In 2020, privacy tools are more important than ever.
The status quo of digital privacy continues to deteriorate due to the increase in demand for user data, an essential part of the monetization practices of big tech firms. The rush for user data means that every single activity online is being tracked and monitored to serve you with personalized ads.
In this guide, you will find a range of privacy tools and applications that can help you to protect yourself in today’s digital world. We have split them into five groups.
Privacy browsers offer advanced privacy options beyond just incognito or private modes provided by mainstream browsers. Here are some privacy browsers you may want to try:
The Tor protocol is an important and unique tool for people who value their privacy. Tor is an open-source onion router that has been in existence since 1990.
It was initially built by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to protect U.S. intelligence communications on the internet. It later got released to the public as the Tor project, which includes the Tor Browser and Tor Software.
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Tor protects you from traffic analysis. This tracking technique is used to monitor your path on the internet to track your interest and behavior online.
You can access Tor through the Tor browser, which is a multi-purpose application that gives you a direct connection to the Tor network without third party applications.
Brave is an open-source browser with high-level ad-tracking controls. The development team behind brave is active and releases updates frequently.
Currently, Brave blocks cookies, ads, and adds https connections to all sites you visit. What’s more, Brave also includes cryptocurrency reward options, which makes it different from other privacy browsers.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
Arguably, the most popular way of protecting your IP is through a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs create encryption on your device that hides your IP address when you visit a web site.
This method is not always entirely secure as some VPN service providers keep logs of sites you visit as well as your IP address.
VPNs can be free or paid. Thankfully, paid VPN options are not very expensive, with lots of options to choose from.
Here are VPNs you could try out:
The usage of unencrypted email and instant platforms compromises your privacy. Service providers in this sector also scan messages for content that predicts user behavior and interests.
Consequently, your messages on most platforms are not entirely private and may get into the hands of bad actors. To ensure safer communication on the internet, privacy tools like Signal and ProtonMail are useful.
Signal is a mobile messaging platform known for its privacy features. Unlike most messaging applications that require you to enable secret/encrypted chat to have private conversations, Signal is encrypted by default.
The platform also introduced the cryptography tool used in most messaging platforms for disappearing messages; a feature Signal has had for a while.
Further, Signal is lightweight and has always stood its ground when pushed by pressure groups to give out user data.
ProtonMail is a private email service provider that allows you to send emails in an encrypted environment.
Moreover, ProtonMail allows you to set up an account without giving away any personal information. The email platform is available on the web, iOS, and Android.
Privacy Search Engines
Privacy search engines allow you to find information on the web without tracking. If you already have a VPN, you might not need a privacy search engine. Some of these search engines provide great privacy tools for free.
Some of the best privacy search engines include:
For a long while, StartPage was the default search engine on the Tor browser. StartPage shows search results based on the results from more than one traditional search engine.
Also, StartPage comes with a feature called Anonymous View. This allows you to visit websites you find via the search engine in a private window that blocks cookies and ads.
DuckDuckGo is the more popular among the two privacy search engines in this list. You can search for information without tracking from big names like Google and Yahoo by using DuckDuckGo.
The quality of search results is still maintained because results on DuckDuckGo are obtained based on Google’s search results. DuckDuckGo also ensures that most connections you make with websites are encrypted.
Finally, password managers allow you to create secure accounts across the internet. A protected account means less possibility of hacks and information leaks. This utility makes password managers good privacy tools.
A password manager stores all your important information from usernames and passwords to bank details and loyalty schemes. These applications also auto-fill forms on your behalf, provided you have already saved the information.
Here are some of the best password managers
If you want to learn more about digital privacy, check out our guide “How to Protect Your Privacy Online in 2020”.