Privacy First — Trying to become a ghost to trackers and ads 👻

Tim ✌
4 min readJan 15, 2019


I’ve decided to test out a privacy-first mentality. This isn’t a “stop cold turkey with social media” or a perfect equation for keeping all your data and online stuff safe but it’s worth the effort. I’m looking at it as an everyday tech user trying to dodge the collection of my personal data. It’s pretty impossible with the sharing of photos on Facebook or using GMail. But I think we can control a good amount of it if we try.

Why now?

I have no idea. I think it’s just from constantly reading about data leaks, data being sold between companies, lawsuits, identity storage, or it could be just general curiosity. I keep hearing about VPNs and password managers as a normal thing. I thought these tools were more of the corporate level so I personally never got into the scene. But then something like TunnelBear showed up and that started to get my attention but I never wanted to use a free VPN. Then I kept hearing about NordVPN and the timing was perfect with a podcast mention (actually an ad) and I got a great deal. Also, my brother has been swearing by DuckDuckGo and now I’m trying it out. But I think the tipping point for me was when I heard about Have I Been Pwned… I did a quick search and welp yea pwned. So, I took the advise of Troy Hunt and got 1Password. Also, I saw someone tweet about a new site called Security Checklist and decided to make my own list 🤗.


I heard about this VPN via The Kevin Rose podcast. I had to have a VPN for a Europe trip and decided to go with this one after a bit of research. I believe it’s safe and secure, and within a reasonable price. The link is the Kevin Rose link BTW. Shout out, dude.

Here’s the page for all the NordVPN apps. I’m using the iOS app, OSX app, Firefox Extension, and Chrome Extension. The browser extensions add extra protection to my browsing by blocking WebRTC and implementing CyberSec.


Password management and creation is hard. It’s either you use the same 3 passwords or try to remember 15 different random strings or just use a password manager. I’m trying out 1Password now. It’s pretty neat. It’s easy to use, cheap, and for all my devices. Will I be able to access an account on another computer?… kind of? Maybe with the manager on my phone but other than that… nah. Now all my passwords are super encrypted! WOO!

I’m using the OSX, iOS, and browser extensions for the management.


Firefox is for my day-to-day browsing. I tested and like Brave and I may give it a better try later but for now I’m working with Firefox. It’s safer than Chrome and I can use the 1Password and NordVPN extensions. One issue that may be a strength later is the ability to use it for web development. Chrome is still king for web development IMHO.

Firefox has an add-on that I’m testing called Containers. This add-on creates sections of sites that share data and don’t interact with sites outside of the containers. This keeps trackers/cookies out of the the sites you use. They have one specifically for Facebook that I’m testing. Again, I’m a normal user here. I love seeing my family and friends’ photos and knowing what they’re up to… just wanna be clear about my privacy. Let’s be honest though, I may delete my Facebook this year… but we’ll see.


Instead of the notes app, I’m using Laverna to take notes and keep them encrypted on my mac. Just something small but important.


I’m trying out DuckDuckGo. I do love Google as a developer but I’m going to start testing out the DuckDuckGo as my main search engine. No tracking, no data storage, and no creepy stuff.

Try out the iOS app too but I mainly use Firefox.

What’s next?

Maybe a privacy-first email account? I noticed while looking through my Google account that it aggregated my purchases from other sites like Amazon and travel from Airbnb into my profile and I can’t delete the items in their list. The data all came from Gmail and that’s pretty damn creepy. Is $5/month for email worth my privacy… ummm… yea probably.

Suggestions? Let me know. 👍



Tim ✌

A developer, a freelancer, a runner, a partner, an optimist