Google privacy settings on Android: Tight level

Learn how to change your privacy settings on Google using Android. These steps adjust your privacy and security settings to Tight level protection.
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How to protect your account from getting hacked

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Set a strong password

What for: So that attackers cannot crack it.

A Google account lets you synchronize music, photos, contacts, and other data across devices. However, if it is hacked, criminals can gain access to all of that data. Another danger is that if someone has access to your Google account, they can remotely lock out any connected devices and erase all data from them.

Make sure that your account is protected by a strong password that complies with the following requirements:

  • Is at least 8 characters long,
  • Contains lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters ($, @, etc.),
  • Is not an actual word or easy-to-guess phrase,
  • Is not the same as your passwords for any other accounts,
  • Does not consist of information that strangers could easily find out (your name, date of birth, pet's name, and so forth — or those of your friends or relatives).

To change the password:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll to the right until you get to the Personal info tab;
  5. Select Password;
  6. In the identity confirmation window, tap Next;
  7. Confirm your identity by unlocking the screen;
  8. Enter a new, strong password (twice) and tap Change password.

Configure two-step verification

What for: Stronger protection against hacking.

You can increase the security of your Google account by enabling two-step verification. That way, every time you try to log in from a new device, the system will ask for a one-time code. A notification will be sent to all gadgets already logged in to the account. Thus, even if someone tries to hack your account, you will still be able to prevent them from logging in.

You can verify a login:

  • Using a trusted device. When you try to log in to an account from an unknown device, a message will appear on the phone with your Google account asking you to verify the login. You’ll find a list of devices that have attempted to log in but are awaiting verification on the Settings page;
  • Using a one-time code you receive by text or a phone call;
  • Using your phone's built-in security key. Keep in mind that built-in security keys are supported only by devices with Android 7.0 or later. For them to work, the phone must be located next to your PC, and Bluetooth must be enabled on both devices.

To enable two-step verification using a trusted device:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll to the right until you get to the Security tab;
  5. Tap 2-Step Verification;
  6. Tap Get started;
  7. Enter your Google account password and tap Next;
  8. Tap Try it now;
  9. A request to log in to the account will appear on the screen of the trusted device. Tap Yes;
  10. Google will suggest that you select a backup authentication method in case your trusted device is unavailable. To choose to receive the code by text or a phone call:
  11. Enter the phone number that you want to use to receive the codes;
  12. Choose how you want to receive the code (Text Message or Phone Call) and tap Send;
  13. Enter the code you receive and tap SEND.
  14. To select backup codes as an additional verification method:
  15. Tap USE ANOTHER BACKUP OPTION;
  16. The backup codes will appear on the screen. Take a screenshot, save them to a PDF file, or print them out;
  17. Tap Next.
  18. Tap TURN ON.

If you do not want to use a trusted device, choose another method of receiving the code — by text or a phone call:

  1. In the Manage your Google Account menu, scroll right to the Security tab;
  2. Tap 2-Step Verification;
  3. Tap Get started;
  4. Enter your Google account password and tap Next;
  5. Tap Show more options;
  6. Enter the phone number that you want to use to receive SMS messages or phone calls with codes;
  7. Choose how you want to receive the code (Text Message or Phone Call) and tap SEND;
  8. Enter the code and tap Next;
  9. Tap Enable.

You can enable two-step verification using a security key in the same section:

  1. Tap 2-Step Verification;
  2. Tap Show more options;
  3. Enter your Google account password and tap Next;
  4. Tap More options;
  5. Go to the Security Key section with the name of your device and tap Done.

After you have enabled two-step verification, you can add several more login methods:

  • Using backup codes that can log you in even in if your phone is not available,
  • With the Google Authenticator app.

Use a trusted device, an incoming phone call, a special app, a security key, or backup codes for secure additional verification; an attacker can use malware or a communication protocol vulnerability to intercept a text message with a one-time code.

Specify additional methods of identity verification

What for: To prevent hackers from changing your account password.

The identity verification feature protects your account from being hacked. For example, a hacker attempting to take over your account can try to reset your password and create a new one. But before that, the system will require you to complete a verification step of your choice:

  • Using a text message sent to your phone number, or
  • Using an e-mail sent to your backup e-mail address.

We recommend that you activate all methods for the highest level of security:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll to the right until you get to the Security tab;
  5. In the Ways we can verify it’s you section, enter:
  6. One or several phone numbers where you can be reached, and
  7. Your backup e-mail address.


How to keep corporations out of your business

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Turn off location tracking

What for: To prevent Google’s servers from storing your movements.

Google may save a list of all the locations where you have been. The location log is used to choose targeted ads, perform searches, and execute some other functions. For example, the option lets you automatically receive information about traffic jams between your home and workplace. If you do not want your travel information to be saved on Google servers, you can clear the log and stop adding to it:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll right to the Data & personalization tab;
  5. Tap Location History in the Activity controls section;
  6. Turn off the Location History feature;
  7. Scroll down the page and tap PAUSE.

To delete your location history, perform the following steps in the Data & personalization section:

  1. Tap Timeline in the Activity and timeline section;
  2. Tap the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen and select Settings and Privacy;
  3. Tap Delete all Location History;
  4. Tick I understand and I want to delete and tap Delete;
  5. Tap Done.

To delete location data for a specific period, perform the following steps in the same section:

  1. Tap Delete Location History range;
  2. Specify the period for which you would like to delete your location data and tap Continue;
  3. Tick I understand and I want to delete and tap Delete;
  4. Tap Done.

In the same section, you can also enable automatic deletion of data every 3 or 18 months:

  1. Tap Automatically delete Location History;
  2. Tick Auto-delete activity older than 3 months or Auto-delete activity older than 18 months;
  3. Tick I understand that my data will be deleted and tap Confirm.

Downside: Google will not be able to use information about the locations you’ve visited for purposes of ad and search personalization. The system will also not be able to create albums containing photos based on a specific location.

Forbid the transmission of location data

What for: To keep Google from knowing where you go.

Google services collect your location data. It is used for directions, targeted ad selection, and other purposes. If you do not want developers to receive this information, turn off Location services:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll right to the Data & personalization tab;
  5. Tap Timeline in the Activity and timeline section;
  6. Tap the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen and select Settings and Privacy;
  7. Tap Location is on;
  8. Turn off the toggle.

Downside: You will no longer be able to use services and apps that require access to your location. For example, you will not be able to use navigation or find a lost smartphone by using the search service.

Google can determine your location by using GPS, Wi-Fi signals, mobile networks, and device sensors. Although that increases the accuracy of your location, it also provides the company with even more of your data. To turn off this feature, do the following in the Location section:

  1. Tap Advanced,
  2. Select Google Location Accuracy,
  3. Turn off Improve Location Accuracy.

Restrict others from viewing your search and app activity history

What for: To keep Google from knowing which apps you use and which sites you visit.

By default, Google collects information about your search queries, your location, and your app activities. The data is used to increase the accuracy of recommendations and personalization of Google services.

If you would prefer not to share this information, you can disable access to it:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll right to the Data & personalization tab;
  5. Tap Web & App Activity in the Activity controls section;
  6. Turn off the toggle next to Web & App Activity;
  7. Scroll down the page and tap TURN OFF.

To delete your app activity log and your search history, perform the following steps in the Web & App Activity section:

  1. Tap Manage Activity;
  2. Tap the three-dot icon to the right of the search bar in the upper part of the screen and select Delete activity by;
  3. Select All time;
  4. Scroll down the page and tap Next;
  5. Tap Delete;
  6. Tap OK.

To delete particular activities from your history or to wipe data for a particular period, perform the following steps in the Manage activity section:

  1. Select the activity record that you want to delete, tap the three-dot icon to the right, and select Delete;
  2. Tap Delete in the opened dialog window;
  3. To delete all the activity records within a particular day, tap the Delete icon to the right of the date;
  4. Tap Delete again in the dialog window that opens.

To enable automatic deletion of data every 3 or 18 months, perform the following steps in the Manage history section:

  1. Tap the Choose to delete automatically button;
  2. Tick Auto-delete activity older than 3 months or Auto-delete activity older than 18 months and tap Continue;
  3. Tap Confirm.

Prevent Google from collecting information about your contacts

What for: So that Google does not know who you frequently talk to.

Google can save data about the contacts on the devices that you use to log in to your Google account. Such data includes not only phone numbers and e-mail addresses, but also information about how often you communicate with a particular person. That conveniently helps synchronize data across devices, but the information can also be used to target advertising, and it can be shared with third parties such as Google affiliates. If you prefer not to share this information, prevent the data from being saved:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll to the right until you get to the People & sharing tab;
  5. Tap Contact info from your devices in the Contacts section;
  6. Turn off the Save contacts from your signed-in devices feature.

Remember that other Google services and apps, such as the Contacts app, can save data about your contacts.

Prevent your YouTube watch and search history from being saved

What for: So that Google does not know which videos you have watched.

Your account holds your YouTube search and watch history. This information can be used to target advertising, and it can be shared with third parties such as Google affiliates. If you prefer not to share this information, prevent the data from being saved:

  1. Open Settings on the device,
  2. Go to the Google section,
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account,
  4. Scroll right to the Data & personalization tab,
  5. Tap YouTube History in the Activity controls section,
  6. Turn off the toggle next to YouTube History,
  7. Scroll down the page and tap PAUSE.

To delete your entire YouTube search and watch history, perform the following steps in the YouTube History section:

  1. Tap Manage Activity;
  2. On the YouTube History page that opens in your browser, tap the three dots to the right of the search box;
  3. Select Delete activity by;
  4. Tap All time or select the desired period;
  5. Tap Delete.

To enable automatic deletion of data every 3 or 18 months, perform the following steps on the YouTube History page:

  1. Tap the Choose to delete automatically button;
  2. Tick Auto-delete activity older than 3 months or Auto-delete activity older than 18 months and tap the Next button;
  3. Tap Confirm.

Stop third-party services from accessing your account data

What for: To stop developers of third-party apps from collecting information about you.

Certain sites and apps may request access to your account data, such as your date of birth, gender, and phone number. Developers use this information to show you targeted ads and to collect statistics about their audience. If you would prefer not to share this information, limit access to it:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll to the right until you get to the Security tab;
  5. Tap Manage third-party access in the Third-party apps with account access section;
  6. The Third-party apps with account access section lists the apps and sites that may use data from your Google profile. Select the apps you want to keep from viewing your information, tap Remove access, and then OK.


How to prevent your personal data from being exposed

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Limit the visibility of your profile

What for: To keep strangers from learning too much about you.

Certain data — including your date of birth, gender, and phone number — from your account is visible to other users by default. To prevent strangers from viewing this information, deny access to it:

  1. Open Settings on the device,
  2. Go to the Google section,
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account,
  4. Scroll to the right until you get to the Personal info tab,
  5. Scroll down the page and tap Go to About me,
  6. Select the fields containing information you want to deny access to, and specify that only you can see it.

You cannot limit access to certain data, such as photos and names, for example.

Hide your location from others

What for: To keep strangers from learning where you are.

Certain Google services can show your location to other users. By default, the feature is disabled. However, you can activate it by, for example, sending your current location to one of your contacts. We recommend reviewing who is allowed to access your location data and denying strangers access to it.

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll to the right until you get to the People & sharing tab;
  5. Tap Manage location sharing in the Location sharing section;
  6. In the What others can see section, tap the “X” to the left of the name of the user you want to prevent from accessing your location data.

Prevent your data and ratings from being displayed in ads

What for: So that strangers cannot see your name and photos in ads.

Google can add user ratings and reviews on an advertised product or service to their ads (such as in paid search engine results). The profile photo and the name of the user who wrote the review or added the rating are published as well. If you do not want strangers to see your personal data in ads, disable this feature:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll to the right until you get to the People & sharing tab;
  5. Tap Manage shared endorsements in the Share recommendations in ads section;
  6. Untick Based upon my activity, Google may show my profile name, profile photo, and activity in shared endorsements in ads, which is located at the bottom of the page.

Downside: If you prevent your own recommendations from being shown, you won’t see other people's ratings and reviews in ads.

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How to protect your data

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Delete bank card details from Google Pay

What for: To prevent data leaks and to not share your payment information with Google.

The Google Pay service lets you purchase goods using the card connected to your account. Although it’s convenient, if you add a payment method to your account, you also grant Google additional access to your data. For example, the company obtains the right to share your location data with your bank, and it may transmit your payment data or even private information to third parties. Google also collects information about transactions and your account, including your card numbers, account numbers, and the totals of your transfers.

If you do not want your data to be stored in Google Pay, delete it:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll right to the Payments & subscriptions tab;
  5. Tap Manage payment methods;
  6. On the page that opens in the browser, tap Remove under the bank card that you want to delete and confirm your choice.

Downside: You will not be able to use Google Pay.

Check the security of your saved passwords or delete them

What for: To protect yourself from data leaks.

Google Password Manager lets you store your autofill data and use it to log in to third-party accounts. Thanks to synchronization, this feature is available on all devices logged in to your account. It also lets you verify the security of the passwords saved in your Google account.

That is very important; if you are using identical passwords on different websites, the theft or leak of one of them could result in several of your accounts being hacked at once.

How to start a scan:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll to the right until you get to the Security tab;
  5. Scroll down the page and tap Password manager in the Signing in to other sites section;
  6. Tap Check passwords and confirm your selection;
  7. Enter your account password;
  8. Once the check is complete, you can view, edit, or delete any passwords that have been compromised, are duplicated, or are too easy to crack.

Even though the storage is protected, there is always a risk of data leaks. To reduce this risk, delete your passwords from your account:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll to the right until you get to the Security tab;
  5. Tap Password Manager in the Signing in to other sites section;
  6. Perform the following actions for each of the sites in the list:
  7. Tap the name of the Web resource,
  8. If necessary, enter your password or confirm the pattern for your smartphone,
  9. Tap Delete,
  10. Select Delete in the dialog window that opens.

Note that you may have also saved account credentials in services other than Google Password Manager, such as your browser. They will still be available there.

If you delete your Autofill data, you will have to enter your password manually on websites and in apps each time you use them. To avoid the inconvenience, you can install a password manager with a reliable data encryption and security system.


How to clean up your traces

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Download an archive with your profile data

What for: So that you do not lose any information if your account is hacked or blocked.

You can download a file with all of your Google profile data. With it, you can learn what kind of information the company collects about you as well as save it in case your account gets blocked or hijacked.

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll right to the Data & personalization tab;
  5. Tap Download your data in the Download, delete, or make a plan for your data section;
  6. Select the services from which you want to download data. All Google apps that you use are ticked by default;
  7. Tap Next step;
  8. Select how you want to receive your data archive;
  9. In the Export type & size section select how frequently you would like to back up your data. You can choose to create a one-time backup or to back up data automatically every two months;
  10. Change the file format if you want to. By default, Google will send you a ZIP file archive. However, if the size of the backup copy exceeds 2GB, you will receive it in several parts or in ZIP64 format. Keep in mind that not all operating systems support that format. Using the alternative TGZ format allows for archives of up to 50GB;
  11. Select the maximum size of a single file archive. If the total size of the archive exceeds the limit, Google will generate several files;
  12. Tap Create export.

Depending on the amount of data you request, generating the archive may take anywhere from several hours to several days. When the file is ready, you will receive a download link by e-mail.

Select what happens to your account if you stop using it

What for: To maintain control over your data even if you decide to quit using your Google account.

If you stop using your account or lose access to it, all of your data will remain on the company’s servers. That means the videos you uploaded to YouTube will still be available, as will your Google Photos, for example. You can configure the system to deactivate your Google account and delete your data after a certain period of time:

  1. Open Settings on the device;
  2. Go to the Google section;
  3. Tap Manage your Google Account;
  4. Scroll right to the Data & personalization tab;
  5. Tap Make a plan for your account in the Download, delete, or make a plan for your data section;
  6. Tap Get started;
  7. In the Decide when Google should consider your Google Account inactive section tap the Edit button and select the inactivity period after which your account should be deactivated. Google will send you a notification when the conditions have been met and your account will soon be deactivated;
  8. Check the phone number and the main and backup e-mail addresses to which Google will send messages about your inactivity. Make sure you have access to all of them so that you do not miss the notification;
  9. Tap Next;
  10. Tap Add person and enter a phone number and e-mail address to designate someone to receive a notification that your account has become inactive. If you want, indicate whether this person should be allowed to download an archive with your data, and what information it should contain;
  11. Tap Next;
  12. If you want, activate the toggle next to Yes, delete my inactive Google Account;
  13. Tap Confirm your plan, tick Receive email reminders that Inactive Account Manager is turned on, and tap Confirm plan.

Remember that along with your Google account, all data from connected services, such as YouTube, Google Photos, and others, will also be deleted.


What would have happened if you had chosen another privacy level?

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Basic privacy settings, maximum convenience.


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A golden mean respecting privacy matters but preserving convenience.


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A choice of security over convenience; instructions contain a lot of details.

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