Privacy apps will become essential to you as 2019 approaches especially since multiple data privacy scandals rocked 2018. This year has experienced high profile security breaches and hacks making privacy a security concern for both Android and iOS users. It’s not just about emails but all of our data including browser history. It’s now imperative to keep your data safe from either prying eyes to would-be hackers.
“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
To stay safe when texting or emailing family, friend or work colleague, you’ll need to download apps that offer end-to-end encryption – this means your message or email can’t be intercepted or decrypted, only the sender and receiver can read it.
Signal and WhatsApp have end-to-end encryption and both do their job very well. In case of a security breach, the Facebook-owned chat app is going to have more information or metadata(numbers contacted over WhatsApp, when and for how long, IP addresses and phone identifiers associated with a person) about you in their storage, unlike Signal. If you want a chat app that no random person or the government can see in any way or shape, then, Signal is the privacy-friendly app for you. It has plenty of features, some of which are subdued. It’s much simpler than WhatsApp and this is to keep your privacy and data secure. Signal also allows you to send unencrypted texts to your friends who are not on Signal. Encrypted or unencrypted calls can also be made from the phone. Signal is ad-free and completely free.
This chat app also offers end-to-end encryption for your messages, either text, video or images and voice chat. Its shredder feature erases all deleted messages from your device. Unlike WhatsApp who can hand over metadata associated with your communication to regulators( Communication Authority of Kenya is looking into regulating OTT), Wickr doesn’t store it. They don’t need your phone number or email address to sign up on their platform. Your address book remains private and is not stored on their servers.
Telegram is similar to Signal but with added features such as GIFs and Stickers. You can use the app on multiple devices but you can’t send messages to non-Telegram users. All texts on Telegram are encrypted but you can choose to cloud backup or its Secret Chats feature where you can send self-destructive messages. Telegram is ad-free and free on Google Play store and Apple Store.
If you thought Google’s invasive tracking features are limited to search, you’re wrong the same algorithms work on Gmail too so the giant search company can serve you more highly targeted ads and tailored recommendation. Here’s the worrying thing about Gmail, Google doesn’t offer the end-to-end encryption that is necessary to secure messages on transit.
ProtonMail is a far more secure alternative. The app enables you to send password protected emails that self-destruct.
- ProtonMail free tier – 500MB of storage and 150 messages per day
- ProtonPlus – 5GB of storage and 300 messages per hour or 1000 messages per day
- ProtonMail Visionary Plan – 200GB storage and unlimited messages
This browser doesn’t track your search activity and then target you with ads using the data it has collected from you. That’s a win but then you loose customized search results Google offers. Tor is also included and you can enable it to protect your privacy by not allowing websites from identifying your locations and individuals from tracking the sites you visit. OrBot is a recommended app by the Tor Project to encrypt your internet traffic.
Firefox Focus is Mozilla’s privacy-first app. The app was released in June last year and Mozilla has consistently added new privacy features. Enhanced Tracking feature found on its desktop counterpart is now on the app. This feature gives you more control and allows you to choose to block all cookies or some by “whitelisting” them. It also uses Google safe search to alert users if they’re on a URL that has suspicious activity such as phishing. Its one-wipe button clears all your browsing history for that session is a neat little trick.
Ghostery helps you reduce access by ad trackers and other tools to your browsing data so that if you search for something on a website it doesn’t show up as an ad on another different website. It allows you to view all the trackers on the website you’re visiting and block ones that you’re not comfortable with. You can also choose different search engines and DuckDuckGo is included.
While many websites use ads to pay the bills, some of the ads are too much and often intrusive. They ruin your browsing experience as some of them block whatever you’re trying to read especially.
CNET and Forbes have user hostile experiences on their website. The former with their annoying autoplaying videos and Forbes with their ads.
— 𝚔𝚒𝚛𝚞𝚝𝚒 (@kiruti) December 20, 2018
Scary thing is that some of these ads contain malware and some even track you. Similar to its Chrome extension, you can whitelist sites you trust and you’d like to continue supporting.
VPN’s connect you to a virtual network and hide what you actually do from the actual network allowing to browse without anyone knowing what you’re doing or where you are especially when accessing geo-restricted content.
This is one of the best free and secure VPNs. Some free VPN apps regularly engage in unethical data collection – ProtonVPN doesn’t do this. Their business model doesn’t rely on users data as they have other business ventures(ProtonMail) that can sustain them without relying on advertisers. The app offers full transparency and encryption. If you’re looking for paid versions, check out NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
This is a free Android and iPhone app that sets you up with Cloudflare’s encrypted DNS resolver. This DNS service prevents ISPs from easily collecting info about your web activity. This free app removes the stress of setting it up.
LastPass is a password generator and manager. It creates for you different passwords for all your sites to prevent hackers from using a compromised password to access another account that belongs to you. Using a similar password across different accounts compromises your online security. LastPass can even be set up to automatically change passwords from time to time. 1Password is another alternative.
Blur from Abine
Blur is from the same company that made the DeleteMe tool that removes your personal information from search engines. The Blur app generates for you passwords but on top of that, it masks your accounts. It masks your email identity to receive emails privately. It also masks your credit number to prevent fraud. There’s a free version and a paid one. Both these tools help you remain anonymous and let you decide who has access to your private information.
MyPermissions Privacy Cleaner
This app scans and revokes third-party social apps permissions for reading your data and personal information. This app will allow you to disconnect untrustworthy apps with just a few taps. With the app, you can see exactly which apps you’ve connected to on Google, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and what they’re accessing. You can go ahead and approve, remove or report them.
Our phones have become part and parcel of our daily lives. These handpicked apps will hopefully protect your privacy online or offline and you might want to consider downloading them.