Hi guys, how are y’all doing? Today we will talk about privacy, anonymity and security. As i mentioned in the previous post The Password Guide. Edward Snowden the guy who aired out the dirty laundry of several large corporations, who are reading, seeing and hearing every piece of data in the world. And i know what you are thinking! What do i have to hide? They can keep on seeing them? but this is a naive way of thinking. They are using highly advance programs to hear every call you make, every text you send and social media. Therefore i must warn you, this will be a very long post as i will go in depth. Now before we start let me disarm those who say they have nothing to hide with a quote from Mr. Edward Snowden: “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,”
Now as a start, you should know there are governments alright with this Global Mass Surveillance, in fact they signed it.
The UKUSA Agreement is an agreement between the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand to cooperatively collect, analyze, and share intelligence. Members of this group, known as the Five Eyes, focus on gathering and analyzing intelligence from different parts of the world. While Five Eyes countries have agreed to not spy on each other as adversaries, leaks by Snowden have revealed that some Five Eyes members monitor each other’s citizens and share intelligence to avoid breaking domestic laws that prohibit them from spying on their own citizens. The Five Eyes alliance also cooperates with groups of third party countries to share intelligence (forming the Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes), however Five Eyes and third party countries can and do spy on each other.
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Now, these guys collect and analyze loads and loads of data(Terabytes worth), they have projects and softwares that could trace you, Prism(Documents leaked by Snowden show that Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple give the NSA direct access to its users’ information. According to the documents, Dropbox also joined this list), Tempora, Dishfire, SOMALGET and others to mention a few, they can trace your family, you pets, your background and more creating data maps based on info they get on you. So i will explain today how to prevent your sensitive information from being seen, leaked and utilized by them.
Another thing, it is necessary to know any VPN from any of these countries could easily be subpoenaed to submit your information, and not just VPNs, Google has done it, Yahoo, Bing/Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
And countless others that i will list at the end of this post, there will also be a bonus. So step one.
Didn’t read the mini guide? Check it out here before reading this: https://ajulusthoughts.wordpress.com/2018/09/26/mini-privacy-security-and-anonymity-guide/
You already know Google, is giving your data to these departments(NSA, and others) of which we found out about thanks to Mr. Snowden.
I have met friends who know all about what I’ll be talking about but say Google is too useful to abandon.
And yes, i second that, its too useful, but, you don’t need to worry. There are security settings one can change, though some could possibly make it a little less useful. And there are also apps that could completely replace Google services, even some better than Google’s. You could use Google and these side by side, then decide(of which i highly discourage this due to Google tracking you all over the internet) One thing you should know Google is a monopoly. It has the greatest video streaming service in existence:- YouTube of course, now this is the only thing that cant be replaced as all others such as Vimeo are abit low on content and have some strict rules(as i have heard from friends who have used it, not my words) There are other services(few) that cant be replaced, i will not even bother mentioning their replacements because that’s just a waste of time. Hopefully soon they will rise and be capable of defeating google. Another point is, i wont explain Google services unless necessary, i wll just mention the replacements and their pros. So without hesitation:-
G-MAIL VS PROTONMAIL E-MAIL OR TUTANOTA EMAIL OR DISROOT OR MAILFENCE:
Now for Email you could use Protonmail, its the best, has a free and paid version. You will be limited but you will be relieved because they don’t read, neither do they allow any person or organization to read your emails. It features end to end encryption. The company is based in Switzerland, you can create an anonymous email, they don’t ask for too much information, its free and easy to use. I use this one as my preferred choice. Their Email Domain is firstname.lastname@example.org, you can also activate a receive only email which is email@example.com Link: https://protonmail.com/
GOOGLE SEARCH ENGINE VS DUCKDUCKGO SEARCH ENGINE OR STARTPAGE:
This is one i like very much, and use everyday, duckduckgo. Moreover its just like Google only more secure, they don’t track you, they don’t add Ads in your searches. Its an absolutely amazing alternative to google. Link: https://duckduckgo.com
GOOGLE DRIVE vs MEGA CLOUD OR NEXTCLOUD OR PCLOUD OR SYNC
This is a secure cloud with more space, more security(this is still debatable since a post in 2016, which i found after writing this section, so if concerned try https://nextcloud.com). It comes with 50 GB free plus end to end encryption, secure collaboration and live encrypted backup(Paid Feature). They also allow you to raise their base 50 GB storage e.g. installing Mega sync into your computer, earns you 20 GB, inviting friends 10 GB and installing their app in android 15 GB. Link: https://mega.nz/
YOUTUBE VS VIMEO
Vimeo though not very known, has always been an alternative for Youtube(remember the text above, saying there is no replacement for Youtube, ignore that for a second and go to Vimeo’s site then base your conclusions and decide), first they don’t collect information as much as Youtube does. They are a good substitute especially for their lack of limitation(Youtube used to have a 10 minute limitation but i think that has stopped now)They have been in the industry just as long as Youtube. Link: https://vimeo.com/
PLAYSTORE VS F-DROID
This is pretty much the opposite to Google Play, but just as secure. They offer free and open source apps(FOSS). They have great apps especially dealing with the wonderful threes. Link: https://f-droid.org/
PLAYSTORE VS APTOIDE
Aptoide has been designed according to Google standards, and the experience is almost as good as the Play Store with a well-designed user interface. Aptoide is an open source Android app store with over 700,000 apps to choose from its collection that has over 3 billion downloads. It has been used by more than 150 million users worldwide since its launch in 2009. It allows you to download APKs to your device directly and install them. It is a safe and straightforward app store for Android that you can use as a great Google Play Store alternative. Link: https://en.aptoide.com/
I know it would have been easier to say block this and that but the truth is some(all) IPhones have a backdoor, so does some(all) android phones. Unfortunately i cant provide a solution for IPhone users right now. But the solution for android users requires a tech savvy user/power user, who knows how to tweak vpn settings, setup a more private DNS, root and flash ROMs into his/her device etc. And it also depends on the device make, model and android version.
Solution 1: Install the following apps(Some are paid, others free and some require root, ill try to list the free and no root versions first but do note sometimes free can be expensive)
VPN Services:- Orbot Proxy with Tor, ProtonVPN, NordVPN, PIA VPN, HMA PROXY AND VPN, 126.96.36.199(Not a VPN but acts like one, it is a DNS Server)
Firewalls:- NetGuard, GlassWire(Monitoring App), NoRoot, AFWall+
Password Managers and Generators:- LastPass, Bitwarden, Dashlane, Keeper, 1Password
Browsers:- Orfox(Must Be Used With Orbot), Tor Browser(Still Buggy, Use First One), Firefox Focus, Opera Touch, Firefox, Opera, Brave, DuckDuckGo, Waterfox
E-mail:- ProtonMail, Tutanota
Messaging:- Signal, Wickr, Wire, Telegram, Threema
Antivirus(Not really necessary but useful):- Malwarebytes, Norton
App locks:- Applock, Vault, Fingerprint Applock, App Lock: Locker w/fingerprint
File Managers: MiXplorer, Solid Explorer, Amaze
Microsoft is spying on you using Windows and Google Android, most of you all ready know this, some are still debating others don’t know. Well now you know. So this step we will look in to alternatives to Windows 7,8,10 and Android.
The problem with these is that they support specific devices. But you could go to their sites and check if your device is supported.
Here they are:-
Check the sites out, most of these are Linux, because sadly Linux is the only OS that really cares about your privacy not forgetting Linux doesn’t get viruses and trojans as frequent as Windows(Viruses directed at Linux: 800, while windows more than 1 million since their creation date) and therefore little to no need of an antivirus software, not just this but there are literally more than 50000 Linux apps in their repository
This next step is called hardening. In this step you will have to sacrifice usability or performance or features or something else. This is where we get to some tough decisions and do some tech savvy stuff.
First off Browser hardening. For this i won’t go into it as it might take up a lot of space so just visit this site and read through to Firefox about:config area: https://www.privacytools.io/#fingerprint
Don’t use Windows 10 – It’s a privacy nightmare
Microsoft introduced a lot of new features in Windows 10 such as Cortana. However, most of them are violating your privacy.
- Data syncing is by default enabled.
- Browsing history and open websites.Apps settings.WiFi hotspot names and passwords.
- Your device is by default tagged with a unique advertising ID. – Used to serve you with personalized advertisements by third-party advertisers and ad networks.
- Cortana can collect any of your data. – Your keystrokes, searches and mic input.Calendar data.Music you listen to.Credit Card information.Purchases.
- Microsoft can collect any personal data. – Your identity.Passwords.Demographics.Interests and habits.Usage data.Contacts and relationships.Location data.Content like emails, instant messages, caller list, audio and video recordings.
- Your data can be shared. – When downloading Windows 10, you are authorizing Microsoft to share any of above-mentioned data with any third-party, with or without your consent.This tool uses some known methods that attempt to disable major tracking features in Windows 10: https://www.winprivacy.de/english-home/
Some good news
- WindowsSpyBlocker – Open source tool that blocks data collection.
- Comparison of Windows 10 Privacy tools – ghacks.net
- Fix Windows 10 privacy. – fix10.isleaked.com
- Windows 10 doesn’t offer much privacy by default: Here’s how to fix it. – Ars Technica.
- Guide: How to disable data logging in W10.
More bad news
- Windows 10 Sends Your Data 5500 Times Every Day Even After Tweaking Privacy Settings – The Hacker News.
- Even when told not to, Windows 10 just can’t stop talking to Microsoft. It’s no wonder that privacy activists are up in arms. – Ars Technica.
- Windows 10 Reserves The Right To Block Pirated Games And ‘Unauthorized’ Hardware. – Techdirt.
It would be better you apply the above steps but if you need the services mentioned above, you could limit the amount of info, these companies gather on you and about you by doing something called hardening.
I need to apologize, hardening is a very wide topic touching many commonly used softwares, operating systems and as such i am not going to finish the hardening step here, there will be another post for that coming soon.
NB: AS YOU BROWSE, ENTER SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY STUFF ONLINE AND RESEARCH, KNOW THIS ALL THESE LEAVE FOOTPRINTS ALL OVER THE WEB(LIKE YOU DO ON SAND), WHICH MAKE IT EASIER FOR THESE ORGANIZATIONS AND HACKERS TO TRACK, SOCIAL ENGINEER AND HACK YOU. SO TRY TO LEAVE AS LITTLE INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF AS POSSIBLE, CLEAR COOKIES AND SITE DATA OCCASIONALLY(OR USE THE ADDON COOKIE AUTODELETE), PUT SOME ADBLOCKERS(LIKE UBLOCK ORIGIN, PRIVACY BAGDER) ON YOUR BROWSER, USE VPNS TO HELP CONFUSE TRACKERS, MAKE SURE EACH SITE YOU VISIT STARTS WITH https:// and not http://.
Check out the mini guide here: https://ajulusthoughts.wordpress.com/2018/09/26/mini-privacy-security-and-anonymity-guide/
This is part one of the wonderful threes, part 2 will feature more security, privacy and anonymity steps, tricks, hacks, hardening, clearing your footprints and more. Stay Tuned.
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