We usually go after corporations and governments in the EXPOSED! series, but in an Orwellian world you need to allow the question: are we just comfortable in this world or is laziness the reason we are where we are?
First things first, not everyone needs the same threat level protection as others. It is everyone's choice to do what they please, and of course be as comfortable as they can be with their devices.
This gets me to the biggest threat level we all have, our cellphone. These are literally trackers, for locations, for what you are shopping, what you do all day long etc. So, this is the first thing you need to take care of.
We have, on one hand, the iOS users, who trust Apple more because — privacy. Then again, we learned that some privacy is treated differently by Apple than by others. However, Apple is still probably 'out of the box' a better device when it comes to privacy than an Android coming from a vendor like Samsung.
This comes to the main threat levels most people are exposed to, a stock iOS or Android device. The simplest solution, which takes less than 30 seconds to install, is adding a DNS with ad blockers to the phone. Sadly, even some members of the decentralize.today inner circle still haven't taken this simple step which takes so little time, and not only blocks trackers, but also encrypts your browsing and speeds up your device. Fewer ads and trackers, more speed, win,win,win!!
On iOS, install a profile from any of these DNS providers, or from NextDNS if you like to customize blockers.
Settings -> Connections -> More connections settings -> Private DNS -> Private DNS provider hostname: xxxx
for example: fdns2.dismail.de or xxxx.nextdns.io
This DNS step alone would improve your privacy, and it takes less than 30 seconds.
Samsung has just announced that later this year they will stop showing ads on Samsung apps and phones. I laughed a bit as I never imagined paying 1000 USD for a phone to get you customized ads. But I guess it is because even when I used a Samsung phone, I always set DNS or put a firewall on it, which brings me neatly to firewalls. With RethinkDNS or NetGuard you can get even more apps blocked from the internet. You can block them out at the device level and it gives you way more privacy by doing so.
Please check our Privacy Cookbook for more tweaks, firewalls, and even ADB comments to remove bloatware (pre-installed) on your devices.
Another thing for Android users to do is not to sign in to Google, use F-Droid, if you can, and switch off your location services.
I understand you like to check on your favorite news outlet if they tweet etc, but you do not really need to use the official apps.
Your Biggest Enemy
Except for the trackers Google has, your biggest enemy is your communications. The argument "my family is on WhatsApp" or "I need to use Facebook because it's the only way to stay in contact with my friends", might be valid for some, but it sounds to me as more of an excuse. Sure you can't force your school or work place to switch to something safer, but you can tell your real friends if they want to share pictures and texts with you, or make a video call, to use Signal. It takes no time to download the app. The same, of course, goes for Element or Threema, which are both far better replacements for WhatsApp and Facebook owned domains and services.
It takes your friend 30 seconds or less to communicate in private with you, and even if you can't get them all over, it is worth starting to get as many as you can over to a safer option. Small steps as we say!
This leaves us to a more extreme measure, if you really want privacy and don't mind getting a bit less shiny and techie with a wow you have the newest Samsung kind of vibe, go with a Pixel phone. Install CalyxOS or GrapheneOS. I personally prefer the former. I will soon come with a new Privacy Cookbook entry on why CalyxOS is not only the better option vs Android but also why I prefer GrapheneOS over CalyxOS when it comes to privacy, hardening etc.
On desktop, I recommend Linux. We have covered this all in the Privacy Cookbook, but over the next few weeks we will refresh some chapters, update some reviews and publish some new ones. Privacy matters, and in most cases, you don't need to be a geek to get it. In some cases, it takes less than 30 seconds to make an impact.
And even if t was my message in so many of my Privacy Cookbooks and mentioned in numerous EXPOSED! articles, start with your DNS. It is making an impact. Give the Googles, Apples, Facebook's and tracker harvesting companies less power, and win power back for all of us.
I won't go into more detail in this article as it is simply meant to give you some tips for winning back a bit of privacy, for all of us.