Recently I was asked about methods to keep technology safe, due to the lack of privacy in the days we’re living in. I believe it’s integral for every person to be smart about their browsing habits, app usage and messaging systems.
We live in a world where personal information is currency. Once upon a time a telecommunications company had privacy policies which protected the clients using their service. Now, what we send goes easily to third parties.
Everything you type on a smartphone is logged for processing by the phone companies and any message you type or anything you say on a call could be used against you. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the ability to view the contents of encrypted devices and messaging and even request backdoor entry to your device.
Even Forbes and Fox News have confirmed that our phones are listening in on what we say, and it’s databased.
Follow the money
PayPal now owns Chinese firm GoPay, linking themselves into a Chinese finance market with questionable ties to the CCP. Additionally, PayPal has been giving monetary incentives to install their app on your phone. Why would PayPal be giving out $5 each person for phone installation of their apps? It all comes down to what you’re providing them.
Multimillion-dollar companies these days are the ones that are controlling the flow of information and your data is keeping them afloat. Like the saying goes, if it’s free then you’re the product.
So what can you do to prevent the data in your devices from being used against you?
Be smart with your tech
Turn off your location, Bluetooth and mobile data when you’re not using it. Or better yet, when you’re not expecting any calls, switch to Airplane mode.
Disabling Siri, Alexa and Facebook microphone usage always helps but you can secure your phone furthermore if you disable or uninstall the Google apps and Facebook apps (including What’s App).
Switch to a private messaging system. Signal has been extremely popular since What’s App recently changed their terms. It has a great design and messages are encrypted, but Elon Musk has been a large proponent of its use. The problem with this is Musk used to be the largest shareholder of PayPal and is no stranger to playing the big data game, not to mention his work with Neuralink is more than a little concerning relating to the exploitation of tech.
There are many encrypted messaging alternatives out there however, if you feel Signal raises red flags to you. Not Telegram though, they don’t automatically have encryption. FortKnoxster seems to be on the higher end of the security side of things and many of the smaller companies are doing a great job.
Steer clear of the big web browsers which track you. These are: Safari, Firefox (and other Mozilla owned tech), Chrome, Edge (and other Microsoft browsers like Explorer). Tor browsers are fantastic for extra security but they’re slow. Duckduckgo and Brave are secure faster browsers.
Speaking of which, stop using Google for all your searches. Results are tweaked and biased and your browsing information is sold. Duckduckgo and StartPage, the Dutch search engine, are touted as two of the best. Swisscows and Disconnect Search are also great alternatives.
If you can, get off of Outlook, Live, Hotmail, Gmail and other big named email providers. Don’t be sucked in by the accessibility. Redirect your email to something secure like Protonmail.
Make the switch today
There are moral reasons to stop supporting these big tech companies, even if you don’t mind your data being leaked. Google is well known for blackmailing with their search ratings (they threatened Forbes when they were going to run a negative story about them). Google and other big tech companies avoid taxes. Many Christian YouTube channels have been demonetised by Google at their whim.
Please think about these important things which matter infinitely more than convenience big tech companies provide. We are giving Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and others the money and the power to be completely above the law. Google had once had their slogan as ‘do no evil’ and now it seems like evil is the front cover of their playbook.
Not only do we need to be safe about the information we provide, but we also need to make our vote count. We need to say no to being tracked, we need to say no to being exploited and we need to say no to using being tech.
Bridget Brenton from Brisbane has been for many years a young writer then an Over 31 writer and now a Panellist marking for the annual awards.