It’s not an exaggeration to say that your smartphone is the most personal device you have. The fact it’s always with you, however, sure does generate a lot of information about your habits.
Your location history, Google searches, web browsing habits, app usage, and even recordings of your voice talking to the Google Assistant.
Yes, your phone and the Google services powering it are incredibly useful in many tangible ways. And if you use a strong password and two-factor authentication, your information is likely safer on Google’s servers than just about anywhere else.
But it’s not paranoia to take stock from time to time of just how much you’re handing over to Google or if you’d instead not place all your digital privacy eggs in the same basket. Here are some simple tips about how you can stay in control of all that critical Informa IMEI Stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity Number. It is a unique identification/serial number that all mobile phones/smartphones/anything that has baseband. It usually is 15 digits long. The IMEI number can be found on the sticker behind your phone or under the battery pack. You can also check your IMEI number by entering *#06# into the keypad of your phone. What’s in this video: This video shows a technique which will help you to change the IMEI number of your android phone. This will improve your phone’s IMEI number after each reboot, thus making it untraceable. Basic Requirements: Rooted Phone with Xposed Framework installed.
We all have the phone these days, carrying it everywhere anywhere we would like to take it. Taking phones with us is a legit thing nowadays. You can’t step out of the house without having your phone with you — so many reasons to follow with that.
You need to take your phone. But you are anxious about the fact that your phone is being tracked. It can be how to make your phone untraceable through the sim card — the carrier or through the IMEI the phone has.
There are many ways. People are even discovering the other person through different means. Like apps, Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, even Instagram. So many apps that can also trace the location, so you better be safe at your side. “That’s why I figured what’s one thing you can’t hack, and that’s a piece of plastic,” said Sorrentino.
Everyone has their own reasons for wanting their phone to be untraceable, but traditional methods of hiding your phone number, like dialling “*67” before the call, will only disguise your caller ID number. Your ANI (automatic number identification) is still sent out and can be traced if the person/company you’re calling subscribes to this service. To make a call truly untraceable, you have to get a specific type of phone and take certain precautionary measures when using it.
Generally speaking, all cell phones are traceable. Sometimes this can be helpful, such as when you need emergency 911 services. But other times most people do not want to found, such as by an ex-boyfriend or a pesky salesperson. By taking some preventive steps, you can make your cell phone untraceable.
Your phone knows where you are standing or sitting at this moment. Most people know that. How else could you use GPS? While location tracking is essential for directions, it also helps big tech sell you things.
“Targeted advertising” is a massive phenomenon. Companies are eager to flood your screen with ads, which are primarily influenced by your day-to-day habits. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and many others make money off mobile ads, and they too need this information to power their data mining machines.
It’s not just you. Why is your phone allowed to track you and share that data with unknown third parties? In short, you gave permission. Typical data-sharing policies are buried within pages and pages of privacy policies and terms of agreements.Companies usually have a reasonable explanation, such as Apple tracking personal calls and emails to prevent fraud, which many consider an invasion of privacy.
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Location technology in cell phones could be helpful when looking for the nearest gas station, but it can also enable others to retrieve information about your whereabouts, legally or illegally. One method of location tracking involves the use of wireless signals to triangulate your position between cell towers. Another technique uses the GPS radio on your phone to pinpoint your location. A third method uses the Wi-Fi hot spot to which you’re connected to approximate your current position. If you suspect you’re being tracked using your cell phone, disabling any of these features can help prevent tracking.
Turn off the cellular and Wi-Fi radios on your phone. The easiest way to accomplish this task is to turn on the “Airplane Mode” feature. This shuts down both your cell radios as well as the Wi-Fi radio installed inside your phone so that neither of them can connect to their respective networks.
Disable your GPS radio. Some phones have this as a stand-alone setting, while others bundle it into menus like Privacy or Location Settings. Turning off location-based features on your phone can prevent your GPS from being activated, which in turn keeps it from providing your phone’s location. On some phones, enabling “Airplane Mode” will also disable the GPS. Check your phone’s user manual for exact instructions.
On Apple’s iPhone or iPad: Go into your phone’s Settings tab, and then select Privacy. From there, select Location Services. You’ll see a string of apps that use location services. You can choose to disable them all by moving the slider at the top or disable location services only for specific apps. Does Fruit Ninja need to know where you are in the world? Probably not.
It’s important to remember that lots of popular apps like Google Maps, Foursquare and more are pretty dependent on having access to your location data to work to the best of their ability — turning off location services means losing some of your smartphone’s capabilities. But that just might be worth it if you’re ultra-concerned about your Privacy.
On Android: Open the App Drawer, go into Settings, select Location, and then enter Google Location Settings. Here, you can turn off Location Reporting and Location History. Location Reporting feeds your location data to various apps, while Location History stores your whereabouts for future use in searches and software like Google Now. You can also eject your entire location history by selecting “Delete Location History” below Location History.
Shut the phone down completely and remove the battery. This is the easiest way to ensure that you can’t be tracked via your cell phone, but it comes at the price of not being able to use your phone at all. If you need access to any data on your phone, back it up to a PC before you power down your device.
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Buy a GSM network prepaid phone from an electronics store. If you’re unsure whether the phone is GSM or not, ask the customer service representative.
Activate your phone by calling the number found in the instruction manual that came with it. Don’t give your name or address when activating the phone. This will only lead a trail back to you when someone tries to trace your calls.
Make your calls short, and make them away from your home or regular hangout spot. Although the phone can’t be triangulated (when a network service provider uses satellites and cell phone towers to pinpoint your approximate location) when it’s turned off, it can be triangulated when it’s turned on.
Remove the phone’s SIM card (usually found underneath the battery) when you’re done with it. This will ensure that your personal information won’t get into the wrong hands when you throw the phone away.
Dispose of the phone after several uses. Prepaid phones are aptly nicknamed “disposable phones” for a couple of reasons: they’re cheap, and many people choose to get rid of them fairly quickly.
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Get right with Google
Since you’re on Android, using a Google account is essential to buy apps and use the company’s suite of services. Even the privacy-focused Blackphone puts Google services front and centre.
If your goal is to do a little de-Googling maybe because you don’t want the company to know everything about you, the first place to start is the My Activity account centre. This is essentially the dashboard for every instance where your activity touches Google servers. The site is entirely mobile-friendly, so you can attack all these details from your phone or tablet as well as on the desktop.
The amount of information is a little staggering, especially if this is your first time there. For example, touch “Android”, and you’ll see a timeline of the interactions from your phone, such as which apps you’ve used on your phone, tablet, or Android TV. Same goes for Chrome, Search, or Play. There’s also a search function, which is surprisingly a little hit and miss at finding your stuff.
The key to this section is that you can also clean things out. Touch the overflow (three vertical dots) button at the top right, and you’ll have an option to delete details by a specific timeframe. You can also opt for the nuclear option and delete everything if you want a fresh start.
The most exciting addition to this section is found if you use the Google Assistant, which is what powers the artificial intelligence smarts inside the Pixel, Google Home, and Allo. Every voice interaction with Google is recorded, and you can play it back.
It’s a little creepy to know your voice recordings are saved for all time. So you can delete this if you’d like. However, you’re better off acknowledging that this is one of the tradeoffs we make for having an artificial genie always at your disposal. It remembers.
This is where the “delete activity by” button can come in handy. It allows you to delete content from a specific application. Touch Filter by date & product and then select Assistant or any other app you want to seek out. This way, all your voice searches, Google searches, or other interactions are sent away at once.
Returning here often, just to see what’s going on, is also a good idea as a way of ensuring your account is secure and nothing suspicious has taken place.
Location, location, location
So much of how your phone interacts with different apps and services is through your location. Think Google Maps, Google search suggestions, Uber, and other services.
One area you should check is your Google location history. This is a detailed timeline of everywhere your Android device has gone. It’s actually useful, as it’s helped me remember where I went on a particular day. However, it’s easy to understand that some may not want this saved for all time.
Go outside the circle
Along with tightening the reins on your Google account, you can also opt to go dark with some other apps and services you use.
Just like on the desktop, you can browse the web with Chrome in Incognito mode. It’s even more comfortable if you have a Pixel as it’s one of the app shortcuts (press handhold the Chrome icon). This doesn’t save any of your Google searches or web history to your account. However, it doesn’t mean that you’re completely invisible. Your internet service provider and other information are still visible to the server you visit.
For even stronger private browsing, there’s a toolset for using Tor on Android. Orbot uses Tor to create a proxy and scramble your Internet traffic. You then use the Orbox browser to surf the web securely. It’s so secure, and it won’t even let you take a screenshot of the browsing section.
More technical users can also dive into node configuration, bridges, and relays.
Tweak your phone’s location settings
You can prevent iOS and Android from tracking you, but this process isn’t intuitive; the feature is buried inside privacy settings, and its default is to record your daily routine. Known as “Frequent Locations,” it keeps track of where you are and how long you stay there. It even knows where you live and work based on how long you’re there and the number of times you go.
If you find this unsettling, turn the feature off. Here are the necessary steps, but depending on your specific model and operating system, you may need to look around a bit.
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Limit ad tracking
Ending location tracking may sound extreme, which is why you may prefer to combat the ads themselves. iOS and Android also provide built-in options to minimize and limit ad tracking.
These tools will not wholly stop companies from tracking your phone activities, and they won’t limit the number of ads you see. Still, they will allow you to reset your advertising ID and unlink any targeted advertising profiles that are associated with your particular gadget.
Stop Google from tracking your every move
Google services have recently come under fire for storing your location data – even if you’ve tweaked the privacy settings on your iPhone or Android gadgets.
Use a private browser on your phone
Many computer users are familiar with private web browsers. Lesser well-known are the browsers that allow you to search the internet on a mobile device anonymously.
One such app is Mozilla’s free Firefox Focus app. This anonymous mobile web browser blocks advertising, analytics and social trackers by default. It also erases passwords and browsing history after each session.
The mobile versions of Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge also have incognito and InPrivate modes you can use. If you don’t want a mobile browser that’s associated with the big data brokers, you can try the third-party app Dolphin browser.
If you’re on a Samsung smartphone, you can also use the company’s Samsung Internet app. This browser has a built-in ad tracking blocker that will keep other sites from tracking your online activity.
If you don’t like the idea of Google recording all your search terms, alternative engines such as Yippy, DuckDuckGo and Ixquick don’t track you as aggressively.
Check your online accounts
The moment you create an account with a significant company (e.g. Google, Microsoft or Facebook), you begin feeding them data about your location, personality, and preferences. Their algorithms will track your every click, and data will be used for targeted ads or “relevant” posts.
Thankfully, these companies and most advertising firms give you tools to opt-out of personalized ad tracking.
Google and Microsoft, for example, have account dashboards for privacy controls and for checking what it knows about you. Google revamped its ad settings to make it easier for you to understand and limit ad tracking.
Facebook likewise has options for turning off behavioural tracking to keep it from following you around the web. The company is also currently auditing its third-party apps, and they’re now more accessible to view and control.
Opt-out of ads
Believe it or not, you have the power to just opt-out of interest-based advertising – or at least most of it. The Digital Advertising Alliance has a consumer choice page that lets you see which of its participating partners is currently using customized ads on your computer.
When you first visit the website, the Alliance will scan your computer. Once the scan is complete, you’ll be shown a list of these partners.
From there, you can learn more about the practices these companies use for interest-based ads, and opt-out using “opt-out cookies” that are stored in your browser with your preferences.
It’s important to note that doing this won’t remove all of the ads that you see online. Advertisers just won’t be able to serve you targeted ads.
Check your virtual assistants
With the rise of virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant, our smartphones are no longer used strictly for calls and chats — we can now use our voices to command these gadgets themselves.
However, when you utter these virtual assistants’ wake words, the audio file of your voice command is uploaded and saved to Apple, Amazon, or Google’s servers for processing.
Chances are, as with any other tracking information, this data is likely anonymized and run through algorithms that look for behaviour and patterns that can be used for targeted advertising.