How to Turn Your Phone Into a Webcam (2022): Mac, Windows, iPhone, Android
In most video-conferencing apps, like Zoom, you can toggle on HD mode to improve the video quality. When you tap the Control Center in the taskbar, you’ll see a Video Effects button. Tap it and you’ll get options to turn on Center Stage, which will pan the camera to make sure you’re always in the frame; Portrait, which will blur the background; and Studio Light, which will glam you up with some studio-like lighting. The same goes for Desk View mode, which will use the ultrawide camera on the iPhone to show what’s on your desk (er, crumbs, really).
Belkin has a mount for MacBooks ($30) and Macs ($40) that sticks to the back of your iPhone using the MagSafe magnetic connection. This lets you place the iPhone on top of your computer so that you don’t need to hold it or use a tripod. It works really well, but for MacBooks, make sure the screen is almost at a 90-degree angle to prevent the phone from falling off. This is the best way to use your iPhone as a webcam with a MacBook.
Another iPhone and Mac (Intel) Alternative
I recommend using Camo or Apple’s Continuity Camera, but if you can’t use those options, NeuralCam Live is a good alternative. It’s a free app that only works with macOS and iOS/iPadOS. It’s from the makers of a popular low-light camera app. It sadly does not work yet with newer Macs powered by Apple’s M1 or M2 processors (any Mac from November 2020 or newer)—just Intel-powered ones. The company has a different app you can use that enhances the existing webcam on M1 and M2-powered Macs using machine learning algorithms.
Steps to set up NeuralCam Live:
- Download the NeuralCam Live app on the iOS App Store (requires iOS 13 and up).
- Open the app and allow access to the camera and microphone.
- You need to download a plug-in on your Mac. In the phone app, you’ll see an option to AirDrop the plug-in file to your Mac, or you can send it to yourself via email. You can also download it by clicking this link. Open the file on your Mac and follow the steps to install it.
- Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac via a cable.
You should now be able to see NeuralCam Live as a camera option in your videoconferencing apps. To see the option, you might need to quit your desktop video-calling app if it’s open. If that doesn’t work, restart your computer. There is a subscription available for NeuralCam Live Plus, but it’s not necessary. It removes ads, unlocks some additional filters, and adds a low-light mode.
Things to note: NeuralCam Live, like most virtual webcam services, doesn’t work in Apple’s Safari web browser. So if you use a browser-based video-calling service like Google Meet, you’ll need to use another browser, like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. NeuralCam Live uses several machine learning algorithms to improve your video quality, and you should take advantage of some nifty features, including Gesture Guard, which will blur your image if you touch your face (like if you sneeze) or if the app recognizes any accidental nudity.
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How to Use Your Phone as a Hotspot
Follow these easy instructions to set up mobile Wi-Fi access on your phone
Edited by Cara Haynes
May 25, 2023 | Share
If you’re out running errands and you suddenly need internet, you can use your phone to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot. With a few taps, you’ll have an internet connection for laptops, tablets, and other connected devices.
To set up a hotspot, follow these simple instructions:
Step 1: Open the settings menu.
Step 2: Go to the section marked Wi-Fi Hotspot (also sometimes listed as Personal Hotspot or Mobile Hotspot and Tethering).
Step 3: Switch on the hotspot.
Sometimes these instructions are different, depending on the type of phone you have, but that’s more or less how it works.
See below for more detailed, step-by-step instructions to help you switch on the hotspots for various Android and Apple iOS phones. We also have a list of the best phone plans for hotspots.
Consider getting a mobile hotspot device if you hotspot a lot—it connects more devices and saves your phone’s batteries. See the best mobile hotspots for details on pricing, data, and extra features.
Jump to: What you need for a phone hotspot | Turning on phone hotspots for iOS phones and tablets | Turning on phone hotspots for Android devices | Best phone hotspot plans | What is a phone hotspot?
Phone hotspot requirements
Of course, to set up a hotspot on your phone, you’ll need the following:
- A smartphone with hotspot capabilities
- A phone plan that allows you to set up personal hotspots
Android phones generally let you connect up to 10 devices simultaneously. For Apple, the maximum number of devices you can connect depends on the iPhone you have and what your wireless carrier allows.
How do I find my phone hotspot password?
To find your phone’s hotspot password, go to the hotspot menu under your phone’s settings. You’ll see a button that allows you to enable and disable the hotspot along with a section for configuring passwords and changing the name of your hotspot.
See our directions above on hotspot setup for iPhones and hotspot setup for Android phones for more details.
How to turn on a phone hotspot on an iPhone or iPad
Switching on your phone’s hotspot is quick and easy with an Apple iOS device.
Note: If you don’t already have a cellular plan that allows for hotspots, you’ll need to contact your provider to set it up.
Step 1: Go to Settings > Personal Hotspot. Or (depending on the type of iPhone you have) go to Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot.
Step 2: Hit the toggle button to turn on the Personal Hotspot. If you don’t have a cellular plan with hotspot data, you may have to tap a button that says Set Up Personal Hotspot, which will prompt you to call your provider.
Step 3: Toggle on the function that says Allow Others to Join.
Step 4: Write down the password. You can change the password by tapping on the text, tapping X to erase it, and typing in a new password of your choice.
Once you’ve turned on your iPhone’s hotspot, you can connect another Wi-Fi enabled device to it by looking up the name of your hotspot on your device’s Wi-Fi menu and typing in the password.
Looking for an easy way to test and track your internet speed?
Take our internet speed test or download our free speed test app to test your speed from anywhere.
Download our free, easy-to-use speed test app for quick and reliable results.
How to turn on a phone hotspot on Android phones
Setting up a hotspot on an Android phone depends slightly on what kind of phone you have. But the instructions are more or less the same regardless of the phone.
Usually you can find the hotspot by searching in your phone for “hotspot” or “tethering.” After you’ve turned on the hotspot, connect to it on another device that needs internet by selecting the name of your hotspot in the device’s Wi-Fi menu and putting in the password.
As you set up the hotspot, make sure you’ve switched on your cellular data, which the hotspot uses to provide a Wi-Fi connection.
Step 1: Go to Settings > Connections > Mobile Hotspot and Tethering > Mobile Hotspot. Tap to switch it on. You can turn it off the same way.
Step 2: Make sure the Wi-Fi sharing option is switched on—otherwise you can’t connect other devices.
Step 3: To change the hotspot name, password, and other settings, tap on the Mobile Hotspot menu.
Step 1: Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Hotspot & Tethering.
Step 2: Tap Wi-Fi Hotspot to turn it on.
Step 3: Tap Wi-Fi Hotspot to edit the name of your hotspot.
To change your password, go to Advanced > Hotspot Password. If you want, tap Hide My Device to keep others from seeing your hotspot listed publicly. In the Advanced menu, you can also switch the AP Band to 5 GHz to improve your network connection.
Google Pixel phones
Step 1: Make your way to Settings > Network & internet > Hotspot & tethering.
Step 2: Toggle next to Off (to enable) or On (to disable).
Pro tip: Tethering through Bluetooth or USB
iPhones and Android devices let you tether other devices using USB or Bluetooth connections. You can tether only one device this way—as opposed to 10 or potentially even more on a hotspot. But it will do a better job of preserving your phone’s battery power.
To set it up, go to Settings > Mobile Hotspot & Tethering. Instead of selecting the mobile (or Wi-Fi) hotspot, hit the button that allows for USB or Bluetooth tethering. For USB tethering, plug a USB cable into your phone and plug the other end into your device to get the internet connection.
Step 1: On your Home screen, go to Settings > Network & internet > Tethering. Or it could be listed under Settings > Networks > Tethering.
Step 2: You’ll see a switch to turn on the hotspot, which will be labeled either Wi-Fi Hotspot or Mobile HotSpot (depending on the model of LG phone). Tap the button to turn it on.
Step 3: Go to Configure Mobile HotSpot to adjust settings like the name of the hotspot and the password. Then hit Save.
Take a look at our guide to the best budget 5G phones for a device that gets you lots of power at a cheap price.
Step 1: The menu options for Huawei phones are all worded slightly differently, but the directions are pretty much the same. Access the hotspot and switch it on by going to Settings > Wireless & Networks.
Step 2: In Wireless & Networks, you will find a section called either Personal Hotspot or Tethering & Portable Hotspot. Just look for the word “hotspot,” and it will lead you to the button to switch it on. You’ll also find options for setting up the name, password, and more.
Pro tip: Use a tethering app to avoid fees and throttled speeds.
If you have an Android device, you can download apps like PdaNet+ and EasyTether to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot on your phone without requiring the hotspot function.
It doesn’t work as reliably as your phone’s hotspot, but it won’t put a dent on your monthly hotspot data cap or require you to upgrade your phone plan if you aren’t automatically allowed to set up hotspots. Just make sure to look over your cell provider’s terms of service to make sure it doesn’t conflict with your phone contract.
Best phone plans for hotspots
Data effective as of 5/25/23. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
*AutoPay Discount included: -$5/mo. per line
To use your phone’s hotspot, you’ll need a cellular plan that gives you hotspot data. Thankfully, plenty of phone plans give you just that. Major cellular companies often give you more hotspot data for your dollar, but MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) like Mint Mobile and Visible also have decent hotspot deals.
Expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $85 per month for a phone plan with hotspot data. Also, keep an eye out for your hotspot’s data cap—you usually can use only a finite amount of mobile data per month before your speeds are slowed to a crawl or your hotspot connection is cut off entirely.
Looking for a sweet phone to use as a hotpot? Take a look at our recommendations for the best 5G phones.
What is a phone Wi-Fi hotspot?
A phone Wi-Fi hotspot is an internet access point built into your smartphone, providing a Wi-Fi connection for other devices within its range. It works similarly to a wired internet connection like the one you have at home, only it uses mobile data from your cellular provider to get you internet access anywhere with cell service.
Make your phone a hotspot when you are . . .
- Staying in a vacation home
- Working at a restaurant or coffee shop
- Looking for Wi-Fi while your home internet is down
Just keep in mind that your phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot isn’t an adequate replacement for home internet. Hotspot data usually costs a lot more and the speeds aren’t as fast, so you’re still better off with a wired internet plan if you need a setup for day-in, day-out use. Or you can get a dedicated mobile hotspot.
Phones have all sorts of helpful features that make your life easier. Take a look at our step-by-step guide on how to share your Wi-Fi password from your phone.
Instead of relying on a hotspot, you can also check to see if you can get a better, cheaper, or faster home internet connection. Use our zip code tool to find out what’s available in your area.
Search Providers near you
Do you need a dedicated hotspot device other than your phone?
If you need internet regularly while traveling or working outside the office, it may be worth investing in a mobile hotspot separate from your phone’s hotspot.
While phone hotspots are easy and relatively cheap, standalone hotspots connect more devices, hit faster speeds, and often have a wider range. More advanced 5G hotspots have Wi-Fi 6 capability, helping them maintain an efficient connection while supporting a large number of devices. Also, having a separate hotspot means you won’t drain your phone’s battery.
See our top recommendations for the best mobile hotspots, best 5G hotspots, and mobile hotspot data plans.
- How to Find Free Public Wi-Fi
- Best Mobile Hotspots
- Best Hotspot Data Plans 2021
- How to Get Internet without a Phone Line or Cable
Author — Peter Holslin
Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.
Editor — Cara Haynes
Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she’s edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she’s not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.
☎️ How to use the phone consciously
This is a translation of an article by Niklas Goeka that really hooked me. I couldn’t stop until I translated it completely.
By the way, you can follow the announcements of new articles in my telegram channel. Subscribe so you don’t miss anything!
Photo by Jordan McQueen adapted for article
If your phone takes up more space in your life than a toothbrush, then it’s time to start thinking.
Our smartphone is a device aimed at achieving specific goals. The way it is used should contribute to the achievement of goals. So why, instead of configuring a smartphone for specific functions, should we ourselves adjust to its whims?
A great tool serves only one purpose. It can be used regardless of skill level.
The use of great tools is fully conscious. The resources they use are our time and attention. Many of our tools are more demanding. They encourage us to use them after they have performed their direct function. This consumes more time than required.
Great tools have three characteristics that break this dilemma.
- You only remember them when you really need them.
- To use them you need a minimum of time.
- They let you go as soon as you’re done.
The toothbrush is the epitome of mindfulness and the best tool mankind has ever invented. You use it only when necessary. It serves a specific purpose. You will never forget how to use it. After use, it is easy to put it back in place — there is nothing else to do with it.
Your phone is a worthless tool. The smartphone does everything to attract attention, seduce and make you stay longer. The latest Nielsen report says that every day we spend 2.5 hours of our life on the phone. I can’t imagine why someone would need to spend 17.5 hours a week hugging the phone, unless they work part-time in a call center.
Your smartphone can keep you fully awake by itself. You will understand why and why you use it. To do this, I propose to use three main characteristics of great instruments.
1. Minimizing irritants
The main goal of the first step is to make sure that the smartphone reminds of itself only when it is really needed. Depending on your job, this could be somewhere between «never» and «for important calls.» There are two types of irritants that need to be removed.
Sound and tactile stimuli. These are all tones and vibrations. I always keep my smartphone in silent mode. The easiest way to turn off vibration is to change one setting. Go to «Sounds, tactile signals» and deactivate the item «In silent mode».
Visual stimuli. When we ask «Do I see this?» we usually mean «Can I touch this?» There is an expression that babies «look» at the world with their hands, but not only children do this. The very sight of your smartphone screams, “Check me! Well, just in case!” Therefore, it urgently needs to be removed from sight.
Put your smartphone in a drawer, leave it in a bag or locker, charge it in another room, or just put it behind a computer or laptop screen. If this is hard for you to believe, let’s play a game: track how many times you pick up your phone in the next hour, then hide it and check yourself again. The result will surprise you!
Once the irritants are gone, it’s time to start using your smartphone more efficiently.
2. Intended use
The purpose of this section is to make sure that your smartphone helps you solve your tasks as efficiently as possible and spends a minimum of time on it. Let’s say you realized that there was a good reason to use a smartphone. The first question is: «What will you see on the screen when you take it?»
Conscious lock screen. I am grateful to Jason Steerman for the idea of a calm intro. This is what my lock screen looks like.
Mockup created with MocaFon. Wallpaper
Everything on this screen makes sense:
- Everything is black and white because there are no other colors in my smartphone. We will analyze this separately.
- There is a lot of free space in the picture — it creates an atmosphere of calm and does not overload the senses.
- The picture shows the desert as a reminder that a smartphone is a grain of sand that I came to for something specific.
- He asks a thought-provoking question. I have to be honest with myself when I pick up my phone.
Create your own calm screensaver. This will enhance the emotional connection. I took an image from Ansplash, selected the correct resolution in iOS Res and created a special design in Canva. The question is exactly on the border of the upper third of the image.
You will find out why I chose the question «Why are you here?», but there are other options:
- Why am I in your hands?
- What are you looking for?
- Why are you holding me?
When I pick up my phone, I don’t want to unlock it right away. At first I think what is needed now. Turns out I have quite a few options.
Do I need to unlock at all? Unlocking the smartphone reminds me of the moment Harry Potter discovered the pool of memory in Dumbledore’s office. He did not even have time to blink, as he fell into the brave new world with his head.
Apple is doing everything it can to make this journey easy for us. Therefore, first of all, go to «Settings» and disable «:
- «Raise to activate». Setting in «Display and brightness». I decide when to turn on the screen, not the forearm reflex.
- «Open with a finger». General → Accessibility → Home. Now your smartphone will not be unlocked by accident. You will have to press the Home button.
On the lock screen, you have several options that don’t require you to «fall in».
- Swipe left to open the widgets screen. I left only «Next», «Weather» and «Favorites». Jason said what else can be put on this screen. If you click on the widget, you fall into the corresponding application.
- Swipe right to open the camera.
- Swipe up from the bottom — the control center appears. In iOS 11, you can get into applications by hard pressing on the symbol. To add more apps, go to Settings → Control Center.
- Swipe down to get notification history. This is the best way to check messages without notifying senders that they have been read. I added here all messengers, Calendar and Reminders. Menu item: Show in History.
Widgets, control center customization, and adding app to notification history, not showing on lock screen
If you allow an application to show notifications «On the lock screen», then they will pop up exactly in the middle of it. I only enabled these notifications for calls and calendar events. You must initiate the message check yourself, not the person who sends it. Showing messages in notification history is ideal.
If you do everything exactly according to the instructions, you will avoid the need to unlock your smartphone in 7 out of 10 cases.
Now let’s move on to the three remaining cases.
Home screen that you want to return to. Before entering any hospitable home, you will be sure to be told: «Welcome!» But when we get to the home screen, we find ourselves in a minefield.
There are two types of mines that you can say goodbye to immediately:
- Dust collectors. The ideal rule for getting rid of rubbish is to throw away everything that has not been used for more than six months. Get rid of the junk in your app closet! You can always download them again.
- Slot machines. Tony Stubblebine popularized this definition for apps where you instantly get lost. News, promotions, social networks, games, shopping, tinder and everything else.
Remove anything that falls into one of these categories. This will be a huge step towards conscious consumption. But I know another way to make the home screen a better place. You need to find your oasis in the desert.
Level 0. «Oasis». When I unlock my smartphone, the journey begins:
I made the home screen blank because it’s the easiest way to be mindful. From this screen, there are three ways:
- Siri. I don’t use it much because I think I look weird when I talk to Siri in public places. But in theory, you can even ask for advice from the lock screen.
- Search. I like Jason’s idea to use search for everything. This adds another level to the questions: «What are you looking for here?» I’m experimenting with this.
- Scroll. My current usage format is 4 pages. Applications are arranged by frequency of use. Let me show you everything.
Levels 1, 2, 3 and 4
Level 1 Applications that I use several times a day. One swipe from the home screen and I’m in the country of communication. I don’t have stickers or other notifications. Even without them, I remember that I want to communicate with people. I check my notification history regularly so I don’t miss anything. I answer messages when I have time.
Level 2: Applications that I use once a day. Navigation, a running tracker, and a podcast app are things you might need no more than once a day.
Level 3 Apps I use once a week. These are the applications I most often run from my computer, but sometimes I need them on the go. Also here is my activity tracker, which I sync once a week.
Level 4 Apps that I use when there is no other way. Settings, software updates and all that. Also apps I use while traveling and junk folders that can’t be deleted.
A few important things about the system:
- Use no more than two rows of applications per screen to always see the main question.
- Within categories, arrange applications by frequency of use.
- Applications that are not visible anywhere — Alarm clock, Calculator, Notes and Music. Call them from the control center.
The idea is to place frequently used applications as close to the oasis as possible. Ideally, you should decide what level of apps you want before you start scrolling.
Shades of grey. By now you should have noticed that all the screenshots are in black and white. I have two reasons for this:
- The “boring” look reminds me that my smartphone is not an amusement park.
- Grayscale is a more proper version of Night Mode that turns your screen orange at night. This helps to reduce the amount of blue light that interferes with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Hats off to Net Alison who taught me this. Night mode can be enabled in the settings item «Screen and brightness», grayscale in «Basic» → «Accessibility» → «Display adaptation» → «Light filters».
Unless you take a lot of photos or videos with your smartphone for work—and no one does—colors make irritants more annoying. If you are not ready for such radicalism, at least turn on Night mode to reduce the impact of your smartphone on your sleep.
Turn off notifications along the way. Each stop on the way to the required application may cause additional annoyances. Therefore, it is important to properly manage notifications. Of the 32 apps on my smartphone, only 8 can send me notifications.
- Badge stickers are enabled for those apps that I check once a day or less, in my case it’s news in Telegram, Reminders, Phone and updates in the App Store.
- Banners are only needed for calls and calendar events, as they interrupt the use of other applications.
- Warnings are not used, because they are worse than banners. You already know how I receive messages: not on the lock screen, but in the notification history.
That’s it! Your smartphone is now fully charged for the conscious consumption of information. There is only one thing left.
3. End of use
For me, this is a utopia: a smartphone that offers to leave it alone when the need is gone. I don’t know yet how best to do it. The closest guess is picking the perfect intro question.
Initially I had: “What are you looking for?” However, this question sucked inside the smartphone and did not lead outside. After answering the call, one could start looking for entertainment or cats.
«Why are you here?» is better, because this question reflects the situation when you have finished working with the application.
To answer the question accurately:
- Press the Home button when you’re done with the application.
- Press it again to return to the oasis and wisely decide to lock your smartphone.
I am fascinated by the idea that no one has yet come up with a solution to this problem. Although there is nothing unusual about this. You can’t sell drugs to healthy people, you can’t sell apps to people who don’t use them.
Mankind’s main challenge is to take control of tools faster than they took control of you. Prometheus and fire, monkeys and stick, Neo and Matrix. This war will never end.
Image used with permission from Kayan Pague. Flickr
Zeus instructed Prometheus to create the human form and handed him fire and clay. Fire is Prometheus’ smartphone. He constantly dragged him into the game and reassured him with false promises of calm. In a fit of carelessness and self-confidence, Prometheus gave fire to people, which entailed punishments for him and our entire species.
But history has seen a ray of hope. Prometheus did not invent fire. He just stole it and gave it to us. However, we have invented both the toothbrush and the smartphone. Unlike the Greek titan, we are fighting our own creation.
As you brush your teeth tonight, please remember that this is your job. No, your calling is to participate in this battle.
You cannot retreat.
I tell you about how to make life a little more productive, stop wasting time on nonsense, find energy for what you want, and learn how to control attention on an online course.
Over the course of a month, we work with four blocks that affect personal effectiveness: set goals, remove distractions, find energy, and create tools to help catch zen.
Now the next group is recruiting, and you still have time to sign up. Follow the link and register for the course.
Sign up for a course
How to use the telephone and the Internet in modern Russia — and not be substituted. Rules that absolutely everyone must follow — Meduza
The state is doing everything to make it easier for the security forces to read your correspondence. The phones of those detained at the protests are taken away and they are tried to be hacked. In this situation, it’s time to learn how to use the phone in such a way that at least not to simplify the work of the security forces — and not to be substituted. These simple rules won’t keep you from a clever hack, but you won’t be an easy target either.
Always access the Internet from a VPN — both from your phone and from your computer
Don’t be intimidated by the abbreviation VPN. Using such services is very simple: just download the application and log in, then it will do everything by itself. A VPN creates a kind of layer between your device and the Internet and makes the connection secure — almost certainly traffic cannot be intercepted.
Free services are risky because they can sell your data, so buy a subscription. You should choose from those who promise not to share your data and are independently audited. For example, Private Internet Access or NordVPN.
Almost all VPN providers use the OpenVPN protocol in their applications. Roskomnadzor recently demanded that the OpenVPN developer company restrict access to resources from the Russian «black list», threatening to block it. Representatives of the department did not explain whether they are going to block all connections via the OpenVPN protocol, or if the threat only affects the company’s subsidiary VPN provider.
Alternatively, try the new and promising WireGuard protocol. It, unfortunately, is not yet able to provide the same level of privacy: VPN providers must remember which IP addresses are assigned to clients. But some companies come up with different workarounds.
Be aware that even though VPN is enabled, your original IP address may still be «leaked». For example, due to incorrectly configured DNS or the enabled WebRTC function in the browser. You can usually check if you have these «leaks» on the VPN provider’s website. Or use third party services.
Turn off fingerprint, face recognition, or iris unlock on your Android, and Touch ID and Face ID on your iPhone, respectively. Otherwise, if the phone ends up in the wrong hands, it can be unlocked against your will — it will be enough to bring the screen to your face or put your finger on the scanner.
A PIN or passcode is much more secure, especially if you enable access blocking after several failed login attempts. On an iPhone, by default, you can’t pick up a PIN code for a long time.
Use strong and varied passwords. They don’t need to be memorized!
Forget your favorite and only password that you have on your computer, and in the mail, and on VKontakte, and everywhere else. You need a password manager like 1Password, KeePassXC or Firefox Lockwise. With them, you will only need to remember one (but long!) password, and all other passwords for different services will be different. If someone finds out your Facebook password, at least they won’t be able to access your mail.
It is difficult to pick up a strong password by brute force — it is desirable that it contains not only letters, but also numbers (and even better a couple of commas or some other symbols). There are many tips for creating and remembering such passwords.
Turn on two-factor authentication wherever possible
This is your second layer of protection. The first factor is the password, the second is the device. Even if an attacker manages to remotely crack your password (for example, from mail), he will still not be able to use it without having access to the device. This greatly complicates the task of hacking.
The most popular two-factor authentication method is a special application on the phone that generates one-time passwords. Such an application can be a free Google Authenticator or the same 1Password.
Typically, when you turn on two-factor authentication, you will be asked to point the camera at a QR code or manually enter a string of characters. The application will save this secret sequence and use it to generate one-time codes.
Do not use SMS as the second factor. SMS interception is a well-known and popular way of hacking, this is how in Russia they hacked the telegrams of opposition activists.
Refuse SMS and regular phone calls
Use secure messengers with end-to-end encryption support instead: WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram. You can also call there. Otherwise, all your correspondence and negotiations will be stored in the open on the servers of telecom operators — they are obliged to do this according to the «Yarovaya Law». Operators will also store encrypted correspondence, but they will not be able to decrypt it. In Russian social networks, it is better not to correspond — they easily give out correspondence and information about users.
Learn how to make sure no one is listening in.
It’s pretty easy to do. The interlocutors need to verify the so-called key fingerprints that are used in the encryption process. Only in this case can you be sure that the person you are writing to will receive messages from you.
In WhatsApp, the interlocutors can scan each other’s QR code from their phone screens or exchange 60-digit numbers. Telegram offers users of secret chats to compare a special picture or a sequence of 64 characters, and when calling, it is enough to verify four emojis with your voice.
This is what a call looks like in a telegram. The screenshots show that the emojis in the upper right corner are the same, which means that the interlocutors are definitely talking to each other
Turn on file system encryption
Both on iPhones and on Android phones, data encryption is usually enabled by default, but on Android it is better to check. Usually this item is located in the security settings and is called “Data Encryption” or “SD Card Encryption” — the data on the card must also be encrypted.
Otherwise, even end-to-end encryption of correspondence will not save you. The phone may fall into the wrong hands along with the archive of all decrypted messages.
It is also important to enable data encryption on the computer. On Windows, this is called Bitlocker, instructions for enabling it can be found here. She is in Russian. On Mac, the same feature is called FileVault. Instructions in Russian are available on the official website.
Disable the display of messages on the lock screen
This can save not only the privacy of your messages, but also the integrity of your bank account. You can lose money if you are first given a login and password for an Internet bank that uses SMS with one-time passwords as a second factor.
For the same reason, it is important to set a PIN on the SIM card. Otherwise, your phone can be stolen, the SIM card can be swapped into your own, and a confirmation code for Internet banking can be received.
Also on an iPhone, it makes sense to prevent Siri from reading messages aloud.
Always install all updates
This is a good habit. Updates are primarily needed to close vulnerabilities — and only then to improve the service. True, theoretically, programs can be hacked just by installing an update with malicious code. Sometimes this happens in practice, but this is not something to worry about.
Get used to paying attention to the unusual behavior of the interlocutors
The message came early in the morning, and your friend is an “owl”. Usually you text on WhatsApp, but then he decided to get himself a telegram. You have never discussed business matters in e-mail, and here you are asked to download and view some document. All of these can be signs of an attack. Be carefull.
Teach your interlocutors everything you have read
Otherwise, a significant part of your precautions may be useless. You will be forced to continue texting, or your friend will one day lose his password-free phone with the entire email archive.
Don’t worry if you can’t complete all the steps at once
We understand that there is not always time to sit down and set yourself two-factor authentication everywhere. Just set yourself a reminder to come back to this article. Over time, you will go through all the steps and be relatively safe.
Forget everything we wrote above and get rid of your mobile phone as soon as possible.
The phone leaves too many traces. Your movements can be tracked through cellular base stations, Wi-Fi hotspots, or Bluetooth beacons. In some modern phones, it is not possible to completely disable wireless communication modules.
Your phone may have a backdoor, that is, the ability to access it remotely. Then correspondence and search queries will be at risk, and the built-in microphone and video cameras risk turning into eavesdropping and peeping devices. Sometimes malware is found even in newly purchased phones on which users have not yet installed anything.
The only worthy compromise is a phone with open source hardware, the ability to mechanically disable wireless communication modules, a microphone, a camera, and install an arbitrary free operating system. So far, only Librem 5 falls under this description, and it is not yet for sale.
Are you willing to take the risk? Prepare your Android
Install an alternative firmware on your phone, sharpened for privacy and security. For example, LineageOS or Replicant. Use free app stores like F-Droid. Avoid Google services whenever possible.
Buy a couple of tokens for two-factor authentication
Primary and spare in case you lose the first, so as not to be left without access to your accounts. Take, for example, tokens produced by Yubico or SoloKeys. They look like small key fobs and can connect to your phone via USB or NFC.
Tokens that support the FIDO U2F protocol are more reliable than authenticator applications. They are guaranteed to protect the user from phishing attacks. Unfortunately, not all services yet support U2F authentication, so you can’t do without a TOTP authenticator completely yet.
As a nice bonus, your tokens can support the FIDO2 standard — your pass to a passwordless future.
Finally, get yourself an OpenPGP key
It will be useful for encrypting email and correspondence in the XMPP messenger, working with a special password manager, protecting backups of your TOTP authenticator and other applications. If your phone is hacked, the attacker will not be able to decrypt this data.
Ideally, a special token should also be used here. Even if it is stolen from you, the thief will only have a few attempts to guess the pin codes — after that the device will be blocked. Just don’t forget to save the file with a copy of the key, otherwise you won’t be able to decrypt anything if the token is lost or stolen. For greater reliability, experts advise using a scheme with separation of the main key and subkeys. Only subkeys will be stored in the token. The main key can be written to a disk or flash drive, or the secret part of the key can be printed out and hidden in a safe place.
Left without the Internet? Exchange encrypted text messages
Silence will replace your standard SMS and MMS messaging app. And text messages can be sent even if the mobile Internet is turned off and only voice communication remains. Silence will work as usual until you exchange keys for encryption with the interlocutor. The service works only on Android.
Attention! Silence will only protect the content of the conversation. Based on the metadata, it will be possible to understand when, with whom and how often you communicated.