Back in the 70s & 80s, phone tapping was the best method of snooping on in anyone's private conversation and required physical access to the target device. Fast forward now and Internet has made everything easier.
While it's true that the golden age of connectivity has brought us many convenience but it's also equally true that it has made the job of tracking, snooping and searching for data on a person much much easier than the olden days. Now, authorities don't even need to step out of their den to track you and neither do companies need to ask you anything cause they know all about you - where you have been, what you ate, what you texted your friend, etc. They also have a whole history on you - a database that keeps tabs on you and using AI, they process the data to give you what you need even before you ask for it. All this seems wonderful & convenient but the same data can be misused to cause inconvenience.
While it is impossible to 100% hide yourself unless you are some professional level legendary hacker or computer engineer with extraordinary talents, chances are even with the most amount of protection undertaken, authorities may still have data on you specially if you are in their radars for all the wrong reasons but rest assured, the below mentioned tips & techniques will definitely help cover-up your digital footprint to a great extent. And hey, something is always better than nothing and if you haven't done anything unlawful then you will probably live your life extremely fine.
Following all of these steps is recommended and while I don't expect you to stop using services (cause even I can't do that), I do hope you can minimise it to the levels tolerable.
- Use VPNs - this is the most talked about topic anywhere on this planet but it is actually effective. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and what it does is create a virtual space for you to surf on the Internet so that you aren't tracked by advertisers. It routes your traffic through various specialized servers located all around the globe so you can avoid blockades & bans by Govt. organisations. Some common VPNs are Nord, Express & Tunnel Bear. It's paid but trust me, its worth the money.
2. Use specialized browsers - Agreed that chrome is easy to use and very convenient but what it also does is let Google track your activities everywhere on the web. You can use specialized extensions to avoid all of that but what's even better is to use browsers that comes with built-in tools to minimise your digital footprint. Some browsers are even built on the same backend as Google's Chrome. The closest alternative to Chrome is Mozilla Firefox but if you need something exactly built on Chrome's backend Chromium Engine then go for Brave Browser.
3. Stop using Facebook too much - Like for real. I would highly recommend uninstalling the app from your smartphone altogether. It's 2019 already and if you still do not see a valid reason after all the scandal, hack & data breach then I have nothing more to say to you.
4. Take a look at those permissions on your phone - Seriously, just take a look before you keep on tapping Yes always. Often times, the particular app asking for a specific permission doesn't even need it and can function without it perfectly fine. In other cases, the app may be asking for permission its never supposed to cause it has no work in that area. These are the typical mistakes we make where it inadvertently provide our data to companies. I have even noticed some apps that do not need a particular function asking for it several times while using the app, even though they work just fine without it.
5. Disable Location history - Most apps including Google asks you for location history access to better serve you. While its true that your searches get better, its also true that they now know where and how you have travelled at a particular time of any day of the year. Essentially, they have your entire travel journal without you knowing about it. Go the respective app settings and turn off location history & personalization and do not allow it under any circumstances. You will need to work around more to get relevant location results but that is absolutely alright when your privacy is protected.
In a later post, I will write about more advanced techniques that you can use to prevent Govt. snooping.
What all methods do you use to protect your digital footprint? Let me know so that we can all protect each other!
Disclaimer: As you can see, some of the links are affiliate links and if you click on the links and use the services, it will help towards supporting this blog. With increasing use of ad blockers, I have to think of new ways to sustain myself. Rest assured, this association in no way affects the reviews or interests reflected in the article and I am completely unbiased towards any service or company. I hope you guys can understand.