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..:: Privacy Notes ::..
many notes for my memory


Online Privacy

Having 'nothing to hide' doesn't mean people need to know about you, or what you're doing!
Privacy and Anonymity are two very different things.

Anonymity is masking who you are, and where you are. an example is john doe from cyberspace vs jane smith from london england.

Privacy is controlling what is visible about your known identity. what do you know about jane smith ?
what's her phone number, where does she live, can i look through her windows, can i let my self in ?
her social media reveals a lot, oh look at her dog 'jasper', i wonder if that's her password!

Anonymity is actually quite hard to fully and consistently achieve. It requires all elements of you online activity to be masked, such as your pc specs, operating system, video card drivers, ip address, browser flavor, version, add-ons, and the services you are accessing, and how you funded them…

Doable, but not easily, - so the information here will touch on topics/elements and some general privacy practices that will benefit your identity and indirectly reduce your 'fingerprint'.


What? - a technique or method to encode or conceal information.

Why? - Secures connections to sites/services, keeping the messages Private.

How? - Protocols have been established, and implemented safely into most common programs we use, SSL the S in https secures webbrowser connection to the server, displayed as a padlock.
email delivery is secured with pops, imaps, and smtps, and email messages can be secured with pgp/gpg.
remote system administraition is secured with ssh and friends scp, sftp.
there are many implementations, some bound by funtion or protocol, but most often being described as Semetric, or Asemetric with support from key-exchange, rolling-keys, and hash algorythms.

Encryption is a powerful tool in your 'privacy toolbox', and will be an under-pinning service to all the other topics.

'meta-data' will always be available however the contents of the connection will will be secured.

Similar to sending a postcard vs a sealed letter - a postcard has all its information in clear text, the meta-data (source and destination), as well as the contents (payload).
A sealed envelope discloses the sender, recipient and the envelope size, but the contents are secured.

Encryption works in a similar (but more complex) manor, its not that one has anything to hide, it's just that it's not anyone's business what is inside the envelope.

Secure connections prevent eavesdropping, so services can't read the content and profile you, as well the more you secure, the harder it is to workout if your communication is important.
Most of the you probably already use, will be using encryption, the focus here is to understand which the encryption has been used, and to ensure its fit for purpose.

HTTPS - used for secure webpages
SSH - used for secure terminal connections, and file transfers (ssh, sftp, scp)
Mail protocols SMTP , POP/IMAP have their Secure equivalents (smtps, pops imaps)

TOP TIP = Encrypt wherever possible
of course the caveat is, encryption is only as good as the password securing it, and the trust of the 3rd party you're connecting with..!!

How to Improve

Quick TIPs

Below are some quick and easy tips to improve your online privacy and security:

  • “if it's free, you're the product” - well not quite true, but it's something to think about when you're signing up to online services, what information are you sharing.
  • Use different passwords for each service. Re-use of passwords is a major issue, and well known technique to further compromise a user.
  • Use a password manager (or even a notepad) to help you record all your newly updated passwords.
  • Longer passwords are better, aim for 16+ (think 4x four letter words) or even better a phrase.
  • Review your online services.. do you need all of them?
  • Review the privacy/security settings on those services ? Many defaults are open, and are for the benefit of the service, not the user.. lock it down. - does that services really need to know you DOB ?
  • Diversify your services. Companies provide many services, and we just them out of convenience. That's many ways to collect data about you. - Consider using alternate providers for each different services type.
  • Once it's in cyberspace, it's hard to get back.
  • Do a web search for your name, full name, nickname, or most used aliases.. Surprised !!

Changing your approach

Detailed information below, but here is a overview of a privacy conscious approach:

  • Keep software up-to date - software is continually getting updated with security and bug fixes and new features. There is no 'good' reason to remain on an older versions.
  • Review DNS settings, rather than use ISP defaults, change to a open and free alternative.
  • Browser privacy add-ons - Greatly improves privacy and limits 3rd party content like tracking and ads.
  • Web browser private mode - further limits local retention.
  • HTTPS where possible - reduces clear text connections, make it mandatory for any login, and when private info is displayed.
  • Homepage - set it to something else. keeping your OS or Broswer defaults is not helping you. Set it to something static, your new search provider, or a blank page. (private mode has no homepage).
  • Use a different web search tool, and never login - reduces profiling (bubble).
  • Use an privacy focused email provider not linked to your operating system or your browser. This will also help to separate you services.
  • Try not use your email as your authentication account - limits sharing and profiling - your provider may support multiple aliases.
  • Do not use account linking/login services like 'login with google/facebook' - limits sharing and profiling
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible - greatly reduces account compromise.
  • Adv - Use the TOR browser - improves anonymity when viewing webpages.
  • Adv - Use a VPN - improves privacy and anonymity, and reduces Geo-blocked content.

Web Browser

Changing your browser is often one the first changes people will make. There are many web browsers available, most are cross platform (firefox, chrome, opera..) and a few are platform specific (ie, edge, safari and mobile variants).
Selecting a browser is a personal choice, however not all respect your privacy.
Firefox (and derivatives), de-googled chromium, brave etc, have proven to be the better ones.
Depending on the browser, using private-mode/incognito-mode will improve privacy, but is not a silver bullet - extending your privacy/security by leveraging addons (below).
As mentioned above, keep the browser up-to date, use addons, use private mode, ensure https and review settings.

Browser Addons

Several popular browser add-ons available for your favorite browser. Firefox remains the most independent, and these add-ons below are generally recommended.
ad blockers, script blockers, tracking blockers or combination blockers..

Low to No user impact:

  • Ad-Block Plus
  • U-Block Origin
  • Privacy Badger
  • Decentraleyes

Med to High user impact:

  • NO Script
  • HTTPS Everywhere

Coupled with Private Mode will really improve your browsing experience, and limit information sharing, tracking and telemetry.
ern internet and was designed with security baked in.

For years google, yahoo, bing and friends have been the default search engines. these orgs have been gladly harvesting the data you have been freely giving them.
Your search results compiled over time build a nice user profile, coupled with their other services like mail, chat, contact and cloud storage, enable these providors to know things about you long forgotten.

When considering your privacy, changing your internet search engine is a great place to start.
Ditching google and selecting one or two of the plenty of excellent alternatives. some use a different collection and indexing engine, and others perform meta searches across all available data sources.
Some use google with anonymous features, and some search several providers and aggregate the data back , and others do a combination.

Just remember a good search engine will not track you, will not ask you to login, will encrypt/obfuscate the results, and limit retention of the search history.
Many search engines generate revenue by advertising, but not all get the balance right.
Search via a Private-Mode tab.. with one of the following, and your already ahead of the pack.

Easy to Use:

Results vary:

  • SearX - public or self hosted instances, clear or tor, full customization.
  • - German, Meta-Search engine.


email predates the mod


Domain Name System (DNS) is a core part of the internet. Its the system that converts/translates people friendly common names (host/domain names) to IP addresses which networks inc internet use for routing.


Virtual Private Networks (VPN)'s are helpful, they tunnel all connections to a selected endpoint, effectively positioning your client device elsewhere.
Better to Pay for one. Free VPNs are helpful to get you started and try providers, but the free versions will have limitations, connections, destinations or throughput.
no-log vpns are popular, they of course need to log something if they are going to bill you, however they claim not to log what your doing and where your going. - place your trust carefully.

For maximum privacy, terminate in countries that value privacy, eg Switzerland, Romania, Malaysia, Netherlands, and avoid countries that are involved in mass surveillance, data sharing or censor.
Some good reading:


Tor Project has lots of info online. They make a create Browser Bundle aimed at improving privacy and anonymity.
Easy to install and use, its a security enhanced version of firefox, and included a good number of add-ons.
Tor (onion routing) uses a sequence of connections to access services, so that the 1st node know your ip, then middle nodes only know the 1st node and the next node, and the last node knows the destination.
Tor browser can be used for normal http/https websites, as well as access tor onion (hidden) services.
There are a number of other file sharing and communication protocol that work on the tor network.

tor project tor onions tor bridges
searx tor list


5 eyes boo , USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
nice countries, Switzerland, Romania, Iceland, Malaysia, Spain

wiki/privacy.txt · Last modified: 2022/02/22 09:52 by maja