In today’s age, online privacy and security is more valuable than ever. This is a list of little changes that I made to greatly mitigate the amount of information about me that floats around on the web.

Browsing

Brave

The browser is one of the most used applications. With prolonged use, some browsers learn more about you and your habits, and exponentially more when it’s talking to your search engine, social media accounts, and even shopping sites.

However, I break that link by using Brave. It’s a privacy focused browser that automatically blocks trackers and ads. This is perfect for any casual browsing, reading blogs, or consuming media as all of these activities typically come with a lot of ads and trackers. The Brave team have taken great strides in ensuring user privacy, and even offer a built in Tor browser in their private windows.

DuckDuckGo

I recently switched my search engine from Google to DuckDuckGo. Having cleared all my data from Google servers, Google had basically no difference in search capability to DuckDuckGo since it couldn’t show me relevant information anymore. For me, this is a trade I’m willing to make sure to ensure that companies know less about me and my browsing habits.

DuckDuckGo is great for searching, and even has some level of customization that I appreciate. For example, I enabled the infinite scroll feature, which will continue to load results through scrolling rather than resorting to pagination. In addition, there are more choices for aesthetic features, such as centering results and changing the theme to a dark mode.

Mac

FileVault

FileVault is great if someone accesses your computer. It makes all the files unreadable and encrypted while your computer is asleep or off, which is important to prevent someone from accessing your data. It’s a simple change that doesn’t affect any other part of your workflow.

Mac
Mac FileVault

Firewall

Using the firewall will help prevent unwanted connections to your computer and gives you better control of the connections to your computer. By default, it’ll block all incoming connections, which is especially important if you’re working on a public network.

Mac
Mac Firewall

Stealth Mode

To further enhance security when working on a public network, you can enable stealth mode, which makes your computer ignore any unsigned connections. Doing this will prevent a hacker from detecting a device on the other end of the connection.

Firewall
Firewall Stealth Mode

Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 DNS

Cloudflare is one of my favorite companies ever. One thing that they offer is a custom DNS, which is faster and more secure than traditional DNS services. They don’t store your data and allows you to hide from censorship from ISPs.

Setting this up is super easy. In System Preferences, go to Network->Advanced. Then under the DNS tab, add 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1 (their back up server). And that’s it!

Using
Using Cloudflare's DNS on Mac

Phone

Location Services (iPhone)

Apple uses your location for themselves for many things beyond just your basic phone operations, such as Ad data. They also happen to conveniently make the settings to turn these off difficult to find. To turn these off, go to Settings->Privacy->Location Services->System Services. It’ll be all the way at the bottom of the page.

iPhone
iPhone Location Services Settings

1.1.1.1

1.1.1.1 is a free VPN by Cloudflare that encrypts more traffic of your phone, while also improving DNS routing (thanks to their massive network). I always leave this on, as its safe and important to use over any WiFi, and even your cellular network. I’ve seen no network speed slowdowns from this VPN, and so I always leave it on no matter what I’m doing.

Jumbo

Jumbo
Jumbo Privacy Settings

Jumbo
Jumbo Routine Checkups

Jumbo is an app that will audit all of your accounts and identify privacy and security settings easily for you. It’s really simple - you just have to log in, and it will show you a list of history you can clean, tracking settings that you can disable, and even more. It will also continuously run in the background to make sure that you are always leaving a minimal data footprint.