About This Site
While there are a lot of amazing resources for privacy and security out there, many of them are geared towards people who are moderately “tech savvy” and already understand why privacy matters and/or how this stuff works. This site is aimed at people who are new to privacy and/or do not consider themselves “tech savvy”. This site is designed to go over the basics of various ideas, subjects, and concepts to help you feel educated and capable of making decisions that are right for you without going too in depth to the point that you feel overwhelmed. It also aims to make a few recommendations to get the reader started in each area.
The site is rather wordy. This is intentional. Readers should consider the site more of a constantly-updated ebook than a typical website. The goal is not to be flashy and attention-grabbing (though obviously I do hope to make it visually appealing and not painful to read), but rather to give readers a strong understanding of the foundations of data privacy and cybersecurity. Hence, while I have tried to be succinct, there’s only so much trimming I can do without losing critical information.
While the site is more of an ebook in spirit, each page is designed to be standalone. Feel free to skip any pages if you feel like you have already read or know about a particular subject or if you just want to learn about a specific topic. I have also tried to be thorough in making potentially unfamiliar terms or words linkable back to other pages - for example, if I talk about password managers on any other page, I try to link back to that page so readers can easily get more information if they want and aren’t missing any critical context.
Some people argue that ranking certain concepts is wrong. Indeed, everything on this site is important and every step you take to improve your privacy or security is a step in the right direction. That’s why the last category is called “less important” and not “unimportant” or even “least important.” The reason for the structure is thanks to my mother - who was the textbook kind of person this site is aimed at. When talking about privacy and this very site once, she told me that she found it all overwhelming and didn’t know where to start. So I began to order the site for the sake of people like her: “start here,” it says, with things that will give you the most security and privacy right off the bat, usually with the least amount of effort. Then continue on to the other things. That said, the order of the site is merely a suggested order of operations to help readers get off to a great start and know where to begin so they don’t get overwhelmed. If you are here to learn about a specific topic, you already know about some of the topics, or you don’t feel that certain topics apply to you (such as credit freeze), you can feel free to skip them. You can always circle back later if your situation or mind changes or you decide you want to learn more for any reason.
Privacy and security are not binary concepts, but rather a spectrum. For example, you can have some privacy while keeping a Facebook account if you remove the app from your phone and only lurk without ever liking or posting content, but not as much as if you deleted your account altogether and took steps to block Meta’s trackers around the web. The goal of this site is not to teach you to drop off the grid and live in a cabin in the woods with no risks whatsoever. But rather, this site aims at helping you learn about surveillance and tracking, how it works, how to opt out of it, and determine what the right level of privacy and security is for you. Not everything here will apply to everyone. Even taking some of the steps that move you further along the scale is better then nothing. No single tool is right for everyone’s situation, that’s why we offer several recommendations and let you decide what’s best for you.
This site is not designed to be a comprehensive (aka “everything you’ll ever need to know about privacy/security”) resource. This site is designed to be a beginner’s guide. It is our hope that people will use this site to get up to speed and move onto to more advanced topics as they continue to grow.
On the final page you will find a number of resources we recommend to help you continue learning more, as well as ways to contact the founder/maintainer of this site/project and find other work from The New Oil like blogs, news feeds, and videos that we are working on. We are not claiming to be cybersecurity experts of any kind, but we have invested thousands of hours into these topics on this site. We spend much of our time reading books, articles, blog posts, and more from credible sources and experts. We spend a lot of time listening to interviews and podcasts, and reading the ongoing discussions in the communities we are a part of and trust to stay on top of everything, and we deeply investigate each claim before suggesting it to our audience. We are always willing to openly own up to our mistakes and correct information when we are informed of it, so if you are an expert and see any mistakes, please submit a correction.
Finally, we have made this site in good faith. We will never recommend a product or service on this site that we do not have confidence in. We may not use each and every product or service ourselves, but everything listed here is something that, if a loved one told us they were using it, we would respond with “cool, that works.” If our response would be a hesistant groan suggesting the services is problematic, we don’t list it here. We do not have any vested financial interests in any of of the services, products, or companies we have listed, nor do we receive any sort of financial compensation for our reviews, listings, etc (except where clearly disclosed as explained next). We do use affiliate/referral links for some services which will offer us a small sum of financial compensation or other benefits (ex, increased storage on our own accounts) if you sign up using the links provided. You can view them all here. You are always welcome to use the non-affiliate links which are provided and clearly marked next to the affiliate links if you are uncomfortable with affiliate links. We do not list products or services simply because they offer affiliate links, rather we sign up for affiliate links if they are offered on products or services that we believe in and have decided to list regardless. We also accept sponsors for certain content sometimes, and all such potential conflicts of interest are clearly disclosed. You can view our sponsorship guidelines here.