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Author Topic: What are your steps for digital privacy? (here are mine)  (Read 282 times)
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June 02, 2018, 11:01:52 PM
Merited by frodocooper (3), kaar (2), vapourminer (1), ETFbitcoin (1), Piggy (1), goddog (1)
 #1

To begin with, I want to address people saying 'if you have nothing to hide it doesn't matter',
and I'd like to respond to that with a quote from Edward Snowden  Cool
"Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say."


I'd like to hear other members opinion's about digital privacy.
I think it's interesting to ask here, since generally people on this forum are probably at least slightly "technically competent" than the average person.

I personally really despise all types of privacy breach and I actively refuse to use any services which does more than the bare minimum(using user-data for improving the services).
Today, so many online services, and also operative systems and software, are all actively tracking user data, and the standard is to have it as "Active" from start, which means most people will have it on without knowing(not reading). Take Windows 10 as an example, or phone operative systems, Facebook/Twitter and all these big giants that actually creates nothing but yet are valued at hundreds of billions of dollars...

All our data is just out there, the obvious things such as things we have 'googled', written, emails, websites we visit, messages...
semi obvious things such as our constant location data (on phones for example), our opinions(searches/texts/things we 'like')
and the less obvious things, all the "unconcious" data such as general activity (at what times we do what, habits, and so on)
(these are not necessarily collected all by one entity, but a combination of ISPs, websites, software, apps, operative systems etc)

In essence, with our data, without ever having met us - if the data was pooled between 'the big companies', they could easily build
very detailed profiles of all of us. Some of the data is sold and/or used for marketing, an example is Google Ads targetting your habits, and Facebook's entire business model.

Not only is this disturbing for (some of us/me), it's also absurd to be the product, considering the minimal control and the huge intrusions that are taken (zero transparency).



I would simply like to share my personal steps for digital privacy, which aren't made for criminals(not trying to "be hidden"), it's just things to make your presence less traceable,
and hopefully other members have some tips to share Cheesy

Operative System
I suggest using Linux as it's free(and we're not a product Wink) and comes with basically all Windows functionality without all the garbage that came with Windows 10.
When Windows 10 came out, it was a free update - probably because Microsoft realised the value of user data instead of the OS itself!
Not only is Windows 10 filled with privacy intrusive code, it's also filled with garbage like tons of random apps, Xbox, Minecraft, and many of these can only be uninstalled via the PowerShell!
(not much of a "fact", but if you try open CMD - Windows Key + R + write "netstat -b", it should be showing all processes transmitting data.. how many can you explain? how much do you have running that is connected to the internet?)

Windows 10 has lots of tracking enabled by default, and if you read, or at least skim through, their privacy statement,
I'm sure you'll be surprised to see all the data they have the right to collect: Location, devices, web activity, biometric data(voice/text), and more.
Sure it can be analysed by the OS for various reasons, but why collect it?
We pay to be tracked!

If you insist on using Windows 10 I suggest opening the control panel and going through the Privacy and block everything, at the very least.
On top of that, there are three great pieces of software available:
Antispy tool for Windows 10
DisableWinTracking (click "Clone or Download" and then "Download ZIP")
TinyWall - a firewall which blocks every single internet connecting process and lets you manually allow them through.

Otherwise, I really suggest going for Linux - maybe Linux Mint, it's free and just as Windows(except games doesn't work as well), and has a lot of great stuff built in.
Just need a memory stick or a cd!

I have no clue about Apple's OS/products, but I imagine they're worse than Windows due to the nature of isolation.



General Web Actions
If you use Google and any of their products, some of your data can be downloaded here.
You can disable a lot of your data tracking on this page.
However, I'm 99% certain they're still collecting the same data, just not displaying and actively using it. Kinda have to be able to provide your data in case of legal problems.

On this Google Ad-settings page, you can tell Google not to trace browser-specific data(applies even if you're not logged in), and not to use your data for target advertising.

Europeans can protect their privacy from ad companies on this site (barely functions).

If you have the energy to, it's wise to change from one of the major mailproviders, to for example your own mail server, or ProtonMail, or something else that is private!
With your own mail server, or if you purchase a host and a domain, you could even have mail@yourname.com or something like that.
By doing this, you don't let your GMail/Hotmail or whichever provider, scan and store what you write.


You can replace Google with a privacy search engine, such as duckduckgo or startpage.


General Browser Actions
Opt out of any data collection in the browser settings,
tell your browser to send sites a "Do Not Track" signal.

I personally suggest using Firefox, or if you like Chrome, use Chromium (open-source).

I highly advise downloading the following plugins(they are for Firefox/Chrome):
NoScript(firefox) or ScriptSafe(chrome) - prevents all scripts from running, requires manual approval(temporary/permanent).
uBlock Origin - block known advertisement trackers, go into the settings to enable more filters(many to choose from, known 'country specific' ad sources etc)
Decentraleyes - if possible, load content from 'Content Delivery Networks' via them rather than from the source (to protect your privacy)
HTTPS Everywhere - force HTTPS when possible. HTTPS means your data, like a submitted post on this forum, isn't posted in plain text(can't be read by ISP)
Cookie AutoDelete(Firefox, Chrome) - delete cookies automatically, which means any data a server saves in your cookies won't be readable when you return. (this would also mean you're always logged out and such, so you can disable it for specific sites!) - also deletes a new type of cookie known as an LSO cookie.

Virtual Private Networks
You can also use a VPN service, there are tons of them if you google. I suggest using a well known one just to ensure that they also keep your data private.
A VPN encrypts your traffic and goes through another or multiple other nodes(other networks), before it reaches the end point,
and then sends it back to you, and due to connecting through other nodes, your ip isn't exposed to the end service(the website for example).
Also, your ISP can't see anything you do using a VPN due to all data transmitted being encrypted (i.e your request > through nodes > to site and back to you).
Therefore, it makes your general internet presence well hidden. I suggest getting a country-specific network VPN, or atleast one with a wide variety of nodes to choose from, so you don't have to connect all around the world for everything you do(it's slow!). However, if you are not removing cookies, you'd still be trackable since browser-specific data can be saved in your cookies.
There are free VPNs, but they might be slow. I'd suggest going with a reputable VPN provider(usually you have to pay, either monthly, or atleast if your traffic goes above a certain amount).

The Tor Browser is basically Firefox with a built in VPN, and only applies in the browser. Connecting to a VPN using software, makes all your traffic go through the VPN.
Some sites like Google might not function using a VPN/Tor (flagged for a bot ip or something like that).
Tor is free, and probably due to that, lots of people/bots use it and it's generally quite slow.

In short, VPNs are great but might cost/be slow, but they're really the best alternative to hide your presence because no service can tie any data to Your person.
However, it's quite pointless if you plan on using for example, Facebook, with your real account..!


Short note on social network tracking
Without using NoScript/ScriptSafe (or another solution),
any type of button like a Facebook 'login' or 'share' button,
submits your presence on this specific site, to Facebook.
This means that they know every site you visit, if it has those buttons. I'd assume the same goes for Twitter, Google Social Share and all these kind of things.
You don't even need to be logged in - your IP is known and can therefore be tied with your profile.

Short note on mobile devices
I find phones awful in terms of privacy, since they're very strict with access. I'm sure one can "jailbreak" or something - I suck with phones and I avoid using mine, so I'm not too aware of what measures to take here.
If you use Google, Facebook and apps like these, you can be certain they're pinging your phone to save your location very, very often (I read somewhere that someone who was measuring the data saw it ping every 10 seconds or less). And once you give an app access to your phone (usually it asks for permission), it could basically be doing whatever with your data at that point. It might ask to know your contact list to import friends, and then it might be saving your contact list. Here's a post about Shadow Profiling by Facebook.

Finally, I'd like to say that my personal opinion about sites such as Facebook and Twitter and all these,
they don't contribute to society - using sites like Facebook can be a mental health risk.
I believe that'd be because it's always comparing one-self with others, people are only showing the good stuff on social media!
In terms of market value, they're basically worthless and not creating anything for the world, among with many other companies today.. will see when that bottom falls out?


It's another debate - just in terms of privacy, things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google, all these are free because you are the product.
How are you the product? By submitting your data!

So, now I have written my opinion and my tips - I really hope there are someone else who can give me some tips!
I like to feel that my privacy is somewhat protected.  Grin
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June 02, 2018, 11:22:13 PM
Merited by BQ (1)
 #2

I think it's interesting to ask here, since generally people on this forum are probably at least slightly "technically competent" than the average person.
I don't think so. May be some of the hire rank members are but rest are not tech savvy. You are making things complicated for them when you are saying using Linux and stuffs.

Have you ever used https://duckduckgo.com (?) Use it instead of Google.

Anyway use VPN or tor browser. You are anonymous.  Grin
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June 02, 2018, 11:34:17 PM
 #3

I think it's interesting to ask here, since generally people on this forum are probably at least slightly "technically competent" than the average person.
I don't think so. May be some of the hire rank members are but rest are not tech savvy. You are making things complicated for them when you are saying using Linux and stuffs.

Have you ever used https://duckduckgo.com (?) Use it instead of Google.

Anyway use VPN or tor browser. You are anonymous.  Grin

That's a good point! I personally was using a VPN for a couple of months, but due to the cost + general slowness I chose not to after a while.
I think myself I'm ok because I don't really use any of those big sites and with noscript and such, they don't know what I'm doing anyway!
Only problem is individual sites I guess.

I'm also a bit worried, while I understand VPNs are encrypted, it feels a bit unsafe that my encrypted data goes through the same 'node' as many other people who might somehow grab something from it?  Cheesy
Or the VPN providers themselves doing something wrong.

I regularly use duckduckgo, but sadly it isn't too great at finding results, but better than nothing!
I mentioned duckduckgo + startpage in the thread atleast.
I added a short text about VPNs/Tor if you want to see if it's correct Smiley
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June 03, 2018, 12:01:09 AM
 #4

for most of us, its way too late. they already have so much info that preventing them getting more, while worthwhile, wont invalidate the data they already have.

i started using the web when it 1st came out (and internet/BBS before that). privacy wasnt a concern back then and not much if anything was logged for profile purposes (maybe AOL/compuserve did dunno never used them).

never used facebook/twitter stuff. BUT i did use google a lot when it 1st came out, not realizing just how much data they keep. still use sometimes it as its pretty good. but now its duckduckgo. also use gmail as its just convenient and everyone has the addy. be a pain to change now.

vpm is fine if you can take the speed hit.

bottom line is i accept my data is logged for whatever. looks like my goat porn habit is well known to google and three letter agencies. have fun.

but now data collection has reached the point of absurdity. its actually intrusive to get ads on something the second i do a search for it. i wouldnt want to be at work and have my phone display an add for adult diapers or something if i show someone at work a web page on my phone.

i do believe in the right to privacy, and going forward will be paying more attention to it. 
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June 03, 2018, 05:03:31 AM
 #5

Nice list, but i've few suggestion :
1. Since VPN feels slow for many users, i would recommend DNS Tunneling which only encrypt DNS query/response. It should be good alternative as long as user encrypt data they send/receive.
2. Tor/I2P/Kovri are good VPN/DNS tunneling alternative and it's free, even though it's risky without proper configuration.

for most of us, its way too late. they already have so much info that preventing them getting more, while worthwhile, wont invalidate the data they already have.
--snip--

It's never too late as long as you're alive. While it's true big tech companies already collect your data, the data won't be too useful if you stop use their service and start over from fresh device/account.
Also, some countries have regulation which force companies must comply if user submit their Right to erasure or right to be forgotten even though i doubt they actually remove your data, but surely they can't use your data freely.
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June 03, 2018, 09:54:32 AM
 #6

for most of us, its way too late. they already have so much info that preventing them getting more, while worthwhile, wont invalidate the data they already have.
--snip--

It's never too late as long as you're alive. While it's true big tech companies already collect your data, the data won't be too useful if you stop use their service and start over from fresh device/account.
Also, some countries have regulation which force companies must comply if user submit their Right to erasure or right to be forgotten even though i doubt they actually remove your data, but surely they can't use your data freely.

true, the big data guys may delete the data (so they say) but they have already sold most of it to other parties. i doubt those parties (even we even know who they are) will comply, we would need a record of where the data went, not just what they collected.

but yes, cant hurt to start.

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June 03, 2018, 01:38:36 PM
 #7

1. Since VPN feels slow for many users, i would recommend DNS Tunneling which only encrypt DNS query/response. It should be good alternative as long as user encrypt data they send/receive.
2. Tor/I2P/Kovri are good VPN/DNS tunneling alternative and it's free, even though it's risky without proper configuration.

Hmm, I had never heard of that! thanks, I will look it up!
but what do you mean with risky? risky as in, the data might not be encrypted and can be read by the ISP, or risky in terms of other people on the network?


true, the big data guys may delete the data (so they say) but they have already sold most of it to other parties. i doubt those parties (even we even know who they are) will comply, we would need a record of where the data went, not just what they collected.
I honestly find it hard to imagine Google or Facebook or, well any company, to completely delete my account.
Who would confirm that it's done? I can still login to my facebook account even if I closed it a long time ago, but
maybe with the new GDPR thing, people could atleast make sure their account is completely unaccessable and
their name isn't shown anywhere (I think people somewhere still can see my facebook account).

But completely delete it? Who would confirm it's done in the first place. Once we're in the system,
we're in it for life!  Undecided
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June 03, 2018, 02:02:08 PM
 #8

1. Since VPN feels slow for many users, i would recommend DNS Tunneling which only encrypt DNS query/response. It should be good alternative as long as user encrypt data they send/receive.
2. Tor/I2P/Kovri are good VPN/DNS tunneling alternative and it's free, even though it's risky without proper configuration.

Hmm, I had never heard of that! thanks, I will look it up!
but what do you mean with risky? risky as in, the data might not be encrypted and can be read by the ISP, or risky in terms of other people on the network?

Risky when the data isn't encrypted, so ISP or anyone in the same network can read the data transfer easily.

true, the big data guys may delete the data (so they say) but they have already sold most of it to other parties. i doubt those parties (even we even know who they are) will comply, we would need a record of where the data went, not just what they collected.
I honestly find it hard to imagine Google or Facebook or, well any company, to completely delete my account.
Who would confirm that it's done? I can still login to my facebook account even if I closed it a long time ago, but
maybe with the new GDPR thing, people could atleast make sure their account is completely unaccessable and
their name isn't shown anywhere (I think people somewhere still can see my facebook account).

But completely delete it? Who would confirm it's done in the first place. Once we're in the system,
we're in it for life!  Undecided

IMO, they don't delete the data since few government might need the data if an accident happen and they need the data for legal reason. And maybe they still use the data secretly such as for their Machine Learning.
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June 03, 2018, 08:12:36 PM
 #9

As for the people suggesting Tor browser which is superior to any combination of extensions you put on a regular browser. Do NOT use a VPN with it instead use a bridge.

For most users out of the box Tor Browser is enough but if you want to have better privacy then a bridge would be better than a VPN.
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June 08, 2018, 03:07:29 PM
 #10

IMO, they don't delete the data since few government might need the data if an accident happen and they need the data for legal reason. And maybe they still use the data secretly such as for their Machine Learning.

What if in the future, the government is totalitarian and demands data to find people with wrong opinions!  Lips sealed
There has to be some way to be removed from their systems.. although it might not do much, we're probably in so many databases by now by information being sold and stuff like that.
In one way, it's not really "bad", but it's quite annoying to be aware of the fact, and be powerless to take one's own privacy back.

Especially with Windows 10, their spying capabilities means they easily could tie any computer + all activity to a name.
Although that goes for ISPs aswell I guess!
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June 08, 2018, 06:21:53 PM
 #11

My personal step to keep my privacy in Facebook is not to use Facebook at all. This company has shown without any doubt a remorseless and aggressive tendency to use data without any consent and lives only on content created by others.

Regarding Google, I think Brave is at the moment a better tool.
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June 09, 2018, 02:07:04 AM
 #12

My personal step to keep my privacy in Facebook is not to use Facebook at all. This company has shown without any doubt a remorseless and aggressive tendency to use data without any consent and lives only on content created by others.

Regarding Google, I think Brave is at the moment a better tool.

Brave seems to be a browser with built in adblocking? I'm not sure, but that alone wouldn't do much against Google, if you still use it?
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June 09, 2018, 06:54:58 AM
 #13

I don't really worry too much about browsing the internet since I don't do anything bad. Don't really care if a computer is tracking my habits for advertising. But I tried to keep my crypto relate stuff in a separate computer. And when trying a new coin I use in a virtual machine, for months before I think of putting it with coins I know are legit.
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what is this "brake pedal" you speak of?


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June 09, 2018, 12:37:40 PM
 #14

I don't really worry too much about browsing the internet since I don't do anything bad. Don't really care if a computer is tracking my habits for advertising.

perhaps what you do now is not "bad" but who knows what will be considered "bad" in the future.

perfectly legal stuff you do now may come back to haunt you later. depends on what the future government decides.

heck even exorcising you right to online privacy now (using vpn, tor, monero, whatever) is enough to flag you as a suspicious person in places.
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June 09, 2018, 02:36:35 PM
 #15

To preserve privacy I kill my identity as soon as I feel my privacy is compromised.
what this means:
hard slow format my devices(smartphones, tablets, pc)(I will save my important data to airgapped storages)
I don't care deleting online accounts as I'm very good to forget passwords, and I don't use old accounts anymore.
I never submit personal informations like pictures or audio that can be used to connect my old identities with the new one.
I don't use any service that require kyc(or I use fake/dummy kyc data)
I use anonymous vps to get a private vpn.
I don't care about  a reputation history, I think present is what matter.
I have no friends.
I try change my speech style and known languages.

....

sometime I can not remember my real name and I feel like I don't exist.
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June 10, 2018, 12:11:22 AM
 #16

perhaps what you do now is not "bad" but who knows what will be considered "bad" in the future.

perfectly legal stuff you do now may come back to haunt you later. depends on what the future government decides.

heck even exorcising you right to online privacy now (using vpn, tor, monero, whatever) is enough to flag you as a suspicious person in places.

Very well said! It's outrageous.
it's like the general public is brainwashed to that "if you don't have anything to hide, it doesn't matter".
Quite dangerous where society is heading!

To preserve privacy I kill my identity as soon as I feel my privacy is compromised.
what this means:
hard slow format my devices(smartphones, tablets, pc)(I will save my important data to airgapped storages)
I don't care deleting online accounts as I'm very good to forget passwords, and I don't use old accounts anymore.
I never submit personal informations like pictures or audio that can be used to connect my old identities with the new one.
I don't use any service that require kyc(or I use fake/dummy kyc data)
I use anonymous vps to get a private vpn.
I don't care about  a reputation history, I think present is what matter.
I have no friends.
I try change my speech style and known languages.

It sounds like you take it quite seriously! Isn't using smartphones a bit a like a flaw in your 'protection' tho?
Smartphones seems to be the absolutely #1 worst thing to have for privacy  Undecided
and yet we're becoming more and more dependant on them.. dangerous!
it seems like so many sites and services demand a phone for "2fa", for some reason!
Why can't they just let us get hacked if we don't want to use 2fa?

It's a conspiracy!  Angry
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June 11, 2018, 01:53:44 AM
 #17

I don't really worry too much about browsing the internet since I don't do anything bad. Don't really care if a computer is tracking my habits for advertising.

perhaps what you do now is not "bad" but who knows what will be considered "bad" in the future.

perfectly legal stuff you do now may come back to haunt you later. depends on what the future government decides.

heck even exorcising you right to online privacy now (using vpn, tor, monero, whatever) is enough to flag you as a suspicious person in places.

Yeah that's true. Right now it's really a matter of convenience. Using Tor is very slow. And it's true, logging in to everyday websites, like Twitter, FB makes you suspicious to those sites. So it's really a matter of convenience.

In my daily life is it really worth the extra work, stress, when in the end I have nothing to hide.
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June 22, 2018, 08:34:47 AM
 #18

I don't really worry too much about browsing the internet since I don't do anything bad. Don't really care if a computer is tracking my habits for advertising.

perhaps what you do now is not "bad" but who knows what will be considered "bad" in the future.

perfectly legal stuff you do now may come back to haunt you later. depends on what the future government decides.

heck even exorcising you right to online privacy now (using vpn, tor, monero, whatever) is enough to flag you as a suspicious person in places.

Yeah that's true. Right now it's really a matter of convenience. Using Tor is very slow. And it's true, logging in to everyday websites, like Twitter, FB makes you suspicious to those sites. So it's really a matter of convenience.

In my daily life is it really worth the extra work, stress, when in the end I have nothing to hide.

What you mention there at the end, is something which disturbs me - not the argument by itself, because I can see why people fall for it.
However, it makes it sound as if there is no choices, it sounds like there's two choices when it's phrased like that:
1. sacrifice functionality/speed/etc to get some privacy
2. have no privacy

I think this is the wrong way to look at it.
I mean, anyone who's not very stupid and is committing serious crimes, would likely be protecting himself, which means that in general, those who store all our data and such, they don't really gain anything in terms of "fighting t*rrorism". it's just done to get people to accept their loss of privacy.
It's not nature's path to take our privacy, it can of course be changed! (and I feel this will happen with the crypto movement, somehow..!)

Although I guess that doesn't really apply to using facebook and sites like that, but those are irrelevant since we can simply choose not use those services. using a VPN and logging into your real name facebook doesn't do much in terms of protecting yourself, I guess I'm referring more to the general surveillance of the internet. Everyone suffers from privacy intrusion, with the argument of "preventing t*rrorism", while it actually does nothing apart from making us more 'docile' in some way.
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June 26, 2018, 07:42:20 AM
 #19

Thank you for these tips. It is a long read, but I've learned a couple of things. I agree with using VPN or TOR browser, although for those of us already and have been using Microsoft Windows 10 for quite some time now, it's maybe too late already.
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what is this "brake pedal" you speak of?


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June 26, 2018, 11:16:13 AM
 #20

for those of us already and have been using Microsoft Windows 10 for quite some time now, it's maybe too late already.

pretty much for anyone who has used the web at all and was not paranoid and taking steps to insure privacy from the the beginning its already too late. im pretty sure records were kept and accessible to the government right from the start, or very close to it.

most of us who started using the the internet and web in the '80s had no idea how much privacy we were giving up. i certainly didnt.
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