I attempted a while back to see if I could limit my exposure on the web. Looking at all the security concerns and even my own security fun I decided to see what i could limit.
The first place I looked was to stop all the online leakage and “free info” I was sharing while browsing. You know what I mean, you probably see it every day and don’t even notice. This is the info you give to google when you are searching. It is delivered back to you via Google ads and other avenues.
Example of ads from a site after my wife was shopping for “board shorts” in a few google searches.
To stop this from happening I decided to switch from “google” to DuckDuckGo as my default search engine. If you are not familiar it is a search engine devoted to security.
DuckDuckGo is an Internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the “filter bubble” of personalized search results. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users
The second step I did was to not allow the ads to show. This is not really a prevention method for leaking data but rather a way to not have to deal with seeing it. I use Chrome as my default browser and I added a plugin called AdBlock. I know, I know I happen to have ads on this blog (sorry).
After moving to ddg for search I decided to see what other areas of google I could do with out. This is the hard step. I use google for almost everything. I have been using Gmail since 2004 and also Google Apps since they have been available for domains. To see if not using google for mail was possible I gave Zoho mail a try. I switched one of my personal domains over to using it from google apps. I even moved to using their writer and productivity tools.
The outcome… Well not so good. I found that zoho mail was very useful but not as intuitive as Gmail. I was quickly back to using gmail again.
After reading a few posts on how to get away from Google, I have realized there are alternatives but not exactly the same thing. Gabriel Weinberg has a great post, where he goses over his alternative google services. http://www.gabrielweinberg.com/blog/2014/09/what-i-use-instead-of-google-services.html
I have attempted to look at each one he has listed but still find Google services very useful and reliable.
What have I learned. Well, I learned that I do rely on Google for a lot of my daily and personal life. Finances in Google Spreadsheet, Calendar in gmail, email in gmail, documents for family in Google doc and many more. If Google was to run a report on me they could see most of my life with in a few minutes. I have switched to DDG and I will try to diversify, starting with replacing google analtyics with Clicky to give it a try. But for the time being I will continue to give a slice of my privacy away for ease of use and useful services. At least I am aware.