Category Archives: Android

Brave Browser vs. Firefox: Which Is Best for Privacy?

First released in 2004, Firefox has long been an alternative for people who want to venture beyond the obvious web browser choices.

Firefox was once a popular browser, but its user base has largely moved on. In 2010, roughly 30% of internet users browsed with Firefox. Today, it’s dropped dramatically to under 3%.

Brave’s market share is much smaller than that with a mere 0.05% using it on desktop.

Right now, the vast majority are satisfied with what Apple, Google, and Microsoft have to offer.

There’s no doubt that Safari, Chrome, and Edge are capable. However, if you’re looking to level up your online privacy one of the first things to consider changing is your web browser. Mainstream browsers have many strengths and advantages, but top-tier privacy generally isn’t one of them.

Both Firefox and Brave put privacy front and center and use it to differentiate themselves from their much larger competitors.

Under the Hood

Before getting into the nitty gritty it’s helpful to know about the foundation these browsers are built on.

Brave is built on Chromium which is Google’s open-source browser. Thus, in terms of the technology that powers it, it has a lot more in common with Chrome than Firefox. Think of it like Chromium is the engine but its feature set is based on a philosophy that puts emphasis on user privacy.

Firefox is a unique platform and ecosystem developed by Mozilla. Web browsers that are developed from the ground up are a rarity. Many alternative browsers such as Opera are powered by Chromium. Also, typically browsers are built by corporations, but Firefox is made by a foundation. Mozilla is focused on principals such as keeping the internet open and accessible to all. Firefox is part of its family of products it calls “privacy-first.”

Now, let’s dig deeper into each browser’s privacy features and how they perform in the real world to determine which one is right for you.

Tracker Blocking

Brave features tracker blocking out of the box with ‘Brave Shields.’

In the browser, you can click the Brave logo to the right of the address bar to quickly view stats about blocked trackers and ads. This is a handy way to see how many trackers are on websites you frequently visit. A small number that specifies the number of trackers blocked also appears on top of the logo which is nice since it saves you a second or two.

Firefox for desktop has what it calls ‘Enhanced Tracking Protection.’

By clicking on the shield icon to the left of the address bar in Firefox you get a little report about known trackers on the websites you visit. At first glance, the presentation isn’t as slick as Brave’s. However, by clicking through to its ‘Protections Dashboard’ you’re greeted with a breakdown of all the types of trackers it blocked throughout the week.

Verdict: Tie

Brave and Firefox block trackers and cookies comprehensively. In fact, one Redditor tested them with d3ward’s website and Adblock Tester and both were given a score of 100%.

When Brave and Firefox’s websites get into the specifics of what’s blocked, they emphasize different things. For example, Brave optimizes scripts that can affect performance, and it catches third parties that use cloaking to try to bypass ad blockers.

Firefox pays special attention to social media trackers in its reports. It also blocks cryptomining which is malware nefarious websites use to employ their visitors’ computers to mine crypto for them.

Private Window

Often private window features are only for local privacy. In other words, they exclude websites you visited from your history when it’s enabled. Additionally, there aren’t other traces left over from browsing such as search bar entries, cookies, and cached files.

Brave goes a step beyond with its Private Window. Uniquely, it comes with two different variations. First, is its normal Private Window that stops sites from being added to the list in the History menu. Second, is its Private Window which uses Tor to hide your identity with incredible thoroughness. It does come at the cost of loading speed. So, it’s a tool you’ll only want to use when online anonymity is a critical factor.

Firefox has a Private Window feature that’s pretty much identical to the one found in mainstream browsers such as Chrome’s incognito mode. It performs its function of enhancing local privacy admirably. But it does nothing to boost your anonymity online versus regular browsing.

Verdict: Brave Wins

Brave’s ability to browse with Tor might go unnoticed by many, but it actually makes private browsing truly anonymous as the name implies. Tor offers its own browser as well but this is the perfect way for people to get their feet wet.

Fingerprinting

Many websites and online services use digital fingerprinting to identity devices. It gathers data about your operating system, browser, your hardware setup, screen resolution, etc. Some of these items may seem insignificant but when they’re all added together it’s a reliable way to pinpoint you.

Sites such as Cover Your Tracks and Browser Leaks will test your browser to see how big your digital footprint really is.

Brave did the best in tests since it dynamically changes fingerprint data to make it difficult or impossible to track its users. Essentially, the fingerprint data is there, but it’s useless to its recipients.

Firefox has a persistent fingerprint. Rebooting your system or relaunching your browser won’t improve matters.

Verdict: Brave Wins

VPN Features

Changing your browser is often the first step on the road towards better online privacy. Getting a VPN is the second.

VPNs sit between the internet and your device so true anonymity can be achieved. They offer the highest level of encryption so your location and actions can’t be tracked by companies and third parties.

Brave offers a paid VPN service called Brave VPN. It’s powered by Guardian and it protects five devices.

Firefox also has a VPN product called Mozilla VPN. It’s developed directly by Mozilla and like Brave’s offering, it can be installed on five devices.

Verdict: Tie

You can use any VPN service with Brave or Firefox. You merely have to install the associated VPN app to create a protected connection in any applications you use. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this feature, be sure to view the top 3 VPNs recommended by LetMeBy here.

Conclusion

Firefox and Brave are both excellent browsers that live up to their claims of putting privacy first. They are nearly neck and neck when it comes to their implementation of most privacy features. However, Brave has an edge due to its fingerprinting capabilities and integration of Tor in its Private Window.

Overall, Brave’s user experience feels a bit more modern. Firefox has kept up but its roots as a browser that’s been around since the mid-2000s are apparent in its user interface at times. Some may notice that Brave’s performance is snappy as it utilizes RAM very efficiently.

On the other side of the coin, Firefox is well-established and widely supported. It plays nice with pretty much any website.

Online Privacy Has Become “Very Creepy” Says Mozilla

If you ever felt we’ve come dangerously close to George Orwell’s dystopian vision in 1984, you’re on to something. Big Brother isn’t watching but the products we use every day and the companies behind them certainly are.

They’re best known for their web browser, Firefox, but Mozilla is also an online privacy watchdog. Since 2017 they’ve been reviewing products and assessing what data is collected and who it’s being shared with.

Their annual consumer Creep-O-Meter takes all those findings, distills them, and gives you a big-picture view of the current state of digital privacy and where we’re headed.

According to the oversized, shocked emoji on their site, things aren’t looking good. The state of digital privacy is “very creepy.”

The Good News: Online Security Has Improved

The report isn’t all doom and gloom.

More companies are using encryption and giving their customers automatic updates. So, while companies are hungry for personal data, and they’re typically sharing it to make additional revenue, the data is generally sent securely. That means it’s much harder for third parties to intercept personal data illegitimately.

It’s important to remember that companies might not always make decisions that put their customers first but they’re not the threat. Rather, consumers should be most concerned about nefarious third parties that steal private data.

The Bad: Long Privacy Policies and Products that Don’t Work Offline

If you’ve skipped privacy policies, skimmed others, and occasionally read sections of them, you’re in the majority.

Insanely long privacy policies that no human possibly has time to read are the norm. If you’re ambitious enough to go through one, the legal jargon and lack of clarity may give you just as many questions as answers.

A machine learning analysis found that since 1996 the typical privacy policy has grown to over 4,000 words.

Another growing trend is products that need an internet connection to operate, with no “offline mode.”

Devices use so many online services today that it’s tricky to give people a decent user experience without the internet. And since there isn’t much incentive for companies to offer the ability to go offline, many companies have given up on the idea.

Going offline is the simplest, most effective way to protect your private data. When apps and gadgets neither offer a way to use them offline nor manage privacy settings, customers are left with a choice: accept data practices they might not be comfortable with or stop using them entirely.

New Cars Are the Creepiest Products

Perhaps the biggest shocker of all is that 100% of car makers failed to pass Mozilla’s privacy test.

If you’re looking for car brands that are slightly less aggressive about collecting and using your personal data, you won’t find much. All the big auto manufacturers are practically moving in lockstep.

Nissan won for the highest creep factor. The Japan-based company collects data about “sexual activity, health diagnosis data, and genetic information” according to Mozilla.

And when it comes to overall privacy with the most room for improvement, Tesla took the cake. Tesla was given an “X” in every category in their report about the state of privacy in car brands.

Most Gadgets Have Mics and Cameras

Perhaps it’s just too tempting to harvest data about customers when all the tools are built right into the products. Over 90% of gadgets, apps, and cars have a mic, a camera, or both.

The products with the highest “creepiness” may surprise you. Gaming consoles, smart video doorbells, smart speakers, and GPS watches were common near the top of Mozilla’s “Privacy Not Included” list.

Video call apps such as Apple’s Facetime were some of the worst when it comes to data privacy policies.

Quick Tips to Take Control of Your Privacy

  • Opt-out: When you install apps, you could be given the opportunity to limit or stop data collection and sharing. If privacy settings are available, poke around and see if you can make changes that will improve your online privacy.
  • Check permissions and deny access as needed: Android and iOS allow you to manage which apps have access to your location, contacts, camera, etc. as well as in what circumstances they’re permitted to access them. It’s a good practice to review these permissions every now and again.
  • Clear private data companies have about you: Tech companies such as Google and Meta allow you to delete your personal data they store on their servers. If you continue to use their services, they’ll resume collecting data in most cases but at least you’ll start fresh.
  • Use a VPN: Add a layer of anonymity and encryption between your device and the internet with a virtual private network. It allows you to easily hide your IP address which is one of the key ways you are identified online. Learn about the top 3 VPN services here.
  • Delete apps you’re not using: It may be surprising to some, but apps you don’t even use can still collect data about you. Old apps that haven’t received security updates may contain personal information that is low-hanging fruit for data thieves.
  • Read the privacy policy: No, not the privacy policy, right? It might be duller reading material than the phonebook, but if you use an app or product every day it’s important to know how it handles your data.

Conclusion

The smart technology we have in our homes has added efficiency to our lives and connected us to the world, but it has its costs.

More than ever companies are using their products to collect and share the personal data of their customers. The big data industry provides lucrative opportunities to manufacturers. Tough economic times have corporations looking for alternative revenue sources.

Before you set up an “always on” device in your home such as a smart speaker or smart video doorbell, consider if the upside outweighs the downside. Products in certain categories have privacy drawbacks across the board.

Improve Your Privacy on Social Media: Top Mistakes to Avoid

Who isn’t on social media these days? 60% of the global population and 93% of all internet users use social media apps. You may have never imagined your grandma would get decorating ideas before you do on Pinterest, but it’s happened.

It’s given us unparalleled opportunities to stay connected but it’s also made maintaining our online privacy a bit complicated.

We grew up with cautionary tales of how famous people like Michael Jackson, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe were driven to the edge by the loss of their privacy. Of course, we never thought normal people would face the same challenges on a smaller scale.

Most people who are doing something enterprising or of public interest need to market themselves, whether they’re entrepreneurs, politicians, musicians, or authors. If you want to succeed, it’s part of the game. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your private life private.

Here are key privacy mistakes that can be easy to make on social media. Do your best to avoid them and sleep soundly knowing you’ve done your part.

You reveal personally identifiable information

Many mistakenly believe that because they don’t have a high profile on social media, have low income, or have bad credit, identity theft isn’t something to be concerned about. It is!

Today’s bad guys are organized, savvy, and they’ve got incredible tech at their disposal. You might not think it’s a big deal to reveal your email address, your username, or another small piece of information that’s associated with your identity. Remember that criminals can potentially build databases to piece together information over time.

Generally, avoid posting documents issued to you by governments, institutions, or businesses online. Leaking small pieces of personal data such as account numbers, or even your mailing address can come back to haunt you one day and it’s commonly done. In fact, according to a study by Experian, Americans have posted an average of 3.4 pieces of sensitive information online.

You overshare about personal events

Oversharing can mean many things. It can mean getting into an emotionally-charged state and posting about one’s personal drama. It can mean talking poorly about your ex or your former employer and getting into detail about past experiences.

It’s a tougher issue than it might seem because we bond with others by sharing things about ourselves, including our vulnerabilities.

If you post regularly on social media you have to reflect and be honest with yourself. Determine which parts of your life you’re comfortable with being public knowledge and which parts you prefer to keep private. Once the cat’s out of the bag there’s no going back.

Some people are proficient at discovering dirt about people and then spreading gossip. That’s not something you have control of, but don’t make it easy for them by creating a record that can be repurposed as ammunition.

Remember that many are generally unsympathetic to the problems of others. Tell the few you most trust your personal news to get it off your chest and leave it at that.

You reveal your exact location

Geotagging is incredible from a technological perspective. People who are interested in the happenings in an area can tap on the location and see related posts. Thus, it adds to the discoverability of your content.

If overused, geotagging gives people a way to track your activities. More and more it’s being used with precision so that people know which neighbourhood you’re in, right down to the restaurant you’re dining at.

Use geotagging judiciously. You can flex some by letting your followers know you’re visiting New York City without naming the bagel shop.

You post photos of your children publicly

The average parent posts nearly 1,500 pictures of their child online before age five according to a study by Nominet.

Parents are proud of their kids. They’re a huge part of their world, and that’s wonderful. However, sometimes we have to remind ourselves that Instagram isn’t a family photo album.

Ever heard the term “sharenting?” It’s when parents publicize personal information about their child online. People wouldn’t imagine sharing detailed private information about their friends online, but “sharenting” is incredibly common. And it’s usually done without permission by the child.

Many parents don’t think about it, but a photo or video that is funny or cute might not be seen the same in the future. At best, it will be slightly embarrassing to your child. At worst, it could negatively impact their reputation later in life.

When we post content publicly, we create a record that can be accessed by people with bad intentions and by automated technologies. It opens your child up to risks such as facial recognition tracking, online security threats, and worse.

You accept friend requests from strangers

Bots and people who are pretending to be someone else (aka catfish) are incredibly common on social media.

Platforms like Facebook give you the opportunity to approve or deny friend requests. Not much good can come of adding someone you don’t recognize. Adding them could expose you and your friends to online security threats, scams, surveillance, and misleading information.

You share information about people without their permission

Social media tends to polarize people these days. One camp believes in the power of personal branding. Their careers depend on putting themselves out there online. The other camp is known to launch into rants about how social media is destroying the fabric of society.

There are a million and one reasons someone wouldn’t want you to post a group shot with them in it on social media. It’s best to never make assumptions. Let people know if you plan to post something about them online so they can opt out.

Posting photos or information about people could have ramifications for them you didn’t consider, whether it’s at their job or in their marriage. It might not strike you as fair or reasonable but you don’t want to be blamed for sparking a conflict.

You don’t use audience selection features

Want to share a story about your career journey but don’t want your ex-employer to see it? Some social media content falls into a gray area in terms of privacy decisions. Luckily, there’s a middle ground in-between public and private posts.

Apps like Facebook and Instagram allow you to create lists of people and deliver content to that audience only. Sometimes you can exclude people or a list of people from seeing a post or story as well.

For example, Instagram allows you to make a “Close Friends” list. And on Facebook, you can add people to your list of “Acquaintances.”

You don’t remove bots and fake accounts that follow you

On Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn housecleaning your list of connections is easy because both sides have to agree to connect out of the gate.

It’s trickier to manage your followers on apps like Instagram and TikTok when you have a public account. It’s an ongoing process.

Every now and again, check your follower list and remove suspicious accounts. With practice, you’ll see patterns and it’ll be easy to spot certain types of fake accounts and scammers. In many cases, it won’t be clear what their objective is. But if there are clues that it isn’t a real person, it’s best to remove them rather than ignore them.

You don’t manage your tagged photos

Social media apps don’t have many restrictions when it comes to who can tag you in photos. In fact, on apps like Instagram spammers will tag you just so you’ll look at their post. And no, the image never has anything to do with you.

When potential employers or potential dates start digging through your profile, tagged photos are the first things they look at.

There are bound to be photos you’re tagged in that don’t send the right message. Take the time to check it every now and again, and remove your tag from the not-so-flattering shots, or the photos that reveal personal information you’re not comfortable with sharing with everyone.

You take questionable online quizzes

Facebook quizzes were huge back in the early days of the platform. People installed apps just to find out which character they are in Friends.

Quizzes seem like a fun and harmless way to share your personality traits with your friends. The problem is that the people who complete them usually don’t know who’s gathering their data and for what purpose.

If you think about it, quizzes are the perfect way for shady developers to extract data from people such as their name, birthdate, and other personal information. It doesn’t seem like much of a threat until you consider it can be pieced together and used for nefarious purposes.

You don’t use privacy settings and features

Every major platform has privacy features, and they usually go way beyond the ability to make your account private.

From hiding Likes on your post to limiting commenting to people you follow, social media apps allow you to use a lot of nuance when it comes to privacy. Experiment so that you’re confident in deploying privacy features when they’re most needed.

One of the key areas to investigate is the permissions the app has to access the data on your phone. Check its level of access to your photos, videos, location data, your mic, etc.

Location, camera, and microphone permissions can be set to “All the time,” “Allow only while using the app,” “Ask every time,” or “Don’t allow” on Android. There are no right or wrong answers here except that it makes sense to have stricter privacy settings on features you rarely use or don’t use.

Blocking access can break functionality in the app. So, test it before deciding how to approach your permission settings.

Conclusion

Let’s be clear, social media has plenty of benefits. Your online privacy is important but so is connecting with other amazing humans.

The key is to remind yourself of these privacy pitfalls before you hit the post button. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and reveal too much.

I hope you leave this article with some takeaways that will make your online journey a bit smoother. Stay safe!

The Best Web Browsers for Privacy

Ever noticed an ad for a product you just talked about appear while you were browsing the internet?

Once ads for the same thing follow you around the web, you start to wonder what caused it. And you wonder if tech companies know more about you than you’re comfortable with.

Often the easiest way to boost your online privacy is simply to switch your browser. Today there are privacy-focused browsers that don’t require tweaks or extensions to block trackers.

Mainstream browsers are a mixed bag. Some have adapted well to people’s growing concerns about being tracked online. Understandably it’s challenging for big companies to make changes that might hurt their bottom line, even if it’s in the short term. Apple’s Safari and Mozilla Firefox are two examples of well-known browsers that have managed to put the privacy needs of their users first.

Now that we’ve covered the primer, let’s dive in! Here are the best browsers available today for people that value online privacy.

Brave

If Brave isn’t one of the first browsers that come to mind for the best online privacy features it should be.

Mozilla Firefox has been around for quite a while and most have heard of it or used it. Well, guess what? There’s a connection here. Brendan Eich is the CEO of Brave, and he was also one of the co-founders of Mozilla.

By default, Brave blocks display ads and trackers. The concept behind it is unique as its purpose isn’t to eliminate all ads. Rather, it displays its own native ads that look like browser notifications and it rewards its users with Basic Attention Token. And yes, BAT is a token built on Ethereum with real value. Suddenly, ads aren’t a nuisance because internet users are compensated for their attention.

If you rarely want to see ads or don’t want to see ads at all regardless of the rewards, there are settings for all of that.

Brave is a great everyday browser for people that value privacy, but you can’t use it for everything. Some websites are set up to require certain data and important functions might refuse to work with Brave. In this situation, it’s best to launch a mainstream browser like Chrome or Safari for the sake of convenience.

Tor Browser

Many online privacy aficionados haven’t tried Tor Browser yet, but they’re probably used Tor at some point in their journey. Tor, which is short for “The Onion Router,” is free software that enhances privacy and hides your online activity from prying eyes.

Tor Browser takes the unique privacy technology established in Tor and builds it into a web browser. It sends web data through a multistep encrypted route that includes at least three nodes.

The downside of Tor has always been speed. It’s the price you pay for its thorough approach to anonymous browsing. Thus, Tor Browser is a good choice for tasks with privacy of utmost concern, but it’s not going to replace your go-to browser.

VPNs also encrypt your data like Tor. So, if you’re looking for a good balance between anonymity and browsing speed a VPN is the best option. Check out LetMeBy’s reviews of the top 3 VPNs.

DuckDuckGo Browser

DuckDuckGo is a privacy-focused search engine that doesn’t collect or share private information about its users. Other search engines have tried to find their niche and have faded over the years, but DuckDuckGo is stronger than ever because it promises a benefit people actually care about.

Its latest offering is its web browser. Its looks and most of its basic functions will look familiar to users of Chrome and Edge. And it’s based on the same idea as the DuckDuckGo search engine. The browser blocks trackers and ads that follow you around the web.

People that visit YouTube frequently will appreciate its unique video feature called Duck Player. It opens YouTube videos in a view free from distractions such as recommendations.

It removes ad targeting and tracking, but it doesn’t remove YouTube ads altogether. Rather, the ads won’t be based on your activity and browsing history.

Firefox

Mozilla is a not-for-profit Foundation that aims to put people before profit and fight for an internet that’s accessible and open to everyone. Although that may sound idealistic Mozilla has proven over the years that it can make software just as good as big corporations.

These days nearly everyone uses Chrome or Safari. Back in 2009, Firefox was at its peak with over 32% browser market share. Many stuck with Firefox for years but once they switched to Chrome, they never looked back.

We can speculate about all the reasons Firefox lost popularity over the years. One thing is certain. Google preinstalls Chrome on its Chromebooks. Apple preinstalls Safari on its devices. And Microsoft preinstalls Edge in its operating system. People always needed to make the conscious decision to download Firefox, and with so many good options most stopped bothering.

It’s time to give Firefox another look.

Firefox has privacy features mainstream browsers don’t have such as automatic DNS over HTTPS and cookie blocking.

Blocking everything that tracks you doesn’t always lead to a good user experience. Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection allows you to block or allow certain types of cookies and content.

Network settings are integrated right into Firefox, which allows you to use a proxy with it without affecting other apps. Other browsers such as Chrome and Safari approach this differently. To use a proxy or VPN you have to apply it system-wide.

Safari

Apple disrupted the tech world when it first released App Tracking Transparency in iOS. For the first time ever, Apple users could easily opt out of being tracked. And given the choice, most people did.

Although it’s less talked about, you can also prevent cross-site tracking in Safari on Mac OS. You merely go to Safari’s privacy settings, select “Prevent cross-site tracking” and you’re done.

Most popular browsers have a private browsing mode. Safari has an edge over many because it uses DuckDuckGo by default. With it enabled, beyond your browser not remembering the sites you visited, the search engine itself won’t collect data based on your searches.

Another handy feature in Safari that encourages good habits is its password generator. It suggests strong passwords, saving you time and confirming that your passwords are keeping up with current standards.

Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention limits the amount of your data that’s sent to Apple and third parties. This means that long-term cookies are only stored on your device for sites you use regularly.

Chrome with Privacy Extensions

If you prefer to deploy online privacy features a la carte, don’t mind tweaking settings, and enjoy Google’s ecosystem, this could be the right option for you.

Google Chrome is by far the most widely used browser and that means it’s one of the best when it comes to customizing its features with extensions. Simply put, Chrome isn’t a privacy-first browser out of the box, but you can make it into one.

Want to block trackers? Add an extension such as Privacy Badger or Ghostery. Don’t want to see ads? Install Adblock Plus or uBlock Origin.

There’s a slight catch. Extensions can break, lose their support, or lose their effectiveness as technology progresses.

One of the biggest pluses is that you can experiment and find the extensions you like the most. You’re not married to built-in features that may not offer the approach to privacy you want.

Why Companies Want Your Data

Data is a huge industry, and it’s a growing one. The global big data market was estimated to be worth $162.6 billion in 2021. It’s forecasted to reach $273.4 billion by 2026.

The concept is simple. You more businesses know about consumers’ likes, dislikes, interests, careers, hobbies, and a multitude of other things, the more they can sell.

Many people don’t think marketing works on them. But the evidence says otherwise. Clicks on targeted ads can be as much as 670% higher. Additionally, 80% of users actually reported to prefer tailored ads. People notice what interests them, and data makes it possible to serve people both the content and ads most likely to be relevant to their interests.

The Tug of War Between the Wants of Advertisers and of Users

Some of the biggest tech companies are in a challenging spot. If users aren’t happy their business is in jeopardy. And if advertisers aren’t happy it’s in trouble too.

Apple’s move to allow users to easily control if they wanted to see targeted ads or not was part of a big shift in the industry.

It’s become standard practice to collect data about users and also to give them tools to manage their data on different platforms. In other words, if you want better privacy you typically have to drill down into the settings to make it happen.

Conclusion

As more become aware of the importance of online privacy, more are taking another look at the web browser they use every day.

For too long popular browsers have been synonymous with good. And while the most used browsers are excellent, they’re usually not the top choices in terms of privacy.

Any browser’s privacy can be leveled up significantly by enabling a VPN. If you take the time to choose a browser with robust privacy features as well those ads that follow people around will be far behind you.

How to Hide Your IP Address on Android

As VPNs have become widely used and smartphone processing power has exploded, Google has equipped Android with powerful VPN features.

Although there are apps that can hide your IP on Android, you can do the same thing right within the OS. Android has a built-in VPN client that supports many of the most popular VPN protocols.

This tutorial teaches you how to utilize a VPN service to mask your IP with no additional software.

Note that this guide was created using a Samsung smartphone. Your version of Android may look a bit different.

Step 1

Using a VPN has become the standard solution for anonymous browsing, making it next to impossible to trace activity back to your true IP address.

Before you get started with exploring the connection settings in Android, you need to have a VPN.

One of the first things to check is the VPN protocols supported by your version of Android. There’s a good chance it’ll be IKEv2/IPsec MSCHAPv2, IKEv2/IPsec PSK, and IKEv2/IPsec RSA. VPN technology is evolving quickly. Google moves to the fastest and most secure new protocols and leaves the rest behind.

Next, be sure that the VPN service you plan to use supports the same protocols as your version of Android.

I used a free VPN for testing purposes. And while free services can get the job done for light use, paid options are the fastest and offer superior security.

If you’re looking for a VPN, LetMeBy has reviewed the top 3 VPN services. Alternatively, if you’re in a hurry, here are the VPNs most commonly recommended on this blog:

Step 2

Locate “Settings” either by browsing your apps or by swiping down at the top of the screen to reveal the quick settings menu.

To access your settings from the quick settings menu, tap the cog icon at the top right of the screen.

Step 3

Now that the “Settings” menu has appeared, scroll down to “Connections” and tap it.

The options here control how you connect to the internet, connect to your mobile provider, Bluetooth devices, etc.

Step 4

Scroll down to “More connections settings” near the bottom. Tap it.

Step 5

In the “More connections settings” screen, go to “VPN.”

Step 6

If you’ve never set up a VPN before this screen will be mostly blank with text that says “No VPNs.”

Tap the icon at the top right that looks like three dots stacked on top of each other. Choose “Add VPN profile.”

Step 7

A new options screen called “Edit VPN network” will appear.

Give your VPN a name. Next, select a protocol that is supported by your VPN, and enter the server address.

Scroll down and enter the username and password provided to you by your VPN service provider.

Tap “Save” and test it to be sure you’ve connected to the internet through the VPN. You can open your web browser and visit What Is My IP Address to verify that your IP address has changed.

All Done

Congrats! Your IP is now hidden on Android!