Top 10 Tips for Protecting Your Privacy Online

You probably already know this by now, but you are being watched. Governments, Internet service providers, and private organizations are monitoring and recording your online activities. If this concerns you, then consider following some of these tips and learning from this list. Keep in mind this list is meant for the common people, so if you're a privacy advocate or whistleblower, then don't read this list. Also, know that privacy is nearly impossible today, and even if you blindly follow everything on this list, websites and ISPs will still find ways to track you. You won't receive perfect anonymity, but good enough privacy to block most common tracking strategies.
The Top Ten
1 Avoid using Google services

Google is the world's largest spyware/censorship tech corporation. Not only do they collect as much data on its users as possible, but they run a massive censorship campaign to block out websites they don't like, mostly from the alt-right. Don't believe me? Try searching a conspiracy theory on Google, then search the same thing on Bing or DuckDuckGo, and compare the results. Use Searx or DuckDuckGo as your search engine, Firefox for web browsing, and ProtonMail for emails.

The only exception to this rule would be YouTube (owned by Google), since alternatives like Vimeo and Dailymotion have very little content compared to the video platform.

2 Use a Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) will help protect your IP address and keep your ISP from logging your browsing history. It won't make you anonymous nor add additional security to websites, but it will help you if you don't trust your ISP or if you're behind a restrictive firewall (such as a school). If you're looking to completely anonymize your traffic, use the tor browser instead.

I strongly recommend you use a VPN from outside of the five eyes countries (USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia). and ProtonVPN both have good free versions, the latter with unlimited data.

3 Never trust any company with your privacy

When using email or cloud storage, all your data is stored in to cloud servers. You're giving your provider access to all of your sensitive data. For the best privacy, I suggest you encrypt your files before storing them into the cloud with cryptomator. For emails, use an external client like Thunderbird with the Enigmail addon. Download emails and store them locally after six months.

4 Use HTTPS versions of websites

HTTPS encrypts your connections to prevent hackers from accessing and stealing your data. To ensure that you'll always connect to HTTPS, use the Smart HTTPS addon (available on Firefox and Chrome).

5 Use Tor Browser for anonymity

If you're looking to anonymize your traffic, use the Tor browser. Do not maximize the window or install any add-ons (Tor already comes with HTTPS Everywhere). You can also browse the dark web using .onion links, but keep in mind that the dark web, while not illegal itself, is filled with hackers and criminals who buy illegal drugs and weapons. It's definitely not for the faint of heart.

6 Host your own cloud server

If you're currently using Google Drive or Dropbox to store your files, you should consider hosting your own server. Nextcloud makes this really easy. All you need is the Nextcloud software, and something to store your data on (pref. a Raspberry Pi). You don't have to trust large corporations with your data anymore. You are in complete control.

7 Switch to Linux

Windows used to be a good operating system, but the latest version (Windows 10) has became a privacy nightmare, and it doesn't even work well. Unless you're a gamer who absolutely needs Steam and Windows-exclusive games, you should consider installing a Linux distro. Ubuntu and Linux Mint are popular distros for beginners, with the latter being targeted towards Windows users. Fedora is an innovative distro that serves as a testing bed for Red Hat. Debian and Arch are pure community distros, but both are aimed towards advanced users with specific needs.

8 Use uBlock Origin for blocking ads

Adblockers are very popular nowadays since people hate viewing ads. The most popular ones are AdBlock Plus, and uBlock Origin. I recommend the latter since it has no monetization strategy, is completely open source, and does not allow "acceptable" ads. Just know that many websites today are able to detect AdBlockers and will display a popup telling you to turn them off. Thankfully, TheTopTens doesn't do this. In fact, they even let you disable third-party advertising (registered users only) without using AdBlock. This shows how underappreciated the admins are (even though this site is still messed up in many ways).

On second thought, since I'm in CAPTCHA hell right now (I'm being spammed by them. I've probably had to do 100+ while making this list.), my next list will probably be "Top Ten reasons why the admins are too mentally incompetent to run this site". But nobody will ever know because this comment will likely suffer from mass censorship.

9 Use false names
10 Don't use Facebook

If you have to use Social Media, consider using a decentralized service that allows free speech, such as Mastodon or Diaspora. (though not decentralized) would've been a good alternative to reddit if it wasn't a safe haven for the alt-right.

The Contenders
11 Use good Internet security software
12 Always read the privacy policy

If a website or software has a privacy policy, read it. I know, it sounds boring and nobody ever reads those things, but they contain important things about the site and how it tracks you. By not reading the terms and lying about agreeing to them you're blindly allowing websites and software to spy on you.

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