Can minimalism protect your privacy?
Minimalism in its purest form refers to performing an action with as little effort as possible. Also, as a noun, it refers to living a life that only requires the bare essentials. This means avoiding overcomplicating or oversaturating your life in general. Because of this, it is not a surprise that it has become a lifestyle for some members of our global community. Additionally, it has also turned into a viable method in psychology analysis and a mantra that many live by.
However, there are different forms of minimalism depending on the area that it is being utilized in. And in today’s article we are going to focus on why minimalism can be quite useful to protect your online privacy, security and identity. So without wasting any more time, let us go right into the nitty-gritty of technological minimalism and its potential benefits.
What is technological minimalism?
Minimalism, when speaking of technology, refers to not overusing gadgets, devices and other types of technological applications in your everyday life. Admittedly, there are a plethora of different hardware and software examples that we utilize on a daily basis. However, while we do use something like our smartphones constantly, we also tend to keep some apps around, despite only having used them once. While most of us would not even notice that a given app has been on our device for a long time, it serves as a potential entry point for hackers and snoopers to collect your personal data without you even noticing. Things become even more precarious when that given application has not been updated in a while. This can lead to potential issues not having been patched and your security will be left at risk of being breached and your information - potentially stolen.
This is where the concept of minimalism can come into effect. In its simplest form, minimalism states that you should only keep applications, software and hardware that you constantly use in either your daily routine or your job. Additionally, the methodology also involves not keeping anything that is not up to date and up to par with the current security trends and requirements of the market. Overall, having less points of access to your data ultimately means that you will have less entry spaces for potential hackers and less places from which leaks can occur. A handful of examples of such points include social media profiles, smart gadgets and watches, vitals trackers, mobile apps and downloaded software amongst others. But what can you do to implement minimalism in your daily lifestyle?
How do I achieve minimalism when it comes to technology?
There are many divergent things, which you can undertake to lead a more technologically-minimalistic life. However, as we already mentioned, having less space from which information can leak in general is essentially the core principle in terms of achieving technological minimalism. Here are some of our suggestions.
Avoid downloading files and installing software from untrusted sources
A very obvious thing to avoid at a first glance, it is actually surprising that many of us still download random software from unregulated sources. The Web has become quite monetized over the last couple of decades, making many vendors, retailers and service providers in need of requiring payment in return for their goods or services.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to many users trying to search, find and download files and programs from all kinds of different websites on the Web. However, such ‘cracked’ applications often come equipped with different activity monitoring scripts that are also capable of capturing and storing your data or personal information.
Moreover, in some cases, the software which is being downloaded and installed will not be used more than a couple of times. This means that it will just stay on your device, collecting data in the background without you noticing. Furthermore, because it has been downloaded from another place and not from the original intended location, updates will also not be able to be applied to it, leaving any potential exploits, which it will come along with, unattended. Consequently, it is absolutely vital that you only get any software from the primary source.
Additionally, make sure to update it as soon as a patch is available so that you can avoid any problems in the future. Nevertheless, you should also ensure to remove any unused apps from your device as well, which will also support minimalism and preserve your privacy and information.
Beware of applications that can collect your data
Given that Web 2.0 is universally recognized as the web of advertising. Therefore, it is unsurprising that a large majority of the companies that sell items or services online are constantly outsourcing user feedback and utilizing it along with their data in order to make their products better. This improvement, however, comes at quite the hefty price for most users, as sometimes their private data is also collected. Furthermore, once stored, it is much easier to have it fall into the wrong hands.
Over the years, there have been a number of examples worldwide of cases in which user data has been leaked or sold to third party providers. The companies responsible have not been small start-ups either. Rather these are social media platforms and large online retailers.
Due to this, you must check whether your hardware and apps are collecting any of your data. You can disable settings such as location tracking, log and history keeping and recommendations as these are all examples of information that can be collected without you realizing it.
Devices such as smart watches and progress, fitness and travel tracking apps should also be avoided. Social media is something that you ought to also carefully consider. The more information you share on such platforms, the easier it is for others to steal your data. Remember, minimalism in technical terms refers to having a lesser number of potential access points for experienced hackers and this involves sharing less information and not using a wide range of devices that are capable of collecting it.
Remove unused applications, extensions and software
To reiterate what was mentioned before - to achieve minimalism you need to be reducing the amount of data-providing apps, which you are currently using. Having unused software or apps in general and browser extensions significantly increases the chances of your privacy being breached. Ensure that you delete and remove anything that you do not use. Worst case scenario - you can simply reinstall the application if you are required to use it again.
Clear your cache & delete cookies
Cookies are small information units that are deployed to hold data for certain users and their session when they visit a given website for the first time. They are necessary in order for most websites to operate normally, however, they can also be a vulnerability in relation to your privacy. Most websites will offer you to not accept some cookies, but in most cases you will need to approve of the most essential ones. Consequently, this will mean that your data and information can still be compromised. Most browsers nowadays come with features and options that allow you to automatically delete cookies and other cached information when you close the browser. You can also do this manually. Alternatively, you can get a privacy-oriented browser like Brave, which automatically takes care of your security while you are online inlcuding managing unnecessary metadata. Ultimately, it is important to have as few session tracking tokens as possible.
Utilize encrypted applications
Finally, you should definitely consider using an encrypted version of your most favorite apps that you regularly use. For example, everyone uses email regularly along with texting apps. Additionally, we all surf the Web daily, meaning that you are highly recommended to consider using some applications, which can offer you data encryption, which will inevitably result in better privacy and security. Our suggestions would be to use ThunderBird as your email client, Brave as your browser and DuckDuckGo as your search engine. This combination of software will keep you safer online and will provide substantially less entry points for any hackers, which will help to incorporate minimalism.