Alternative apps keep your private information private.

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Accessed on 18 January 2022, 2138 UTC.

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PCMag SecurityWatch
Stop Apps from Collecting Your Private Information
Are you cool with apps collecting or sharing your personal data? According to a recent survey, probably not. Four out of five people said they don’t want their personal data collected or shared without permission. Yet, chances are, good that you’re installing mobile apps that do just that.PCMag associate editor Jason Cohen recently shared a study from Surfshark comparing the data collection activities of 200 apps. In most cases, the most popular apps collect the most information from their users.

The study examined 18 categories, from period trackers to dating sites and identified the apps that collect information such as contact info, search history, purchases, location, and more. Why does a weather app need your health and fitness information? Ask the people behind WeatherBug, as that’s one of the data points the weather tracking app collects. Should a cryptocurrency app have access to your search history? eToro demands that information from its users.

Choose apps that don’t ask for your data in the first place. For example, while Mint is a handy money manager with a lot of slick perks, it also collects a lot of information about you. Try Mvelopes instead. Likewise, YouTube Kids is a convenient site for entertaining little ones, but it collects data in the location and search history categories. Disney Coloring World and Duolingo ABC are kid-friendly alternatives that don’t collect much information.

Above is a chart with 18 privacy-focused alternatives to popular, info-hungry apps. To see the full chart, take a look at our online story.

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Are You Trackable?

Chances are, you’re also using a browser that tracks your every move online. Whether via cookies or a browser fingerprint, advertisers can keep track of your online purchases and searches.

As PCMag lead software analyst Michael Muchmore writes, you can delete your cookies, but the bigger threat to your online privacy is browser fingerprinting. Your browser fingerprint can contain your browser type and version, operating system, plug-ins, time zone, language, screen resolution, installed fonts, and other identifying information.
Want to see your fingerprint? The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Cover Your Tracks web page allows you to put your browser’s privacy to the test.

How to Prevent Web Tracking

To prevent or minimize being tracked, start by using a private browser. Apple’s Safari and Microsoft Edge are both options with high ratings from EFF.
If you can’t quit Chrome or another browser that doesn’t offer much tracking protection, use a plug-in that hinders tracking, such as Decentraleyes, DuckDuckGo, PrivacyBadger, or uBlock Origin.

And don’t get fooled by private browsing modes (known as Incognito mode on Google Chrome). They don’t protect you from prying eyes online. They just hide your activity from your local machine’s history.

There’s no such thing as total privacy or perfect security in an online space, but using these tips can make it harder for anyone to track your activity.
Stay safe,

Kim Key
PCMag Security Analyst

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