Google-free? - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-17, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
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Google-free?

I am not tech smart, nor articulate, so I am not too sure how to even ask the question.
The situation:
My Grandsons gave us (and installed) a Google Home mini. Damn thing had recorded every bit of interaction . So I boxed it up, went into google settings on my phone and paused everything.

It got me thinking about privacy again...

Is there any way to be completely Google-free on an android (Samsung/LG) phone (or an ipad too)? I don't use a computer.
Thanks in advance.
M.M
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-17, 11:27 AM
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Android comes from Google and OEMs wishing to use it are contractually bound to include certain Google services and apps: https://www.theinformation.com/artic...g-Requirements

For iOS (iPad), you can change Safari's default search engine away from Google in Settings. Keep in mind that using any Google apps (e.g., YouTube, GMail) or visiting any of their sites on your iPad will entangle you in their tentacles.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-19, 09:22 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your reply. It seems that the answer is not at all.
What about rooting the phone and not installing any google related apps? I would have to find someone to do it for me.
M.M.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-19, 11:32 AM
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Android is so tightly integrated with Google services that trying to disable them all would cripple the phone.

There are ways to obtain a Google free phone. Those are to use a POTS phone, buy a dumb flip phone or an iPhone. Even with an iPhone, care must be exercised to not install any Google products or apps that use Google services. The prime example would be Google Chrome browser.

Even then, almost every web page (this site included) uses Google tracking and ad services to generate revenue so any browser use needs to be avoided or limited in some way. The use of a browser that blocks ads and actively blocks tracking attempts by web pages would be required. A proxy service that blocks tracking and ads may also help.

In addition, why stop at Google? Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and most social or retail sites and apps engage in tracking and obtaining personal data. To avoid it completely, use a POTS line or burner flip phone purchased with cash and never use a computer unless it's a completely anonymous public computer paid for with cash. Avoid creating any online personal accounts or providing any personal information.

Large chain stores track their customers so don't shop at stores such as Walmart, Home Depot, etc. Credit card companies track customers so never use one. Banks also track their customers so always uses cash. Stay away from public places with surveillance cameras. And so on....
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-19, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Major Marshall View Post
I am not tech smart, nor articulate..... Damn thing had recorded every bit of interaction .
So first of all: how did you determine that?
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-19, 12:42 PM
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https://myactivity.google.com (you can see this in the "Home" app on Android under Settings - My Activity).

That said, you can disable that!
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-19, 08:51 PM
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I misunderstood. Yes of course if records every single interaction with the device.... I thought the OP was saying it was recording non-Google Home activity as well - my bad.

That being said, of course they record all sorts of stuff. They need to make money for all of these services they give you for no monetary cost. But there is a price to pay.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-19, 10:13 PM
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There is always the potential for these types of devices to get hacked and used for listening by unknown third parties. Haven't heard of it happening with Google Home but it's a matter of when it will happen and how widespread it will be, not if it will happen.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-21, 11:43 AM
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If you value your privacy and security, go see the Marketplace episode about connected houses.

Be it a thermostat, door camera, night light, IP cameras, anything that is connected though internet, we ARE toast. They even hacked someones house on purpose to prove it. They were able to disarm their alarm and unlock the door. And the cameras that were meant for privacy....oh dear.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-21, 11:49 AM
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Yes, but the people they "hacked" hadn't bothered to properly configure any of the (IOT) equipment, leaving default passwords, etc.

I'm sure that anything can be hacked by a determined real hacker, however, in the Marketplace episode it was just people being lazy and not reading/following installation instructions (which is the case for too many people these days).

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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-21, 12:22 PM
 
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What about replacing Android with LineageOS on your smartphone? Would that help getting rid of Google?
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-21, 12:32 PM
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The MarketPlace episode (I did watch it some time ago), and almost all of the IP cams visible on devious sites on the net, etc, are due to people not doing their due diligence to change default passwords or use strong & unique passwords. If setup properly it's quite difficult to hack into home IOT devices.

Same with account take-overs. Reports of Gmail or Twitter accounts or whatever being hacked is almost never due to those services themselves. Rather, some other small vendor account like your neighborhood online pizza or flower ordering's site was hacked and didn't store credentials securely. From that the bad actor gets usernames and passwords and then just mass-tries them against other larger sites (like the ones mentioned). Due to password reuse - that's how the bad actor gets in.

Three mandatory online security principles to live by:
  1. Use a well renowned password manager (i.e. Lastpass or similar - not an Excel spreadsheet) and set it up properly/securely.
  2. Use unique and strong passwords everywhere (should go without saying: change all defaults).
  3. Turn on 2FA for anything and everything that supports it.

There's flaws with everything (recent reports of 2FA issues) but if someone follows those three principles at a minimum your chances of a compromise are minimized.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-21, 02:07 PM
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I agree with you guys. Most of the time, reason people are hacked are due to ignorance. Every manual seem to tell you to change the basic password of "INSERT ITEM" when you set it up.

Can you imagine? I know people who don't believe in using anti viruses for their PC. I never accept anything from them. Email or USB/CD/DVD. Nada.

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-21, 09:29 PM
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Quote:
...almost all of the IP cams visible on devious sites on the net, etc, are due to people not doing their due diligence to change default passwords or use strong & unique passwords. If setup properly it's quite difficult to hack into home IOT devices.
It's more the fault of the device makers not doing their due diligence. They need to ensure that IOT devices cannot be used with default security settings and insecure passwords. This is basic security that has been well known for many years but many device makers still fail to do it. For example, my internet router will not work unless a password is set by the user. Passwords also need to contain a minimum number of characters and character types. Any device that can be just plugged in and will then operate with a public IP address, default login and well known password is defective. That describes many digital surveillance cameras and internet routers.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 2019-01-21, 09:41 PM
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Three mandatory online security principles to live by:
Also, use a VPN and don't allow direct access to those devices from the Internet. It's also a good idea to put them on their own subnet. Some security camera DVRs have 2 network connections, one for the cameras and one for the network the computers are on. This makes it impossible to reach the cameras or other devices directly from the main network.

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