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What are the most important privacy settings?

by Staff writer
01 Jun 2020 at 15:40hrs | Views
Privacy is more important than ever when everyone - from your ISP, to government agencies - is trying to get their share of your personal data. As such, we've put together some of the most important privacy settings across major platforms. Don't put off disabling any of these, especially the last one.

Activity and Location History

While Microsoft is hot on its trail, it's fair to say that Google knows everything you've been up to, tracking:
•    Browsing histories (statistically, you use Google to access most of the websites you need on a daily basis)
•    YouTube videos you've been watching
•    Any apps and services you run
•    Voice recordings if you use voice commands (and audio can be saved even if you're offline).

Windows 10 Activity History is pretty similar, recording any apps you launch on your PC and sending that info over to Microsoft. Location History should be pretty self-explanatory for both. These are the biggest privacy-invaders you'll have to deal with (for now), and thankfully it's pretty easy to do so:

•    How to delete Google Activity History - also includes how to delete and turn off location history and other privacy-invasive settings
•    How to delete Windows 10 Activity History - includes how to disable it as well, even for Windows 10 versions that don't include the Group Policy Editor (such as Home Edition). Just in case something goes awry, create a back-up of the registry so you can easily revert any changes

App-level Permissions
Your applications are the greatest telltales on your phone right now. They give out your location, have access to your camera and microphone, or even read your texts and contacts. And most do this for no apparent reason other than "they can, and you allowed them to."

Luckily, they've made it pretty easy to manage what your apps can and can't do, both on iPhone and Android. In the latter's case, you might need to sift through the menus a bit to find the permissions page. Every manufacturer has its own take on the Android interface, but a quick search online will clear things up.

Social Media Privacy Settings
Your social accounts could use a privacy do-over. Instead of navigating through the confusing settings on Facebook, Twitter, and so on, try Jumbo. It's only available for iOS for the moment (though an Android beta was announced on their Twitter in September 2019). It sets the privacy settings on all your social accounts "to the max" for you.

Use it in tandem with MyPermissions, which shows you what apps are connected to your accounts and what permissions you gave them. You can disable or restrict their access at your leisure in its clean, easy to use interface. Available for both iOS and Android.

Ad Tracking

Android, iOS and Windows 10 all have an ad tracking feature that does pretty much what you would expect. You are assigned a unique advertising identifier so Google, Apple, Microsoft and companies they work with can track your online (and offline) behavior.

They do this to "improve their services and serve you personalized ads" – but you can probably live without those creepily specific ads (and your private data being collected). Here's how to disable or limit ad tracking on these three operating systems:
•    Android
•    iOS
•    Windows 10

Of course, this doesn't guarantee many Android apps won't track you using other device identifiers (more specifically the MAC address, IMEI and Android ID). That's exactly what almost 18000 apps in the Google Store did. To be fair, they were found in violation of Google's policies, but Google don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to privacy.

Microsoft isn't any better, as Win 10 kept tracking user activity even with those respective settings disabled. The tech giant reached out to multiple websites that called this out, stating that it was just a naming issue and that the "full version" of the Activity History could be found in the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard. Confused yet? So was everybody else.

Disabling Voicemail
Who knew that voicemail could become such an easy way to access all your accounts? And this applies to most apps that have a voicemail feature – from WhatsApp to Signal. The latter of which is surprising, since it's been known as the most secure messaging app for a while now.

How did it happen? Martin Vigo showcased a script he created that could "brute-force" its way into a voicemail account. Then, he used the password reset function on a few accounts that allowed for the reset codes to be sent through a phone call. There are a couple of ways to ensure those calls go straight to voicemail, so there's no chance of you finding out you're getting hacked. Unless you happen to check voicemail every five minutes.

How Can You Avoid This?
Vigo recommended disabling your voicemail entirely to avoid dealing with this glaring security hole. If you don't know how, contact your phone carrier and ask them for help. We'd offer a one-size-fits-all solution, but carrier codes may be different in your area. Here's how to do it for four major carriers in the U.S., for example.

The other solution (which is less secure) is to set up a long, random password to your voicemail account. This way you can still receive voicemail, though there's always a chance the hacker could get lucky and guess your password.

On iPhone you simply need to go through the following steps: Settings > Phone > Change Voicemail Password. For other phones, here's how to proceed for the same four U.S. carriers. It's worth contacting your carrier if you don't find yours there.

Finally, we could fill an entire guide's worth of settings you could (and should) disable to cover your tracks. Luckily, ProPrivacy has plenty of more privacy tips ready and waiting, for all your preferred systems. Go check them out!

Source - Byo24News

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