How to stay anonymous when using your smartphone

In the age of personal information farming and database breaches, it doesn’t always hurt to be a bit paranoid about your online activities.

Smartphones play a large role in this environment, as we use them for everything from navigation or ordering food to our home address to texting loved ones and browsing the web.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve your anonymity online.


Network

One of the easiest ways to prevent your ISP from tracking your online activity is to use a virtual private network (VPN).

VPN services can provide you with anonymity along with additional functionality, such as selecting which region you would prefer to access a website from.

These services can often limit your speed however, especially if you use a free platform instead of a paid service.

Whether you want to prioritise speed and pay for a stable service or use a free option, these services can be ideal for ensuring your online privacy.

After subscribing to a VPN, you will be able to connect to your chosen service by entering the data and login information provided by your VPN service into your smartphone.

On Android, this option is usually found in the Wireless & Networks settings menu. It is under the General settings menu on iOS devices.

NordVPN logo


Messaging

WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform in South Africa, but it does require users to sign up with a mobile number.

If you are concerned about divulging your mobile number to use a messaging platform, you could always sign up for a service like Wire.

Wire encrypts all your data, including voice calls and video conferences, and does not require you to enter a phone number to sign up.

Blockchain enthusiasts also have another option in the form of Status Messenger – which is a censorship-resistant and private messenger built on the Ethereum blockchain.

Status header


Browsing

If you use Google as your search engine or Chrome as your browser, your browsing data can be collected.

An alternative is an anonymous browsing mode like Incognito Mode or InPrivate browsing in Chrome and Edge respectively. This does not save your browsing history or your cookies.

If you are looking to use a browser which offers more privacy however, you might want to select the Tor browser for Android.

Additionally, Tor will let you access the dark web on your smartphone.

Tor smartphone


Storage

If you have sensitive information stored on your smartphone, there are services you can use to protect your files.

These include encryption and password-locking options such as Samsung’s Secure Folder, which lock files and folders behind a password or biometrics.

Other services like Huawei’s PrivateSpace allow users to have a clone of their system locked behind a password.

If your device does not have any native file locker functionality, it is simple to browse the Google Play Store for highly-rated software. Users must double-check that the app they are downloading is reputable and legitimate.


Now read: Spotify resets some user passwords due to “suspicious activity”

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How to stay anonymous when using your smartphone