9 minutes reading time (1799 words)

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.

We want to start with the OS most people sadly use, Windows! Before we go into Windows let me point out I do not know much about Windows, if I get any laptops or desktop that has Windows pre-installed, the first thing I do is Install Linux! Yet some people need Windows for a variety of reasons? A young relative claims they need it for PC Games, so if you are of the generation that sits for 18 hours a day in front of your PC and plays Mindcraft or any other time waster, this chapter is for you.

There is a great tool that can be downloaded to fix many of the privacy concerns that Windows 10 has! It's called W10Privacy, It disables major tracking features and is a good step toward some privacy on Windows 10. There is also WindowsSpyBlocker - an open source tool that blocks data collection. You could perhaps also have a look at securitywithoutborders/hardentools

There is also ​Hardentools which is a set of easy-to-use fixes designed to disable several features exposed by operating systems such as Windows and their primary consumer applications. These features, designed for enterprise customers, are generally useless to regular users and actually pose a risk as they can be used by hackers to execute malicious code. This tool is to help individuals reduce the risk of attack. It is not intended for corporate environments.

However, it does come with the following precautionary statement:

WARNING: This is just an experiment, it is not meant for public distribution yet. Also, this tool disables a number of features, including of Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, and Windows, that might cause malfunctions to certain applications. Use this at your own risk.

Bear in mind, after running Hardentools you won't be able, for example, to do complex calculations with Microsoft Office Excel or use the Command-line terminal, but those are pretty much the only considerable "downsides" of having a slightly safer Windows environment. Before deciding to use it, make sure you read this document thoroughly and understand that yes, something might break. In case you experience malfunctions as a result of the modifications implemented by this tool, please do let us know.

You have been warned!

WFN Windows Firewall Notifier

WFN started off as an extension to the embedded Windows firewall and offers real time connections monitoring, connections mapping, bandwidth usage monitoring and is open-source...worth looking at adding this.

Unfortunately Windows 10 sends Your Data more then 5500 times every single day. There are other horror stories exposed on Ars technical and on Techdirt. You can find many other articles across the web that show the Data Sharing and Privacy invasion of Microsoft. I will have them covered soon in my Monday Blues article where we look at companies and their unethical behaviors. But this Chapter is not about them right now, it's about blocking some, if not all, of it.

So if you chose or need to stick with Windows then use the two tools we recommend but also use a Blocklist! In fact, use multiple block lists:

Microsoft - Blocks all Microsoft known call home domains
Adguard Simplified - English filter, Social media filter, Spyware filter, Mobile ads filter, EasyList and EasyPrivacy
AdAway - Blocking mobile ad providers and some analytics providers
hpHosts - Ad and Tracking servers only
CHEFKOCH - NSA Blocklist
CHEFKOCH - Canvas font fingerprinting
CHEFKOCH - Audio fingerprinting
CHEFKOCH - Canvas fingerprinting
CHEFKOCH - Trackers
CHEFKOCH - Facebook
StevenBlack - with the fakenews, gambling and social extensions
Google - Blocks all Google domains and services
Facebook & FB - Blocks Facebook and its Apps
GoodByeAds - Great list of Ads blocked
Yhosts - Great list!
Crimeflare - Cloudflare domains

The best way is to block these over AdGuardHome or a Pi-Hole, but AdGuard also has a version for your Windows PC!

Another option is to do this via a local blocklist. Search on your Notepad, then right-click on Notepad in the search results list, and choose to run it as administrator.

Once you’ve done that, open up the following file using the File -> Open feature


After which you can edit as usual when Notepad is open.

In this example, we will block all known Microsoft domains. accessvb.com adcentercommunity.com adecn.com adnxs.com advisor.net ailogiq.com akadns.net akamai.net a-msedge.net anti-spamtools.org aquantive.com aspnetcdn.com atdmt.com atlassolutions.com audible.com azure.com azuredns-cloud.net azure.net azure-test.net bbsindex.com bcentral.com bcentral-int.com bcentral.net bcentral-ppe.com be-legal.ru betaoneservices.com bing.com bing-int.com binginternal.com bing.net bing.net:443 brktx.com cfsinsider.com cinemania.com cinemanow.com clearlead.com clearleadtest.com cloudapp.net clownoutbreak.com codezonepremiere.com com.mk com.tn courttv.com crmlive-int.com crmlive.net crmliveperf.com crmlive-ppe.com crmlivetie2.com datacontract.org deepmatrix.com deepmetrix.com demdex.com demdex.net design-intelligence.com digitalrivercontent.net directtaps.net discoverbing.com dnset.com do.com download.com downloadgamecenter.net downloadgamecenter.org downloadgamescenter.com downloadgamescenter.net downloadgamescenter.org dyanmicslive.com dyanmicslive.net dyanmicslive.org dynamicdns.biz dynamics.biz dynamics.com dynamicscontinuum.biz dynamicscontinuum.info dynamicscsplus.biz dynamicscustomer.biz dynamicscustomer.info dynamicsdesignlogo.biz dynamicsdesignlogo.info dynamicsemployee.biz dynamicsemployee.info dynamics.eu dynamicsexpensereport.biz dynamicsexpensereport.info dynamics.info dynamics-int.com dynamicslive.com dynamicslive-int.com dynamicslive-ppe.com dynamicslive-ppe.net dynamicslive-ppe.org dynamicsnetapps.biz dynamicsnetapps.info dynamicsnetseries.biz dynamicsnetseries.info dynamicsnettools.biz dynamicsnettools.info dynamicsonline.com dynamicsonline-int.com dynamicsonline-ppe.com dynamicsonline-preview.com dynamicsorder.biz dynamicsorder.info dynamics-partner.com dynamics-ppe.com dynamics-preview.com dynamicsservicecenter.biz dynamicsservicecenter.info dynamicssite-int.com dynamicssite-ppe.com dynamicssite-preview.com dynamics-spla.com dynamicstimecard.biz dynamicstimecard.info dynamicsvendor.biz dynamicsvendor.info dynamicsview.biz dynamicsview.info dynssl.com edgesuite.net effectivemeasure.net emodio.com entelechargement.com erplive.com eso.com e-typedesign.co.uk eugrantsadvisor.com eugrantsadvisor.name eugrantsadvisor.net eugrantsadvisor.org exchangeyourcareer.com exchangeyourcareer.net exchangeyourcareer.org expedia.com expediapartner.com expediapartners.com explore.ms facultyconnection.com farolatino.com fedtest.com fedtest-int.com flurry.com footprintpredict.com freepowerpoint.com fullaudio.com futurefed.com geotrust.com getofficelive.co.za gfx.ms gotyoursoul.com gowindowslive.com gowindowslive.net gowindowslive.org hardware-update.com healthvolt.net hockeyapp.net homeadvisor.com hotmail.com ic-live.com ideawins-ppe.com iechannelguide.com iechannels.com iegallery.com ilovemessenger.com imagine-live.com imagine-windowslive.com.br imagine-wl.com.br innovateon-int.com innovateonmicrosoftofficelive.com innovateonofficelive.com innovateonwindowshpcserver2008.com innovateonwindowshpcserver.com installshield.com intellitxt.com jimboiscool.trt licencjemicrosoft.eu licencje-microsoft.pl licensestore.jp listbot.com live365.com liveatedu.com liveatedu-ppe.com live.ca live.com liveexposupport.com livefilestore.com live-func.net live-int.com live.it live.net live-partner.com liveportal.com live-ppe.com livesearch.com.br livestats.com livestats.net live-str.com live-tst.com live-tst.net macrosoft.com.br macrovision.com mactopia.net madingleymodel.com madingleymodel.org mesh.com mesh-int.com mesh-ri.com messengerentucelu.com mfncpfs.com mgsindiegames.net mgsindiegames.org micronewsads.com microsfot.com microsft.com.br microsoftadvertising.com microsoft.ae microsoft.af microsoft.ag microsoft.ai microsoft.al microsoft.am microsoft-antipiracy.com microsoft-appstore.com microsoft.as microsoft.at microsoftauto.com.br microsoft.az microsoft.ba microsoft-b.com microsoft.be microsoft-bg.com microsoft.bi microsoftbiconference.com microsoftbicustomercouncil.com microsoft.biz microsoft.bs microsoftbusinesshub.com microsoft.by microsoft.bz microsoft.ca microsoft-careers.com microsoft.cc microsoftc.com.br microsoft.cd microsoft-certification.co.uk microsoft.ch microsoft.cl microsoftclassifiedads.com microsoftcloudpartner.com microsoft.cm microsoft.cn microsoft.co microsoft.co.il microsoft.com microsoft.com.ar microsoft.com.au microsoft.com.br microsoft.com.tw microsoft-cortana.com microsoft.co.uk microsoftcourseware.com microsoftcourseware.net microsoftcourseware.org microsoft.cr microsoft.cx microsoft.cz microsoft.de microsoft.dj microsoft.dk microsoft.dm microsoft.do microsoftdynamicserp.biz microsoftdynamicslive.com microsoftdynamicslive-int.com microsoftdynamicslive.net microsoftdynamicslive.org microsoftdynamicslive-ppe.com microsofteai.com.br microsoft.ec microsoft.ee microsoftelearning.com microsoftencarta.net microsoftencarta.org microsoft-entertainment-jobs.com microsoftequipt.com microsofter.com.br microsoft.es microsoftexpo.com microsoftexpo.net microsoftexpo.org microsoft.fi microsoft.fm microsoftforefront.org microsoft.fr microsoftfrontpage.com microsoft.ge microsoft.gg microsoft.gl microsoft.gm microsoft.gp microsoft.gr microsoft.gs microsoft.gt microsoft.gy microsofthealthbeta.com microsofthealthsolutions.com microsoft.hn microsoft-hohm.com microsofthotmail.com.br microsoft.hr microsoft.hu microsofthyper-v.com.br microsofthyper-vserver.com.br microsoft.ie microsoft.im microsoft.in microsoft.info microsoftinformatica.com.br microsoft-int.com microsoft.io microsoft.is microsoft.it microsoftitacademy.com microsoft-jdp.net microsoft.je microsoft.jo microsoft.jp microsoft.kg microsoft.kn microsoft.kz microsoft.la microsoftlawportal.net microsoft.lc microsoft.li microsoftlicense.com microsoftlicensereview.com microsoftlicensestatement.com microsoftlive.com.br microsoftlivelabs.com.br microsoft.lk microsoft.lt microsoft.lu microsoft.lv microsoft.ly microsoft.ma microsoft.md microsoftmediaroom.de microsoft.mn microsoft.mp microsoft.ms microsoft.mu microsoft.mv microsoft.mw microsoft.mx microsoft.my microsoft.net microsoft-news.com microsoft.nf microsoft.nl microsoft.no microsoft-office-2010.com microsoftoffice365now.com microsoftoffice.com microsoft-office-excel.com microsoft-office.fr microsoftonline.com microsoftonline-p.com microsoftonline-p.net microsoft-online-sales.com microsoft.org microsoft.pa microsoft.pe microsoft.ph microsoftphotosynth.com.br microsoft.pk microsoft.pl microsoftplayfx.com.br microsoft.pn microsoftportal.net microsoft-ppe.com microsoft.pr microsoft-press.com microsoft.pt microsoft.pw microsoft-questions.com microsoft.re microsoft.ro microsoft.ru microsoft.rw microsoft.sc microsoft.se microsoft.si microsoft.sk microsoft.sl microsoft.sm microsoft.sn microsoft.so microsoft.sr microsoft-store-careers.com microsoftstore.com microsoftstore.com.cn microsoftstore.it microsoftstore.me microsoft-store-promo-code.com microsoft.su microsoftsupplychain.com microsoftsurface.com.br microsoft.sy microsofttemplates.com microsofttemplates.org microsoft.tj microsoft.tk microsoft.tm microsoft.tn microsofttouch.fr microsoft-tst.com microsoft.tt microsoft.tv microsoft.tw microsoft.ua microsoft.ug microsoftupdate.com microsoftupdates.eu microsoft.uz microsoft.vc microsoftvirtualacademy.com microsoft.vn microsoftvolumelicensing.com microsoftwildcat.com microsoftword.com.br microsoft.ws micrososft.com micrsoftsmartcar.co.uk mikrosoft.tv mixplay.tv mobileconfig.net mobilepcpartners.com moneycentral.com moonport.com movielink.com msads.net msbpn.com ms.co.nz ms-courseware.com mscourseware.com ms-courseware.net mscourseware.net mscoursewareonline.com mscoursewareonline.net mscoursewareonline.org ms-courseware.org mscrm.com msdn.com msdnevents.com msdnlive.com msecnd.com msecnd.net msecn.net msedulabs.com msencarta.net mseventseurope.com msfdc.com msft.com msftncsi.com msft.net msftoffers.com msgamebetas.com msgamedev.com msgamesinsider.com msgames.net msgamestudios.com msinsider.com mslearning.com mslit.com mslivelabs-int.com msmecrm.com msn.be msn.ca msn.ch msn.co.id msn.co.jp msn.co.kr msn.com msn.com.cn msn.com.hk msn.com.my msncompanion.com msn.com.ph msn.com.sg msn.com.tw msn.co.th msn.co.uk msn.de msnencarta.com msn.es msnexpo.com msn.fr msngamecenter.net msngamecenter.org msngamescenter.net msngamescenter.org msn-int.com msn.la msn.mm msnmobile.in msn.net msn.nl msn-ppe.com msn.se msnupdate.bz msnusers.com msocsp.com mspchealth.com msretech.com mssandbox.com msstudentlounge.com msstudiosmedia.com msteams.com mswep.com mswindows-update.com mswindowsupdates.com mtcdemos.net musicgiants.com musicmatch.com musicnet.com mywindowsmobile.com mywindowsmobile.co.uk mywindowsmobile.de napster.com navegaprotegido.org navison.com netgamesusa.com netmeetingtools.com nflfeverinsider.com nflfeverinsider.org ngworldstats.com no-ip.biz novadose.net nsatc.net nuevomessenger2009.com o365filtering.com oberon-media.com od2.com office2010test.com office365.com officeformac.com officelive.com officelive.com.tw officelivecontent.com officelive.mp office.net omniroot.com omtrdc.net osdinfra.net outlook.com parlano.com partnermarketplace.com passalong.com passport.net payplay.fm phx.gbl playmsn.com playout.se poptang.com projectzerofriction.com projectzerofriction.net projectzerofriction.org puretracks.com rdst-internal.net realtydesktop.net riseofnationsinsider.com s2bprogram.com sbp-int.com schwancosmetics.cz sclive-ppe.net searchalliance.com searchperks.com sensormap.org sertifikasi-microsoft.com serving-sys.com sharedview.com sharepointonline.com skypeassets.com skypeassets.net skype.com skype.net s-microsoft.com s-msft.com s-msn.com software.net softwarewow.com soundbuzz.com soundsgood.com spohealth.com sqlserverenergy.com start.com startwindowsmobile.com stationq.com subscribenet.com taskmarket.com toolup.com trafficmanager.net trymicrosoftoffice.com urge.com v0cdn.net vboxprod.com vidzone.tv visualstudio.com walmart.com wbaltv.com webtv.net whymicrosoft.com winaero.com wind8apps.com windonws.com.br window7phone.com windowphone7.com windowphones.net windows07.com.br windows2000.com.br windows7download.com windows8downloadscdn.com windows8downloads.com windowsazure.com windowsazure.org windows.ca windows.com windowsdna.com.br windowsembeddeddevices.com windowsembeddedkit.com windowsembeddedpartner.com windowsembeddedpartner.net windowsembeddedpartner.org windowsembeddedpartners.com windowsembeddedpartners.net windowsembeddedpartners.org windowsfilm.com.br windowsfilms.com.br windowsgamedeveloper.com windowshomeserver.com.br windowshyper-v.com.br windowsinformatica.com.br windowslive.com windows-live.com.br windowslive.com.ph windowslive.de windowsliveexpo.com windowslive.fr windowslivegadgets.com windowslivehelp.com windowsliveid.com windowslive.la windowslive.net windowslive.nl windowsliveonecare.com windowsliveplanet.com windowslogo.org windows.lu windowsmarketplace.com windowsmedia1.com windowsmediacenter.com windowsmedia.com windowsmediaguide.com windowsmobile.es windows.net windowsonecare.com windowsonecarelive.com windowsonecarelive.net windowsonecare.nl windowsonline.com.br windowsphone6.com windowsphone7.com windowsphone7.net windowsphone.com windowsphone.co.uk windowsphone.cz windowsphone.es windowsphone-int.com windowsphone-int.net windowsphone.net windowsphone.se windowsphoneseven.com windowsphoneseven.net windowsphones.net windowsphones.org windowspone.com windowspowershell.org windowsrestaurante.com.br windowssearch.com windowsserverfeedback.com windowsserverhyper-v.com.br windowsstore.com windowsupdate.com windowsupdate.com.br windowsvissa.com windowsvista.kz windowsxp.com.br windowsxp.nu windowvista.com.br windwosphone.com wldrive.com.br wmplugins.com w-src.com www-live.com xbox360nextgennow.com xboxcanada.ca xbox.com xbox.de xboxlive.com xboxlive.com.br xboxrc.com xmlsoap.org xsnsports.com xtngm-ppe.com yahoobingnetwork.com zone.com zootycooninsider.com zootycooninsider.net zootycooninsider.org

When using this file just copy the entire blocklist or lists you want to use and save the hostfile.

The next step is to use Firefox as your browser

Encrypted DNS clients for desktop

Mozilla Firefox is supplied with DoH built-in and with Cloudflare as the default resolver, however. it can be set up with any DoH resolver.

DNS over HTTPS can be enabled in Menu -> Preferences (about:preferences) -> Network Settings -> Enable DNS over HTTPS.
Set "Use Provider" to "Custom", and enter your DoH provider's address.

Advanced users may enable it by setting network.trr.custom_uri and network.trr.uri as the address of your DoH provider and network.trr.mode as 2.
It is also advisable to set network.security.esni.enabled to True. This allows encrypted SNI (Server Network Identification) and make sites supporting ESNI more difficult to track.

Have a list on DNS resolver and more information here

Now read the Chapter on how to harden and secure your Firefox Browser

Last but not least also read the Chapter on uBlock Origin

Alternatively we strongly recommend the Tor Browser, it is an encrypted alternative to Firefox and will keep your IP address private.

As I mentioned at the outset here, I never use Windows so I've gathered the best guidance I can for use on a Windows driven machine, but the Privacy Cookbook will guide you on how to replace Windows with a Linux privacy setup and we also guide you on what software could replace your office package etc.

Many people I have encountered in my life are afraid of Linux, mainly as they never used it, and so swear by Windows. Once I have set them up with a Linux machine, they are surprised at how easy and powerful it is. So I am confident that after Chapter 6.1 where we take on how to install Linux and how to make it feel better then Windows will assist you in making the switch.

Remember privacy is a human right! And your PC  is probably the machine you use most for banking, for crypto, for many private things...so help yourself to stay safe and just as you #degoogled, you can start to #demicrosoft

In Chapter 6 we will also guide you on how to harden your MacOS, so stay tuned as we have a lot to cover!

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