Privacy compartmentalisation is a philosophy grounded in doing one thing online at a time. Essentially, if you are using a browser to look at social media, make sure to delete all cookies and history before moving on to browse anything else. This practice counters data linkability; making it much more difficult to build a profile on you based on your concurrent browsing.
Private Web Browsing
Stop storing data on your browser; stop leaving all those tabs open, saving passwords, and allowing your browser to hold onto your history. It may be less convenient, but at least there isn’t the chance for that cookie leftover from Facebook continuing to collect your data long after you’ve closed the tab. (Consumer Reports, 2018)
A simple way to follow this practice in your browser is to use incognito windows at all times. CTRL + SHIFT + N for Brave Browser, CTRL + SHIFT + P for Firefox, though there are settings for defaulting to incognito windows. This will ensure all data is wiped after you exit the window. Start to rely on bookmarks to come back to things you are interested in.
Instead of relying on the browser to hold all your sensitive account information, start using a password manager. Bitwarden is a great free option offering strong security.
Computer: Brave Browser, Firefox, Tor Browser
Android: Brave Browser, Firefox, Bromite, Tor Browser
When to use Tor
Any time you are browsing the internet without signing into an account, you should be using Tor. As soon as you sign into an account through Tor however, you have compromised your anonymity, which may be fine if you are only concerned with hiding your location.
Read more about Tor
The best way to ensure the privacy of your usage of your device is to buy an Android phone, and de-Google it. We have some de-Googled phones for sale, and offer a de-Googling service. Check out our store.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
Most regular apps installed from the play store come with a multitude of trackers included in the source code. You can avoid these trackers by just using the web browser on your phone to access the services you need directly from the website. Progressive Web Apps allow you to essentially bookmark a mobile version of a website right on your home screen of an Android phone. This opens up the mobile version of the website inside the browser, protecting the rest of your device by not allowing it access to the device beyond the browser. You can install these by pressing the “add to home screen button” under settings for any compatible website you visit, as long as you aren’t currently in a private tab.
Secure and Private Messaging
Signal is the best messenger app out right now, it’s free and open source, end-to-end encrypted, and you only need a phone number to sign up. You can use it as a default text message app too for all your friends you haven’t yet convinced to care about their privacy. There’s also a very easy install link you can send to people that don’t have it yet.
Account Privacy & Security:
Ideally, each activity that you use an email for deserves its own email address. This means a different one for shopping, banking, work, personal communications, and social media. This makes tracking your online presence through email significantly more difficult. To manage all these accounts, FairEmail, or K9 email are good options on mobile, while Thunderbird is a great option for desktop. In reality the closer you can get to this ideal, the better. We use Protonmail
Text messages are not very secure or private. It is best to use a hardware security key, (Solo Keys make excellent open source keys) or an authenticator app to authenticate logins. Andotp and Aegis authenticator are good ways to enable one time use, two-factor authentication for accounts, freely available on f-droid.
Using online storage is very convenient, and can enable crucial backups of important data. Nextcloud is a free and open source service that is recommended for this purpose. Just remember the wise words of The Hated One on YouTube: “There is no cloud, only other people’s computers”. With this in mind, if there is still a need to store data on the cloud, it is best to encrypt your data first. Use Cryptomatter, or Veracrypt to keep your data unusable to anyone who gains access to the data stored on the cloud.
This has been a big article, lots of information to digest. You don’t need to try to implement everything all at once. Privacy is more akin to a journey than a destination; with every step taken encouraging progress towards minimising the amount of negative influences in your life.