To me it's a sad state of affairs seeing people, including family and friends, who still use their phones or their Windows based computers just the way the vendors provided and support it, straight out of the box.
The argument is usually that "I need it for business" or "it just needs to work". Oh really? So the more privacy focused among us are all just focusing on privacy and don’t work?
Let me tell you something, even you are not a geek and even if you only want your phone with Google Services working and all the other preinstalled Google stuff, your can still use it more privately!
In fact, a super simple solution takes you less then 30 seconds to set it up! DNS!
We covered NextDNS in a separate chapter here:
But there are many other free and very workable solutions out there, as shown here:
All you need to do is go to Settings -> Network & Internet -> Advanced -> Private DNS and enter the DNS server. This not only gets your DNS requested as encrypted, but also makes sure all your DNS requests are not redirected as your ISP might not approve!
On top of that, you can use a DNS server which blocks analytics, 'calls home' to Google or Apple and also blocks some really nasty trackers and ads. Your IP will be the same, so all your “business” apps work in the exact same way, your Grab or Uber app works as intended and your Zoom call and all the other “non private” apps just work with a little bit less privacy interfering. You don't need to trade privacy for usability this way and it takes less than 30 seconds to fix! (If you're fast you can get it done in less...)
As an iOS user you have the option to use certain apps, for example DNScloak, AdGuard or NextDNS. The latter also has an certificate installed within seconds, just go to apple.nextdns.io (I strongly recommend opening a NextDNS account, free or paid, and block the traffic you don't want...it makes your device faster and more secure.
If you have an iOS device you can also check this site which has configuration sites for a bunch of privacy friendly DNS solutions.
Worth trying? I would say so, but, of course it's your call. I could just rant on a bit more and say "privacy is still a thing, don’t give up on it" but most of all don’t think because you change your DNS you'll not be able to enjoy a 'normal' relationship with your device...it's just that less people will know about it!
Next, but certainly not least, I've seen people not even bothering to update to the latest firmware or get the apps already installed updated. Most of the time the updates are security fixes, zero days discovered or just improve the overall experience. I'm pointing out that before the Android 10 update (so I talking now to anyone who didn’t update to Android 10 and still runs on Android 9 or even worse) the clipboard can be accessed by every app! This means that if you use a password manager, for example, every app can see what your passwords are and/or what you have on your clipboard, in some cases up to the last 100 entries there!
So I can’t say this enough, update your OS. And yes iOS is the same, Apple constantly find zero days and other nasty problems and then address them with firmware updates, so please take the time to actually do them.
For all YouTube users out there, use NewPipe if you have Android, where it comes ad free, it is way better as the original YouTube app, you won't miss out on anything vs the YouTube app (apart from the constant surveillance) and you can even subscribe to channels without a Google account!
F-Droid is highly recommended as all its apps are fully open-source and you'll find suitable replacements for most of the apps you would find on the Playstore. But even if that’s one step too many for all the busy guys out there, at least update your OS!
Stay safe and get started with the DNS! You can always follow up with more, as and when you are ready, we have an entire Privacy Cookbook just waiting to be discovered by you.