Extreme Privacy: What it Takes to Disappear – Book Review

When I saw Extreme Privacy by Michael Bazzell on Amazon I was intrigued. Many of you know that Privacy and Security are very important to me. This book might give me tips on how to make my online presence even more private! I ordered it right away. (FYI, the third edition, published May 2021, was completely rewritten.)

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Extreme Privacy Overview:

At 566 pages, Extreme Privacy: What It Takes To Disappear, is a hefty book. There are so many topics covered, in so much detail, I wasn’t able to read it all the way through. In many places, the material was too dense for a layman to comprehend. One of my big complaints about the book is the Index on page 566. A one-page index does not do this 20-Chapter book justice.

Despite the length, I did thoroughly review the whole book. The first part of each chapter was interesting and was written at a pretty high level. I was able to get the gist of each chapter without having to read all the detail on subjects in which I wasn’t terribly interested.

This book is primarily targeted at high-profile people who need to implement extreme privacy. (Think movie stars, CEOs, and billionaires.) It’s also directed at people who have been seriously threatened and need to disappear. But it also has some great tips for people who just want to be more digitally secure. Our information is EVERYWHERE, and even companies who say they will be careful with our information are subject to cyber-attacks. (Right now, we’re still waiting to see the complete fallout of the 2020 Solar Winds attack on US government systems.)

What I learned:

One of the big takeaways I got from Extreme Privacy is that hiding is not cheap. There is new equipment to buy, with cash. A trust to set up. Accountants and Lawyers to advise you on what is legal and what is not. A new home to buy or rent. Multiple online devices to purchase; one to use only at home, and another to never use at home. And then there is all the equipment that normal people use, like a VPN, Servers, and routers.

Another thing I learned is that all of the work you do disappear can all be undone with a little social engineering. For example, if you have your mail delivered to a private mailbox in another state, which then forwards the mail to you. An unscrupulous person finds the address and phone number of the private mailbox company. They call and say they are your brother or wife and ask for the address to which mail is forwarded. Boom! All your hard work for privacy is gone.

Another potential problem is hacking. You bring your pet to a new Vet and provide your real address and phone number. Many Veterinarians provide their customer data to marketing firms so they can keep in touch with their clients. Then the marketing firm gets hacked and your data is “in the wild”.

I also learned how I could go about removing my information from public databases.

What I liked about Extreme Privacy:

I thought the book was well organized. Using the Table of Contents it was easy to find the sections that I was interested in. I learned about a lot of new tracking tools that are being used, and how to legally get around them. For example, license plate scanners: How can you legally get around having them scan your license plate?

Another thing I liked was that Mr. Bazzell has years of experience and he’s made a few mistakes. He discussed those mistakes openly – what the mistake was, and how he does things differently today.

I also liked that the book takes a proactive approach. It outlines the things you can do today before you run into issues with privacy and security.


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