5 Effective ways to stay Anonymous on Android.
We reach for our phones when we wake up, and this is often the last thing we look at before bed. In the meantime, we use it for several different purposes, be it making a call or text message, browsing the web, or remembering our confidential passwords stored on our phone. But we hardly knew that the smartphones we own were used by someone else.
Governments, telephone companies and many third-party advertising companies collect all sorts of personal information about you, often without your consent or knowledge or without your knowledge. And with an Android phone at your fingertips, where all calls and messages are intercepted by your cellular operator, as well as location and personal data collected by various Google services, this is the most vulnerable device to privacy.
So is it worth ditching Android altogether? Absolutely not!
Fortunately, there are certain steps that, if implemented, can protect your personal information without access to any services or companies.
Note. You can never be 100% private, but there are some of the best industry standards for staying anonymous on Android. So let us know, at no additional cost, which devices can track you and how to disable them individually.
Related article: 12 effective ways to stay anonymous online
How to be anonymous on Android
First step: Boycott Google forever!
So, we need to avoid logging into google on first boot. Now, if you are already logged in, you need to encrypt your phone first and then format it, as this will rob you of your chances of data recovery. However, if you are keenly interested in privacy and have a rooted Android smartphone, then it is better to flash any custom privacy-friendly ROMs such as LineageOS or completely open source OmniROM. Thus, you can skip the firmware of GApp applications that are already preinstalled in the AOSP ROM. Also, you can get more information on why you are better off using a custom ROM over the official AOSP ROM.
Of course, you will have to sacrifice something (for example, search for applications on Google Play, navigate Google Maps). But if this is the price you are willing to pay to maximize your privacy protection, then in the article below we have the best replacement for these apps.
Advice . You might be surprised to learn how much data Google actually has about you:
|Google Ads Profile||Search History||Location-history|
|YouTube View History||YouTube Requests||Connected Device List|
|Google Archive||Security Settings||Google Services Control Panel|
Step 2: modify Android settings
2.1 disable GPS and location settings
Have you ever wondered why Google Maps is so accurate with traffic? Google, by default, gets access to your device’s location, ID, and more, every time and everywhere you go. It uses this data to keep track of the number of Android devices in a given region for its traffic services, etc. In addition, it tags your geolocation data with every click. So, the next time you share your photos with someone, you will also share some important parameters with them, such as your location.
So, to disable location, you need to go to Settings and select Location . Flip the switch to the position OFF in the upper right corner of the screen. Then go to Google Location History and turn off the switch in the upper right corner. Also, delete the old location history by clicking Delete Location History .
Related article: How to spoof GPS location on Android
2.2 disable pre-installed apps / bloatware
Many Android phones often come with unnecessary software from their carrier or device manufacturer. These apps tend to take up memory space, drain your system erratically, drain your battery, and worse, may even launch at startup and collect anonymous user data.
You can disable these apps by going to Settings Apps . On Android 5.0 or earlier, you may need to go to the ALL tab to see your system apps, and on a later Android version, you can do this by clicking Three-dot menu in the upper right corner of the screen. Select the application you want to disable, and then click the Disable button to disable it completely.
Tip: If you have a rooted Android device, you can uninstall it using apps like Link2SD, AppMgr III, etc.
Related article: How to Uninstall Android Apps Quickly
2.3 Disable all Google stock apps
As with the apps from the manufacturer, you also get a lot of Google apps pre-installed that are hardly used every day. They take up system space, block RAM, and collect user data while running in the background.
Disabling Google apps is similar to disabling any preinstalled apps on the system. You can follow the same steps as above to disable the pre-installed system applications.
2.4 Disable backup and restore option
If you leave automatic recovery enabled, all your apps and network-related data will be saved in the Google space. This means that all of your confidential data such as messages, call history, photos, including your passwords, are periodically backed up to their remote servers.
Now this step is not necessary if you missed the Google sign-in option during download. But just in case, if you have this option turned on, you need to turn it off immediately. You can do this by going to Settings Backup & Reset . Disable the “ Back up my data ” and “ Automatic recovery ” option.
2.5 Disable Google keyboard permissions
There has been a lot of talk on the Internet that Google keyboard uses a lot of unnecessary device permissions . With so many permissions for a simple keyboard app, it definitely looks suspicious. With access to your contact cards, accounts on your device, storage contents, unannounced file downloads, and most importantly, full Internet access, the Google keyboard can practically control everything on your device.
You can either switch to a more privacy-friendly keyboard app, or turn off these permissions entirely (Android 6.0+ users only). To disable these permissions, go to Settings Applications . Search for Google Keyboard Permissions and disable permissions according to your preference.
Tip: If you have a rooted Android device, you can manage app permissions using apps like Xprivacy.
Step 3: Replace some default Android apps
Now that we have ditched all Google services, we need an alternative for PlStoreore, Maps, Mail, etc. So here we have compiled a list of all privacy-focused apps that can be easily used as replacements for older ones.
3.1 Google Play – Aptoide / F-Droid / Amazon Appstore
Aptoide is the next best alternative to the Google Play store. It offers the same user experience as Google Play and has a vast collection of 0.7 million apps / games. The apps are well categorized and, interestingly, also offers some popular paid apps for free, but filled with ads.
F-Droid is the best place for security and privacy related apps. It has many open source applications that are open source to everyone.
Amazon Appstore is the next best place after Aptoide. With 0.6 million apps and games, it offers some well-known paid apps for free (including in-app purchases) and also offers one paid app for free every day.
Related article: 8 Google Play Store Alternatives
3.2 Google Maps – MapQuest / OsmAnd – Maps & Navigation
With MapQuest, you no longer feel the absence of Google Maps. It has all the advanced features like GPS navigation with voice prompts, finding nearby points of interest and more. It also offers some basic features such as saving your work / home address, automatic and alternative redirects optimized for real-time traffic, and Uber and Car2go services.
OsmAnd is an open source application that also works offline. It has all the basic features like satellite view, turn-by-turn voice instructions, automatic re-routing, nearby attractions and more.
Related article: Comparison of 4 Best Offline Maps Apps for Smartphones
3.3 Gmail – K-9 Mail
K-9 Mail is an open source email client with many advanced security features. Several authentication methods are used on the server side, such as TLS client side certificates and CRAM-MD5 encryption and also offers support for STARTTLS and over TLS . It also offers support PGP / MIME encrypted email when used with an external application called OpenKeychain . ( How to use OpenKeyChain
3.4 Google Chrome – GNU IceCatMobile
Related article: Best Google Chrome Privacy Extensions (Desktop)
3.5 Calendar – Jorte Calendar
It is one of the most popular calendars with many advanced features. With some basic functions like adding daily events, task list. calendar of events, syncing also aims to provide some additional features such as creating diary entries with images, sharing links to calendar events, widgets, cloud services and more.
Related article: Comparison of the 5 best calendars for Android
3.6 Camera – CameraV
CameraV encrypts every image or video captured with a password, and allows you to store personal notes or tags in any image or video. It can also store some additional data from your device’s sensors and has a built-in secure camera that also supports selfie mode.
Related article: 10 Android Apps to Hide Your Private Photos and Videos
3.7 Phone and Messaging – Alarm for Private Messages and Calls (was TextSecure and Redphone)
Signal is completely free, open source and the best secure replacement for calling and messaging. For messaging, this is similar to a regular chat app, providing some basic functionality like group conversations, images and video messages.
The Calling feature ensures crystal clear conversations, allowing you to call long distance numbers at no additional cost. Calls and messages are protected and are not stored on any online servers on the Internet. This means that no one – your ISP, SIM card operator, or government – can eavesdrop on your conversations.
Related article: 6 Things You Need to Know About Email Encryption
Step 4: Use VPN Services
VPN is the best privacy tool an Android smartphone can have. A VPN allows you to access the Internet through a secure server provided by a VPN provider. All data transmitted between your phone and this “VPN server” is securely encrypted by changing the IP address previously assigned to your device. It provides privacy by hiding your online activity from government and ISP, geo-spoofing your location, allows P2P downloads, and also protects you from hackers on an unknown Wi-Fi network.
Related article: 5 Best Free VPN Services for 2016
Note. Using a VPN can never guarantee anonymity. But using a good VPN without logs can provide a high degree of privacy.
Related article: What is a VPN and why should you use one?
Step 5: Use the Tor Network
Tor is a free and open network that transfers your online data through a series of different servers around the world. In short, when you visit a website, you don’t actually connect to it. Your connection is first encrypted and sent to another server, which encrypts again and transfers it to another server. This continues until it reaches the server of the target website.
Tor has now been available for desktop computers for a long time. But for Android, it was available with some limited features. However, with this new suite of Tor apps, it kind of gives users a secure private connection to browse safely.
Related article: Surfing the Internet Anonymously with the Tor Browser Bundle
5.1 Orbot (Tor Proxy Network)
Orbot, in its simplest form, is a connector between your phone and the Tor network. This is a free proxy application that encrypts your internet traffic and hides your IP address, passing it through a number of servers around the world. Some of its important features are that it is open source , it transmits data over the Tor network for any installed applications (only if it has a proxy function) and you can choose which specific applications to use for Tor.
5.2 Orfox (Tor Browser)
While Orbot connects you to Tor, Orfox allows you to use that connection. Orfox is a simple Firefox browser for Android, but with some minor changes to support privacy enhancement .
It removes Android permissions for camera, contacts, microphone, locations, and NFC, with some features like WebRTC and interaction with Roku and Chromecast devices, and adds Android Java code-level fixes to push the entire Java network through Orbot’s local proxy … net.
Conclusion: effective ways to stay anonymous on Android
The only way to remain anonymous on the Internet is to not be on the Internet at all. But since this is not possible for most of us, these tips will help you control your privacy.
However, if you think I am missing something, let me know in the comments. Also, if you have any questions about installing or configuring any of the steps mentioned above, ask them below.