Internet users are more aware than ever before about the value of their data and how many companies want to collect and use it. That’s why online privacy is so highly sought after. That’s why it’s refreshing to see Linux take a number of steps to protect users’ privacy, starting from the moment you first use the operating system…
No account is needed
A Microsoft account is a must if you want to use Windows 11. Similarly, accounts with Google and Apple are required to get the most out of Chromebooks and MacBooks, respectively. While you can use them as a guest, you miss out on core features like the App Store, for example.
In contrast, Linux allows you to use your computer without the need to create an account – or even the prompt to do so. From the very start, that means you can install apps, download updates and simply use your operating system, without giving access to all of that activity to any company.
Open source software
That freedom of use continues when it comes to apps available through Linux. Because most software is open-source, tracking code can be easily detected and reported – or the software redistributed with tracking code removed.
In contrast, other operating systems act as commercial platforms. Apps are created with the aim of harvesting data, which then allows them to show you relevant ads and, ultimately, make money.
On top of that, Linux makes it easy to remove pre-installed programs. Also known as bloatware, these programs are a big issue on Windows in particular, where devices come with numerous third-party installations which simply aren’t necessary. The software itself might track users, or ask them to make an account which will then track them.
On the flipside, Linux preinstalled software – as above – is mostly open-source, and it’s refreshingly easy to remove.
Hard drive encryption
As the home of all your computer’s permanent data, the hard drive is central to any user’s privacy. But on most operating systems, encryption is highly challenging. As such, other companies actually offer encryption services as an additional expense – that could be a pre-encrypted hard drive or encryption software.
Instead, Linux gives you the option to encrypt your hard drive when installing the operating system. It’s also easy to encrypt other media – just look for ‘Password Protect Volume (LUKS)’ when using the most common partition editor for Linux, GNOME Disks.
Last but not least is security, which is an important component of maintaining user privacy. After all, data isn’t private if hackers can access it!
The problem with Microsoft, Apple and Google is that support is finite. With Microsoft, it’s tied to a certain version of windows, while Apple and Google tie it to your specific device.
With Linux, you can continue to access updates as long as your computer can run your Linux distribution. So, that’s one more thing users don’t need to worry about when it comes to privacy on Linux.
What else can I do to protect my online privacy?
Aside from using Linux, there are a number of other steps you can take to protect your privacy online.
- Make sure you’re using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs hide your real IP address, making your online usage private and protected.
- Keep your social media accounts set to private. This stops people from snooping on your profile, which can help to prevent identity theft and stalking, among other issues.
- Opt out of online data brokers. Data brokers collect and sell your information to third-parties, or use it for their own purposes. This is done for profit – and most often, without your informed consent. The more your data is spread among third-parties, the more your security is put at risk.