Privacy

Why you should check your privacy and app settings often

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We live our lives online now and online privacy has become a major concern these days. With the growing number of data breaches, the introduction of new data retention laws, and an increase in government surveillance, the Internet privacy seems to not exist.

Besides, the various mobile apps you use also may leak data without your knowledge. The data leaked reveals a lot about you such as your personal details, personality, traits, online behavior etc.

Your every digital move is being tracked, analyzed, packaged, and sold online.

Your private details shared with advertisers or other data miners is not the only threat to your online privacy. You must be also cautious about government spies as well as the cyber criminals.

The government agencies may keep the citizens under constant surveillance using the vulnerabilities in their smartphones, smart cars, smart TVs and IoT devices in their homes.

Your online privacy gets leaked through your smartphone:

  • When your enable the phone’s location service where your exact location becomes public online.
  • When you are online on social media, all your activities get tracked through cookies.
  • When you connect to public Wi-Fis, you may become a victim of attacks like MITM and identity theft.
  • Your data can be collected by retailers through the Wi-Fis at their stores.
  • When you share private data on apps that you consider as trustworthy.
How to enhance iPhone Security Settings?

Managing the privacy settings of an iPhone is tricky, but let’s make it simple.

iOS 10 Hidden Privacy Settings

Turn Off Location Services

iOS 10 location services are always on. In order to turn those services off, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services. Turn off all those services that you don’t want your phone to use.

Turn Off Parked Location

If you do not want iOS to store the location of every place you visit, go to Settings -> Map -> toggle off Show Parked Location.

Deactivate Events Found in Apps

If you do not want your iPhone to go through your private messages so it can set events in the calendar automatically, go to Settings -> Calendar and toggle off Events Found in Apps.

Turn Off Camera and Microphone Access

Some applications access your camera and microphone. In order to turn them off, go to Settings -> Privacy > Camera or Microphone and turn off the apps that asked for permission.

Turn on Limit Ad Tracking

iPhone collects your data and shows you ads relevant to your search history or Internet usage behavior. You can limit this feature by going to Settings -> Privacy -> Advertising and toggle on Limit Ad Tracking.

iOS 11 /iOS 12 Hidden Privacy Settings

All the settings listed above can be made in the same way on iOS 11 as well. But there are some settings that you need to double-check on iOS 11.

Set Safari Privacy Settings

Go to Settings > Safari and toggle on Block Pop Ups and Prevent Cross-site Tracking. Turn off Camera and Microphone Access, unless you need it. Also, turn on Ask Websites Not to Track Me.

iOS 11 Frequent Locations Setting

If you don’t want iPhone to keep track of your frequent locations, turn the settings off by going to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> System Services -> Frequent Locations and toggle it off.

How to Enhance Android Privacy Settings?

If some android privacy settings are not found, then some of the settings can be setup through Google settings.

Check Settings in Activity Control

Go to https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity and tap the Menu and go to Activity Control. Then you can switch off Voice Tracking, Location Tracking and Search Tracking.

Set App Permissions

To set App permissions go to Settings -> Apps -> App Permissions and then set the permissions of apps as you see fit.

Google privacy settings

Google knows a lot about you and it is also necessary to take some measures to lock down your Google data leakage.

Block email tracking

Every person online will definitely have an email account. There is a way for the senders to know whether you have opened the emails or not, when and how many times you opened the email.

This technique used by both marketing companies and individuals, is called pixel tracking. However, this can be blocked in Gmail.

When you log into your Gmail account, click the gear icon in the upper righthand corner, then select “Settings.” Scroll down to see the “Images” row, and select “Ask before displaying external images” and save. This would break pixel tracking.

Stop location tracking

Google tracks your location wherever you go with your device, using the feature “Location History” even when you are not using a specific Google service.

In order to stop this when you log into your Google account click the circular icon in the upper righthand of the screen. Next, click Google Account” > “Privacy & personalization” > “Location History” > and then toggle the slider to “Paused.”

Delete your purchase history

Google tracks your purchases as well if you are using Gmail. The list of all your purchases is compiled from “[orders] placed using Google services, like Google Play Store, Google Express, or through the Google Assistant” in addition to “Purchase & reservation receipts or confirmations received in Gmail.”

This cant be turned off, by the items can be deleted from the list. In order to do so, go to https://myaccount.google.com/purchases and look under “Gmail confirmations.” Next, click the item you want to remove and select “Remove Purchase” -> “View Email” -> “More” (the three vertical dots on the right side of the screen) -> “Delete this message.”

This has to be done for each item separately.

Stop using Google search

Stop using Google for search and instead, use DuckDuckGo, which is a search engine that doesn’t track you. If you really need to do Google search then do so after logging out of your Google Account. Also try to use different browser, like Firefox, for all your non-Google Account needs.

Enable two-factor authentication

Enable 2FA for your google accounts which provides an extra layer of account security. To enable this feature, go to https://myaccount.google.com/. And then go to “Security” > “2-Step Verification” > re-enter your password > follow the steps to set up the Authenticator app.

Hidden privacy settings in Apps you use the most

There are hidden privacy settings in apps as well which you need to set up.

Facebook

In Facebook app go to Menu -> Settings and Privacy -> Privacy Shortcuts. From here you can set who can see your profile and posts, and who can contact you.

Snapchat

In Snapchat app, go to Settings, choose Contact Me, and under the Who Can, set the option to My Friends so that only your friends can contact you.

Also, in order to limit who can see your stories, go to the settings and look for Who Can. Tap the View My Story option, set it to either My Friends or customize it.

Anyone can easily add you on Snapchat, so this feature can be turned off by going to Settings and turn off See Me in Quick Add.

Also change the settings to hide your location by going to Settings -> See My Location. By checking Ghost Mode you can hide your location.

Instagram

In order to change the privacy settings on Instagram, just tap the profile icon and tap the Settings icon. There you will see Private Account and turn it on.

To conclude, by changing the privacy settings of your apps and devices, you can prevent the data leak to some extent.

Priyanka R
Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Author at Cyber Safe News

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