A Privacy focused secure setup

A Privacy focused secure setup

With the increasing number of online scams, cyber-attacks, and threats to privacy, securing your browsing activity and protecting your online privacy has become a necessity.

Photo by Fernando Arcos from Pexels

I am an advocate of online privacy, whenever I surf the web, I always do it with Private Browsing enabled. I hate annoying advertisements. I know private browsing is not so private but still private browsing is pretty useful but I recently read that, Google faces $5 billion lawsuit over tracking users in the incognito mode which made clear that Incognito mode on Google Chrome is not useful and Chrome consume a freaking amount of RAM, which gave rise to chase a Privacy-Focused secure setup. In thing article, I am going to share it with everyone.

1. Browser

Obvious right??? Google Chrome was already out of the list due to the data-stealing even in incognito mode. Most of the online articles about secure browsers recommended Brave browser but then I came across a news article with title Brave browser CEO apologizes for automatically adding affiliate links to cryptocurrency URLs so, even Brave was out of the list. I switched to Tor, It was good and the most secure one but then I had to compromise on browsing speed, if you are fine with that then I would recommend you to go with Tor but I decided to go back to good old Firefox. I was in need of two different browsers, I was using Firefox Developer Edition and Google Chrome which is now changed to Firefox Developer Edition and Firefox Beta.

If switching from Chrome is not feasible for you then you may go for ungoogled chromium browser which enhances security and privacy control.

2. Search Engine

Let’s accept the fact that we can not browse the internet without using a Search Engine. Google is great but it also has it’s own caveats so I switched to a privacy-focused search engine that is duckduckgo. I just changed the default search engine to DuckDuckGo in my browser setting. Yes, There have been times when the results given by DuckDuckGo were not helpful then I just visit Google.com and search from there.

3. Email

If you are using Gmail then you know for sure that Google is reading your emails and based on those they are suggesting you ads. If you are looking for a better more secure option then I would recommend you go for ProtonMail. ProtonMail is an encrypted email service so even in case of a data breach, your emails are secure. Google tracks the websites that you visit, it monitors your online activity, ProtonMail does not do that. I have not completely switched to ProtonMail. I do have Google Account and I am always logged in into my Gmail account but I use a ProtonMail account for secure email conversations.

4. VPN Service

I don’t use a VPN Service for daily browsing but if there is a need for better security while browsing, I prefer TunnelBear, they have a Free Tier with 500MB of secure browsing. I had a great experience with TunnelBear, it is secure and there was not much of a difference in browsing, it was almost equally fast, so if you are fine with paying $3.33/month (after exhausting free browsing of 500MB) then go for it or else you might consider ProtonVPN, they have a free tier where you will have to compromise with the speed.

5. Operating System

Why Operating system is last you wonder, almost all the operating systems are equipped for simple privacy but if you are using a public computer then you might need an additional layer of security, it may be possible that there might be some monitoring tools which are running in the background to spy on you in such cases I would recommend you to carry a Bootable USB drive with Tails.

Tails is a privacy-focused Linux operating system with basic applications like Tor Browser, Libre Office, ThunderBird email client, and other utility tools preinstalled which can run through a USB Drive. It has an encrypted persistent storage option which means the files that you downloaded will be accessible when you switch the computer and those files will be accessible only with the provided password.

Other security measures:

  • I removed all the unnecessary add-ons (browser extensions). In fact, I only have Grammarly extension installed on my primary browser.
  • In browser preference settings, I changed downloads to Always ask you where to save files, to prevent auto-downloading of files.
  • I have enabled Do Not Track in my browser settings to avoid browsing behavior tracking.
  • I avoid connecting to unknown WiFi networks.
  • I do not use Public USB charging stations to charge my phone.
  • I have put tape on my Webcam.