hidden privacy settings in apps

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2019: Beef Up Your Privacy With These Hidden Settings In Apps

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Privacy & SecurityNational Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2019: Beef Up Your Privacy With These Hidden Settings In Apps

PureVPN diligently supports National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2019. As every year, the dedicated month of October hopes to aware others regarding the perils that exist online and how you should combat online threats. This year, NCSAM holds the message ‘Own It’ ‘Secure It’ ‘Protect It’ which essentially means that as a netizen, you must know your online privacy rights and ensure that those rights are exercised.

To contribute to this cause, you must adopt a proactive approach. Before you install an app, make sure to check its privacy policy and the permissions an app requires. While sharing a post on social media, think twice as once it’s online, it can’t be taken down. When accessing financial details, make sure you’re connected to a secure network.

The month aims to instill the responsibility of being cautious and more importantly, secure your personal and confidential information.

Online privacy has become a major concern these days. With the growing number of cyber breaches, the introduction of new data retention laws, and an increase in government surveillance, it seems like Internet privacy is just an illusion.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the apps you use on your smartphones or tablets also tend to leak data behind your back. Ultimately, the leaked data reveals pretty much about everything about you like your personality, traits, online behavior, and more.

Luckily, there are some hidden privacy settings in apps that you can access and set for securing your private information.

However, before we move on to the part where we discuss hidden privacy settings in apps and operating systems, let’s first learn why privacy has become a major need of the day.

Why Should You Care About Your Privacy?

hidden privacy settings in apps

Ever heard about the privacy paradox? According to a survey, 92% of Americans profess their concerns about their online privacy. But do you believe that they take it seriously?

Oddly enough, people who claim to have concerns about their privacy on the Internet would willingly reveal their private information for insignificant gains.

Such paradoxical behavior of today’s Internet users is then targeted by people or entities who have ulterior motives. As a result, unsuspecting Internet users lose their private information.

Take, for instance, Facebook. Although it is the most popular social media platform in the world, but time and time again it faces huge backlash for its intolerable breach of users’ privacy.

A report published earlier this year by The Australian uncovers a terrible fact about the social media giant. The organization seems to have prepared a document that could allow advertisers to target over 6 million young users during their times of depression.

Would you let such platforms capitalize on your emotional lows or the private information that you willingly share online so they can rack up fortunes? Surely, the answer is a big NO!

Privacy in the Age of Cyber Breaches & Government Surveillance

Your private information being shared with advertisers or other data miners isn’t the only threat to your online privacy.

In this age, you have to be stay vary of government spies as well as the 21st-century digital arsonists (cybercriminals).

Earlier this year, WikiLeaks exposed confidential documents of government agencies revealing how the government has been keeping us under constant surveillance through vulnerabilities in our smartphones, smart cars, smart TVs and IoT appliances in our home.

Apart from government surveillance, digital arsonists on the Internet are also one of the major threats to our online privacy.

Cybercrimes have been increased in the last decade, and more and more data breach incidents are taking place all over the globe. Take, for instance, the 2017 ransomware incidents that have caused millions in damage so far.

It wouldn’t be unfair if we label 2017 as the “Year of Ransomware”. After all, so far we have been hit by three ransomware attacks, including WannaCry, Petya, and Bad Rabbit.

There is also the recent news of the KRACK Wi-Fi vulnerability which further fuels our growing privacy concerns.

Your Privacy & Your Smartphone

Even the tool you consider as your best friend, i.e., your smartphone, leaks your private data without your knowledge. Here’s how your online privacy is leaked through your smartphone:

  • When your phone’s location service is on, your exact location becomes public online.
  • When you stay online on social media on the go, all your activities are being tracked through cookies.
  • When you connect to public Wi-Fis, you are prone to attacks like MITM and identity theft.
  • Retailers can collect your data behind your back through the Wi-Fis at their stores.
  • When you share too much private data on apps that you assume as “secure” or “trustworthy”.

What Happens When We Don’t Check Hidden Privacy Settings in Apps?

In 2014, Uber, the globally popular transportation service, met strong criticism when it was revealed that the service had been tracking the locations of their riders without their consent.

Likewise in 2015, the most used social media application, Snapchat, received criticism for its privacy policy which stated that the service has rights to store, use and modify users’ data.

Cases like those listed here are quite common on the Internet. In fact, if we talk about real research and statistics, over 200 apps have found to be leaking users’ data with the most leaks coming from news and sports apps.

How to Enhance iPhone Security Settings?

Managing the privacy settings of iPhone 11 or earlier or any other version can be tricky. But, after reading this guide, you’ll be able to do so with ease.

iOS 10 Hidden Privacy Settings

Turn Off Location Services

You might find iOS 10 location services always on. To turn those services off, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services. Turn off all those services that you don’t want your phone to use.

Turn Off Parked Location

If you are not comfortable with iOS storing the location of every place you visit, go to Settings -> Map -> toggle off Show Parked Location.

Deactivate Events Found in Apps

If you don’t want your iPhone to go through your private messages so it can set events in the calendar automatically, go to Settings -> Calendar and toggle off Events Found in Apps.

Turn Off Camera and Microphone Access

Certain applications access your camera and microphone. To turn them off, go to Settings -> Privacy > Camera or Microphone and turn off the apps that asked for permission.

Turn On Limit Ad Tracking

Usually, iPhone collects your data and shows you ads relevant to your search history or Internet usage behavior. To limit this feature, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Advertising and toggle on Limit Ad Tracking.

iOS 11 /iOS 12 Hidden Privacy Settings

When it comes to privacy settings, iOS 10 and iOS 11 are pretty much the same. For instance, all the settings listed above can be made on iOS 11 in the same manner as well.

Regardless, there are some settings that you might want to double-check on iOS 11.

Set Safari Privacy Settings

Go to Settings > Safari and toggle on Block Pop Ups and Prevent Cross-site Tracking. Turn off Camera and Microphone Access, unless you need it. Also, turn on Ask Websites Not to Track Me.

iOS 11 Frequent Locations Setting

Your iPhone keeps track of locations that you frequently visit so it can keep you updated with the latest happenings related to those locations. To turn the settings off, Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> System Services -> Frequent Locations and toggle it off.

How to Enhance Android Privacy Settings?

If you find that some android privacy settings are missing, don’t worry because you can set up some settings through Google settings.

Check Settings in Activity Control

Go to https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity and tap the Menu and go to Activity Control. From there you can switch off Voice Tracking, Location Tracking and Search Tracking.

Set App Permissions

In Android 6.0, go to Settings -> Apps and tap the Settings icon and then go to App Permissions. From here you can set the permissions of apps as you see fit.

Turn Off Ads Tracking

Go to the Apps Menu, tap the Google Settings and then tap Ads. In the Ads screen, toggle off the Opt out of interest-based ads.

Hidden Privacy Settings in Apps That You Use Most in 2019

Apart from fixing the privacy settings in your iOS and Android-powered devices, you need to adjust the hidden privacy settings in apps as well.


To go to the privacy settings of on your Facebook app, tap the Menu and go to Privacy Shortcuts which will take you to all the privacy settings. From these settings, you can set who can see your profile and posts, and who can contact you.

If you don’t want any to see your posts or images, you can limit them to “Only Me”. But if you want to share it with your friends, you can choose “Friends”.


One of the most popular messaging applications is also no exception when it comes to privacy leaks. Here are few things you can do to ensure that your Snapchat privacy settings work in your favor:

  • Swipe down to go to Settings, choose Contact Me, and under the Who Can, set the option to My Friends so that only your friends can contact you.
  • Likewise, to limit who can see your stories, go to the settings again and look for Who Can. Tap the View My Story option, set it to either My Friends or customize it.
  • On Snapchat, anyone can quick add you. Turn off this feature by going to Settings and turn off See Me in Quick Add.
  • To make sure nobody can see your location via Snapchat, go to the Settings and Tap See My Location. Check Ghost Mode to hide your location.


Fixing the privacy settings on Instagram is pretty simple. What you only need to do is tap the profile icon and then tap the Settings icon. There you will see Private Account. Turn on the feature to make your Instagram account private for good.

Wrapping Up

By adjusting the privacy settings of your apps and iOS or Android devices, you can prevent the leaking of your private data, and keep your web privacy secure.

Mohsin Qadir An information security analyst in the making, a father of an adorable kid and a technology writer (Contributor). He can be found lurking around top network security blogs, looking for scoops on information security and privacy trends.

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