49 Tools to Secure Your Privacy
The Internet is a warehouse of information on any subject you can imagine. Even you.
The more time you spend online, the more you put yourselves at risk for having your private information or communications intercepted, read, and possibly even used for illegal purposes. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available — many of them free — that can help keep your private information from falling into the wrong hands.
Here are some of our favorites.
Whenever you’re online, someone is collecting information about the sites you visit, the products you look at, the web searches you conduct. Try one of these alternative web browsers, and keep your Internet history to yourself.
- Tor: this is the definitive private browser. It provides an encrypted, private browsing experience via a distributed network.
- InBrowser: this browser for Android and iOS erases everything you do within the browser (cookies, history, sessions, etc).
- Private Browser: this streamlined browser doesn’t even have an option for bookmarks or history. In fact, it has no settings at all. It’s just browses the Web.
- Stash Browser: this iOS app is a private browser, media manager, and download manager all in one.
- Comodo Dragon: this is the Comodo fork of the Chromium browser.
- Firefox: most of the leading browsers now offer a privacy or incognito mode, but Firefox also supports efforts to improve overall privacy on the Web.
Surfing the Web over public WiFi is like watching a movie on your big screen TV with all the curtains open. Anyone can be looking over your shoulder. The next time you’re using public WiFi, try one of these VPN (Virtual Private Network) services, and surf just as securely as you do at home.
- PrivateTunnel: developed by the OpenVPN team, this desktop and mobile app provides secure connect to the Internet from anywhere.
- Hotspot Shield: this app provides both a secure connection, anonymous browsing, and the ability to get around blocked sites.
- TunnelBear: similar to Hotspot Shield, this provides secure, encrypted browsing, and can be used on up to 5 devices at a time.
- Private Internet Access: this is a paid service, but with thousands of servers around the world and plenty of features, it’s a great solution if you regularly surf over unsecured networks.
- VyprVPN: this subscription service has an app for just about any device — even some TVs and routers.
- FlashVPN: this Android app offers a simple interface and a completely free VPN solution.
- Build Your Own: many home routers can be used to create your own VPN server.
Most email servers don’t use encryption. Even if they do, it may not be strong enough to keep the criminals out of your personal business. When you need to send a truly private communication, try these secure email tools.
- Mailvelope: this browser extension works with most major mail providers, including Gmail and Outolook.
- MyMail: this subscription, online email service allows you to securely send, receive, and store your email messages as encrypted files.
- GPG Suite: this security suite includes an Apple Mail plugin for OS X.
- iPGMail: this app lets you send encrypted messages using your iOS Mail app.
- CipherMail: this Android app allows you to send and received digitally signed and encrypted email messages from your phone.
- Thunderbird: the go-to open-source email program won’t secure your email out of the box, but you can easily add encryption with plugins such as Enigmail.
Most business communications occur online, and a good percentage of that happens over some sort of chat. These tools will keep your critical conversations private.
- ChatSecure: this mobile app works with many popular networks, including Facebook and Google Talk.
- CryptoCat: available for iOS, OSX, Chrome, and Firefox, this app lets you send encrypted text, files, and photos.
- Bleep: this free messaging app from BitTorrent provides encrypted, decentralized chat and voice calls.
- Pidgin: this desktop-based messaging client works with most popular messaging networks and offers a variety of plugins to secure and encrypt your communications.
- Jisti: this open source desktop app provides encrypted chat, calls, and video conferencing.
Encrypted Cloud Storage
Your pictures auto-backup to the cloud. Your office documents are stored there for easy collaboration. Even your computer syncs most of your files to an online server. These cloud services encrypt your data to make sure no one can see it but you.
- Tresorit: this cloud service encrypts all of your files on your machine before syncing them to the cloud, so nothing is vulnerable during transit.
- Personal: this collaboration and personal privacy tool provides a range of features from secure file sharing, chat, and data storage. It can even encrypt data for an existing Dropbox account.
- SpiderOak: this provides local encryption and a “Zero Knowledge” policy, meaning their employees don’t have the ability to access your stored data.
- Box: designed for collaboration, this cloud provider encrypts your files in transit and can be integrated with a variety of business services.
- Boxcryptor: this app allows you to secure your files, regardless of which cloud service you’re using.
Admit it, you have far more personal information on your laptop than you should. Personal photos, business documents, tax returns, saved passwords, you name it. It’s a data breach waiting to happen. Try one of these programs to keep it secure.
- BitLocker: if you’re running the latest version of Windows, you already have this tool installed. Now you need to learn to use it.
- DiskCryptor: this open-source, Windows disk encryption tool uses 256-bit encryption to secure your entire hard disk.
- VeraCrypt: this free software available for Windows, Mac, and Linux provides full-disk and partition encryption.
- Android Encryption: if you’re using Android, there’s good news. You already have a built-in encryption system. It may slow your system down a bit, but the added security will be worth it.
All the security in the world won’t do you any good if your device gets infected by a virus, so make sure you have a strong, up-to-date antivirus system running at all times.
- AVG: when it comes to free virus protection, AVG is the biggest name in the industry.
- Ad-Aware: one of the original and best anti-malware platforms, Ad-Aware now offers free antivirus protection as well.
- Avast: this free, lightweight solution is ideal for older PCs and mobile devices, where resources are limited.
- Panda: the free version provides lightweight virus protection, while their paid versions offers a complete privacy solution.
- Bitdefender: another free, lightweight solution for your desktop or phone.
- Webroot: this is a paid program, but it offers some of the strongest protection available.
Trying to remember all those passwords is a pain, which is why most people reuse passwords and forget to change them. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available for managing your online credentials.
- LastPass: this tool stores all of your passwords using 256-bit encryption. You remember your one master password, and it handles the rest.
- KeePass: this free desktop tool keeps track of your online passwords as well as computer and program logins.
- Master Password: instead of storing your passwords, this app uses an algorithm to make them available on any device.
- Dashlane: this app stores all of your password and automatically logs you in to most sites.
- Keeper: this provides multi-factor authentication to secure your passwords across all your devices.
- 1Password: this password manager provides secure access to your passwords from any device and can auto-generate highly secure passwords for you.
- PasswordWallet: while built for iOS only, this app allows you to access your encrypted passwords from any device.
Securing Your Online Information
Your information is all over the Internet. Some of it you share willingly on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Some of it is collected and made available for a cost on sites like People Finder and Spokeo. The following tools can wipe the web clean of your personal information.
- Safe Shepherd: this subscription-based service automatically removes your personal information from public and marketing databases.
- DeleteMe: this service removes your personal information from public data sites, as well as locating and removing publicly-available photos of you or your family.
- DIY PrivacyFix: you can do most of the work of securing your online information yourself. This article explains all you need to know to reproduce the now defunct PrivacyFix youself.
Stay on Top of Your Privacy
The internet is always in flux. Right now, there are people looking for ways infringe your privacy — sometimes in relatively benign ways like trying to better sell you stuff — but other times in nefarious ways. Luckily, there are also people committed to helping you secure your privacy. If you care about privacy, you have to stay informed on the threats and your options to combat them.