GrapheneOS – Securing Comm

Securing Communications

In a previous post, I did a walk-through of installing GrapheneOS on a pixel phone. Labor invested was about 30 minutes and a material cost of $150 for a used Pixel4a (5G) phone. The result is a cell phone that Google cannot collect my every point and click.

More work to do. As a minimum, I need to add secure email, and text messaging. It is unacceptable to me to have a corporation in the sky determining whether my emails or text messages are acceptable to an arbitrary code of conduct. I am aware that most folks have nothing to hide. They go to the web or a cell phone store, buy a phone, and they are ready to go. My thought is that if I provide information, that at least two folks will pause, find what I am writing helpful, will reach out to two of their friends, and that I will have done something positive.

I need to give credit where credit is due. “Extreme Privacy: What it Takes to Disappear” is cover to cover about taking back privacy, helping those in horrible situations, and folks being tracked and threatened. This happens every day, in every state, and in every major city in the USA. Buy the book for $40, take what you need, and turn your life around.

Google Store

There is an on-line resource named Google Store. Need an application, go the store, click and download applications to satisfy your every need. There was a time that you made a selection, paid cash, and the item purchased was yours. There was a time, and that model is fast disappearing. When you download a free item, even one that has a fee, the purchase is recorded and merged with other data to build a profile. There is absolutely nothing free and Google Store, though it appears to be very much like the Dollar Store, always has a hidden cost – your privacy.

So, how do you do an anonymous purchase?

The first step is to down-load an application named F-Droid.

“F-Droid is an installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. The client makes it easy to browse, install, and keep track of updates on your device.”

On the pixel device that has a fresh copy of GrapheneOS installed, open the Vanadium browser.

“Vanadium is about “Privacy and security enhanced releases of Chromium for GrapheneOS. Vanadium provides the WebView and standard user-facing browser on GrapheneOS. It depends on hardening in other GrapheneOS repositories and doesn’t include patches not relevant to the build targets used on GrapheneOS.” Vanadium is not Firefox, or Chromium, or Edge. It is a secured version of Chromium.

  1. With Vanadium opened, enter the url

2. Click on the Download button and then download anyway. If you get a pop up about not being allowed to install unknown apps, go to settings and set allow to download unknown apps. If you see a notification to update F-Droid, go ahead and update it. Once F-Droid is updated, open it to make sure the install went well. Welcome to Open Source for Android.

3. To be able to load anything that F-Droid may have missed, down-load Aurora Droid.

“An alternative to the default F-Droid app with an intuitive UI and
multiple great features, such as

* Many repos listed and can be enabled
* Beautiful design – Follows latest Material Design guidelines
* Powerful download manager – Pause, resume and retry downloading apps
* Previous releases – Enables downloading old releases
* Lists architectures (arm, arm64 …) and minimal Android versions”

With F-Droid open, search for Aurora and download Aurora Droid.

Once Aurora Droid installs, open it and browse for even more Open Source software for Android.

With F-Droid and Aurora Droid, you now have tools to down-load apps, no account required, no tracking when you download. Another step toward more privacy.

If you want secure text messaging, suggest you try Signal.

If you want secure email, suggest you try ProtonMail.

Do not use Google Store to download applications. If you have any issues installing applications anonymously, please reference Extreme Privacy: What it Takes to Disappear.

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