Privacy is a big concern on the internet. Every day it seems that more and more reports of data breaches are happening at large technology companies. In this climate, you should make sure you’re doing as much as you can to control personal data collection by maintaining privacy on your devices. There are a variety of ways from DNS apps to VPN that you can use to browse apps on your Android device, to protect your data from falling into unknown hands.
Why is Private Browsing Important?
Have you ever noticed when you’re on a specific site, you’ll see advertising for another site or brand you were browsing in the past? And that the site you are currently in has nothing to do with that advertisement? This “ad stalking” happens because websites can track you while you’re on the internet. Tech giants, data brokers, and online advertisers employ a variety of techniques to keep tabs on what you do and gather information. They can drop a cookie in your browser, run a script behind the scenes, track share button usage, location, and device logging, and even fingerprint your device so it can track your history also if you delete the app from your device! Big brother is real!
Every time your device connects to the internet, you become vulnerable to snooping and data collection. Everyone from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), every website you visit, and every app on your phone can access nearly everything you do on your device. The majority of these services are happening outside of what you can see. If you’re not taking the proper precautions to protect your browser history and sites, you visit, to credit card numbers, email addresses, and passwords.
Private Browsing Options for Android Apps
Fortunately, you have a few different options to up the privacy on your Android device to keep your habits and history private and protect yourself from unwanted data trackers. Depending on which level you want to maintain your privacy – browser, ISP, or all data, including location – you can find an Android app for that.
Browser Privacy Settings
There are a variety of browsers out there that provide a level of privacy that may be enough for your purposes. You may be familiar with the term “incognito browsing.” This feature is a function you’ll find on all major browser applications. When using a browser in incognito mode, the browser does not keep cookies or your history. However, browsing in incognito mode doesn’t stop your ISP or anyone else connected to the internet from accessing your data. Any tracking happening outside your browser app will also continue to happen. The best use for protecting privacy with a browsers app’s incognito mode function is for situations where you’re using a shared device. In these instances, your browsing history disappears after you closeout of the application, so the next person using the device can’t access it.
Android browser apps that have an incognito mode built-in: Firefox Focus, InBrowser
The next option for privately browsing is using a DNS app. DNS stands for “domain name system” and is the phonebook for the internet. Everything on the internet has a specific address called an IP address, or “phone number.” This IP address translates into a domain name, like google.com, or which is the “person” you’re trying to locate in the phone book. The DNS functions as a data table that converts the text name into the IP address so it can figure out which website you’re trying to get to.
A DNS changer app protects the domain name that you enter into your browser by changing it to something non-readable to the outside world. It protects your ISP from tracking which sites you are trying to visit. A DNS changer is excellent for situations where you encounter ISP censorship and geo-blocking at the domain level. If your ISP blocks access to websites like YouTube, you’ll be able to bypass that block with a DNS changer app.
It’s important to note that a DNS changer does NOT hide your IP address. It can only protect the domains of the websites that you are calling from your device. Your IP, location data, and other personal information can still be mined and accessed by apps and sites you visit. If your ISP has blocked a site from access using the IP address of that site, a DNS changer will not work to bypass it.
Android DNS changer app: Trust DNS
A VPN is a virtual private network and is the highest version of privacy you can take on your devices. When you subscribe to a VPN service, you connect to a server that changes your IP address to the outside world. By using an “anonymous” IP address, it blocks access to your location, personal information, and browsing behaviors. Anyone trying to hack in won’t be able to get further than the VPN server. It also encrypts all data transferred between you and the VPN. VPNs are great for protecting your privacy, but because all your data transferred is encrypted, you can experience buffering and poor streaming conditions.
Android VPN app: IP Vanish, SurfShark
Choosing the best method of privately browsing on your Android device comes down to what you’re concerned about protecting and your browsing habits. If you want to block your ISP from censoring or tracking your browsing history, a DNS changer app is the way to go. However, if you’re trying to access geo-restricted content and want to block access to your location, a VPN is the best option for you. No matter which way you decide to go, it’s essential to be aware of how vulnerable your personal information is online, and take measures to remain vigilant.