The recent news over Google’s data collection has sent people on a scurry towards steps to protect their privacy. While such a venture in today’s inter-connected world is almost impossible, there are certain steps one can take to reduce the amount of data that leaves his/her device.
These precautions become significantly more vital when you consider the fact that the smartphone market is dominated almost monotonously by Android phones, and through hierarchy, Google. Here are a few rule of thumbs we recommend if you are particular about protecting your data:
1. Reduce sign-in
Google requires you to be signed in to enjoy sync and play store functionality. But you can take a turn around some other areas like browser choice by using a faster, safer, and more importantly, less Google centric alternatives available out there. Options range from Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and monument browser etc.
2. Turn off location history
This may not come as a surprise to you that several apps collect your location history. You can opt out of GPS data collection at device setup stage and kill two birds with one stone when you turn off location services as it reduces battery consumption as well as rejects location access permissions.
3. Mind those apps!
Always make sure that you install a trusted, verified, and secure application from Google Play Store only. Before installing them, review the permissions they require and cross reference those with their functions and usage. Further, read the reviews people have given and don’t download the app if you find something fishy.
4. Change your search engine.
While Alphabet Inc. dominates the search engine game, it does not mean there are no alternatives. Recent advancements in Microsoft Bing have made it a pretty heavy contender and there are some private search engines as well. DuckDuckGo is a familiar name in the game.
5. Always keep your software up-to-date.
Security vulnerabilities in your device are inevitable in today’s world. New malwares are developed every day and devices targeted every hour. Remember to keep your operating system updated to the latest version.
Remember that your device collects diagnostic data by default. This includes usage, permission history, location history, pattern of usage, error info etc. Turn this off during setup to reduce the amount of sent data even more.
Further, when you visit webpages, make sure they are secured with the https tag.
These are just a few of many important rules you may follow if you are sensitive about your data and profile. Remember to always lock away your important files and use the latest version of all software. Keep your device locked using a PIN, or better yet, an alphanumeric password. If you still do not feel safe with these steps, you can try using a non Google centric version of Android, though that is quite technical and requires intricacy and care and one does not simply re-install an OS.