For a long time, I lived with the idea that I should create a manual for privacy in the 'intersphere'. Share all the knowledge and the tips that I have learned, been given, worked out for myself and generally accumulated that allow us to live, work, learn, share in complete privacy and security at a time when both are becoming scarce resources rather than essentials rights.

I have never claimed to have all the answers and implore you to share any insights that you wish to pass on or correct any oversights or errors on my part. This is just the beginning and I will continue to publish new chapters as and when ready as well as circle back and constantly update the manual that has been amassed to date.

Today, I share the first indexed version of the work, nine chapters and counting...please share. And you can find me via the decentralized.today site or Riot or Telegram or Twitter or Mastodon.  

Stay safe, stay secure.

The Privacy Advocate

Chapter 1 - Google

1.0 Google! Google!! GTF!!! - first published October 23rd 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 1 – Google! Google!! GTF!!!
Today we launch the Privacy Cookbook on decentralize.today Our primary objective is to understand the trackers around you i.e. those invading your privacy and how to eliminate, or at least restrict them, as many as possible. We will also run a series of complimentary articles surrounding standalo…

1.1 Google's AMPs - first published on January 2nd 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 1.1 - Google & their AMPs
As we all know, not many things stand still forever, so as part of our continuing commitment to help you take back your privacy we will be circling back to update and add to The Privacy Cookbook........today we publish a new sub-section from Chapter 1 on Google........and next week we will return w…

Chapter 2 - Domain Name System (DNS)

2.0 DNS - first published on November 22nd 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 2 – Protecting your DNS
We promised you that within this cookbook we will go deeper into the rabbit hole....well, here we go and in this chapter let’s start with something simple! DNS! Most people are not aware what DNS is or what it does.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is one of the foundations of the internet, yet most p…

2.1 NextDNS - first published on November 24th 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 2.1 - DNS - nextDNS
NextDNS - easy adblocking with DoT and DoH On paper, nextDNS would appear to be the Holy Grail when it comes to DNS services, but let’s not get carried away ;) ​nextDNS is basically a DNS service that has an “integrated pi-hole” to the cloud.They use their own proprietary software, so it is not ac…

2.2 DNSCloak - first published on November 26th 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 2.2 - DNS - DNSCloak
DNSCloak is like NextDNS and is an app which runs as a VPN protocol (but only on iOS). It is actually not a VPN as such but a connection for your DNS resolver. DNSCloak lets you select a DoH or DNSCrypt connection to many services that are listed with a description, location etc.Some of these DNS …

Chapter 3 - Ad & Bad Traffic

3.0 Blocking & Filtering - first published on November 28th 2019, updated July 31st 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 3 - Ad and Bad Traffic - Filtering
​The internet is one scary place. Most people wouldn’t know that as they go to their favourite website that they have no idea what else is connecting to their device. I have a crazy example: my Samsung Note 10 had most of the requested connections coming all day from Samsung.com.cn and from Baidu.co…

3.1 Pi-hole - first published on November 30th 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 3.1 - Ad & Bad Traffic - (put it in your..) Pi-hole
Today we’re following up on ad and bad-blockers with a supplemental section on the Pi-hole! In the last entry of the Privacy Cookbook we talked about hostfiles. They’re easy to compile and install on Windows, MacOS and Linux and you can use them as well with DNSCloak on iOS. However, there are be…

3.2 AdGuard Home - first published on December 2nd 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 3.2 - Ad & Bad Traffic - AdGuard Home
AdGuard Home is the next step up when it comes to blocking ads, trackers and all the other nasty BS what haunts the interwebs! We have nextDNS [/privacy-cookbook-chapter-2-1-nextdns/] covered as a possible cloud solution, we have an in-house solution with Pi-hole [/privacy-cookbook-chapter-3-1-put-…

3.3 uBlock Origin - first published on December 4th 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 3.3 - Ad & Bad Traffic - uBlock Origin
Today we’re going to talk about uBlock Origin and if you’ve followed the previous chapters on ad-blocking articles here is a little extra information for you. Even if you are using either of the two ad blocking apps (AdGuard Home or Pi-Hole) please use uBlock Origin [https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/ublock-origin/…

3.4 Browser Security - first published on December 12th 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 3.4 - Browser Security
Today’s Privacy Cookbook is all about browser security. Let’s start with Chrome or Chromium! If it is your main browser, do the following.....use your browser to go to https://www.mozilla.org, to download the latest Firefox and after doing that delete Chrome! Congrats you have fixed the first …

3.5 Browser Security update - beyond Firefox  - first published on July 3rd 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 3.5 - Firefox browser security update
Today’s Privacy Cookbook entry takes us back to browsers For reasons of privacy, I have long been a Firefox user and I’ve even published a chapter on how to make Firefox a better, more privacy focused browser. Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 3.4 - Browser SecurityToday’s Privacy Cookbook is all about b…

Chapter 4 - Virtual Personal Networks (VPNs)

4.0 VPNs - first published on December 8th 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 4 - VPN
Ok,,,,,so you have seen Mr.Robot, or read the news or maybe just developed a common sense that when you are on a public WiFi, that this is potentially a very serious treat to your privacy whether it be your local Starbucks, or an Airport WiFi, wherever...... You can be spied upon by others on the n…

4.1 Providers - first published on December 10th 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 4.1 - VPN - Providers
Be aware.....using a VPN is not without risks and you need to appreciate what it will and what it won’t do for you. It will not keep your browser history secret, it will not provide security for non-secure (HTTP) traffic, it will not provide anonymity. However, if what you are after is to mask you…

4.2 Shadowsocks - first published on December 13th 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 4.2 - VPN - An Outline of Shadowsocks(-ing)
Since the inception of the Great Firewall of China (GFW), people there have needed to bypass that restriction in order to access many of the Internets’ most popular sites and apps. VPNs are commonly used to access blocked content and services, however, in 2012, for a variety of reasons, a developer…

4.3 OpenVPN & PiHole - first published on December 16th 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 4.3 - VPN - OpenVPN+Pi.hole
Today we have a look on how to install OpenVPN+Pi.hole on a digitalocean. Remember it is best if you can pay with crypto but unfortunately there are not many good crypto powered solutions out there! Hetzner is great and gives way more traffic than digitalocean, but they ask for an ID even after paym…

4.4 Algo VPN - first published on December 19th 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 4.4 - VPN - Algo VPN (WireGuard and IKEv2)
We promised you an even easier solution than we proposed in Chapter 4.3 (OPENVPN) so today we cover a setup that allows IKEv2 with strong encrypto (AES-GCM, SHA2 and P-256), and WireGuard with a built-in ad and tracking blocker! This solution is called Algo VPN! https://github.com/trailofbits/algo…

4.5 Multiple big solutions - first published on December 23rd 2019

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 4.5 - VPN - multiple big solutions
Lets be honest, Algo, which we covered in the last chapter of the Privacy Cookbook, is probably the best and easiest solution to get your own VPN installed, up and running. However that doesn’t mean there aren’t other solutions that are only a click or a few lines of script away! Some are provide…

4.6 The Onion - first published on May 1st 2020

TOR Network the onion router
I have previously pointed out in the Privacy Cookbook that by using a VPN it will be possible (and enjoyable) to watch the Bundesliga (post C-19) or Netflix USA when you are somewhere else in the world, but it is still a single point of failure when it comes to privacy. Sure it encrypts your browsin…

Chapter 5 - Cellphone Security

5.0 Metadata - first published on January 9th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 5 - Cellphone Security - Metadata
Welcome to Chapter 5 of the Privacy Cookbook, and since you’ve made it this far, or you are just tuning in, it probably indicates that you are someone who really cares about their privacy! And so you should, so welcome and let’s now take a look at cellphone security starting with the dreaded metada…

5.1 iOS - first published on January 12th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 5.1 - Cellphone Security - iOS
Before we dig deeper into Android and other phone manufacturers, let’s get iOS out of the way. The newest iOS has a chip which submits your location to Apple every time you switch off your phone.even if you have location services on or off! And it will pinpoint your whereabouts even if you are usi…

5.2 Samsung - first published on January 15th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 5.2 - Cellphone Security - Samsung
After covering iOS in our last entry, we are focusing on Android and most specifically on Samsung devices...which could be a little tricky! Let us start by stating that we think that Samsung is awesome! if you have a top of the line device like the Note 10 or the S10 series, then you have not only…

5.3 Android - first published on January 18th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 5.3 - Cellphone Security - Android
Android is one of the greatest tracking tools in the world. Google (the do good company that has more evil than the devil itself) is embedded deeply into Android and so probably knows more about than your own mother does. It starts when you turn on your cellphone and you get invited to create a …

5.4 root & custom ROM - first published on January 21st 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 5.4 - Cellphone Security - root and custom ROM
Having previously covered Samsung [/privacy-cookbook-chapter-5-2-cellphone-security-samsung/] specific phones and stock android [/privacy-cookbook-chapter-5-3-cellphone-security-android/], let’s go the extra mile and talk now about rooted phones. On XDA developers forum [https://www.xda-developers.com/…

5.5 Apple - first published on January 24th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 5.5 - Cellphone Security - A Rotten Apple and a Cinderella Story
I think we can all agree that if you want a cellphone that is 100% private then don’t use a cellphone! Cellphones will (very nearly) always be tracking devices! Simple as that! Now the question is what do you really need it for? Is it social media? And if so, is it something like Twitter? If yes, …

5.6 Your daily drive (software) - first published on January 29th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 5.6 - Cellphone Security - Your daily drive (software)
If you’ve been following this last chapter then you will realize that we try to get you away from both Google and iCloud services as much as possible. That said, you still need some other ways to stay organized but with privacy and security. Let’s now dig into what to use to have your phone experie…

5.7 Email encryption - first published on January 31st 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 5.7 - Cellphone Security - Email encryption
Today we would like to introduce you to GnuPG encryption on Android for FairEmail and within mail on iOS. Before we do this I’d like to mention you can use TutaNota or ProtonMail (sadly on Android you won’t get push notifications, as the app relays on Google Services) which both offer email encry…

5.8 Battlefixes for non-rooted smartphones - first published on February 5th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 5.8 - Cellphone Security - Battlefixes for non-rooted smartphones
We’ve reached the final section of Chapter 5 of the Privacy Cookbook which deals with one final area (and it is quite significant) namely some guidance, suggestions and recommendations for those who do not root their devices and prefer/chose to use them as delivered. Firstly and very frankly, we i…

5.8.1 f-droid - first published on April 17th 2020

dt.gl - privacy cookbook - chapter 5.8.1- f-droid
The beauty of having the Privacy Cookbook online here is that as it grows, I can return to earlier chapters and add additional sections or provide updates, corrections/amendments and new information or developments. The only constant is change and given the rate of change, it is great to have a liv…

Chapter 6 - PCs, Desk & Laptops

6.0 PCs, Desk & Laptops - first published on February 7th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6 - PCs, Desk & Laptops
The Privacy Cookbook kicks on in Chapter 6 with PCs, where we will cover the set-up on desk & laptops. This is a big chapter as we try to cover everything from the best Operating Systems to Firewalls to DNS to VPN to Metadata protection to encrypting data and emails. Yes, it will be a long one. …

6.1 MacOS - first published on February 12th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.1 - PCs, Desk & Laptops - MacOS
Before we jump into secure Linux distribution and what options you have to make your computer really secure, let’s cover off MacOS. Firstly, I recommend to start with a fresh copy of your OS. Even though this step is optional for you, I strongly recommend you to do so. Boot into Recovery Mode H…

6.2 Linus distros for beginners - first published on February 14th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.2 - PCs, Desk & Laptops - Linux distros for beginners
Many of today’s internet users are on Windows and the rest are on Mac (truish!). And Mac is great, of course, when you also have an iPhone but then you’re probably too far down the rabbit hole to get out. Windows, on the other hand, is so so deep that even rabbit couldn’t find it’s way out! We co…

6.2.1 coreboot - first published on June 12th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.2.1 - PCs, Desk & Laptops - coreboot
coreboot - Free up your firmware! Firmware is the layer between the software and the hardware of your computer. coreboot is an open source firmware. So coreboot replaces your BIOS/UEFI but focuses on boot speed, security and flexibility. It is 100% designed to boot your OS as rapidly as possible but…

6.3 Linux Hardening - first published on February 19th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.3 - PCs, Desk & Laptops - Linux Hardening
Before we jump into Tails and QubesOS, let’s get a hardening guide out to make your Linux system as secure and private as possible. Physical System Security 1. Configure BIOS to disable booting from CD/DVD, External Devices, Floppy Drive in BIOS. 2. Enable BIOS password and protect GRUB with a pa…

6.4 Tails - first published on February 21st 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.4 - PCs, Desk & Laptops - Tails
We started this Chapter with Windows and with Mac, explaining how to harden and secure both of these operating systems as much as practical, then spiced it up with a look at toughening Linux (ok, a bit technical but necessary as the way to a more private and secure Linux OS) BUT... these might not …

6.5 QubesOS - first published on February 26th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.5 - PCs, Desk & Laptops - QubesOS
As I’ve mentioned before, Linux is the way to go when you don’t want to be spied on by your laptop. Perhaps you’d like Tails, as described in a previous section of this Chapter, if you are paranoid and don’t care that you don’t have a OS where you can boot up and continue from where you left off. N…

6.6 DNS & Firewalls - first published on February 28th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.6 - PCs, Desk & Laptops - DNS and Firewalls
We have mentioned previously just how important DNS is on iOS and Android and we’ve also been over how you can secure your WiFi network with a Pi-Hole [/privacy-cookbook-chapter-3-1-put-it-in-your-pi-hole/] and with AdGuardHome [/privacy-cookbook-chapter-3-2-adguard-home/]. But, of course, there i…

6.7 Software - first published on March 4th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.7 - PCs, Desk & Laptops - Software
Hopefully by now you may well be a Linux convert? Regardless of whether you are a hardcore Linux user or have just decided to join a more private environment when it comes to your operating system there is, of course, always the question of “but what can i do with my new OS?”. After all, on Window…

6.8 ZorinOS - first published on April 24th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.8 - PCs, Desk & Laptops - ZorinOS
After Chapter 6.2 of the Privacy Cookbook, covering Linux distros for beginners, was published, I got some feedback over mastodon and through email that I had missed a really easy way to switch Linux distro called ZorinOS. A situation I will now address in this new section to Chapter 6. Well, I mus…

6.8.1 Pop!_OS - first published on June 19th 2020

Privacy Cookbook Chapter 6.8.1- PCs, Desk & Laptops - Pop_OS!
To date, I’ve covered a few great Linux distros from privacy orientated to ‘for beginners’ setups. Today, I want to look into Pop!_OS for more then one reason. Firstly, it kicks of a series of reviews and articles about a company called System76, a US based company that makes some hardcore Linux d…

6.9 Firejail sandboxing - first published on May 29th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.9 - PC security - Firejail sandboxing
The beauty of the Privacy Cookbook is that I can jump around between different chapters & sections and provide updates and insights on new products and developments almost in real time. So, today I want to jump back to Secure PC setup and add to the information on Linux! Sandboxing is one of thos…

6.9.1 Secure File Transfer & the Wormhole - first published on June 5th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 6.9 - Secure File Transfer & the Wormhole
Today, we take a step back to the chapter on desktop PCs as I introduce you to the Wormhole. Wormhole is a secure file transfer method what can send files securely via command-line, from Linux to Linux user or within your own local network. To install Wormhole, first start up your Terminal: Ctrl…

Chapter 7 - Social Media

7.0 Social Media - first published on March 6th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 7 - Social Media
I hope that so far I’ve managed to share some good ways to make your computer, cellphones and other devices safer, more secure and more private.. Today’s Privacy Cookbook is the opening salvo on a cause of immense concern and which affects many of our lives especially from the privacy angle: Soc…

7.1 Decentralized Social Networks - first published on May 15th 2020

Privacy Cookbook chapter 7.1 decentralized social networks
It had to happen, decentralize.today takes on decentralized social networks! In chapter 7 of the Privacy Cookbook, we talked about Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and what to do to be able to watch and read them safely and securely, without the ‘Googley’ or Zuckerbergy’ interference. So today, I wa…

7.2 YouTube - first published on May 22nd 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 7.2 - Social Media - YouTube alternatives
In our last edition of the Privacy Cookbook I looked at various decentralized and federated solutions for social media. Today I want to take a closer look into YouTube! It is, after all, the one app that most people seem least able to get away from! Let me start by pointing out that YouTube (own…

7.3 Fediverse, Mastodon & Pixelfed - first published on June 26th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Decentralized Social Media - Fediverse
There is another dangerous virus that has been going around for a while now and it is called Social Media and it comes in multiple forms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. But there are cures & therapeutics available, to use the parlance of the day, and it simply involves users voting with …

Chapter lock.down

Special one-off - first published on March 27th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter lock.down
The new normal around the world is working from home. Lockdown time. As sad as that may be at this stage, you can still be aiming to make the most out of it. Connecting with loved ones, working from home, whatever, I wouldn’t be the Privacy Advocate and this wouldn’t be the Privacy Cookbook if I ju…

Chapter 8 - Home Office Apps

8.0 Nextcloud - first published on April 4th 2020

dt.gl - privacy cookbook Nextcloud home office app
Let’s start with an explanation as to what Nextcloud is? It’s a fully open source storage and productivity platform that keeps you in control. It’s a monster when it comes to features and you can seriously look to making it your full blown android/google and desktop as well as iCloud replacement! …

8.1 Jitsu Meet - first published on April 8th 2020

dt.gl - Jitsi Meet is a solid video conference with encryption option
Since the lockdown, Zoom had become the goto tool for video conferencing. But the list of incidences, including their claim of End-to-End Encryption that was never actually implemented, have made Zoom one of the worst choices you can make. One product that you can use is Jitsi Meet.

8.1.1 Jitsu Meet finetuning - first published on May 8th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - 8.1.1 - Home Office Apps - Jitsi Meet fine tuning
In chapter 8.1, I talked about a great alternative to Zoom and other ‘work from home’ video apps. Today, I want to dig deeper into the fine tuning of an own server setup and other apps to use. dt.gl - Jitsi Meet is a solid video conference with encryption optionSince the lockdown, Zoom had become t…

Chapter 9 - Analytics

9.0 Analytics - first published on July 10th 2020

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 9.0 - Analytics
As a regular reader of the decentralize.today you’ll know that I’m not a fan of anything that invades your privacy, sells your data and tracks your every move. Sadly, most websites take the easy way out when it comes to stats and choose Google ANAL-ytics! But you know you can actually run analytics…

The end...for now...