Well, I am using firefox in incognito mode all the time. I am using standard tracking protection in firefox. But, I do not have a vpn(for now). I use duckduckgo as my default search engine. I have also installed ublock origin. I have not tinkered much with the settings of ublock origin. Nevertheless, I would be much more at ease if I come to know that Linux Lite does not track any kind of personal information at all unless I give the operating system permission to do so.
It's always nice to meet folks more paranoid than I am. Welcome @drc2151
to the forums! If you haven't tried it, you might like this Firefox addon
from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). I'm also a fan of the KeePass
The best thing I'm reading here is that you are THINKING about security. You are considering various ways to improve your security and privacy, and you are taking steps to help mitigate your risks. Very good!
Sadly, there are no perfect solutions. Security/privacy is a trade-off with convenience... you can use greater security, but at the cost of being less convenient. Finding this balance will be different for each of us. For example, I do not believe it necessary to use Tails OS for my internet banking, and my regular Linux with a secure browser connection is okay with me.
In the end, the greatest online security is to stop using the internet. Go to your bank in person. Get your bills in the postal mail instead of email. Use a landline phone instead of a cellphone. If you fall short of these extremes, then everything else is about finding the right balance that suits you. But even if you went offline permanently, your data and privacy would still be at risk... because your information is stored online by others everywhere... your bank, doctor, Google, credit bureaus, government, etc, and you don't have control over these.
We all know that Google tracks us... almost everything we do online. Their tools are embedded in just about every web page that you visit. Some of your browser tools help to mitigate these issues, but I doubt that you can ever be totally free from Google's prying. Other things that might help are to not use all of Google's wonderful free tools, like Gmail, Maps, Calendar, and Android phones.
Other than Android, Google doesn't make an operating system. And your post is about Linux Lite... but really, to me, it is about any operating system, including Android. I don't trust Windows, especially Windows 10, even if I step through each and every setting to disable the privacy features that matter to me.... the fear is that the there are other privacy features that are not an option to me. Microsoft collects data, and you agree to that when you use their Windows OS. You literally agree to this... you have to check a box in order to use it for the first time. If you want to read their 85-page Privacy Statement, click here
, and then click on "Expand All" in the upper right corner. 85 pages!!!!
(On my print preview... which I did not print.) It wasn't long ago that this document was "only" about 50 pages. This is getting ridiculous.
With Linux Lite, or any Linux that I've ever installed... there is no "check box" to agree to all such nonsense. There is a "presumption" that your privacy is better respected with Linux, and I do trust that it is. Linux Lite seems to be lacking their own Privacy Statement (or I missed it), but many distros do have their own statements: Ubuntu
, and others. I don't think the lack of a statement from Linux Lite makes them any more or less worthy of your trust.
The sad fact is that average everyday users like us are not able to determine what the operating system is really doing. The inner workings are far beyond our skills.... unless, with less convenience, you take the time to learn such skills yourself. Maybe someday some security researcher will reveal something sneaky going on with one distro or another. But we are kind of doomed to wait for revelations like that, just like when we are revealed to be caught up in any data breach, like the Equifax breach, or the Yahoo breach (lucky me, I was in both of those).
Microsoft and Google seem to be open/transparent about what they collect about you, but you may not believe all of what they say. You may not believe what the Linux devs say in their Privacy Statements either. There is no "truth test" to convince you one way or the other. But I certainly agree with you that skepticism is a healthy exercise in computer technology. Read tech news regularly and keep abreast of what's going on in general, but especially towards security and privacy.
If you are in the U.S. you might want to "freeze" your credit reports with all three major bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Trans-Union). This is one of the strongest protections you can do to prevent credit/identity theft. These sneaky credit bureaus will sometimes offer something they say is better, often for a fee.... but the "freeze" is the right thing, and the only thing that is needed. It is now free to freeze and unfreeze your credit. Is this a hassle sometimes? Yes, it certainly is. Whether it is part of that trade-off balance between security and convenience is for you to decide. Mine is frozen.
But each day you have to put your trust in your operating system, or let fear get the best of you and go offline. For me, I would trust any of the mainstream Linux distros, including Linux Lite.