I Asked Reddit’s “r/privacy” What Tools They Use to Protect Themselves— Here’s What They Said.

ODIN aims to improve the world through a network of open source cooperatively built mobile applications with a focus on privacy and decentralization.

Introduction

We want ODIN to be synonymous with private and secure. We care about our community and are always looking to inform around best practices when it comes to user privacy — regardless of whether the technology stems from our in-house suite of products and services.

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If this is all new to you, have a good read through some of the previous few months of ODIN progress.

The following is for entertainment purposes only.

Reddit — The Internet’s Front Page

Reddit can be a massively useful tool if you know where to go. Over the weekend, I popped over to r/privacy to hear what the front page of the internet’s power privacy users had to say when it comes to protecting yourself against big data.

Hardware

You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you’re going to have a strong superstructure. — Gordon B. Hinckley

Starting with premium hardware that avoids data mining bloatware is step one in building a privacy-centric ‘superstructure’. I was surprised that no-one chimed in with the hardware they’re currently using, so I thought I’d throw a wild-card into the ring.

“The Librem 15 is the first ultra-portable workstation laptop that was designed chip-by-chip, line-by-line, to respect your rights to privacy, security, and freedom. Every hardware and software component — and everything we do — is in line with our belief in respecting your rights to privacy, security, and freedom. We know you will be happy with the results.” — Purism

Three words: Purism Kill Switches

Tired of wondering if your device truly is air-gapped? Is it pinging off of free available local wifi? What does that airplane even mean? Purism made these intrusive thoughts a thing of the past. No more stickers over your camera. Toggle one of two physical hardware switches, and the device’s Bluetooth and wifi signals both inbound and out, as well as the Camera and Microphone, are off.

Now with a physical toggle switch, when your camera and microphone are switched off, you know they are off. Wireless and Bluetooth are combined in a second hardware switch to control all your radio signals inbound and outbound.

Browsers

Web browsers took up a large swath of the discussion around daily privacy protection, no surprise considering the vast majority of the average consumer’s high-risk behaviors will happen within a web browser. Amongst the mainstream contenders, Firefox got the most love.

“Firefox Multi-Account Containers lets you keep parts of your online life separated into color-coded tabs that preserve your privacy. Cookies are separated by container, allowing you to use the web with multiple identities or accounts simultaneously.” -rabicanwoosley

Lesser known, but intensely respected was that of the Tor Browser.

Software

A few users suggested StandardNotes as being useful for storing written documentation locally on your machine. This logic makes sense considering, it doesn’t matter how secure the means of exchange (email, messenger, file sharing, etc.) is if there remains a point of vulnerability at the source of the document.

Standard Notes is free, makes use of AES-256 encryption, is open source, and available on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux. Standard Notes also makes use of both online and offline access, and there is no cap on the number of devices.

Plug-ins

Reddit User, rabicanwoosley suggests uMatrix, described as:

“Point & click to forbid/allow any class of requests made by your browser. Use it to block scripts, iframes, ads, Facebook, etc.”

Basically, it’s a permissions matrix for sub/domains to access web resources by type, think of it a bit like an application firewall inside your browser. It is said to be for more advanced users, it also provides an awesome text-based filter system which is very powerful.

Example pic of GUI: https://i.stack.imgur.com/IIwgX.png” -rabicanwoosley

It not only makes your experience more private and secure, but it also makes it more serene. Use this plug-in to ‘automatically prevent any class of requests made by your browser.’

Books

Extreme Privacy

For the past five years, Michael Bazzell has been helping celebrities, billionaires, and everyday citizens disappear completely from public view. He is now known in Hollywood as the guy that “fixes” things. His previous books about privacy were mostly REACTIVE and he focused on ways to hide information, clean up an online presence, and sanitize public records to avoid unwanted exposure. This 370-page textbook is PROACTIVE. It is about starting over. It is the complete guide that he would give to any new client in an extreme situation. It leaves nothing out, and provides explicit details of every step he takes to make someone completely disappear, including document templates and a chronological order of events. The information shared in this book is based on real experiences with his actual clients, and is unlike any content ever released in his other books. The stories are all true, with the exception of changed names, locations, and minor details in order to protect the privacy of those described.

What I learned

People don’t like redundancy and after reflection, I don’t blame them. More than one user came forward with their distaste for my post.

Reddit’s PersonalItern

You can do the research yourself, the questions you’re asking are super basic and with actual effort you can find the answers in this sub by using the search bar.

You’re basically writing an article but you’re too lazy to do the research so you’re asking these basic questions that require minimal effort to find answers to.

Reddit’s billdietrich1

It seems like every week someone announces they’re starting a list. Do we really need 500 lists going over the same ground again and again ?

And beyond some basics, much of your security and privacy is more dependent on your behavior, and that of your friends and family, than on tools. If your friends and family put all your info in their phone and email Contacts lists, all of that info is going to be harvested and sold.

While I initially felt stung by the comments, I mean, ‘I was only here to help spread the word and help people protect their privacy, right?’ I realize that my approach may have been interpreted as last than ideal.

About the author

Christopher Reeder is ODIN Society’s Lead Content Strategist and Technical Writer

ODIN Society is a non-profit cooperative of digital engineers holding legal status with the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority. ODIN’s governance exists both on and off of our proprietary blockchain, allowing for innovative hybrid governance solutions.

Day to day with ODIN, I handle aspects of project management, general community oversight, the production of in house copy, the development of both technical and opinion based articles, and publication of our organization’s weekly update.

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Privacy tools and knowledge supported by ODIN Society. We develop and support non-profit and charitable projects. https://www.reddit.com/r/OdinBlockchain/

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