic destined for Microsoft gets blackholed. Might be feasible with a PiHole running on the network.)
2. Stop relying on Google for anything.


To try and get some semblence of privacy myself, at least some of the time, here is an approximate snapshot of what I do:

1. Almost exclusively use Linux on my own computers
2. Most machines have the packets they emit which are destined for the Internet routed over a Privacy VPN. In fact their are four VPNs and connections are round-robbined between them
3. Firefox as a browser,
4. Use the NoScript plugin. Scripts perma-disabled for doubleclick, adobetagmanager, lots of Google things etc.. etc..
5. Use the EFF Privacy Badger pluging
6. Use CanvasBlocker plugin to generate false canvas dimensions
7. Use UserAgentSwitcher to randomly select new user agent strings for each new web browsing session
8. Firefox set to never save any browsing history or cookies
9. No proprietary cloud services used for anything - replaced Google Drive/Docs with NextCloud, self-hosted email etc.
10. Use truly open source software wherever possible
11. LineageOS installed on phone - No Google Play Services. F-Droid repository for apps
12. Create a new email address for each on-line account I setup
13. Never give up a phone number. If it is mandatory make one up. Unless the number is required for using MFA, in which case I have a dual sim phone so will not consistently use the same number at least. I also have a third number on a tablet for occasional use/throwaways. I swap that to a new sim/number occasionally
14. Stay off facebook as far as possible
15. Use social media sparingly, only over VPN
16. Use websites, never apps.

A Few Apples Short of a Strudel

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2021, 06:34:48 pm »
...and then your friends/colleagues/gas man will shit your data all over Facebook and Google anyway.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

ian

  • feat. Undead Jess & Finestre, Queen of Hell
Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2021, 06:40:48 pm »
I think the existential question is always why bother?
Support the Great Surrey Bear Census 2020

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2021, 06:44:05 pm »
I think the existential question is always why bother?

Because without privacy we don't have freedom
A Few Apples Short of a Strudel

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2021, 06:46:27 pm »
Privacy is much more than changing a few apps and settings. Getting anywhere near a semblence of privacy when you are on-line actually requires a lot of effort and, unless you are willing to go great lengths, is almost damn near impossible.

That said, you can considerably raise the bar for companies trying to hoover up your data points in order to model you, predict your behaviour and ultimately sell to you or manipulate how you vote etc..

First two steps:

1. Stop using Windows. (If you do use Windows, you need to look at some DNS blocking so that telemetry traffic destined for Microsoft gets blackholed. Might be feasible with a PiHole running on the network.)
2. Stop relying on Google for anything.


To try and get some semblence of privacy myself, at least some of the time, here is an approximate snapshot of what I do:

1. Almost exclusively use Linux on my own computers
2. Most machines have the packets they emit which are destined for the Internet routed over a Privacy VPN. In fact their are four VPNs and connections are round-robbined between them
3. Firefox as a browser,
4. Use the NoScript plugin. Scripts perma-disabled for doubleclick, adobetagmanager, lots of Google things etc.. etc..
5. Use the EFF Privacy Badger pluging
6. Use CanvasBlocker plugin to generate false canvas dimensions
7. Use UserAgentSwitcher to randomly select new user agent strings for each new web browsing session
8. Firefox set to never save any browsing history or cookies
9. No proprietary cloud services used for anything - replaced Google Drive/Docs with NextCloud, self-hosted email etc.
10. Use truly open source software wherever possible
11. LineageOS installed on phone - No Google Play Services. F-Droid repository for apps
12. Create a new email address for each on-line account I setup
13. Never give up a phone number. If it is mandatory make one up. Unless the number is required for using MFA, in which case I have a dual sim phone so will not consistently use the same number at least. I also have a third number on a tablet for occasionally use/throwaways. I swap that to a new sim/number occasionally
14. Stay off facebook as far as possible
15. Use social media sparingly, only over VPN
16. Use websites, never apps.

Many thanks.  Food for thought.

I think the existential question is always why bother?

Because an element of my life may become public soon ( nothing notorious or bad in any way ) and so it occurs to me that I would like a separation between public and private.  What is already public is difficult to undo but when starting with a clean slate ...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2021, 06:50:14 pm »
I think the existential question is always why bother?

Which was my point with my initial reply.  There are different degrees of privacy.  Off the top of my head:

Concealing the evidence of the crime you're committing.
Eschewing social media because you don't want your abusive family member to know where you've moved to.
Taking reasonable steps to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
Keeping your social life opaque from your employer.
Not wanting to give advertising companies data to help them manipulate you.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2021, 07:00:03 pm »
Interesting reading for me as I'm rather out of touch with a lot of tech and I'm an aged computer user who struggles to keep up with the latest threats etc.

Do many people use VPN's for home computer safety ? I've read a bit but not sure still if its necessary for home use - I do occasional banking and internet purchases, browsing but keepoff anything that the A/V reports as dodgy etc, no facebook or social media etc and have a  firewall/antivirus - the A/V company is pushing VPN sales currently.

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2021, 07:15:34 pm »
Interesting reading for me as I'm rather out of touch with a lot of tech and I'm an aged computer user who struggles to keep up with the latest threats etc.

Do many people use VPN's for home computer safety ? I've read a bit but not sure still if its necessary for home use - I do occasional banking and internet purchases, browsing but keepoff anything that the A/V reports as dodgy etc, no facebook or social media etc and have a  firewall/antivirus - the A/V company is pushing VPN sales currently.

There's almost no point in a privacy VPN unless you are willing to make other changes to obtain and retain privacy. In fact, for a layperson, I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze unless they feel very strongly/passionately about security or it is something that they have an interest/curiosity in. I'm at somewhat of an advantage, having a reasonable low level understanding of how data is collected and a high level understanding of how it is used, not to mention the technologies and protocols involved.

I think the best general advice is don't give up your real information unless it's necessary. Don't sign up for services you don't need. When a freeby comes along, ask yourself what is the company offering that freeby getting in return and is it worth it?
A Few Apples Short of a Strudel

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2021, 07:26:54 pm »
Because an element of my life may become public soon ( nothing notorious or bad in any way ) and so it occurs to me that I would like a separation between public and private.  What is already public is difficult to undo but when starting with a clean slate ...

I think the key to this, is keeping seprate identities for your public and private personas.

Start simple, seperate email address. Separate phone number.
You the personal email address and phone number for anything personal/not related to the public persona and vice versa.
I would possibly look at a PO Box or proxy address for receiving mail. This could be used when registering domain names etc..
If you don't have some sort of mail proxy setup, might be worth fitting an external post box - more of a safety thing than a privacy thing.

Then you want to look at what information is already available publicly about you. Social media profiles, directory listings etc.. ... is there anything you can remove? (yes it might be archived somewhere, but archives don't last for ever the advent of GDPR has shortened the life of many.

I guess essentially, you want to keep as much personal information as you can out of the public domain. Particularly information that could be used as a basis for fraud, setting up fake accounts, making false implications etc..

You probably want to take Twitter accounts, facebook, linkedin pages etc. in your public perona's name so there's something official looking and distinguishable from fake accounts people might set up for nefarious/vexatious purposes.

It does really depend on what you are most concerned about. And also whether it is yourself you want to protect, or dependents. It is very wise to consider privacy when taking on a public role.
A Few Apples Short of a Strudel

ian

  • feat. Undead Jess & Finestre, Queen of Hell
Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2021, 08:14:07 pm »
I think freedom is no privacy. Let's put it all out there, nothing hidden. Who we are, what we get paid, how much tax we pay, the works. Entities like FB would be destroyed overnight, we've democratized ourselves, freed ourselves from the burden of trying to keep it all secret.
Support the Great Surrey Bear Census 2020

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2021, 10:07:18 pm »
I think freedom is no privacy. Let's put it all out there, nothing hidden. Who we are, what we get paid, how much tax we pay, the works. Entities like FB would be destroyed overnight, we've democratized ourselves, freed ourselves from the burden of trying to keep it all secret.

That sounds great. Lets find out who will well off and vulnerable. And lets exploit them.  ??? :facepalm:
A Few Apples Short of a Strudel

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2021, 11:31:13 pm »
Do many people use VPN's for home computer safety ? I've read a bit but not sure still if its necessary for home use - I do occasional banking and internet purchases, browsing but keepoff anything that the A/V reports as dodgy etc, no facebook or social media etc and have a  firewall/antivirus - the A/V company is pushing VPN sales currently.

Common misconception about what VPNs are for, perpetuated largely by the people selling VPNs to random corners of the internet.

Reasons for using a VPN include:

1) To encrypt traffic that wouldn't normally be encrypted, to prevent evesdropping on the wire.  Canonical example of this would be when using internet access provided by an untrusted provider, so that the guy two tables over in the coffee shop doesn't get to packet-sniff your email password.  Note that the traffic would still pass unencrypted between the VPN endpoint and its destination.  This is largely irrelevant these days, as pretty much everything uses SSL/TLS to encrypt the traffic anyway (see that https in the URL? that.).

2) To disguise your location.  Mostly useful for hiding from The Man when whistleblowing and for evading copyright restrictions.  Canonical example being to use iPlayer when you're in ABROAD, where the FOREIGNS come from, or to make yourself harder to trace when pirating media.

3) To access some remote network as if you were local.  Commonly used to circumvent an employer's firewall so you can access internal systems on your work laptop securely from elsewhere.

4) As an alternative to using some dedicated communication channel for getting data from A to B.  Why pay for a leased line or licence a chunk of radio spectrum to monitor your pumping stations when you can just have an internet connection at both ends and set up a VPN for a fraction of the cost.  Want IPv6 but your ISP doesn't offer it?  Set up a VPN to someone who does...


As a normal home user in 2021, the main reason for wanting a VPN would be (2) or (3), and if it's (3) your employer will sort it out for you.  Also note that it might be an own goal in some cases of (1) and (2), as you've just taken the hard work out of intercepting all your internet traffic by paying someone to do just that.  How much do you trust the VPN provider or the government agencies they're subject to?
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2021, 11:57:33 pm »
Tape over your webcam when you're not using it.

ian

  • feat. Undead Jess & Finestre, Queen of Hell
Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2021, 09:31:15 am »
I think freedom is no privacy. Let's put it all out there, nothing hidden. Who we are, what we get paid, how much tax we pay, the works. Entities like FB would be destroyed overnight, we've democratized ourselves, freed ourselves from the burden of trying to keep it all secret.

That sounds great. Lets find out who will well off and vulnerable. And lets exploit them.  ??? :facepalm:

The main weapon of exploitation is secrecy.
Support the Great Surrey Bear Census 2020

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2021, 09:40:10 am »
Tape over your webcam when you're not using it.

With regard to the pc, I only plug it in when I need to use it.  As it has the only camera and microphones for the pc it's an easy win.

A mobile phone is a little more difficult though ...

Re: PC and android phone privacy
« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2021, 10:36:33 am »
To all you folks saying stuff like:


Firefox add ons:
No script
U block origin
Disconnect
CookieMaster
Privacy Badger

Have you ANY idea how intrusive an add on can be? whatever the (considerable) risk is, you just multiplied it by 5.