According to the United Nations, privacy is a fundamental human right. However, most people choose convenience and do not focus on privacy.
Well, now you can get both of these – here are a few tools that make privacy more convenient.
In this article, no company sponsors me, and I do not make money on any of the links that I have included here. I am just a satisfied user trying to achieve reasonable digital data privacy.
This web application allows you to create secure virtual credit cards for free. You can create it for each subscription or purchase over the Internet and set limits and expiration dates. With this service you will never have to give out your real online card number. Privacy.com also does not sell your data; they earn money directly from card transactions.
This article was supported by EDISON Software, a search engine optimization and SEO company, which also develops Android and iOS mobile applications.
Suspicious individuals, technology companies, and governments constantly spy on ordinary people. In fact, it is not so difficult to do if you communicate on most regular channels. This is why it is important to encrypt your messages whenever possible.
Signal is an easy-to-use messaging application that works the same as iMessage or Android Messages, except that the Signal application must be installed on both the sender and receiver.
Signal also has many features, such as group messaging, encrypted phone calls, and disappearing messages.
ProtonMail (and soon ProtonDrive and ProtonCalendar)
ProtonMail is the gold standard for alternatives to Gmail. The mobile and web application is not only well designed, but also created specifically for your privacy. All emails are protected automatically with end-to-end encryption; even they cannot be decrypted. ProtonMail is an open source project, so you can check the security features if you want. Free email accounts are pretty good, although I switched to paid email for more features such as having multiple email addresses. The ProtonMail development team has committed to releasing ProtonDrive in the next few months as a privacy-oriented alternative to Google Drive. This is very exciting news, and I look forward to the release to try it out.
OwnCloud is a free, open source Google Drive alternative to your own hosting where you own your data. You need to work on the setup a little more than with Google Drive, but if you decide to give up googling your life, you might want to consider this option. I run my private cloud for less than $ 5 a month and use it to store and use all the files and calendars that are usually stored on Google Drive. The project also has a mobile application and a desktop version for any OS.
Again, Google dominates the analytics market with its Google Analytics product. They track and store your information and can do whatever they want with it. If you want to break free of these mega-corporations, Matomo offers a great self-hosting solution that should be more accurate than GA. Their product also gives you more control and privacy. Over the past few years, I have implemented Matomo in several projects, and it works pretty well.
Standard Notes is an encrypted note-taking application that synchronizes information between devices. I think this is a great tool if you need an application for creating simple notes.
The free version gives you many features, including support for markup and synchronization between devices. I use the paid version because I need to be able to embed images in my notes, and I like some of the other paid version plugins that they offer; it costs $ 4.17 a month for a year or $ 2.48 a month for five years. I like to support companies that create great privacy-oriented tools.
Two-factor authentication is the best you can do to protect your accounts today. SMS is one option, but not as reliable as using the application. Right now I'm using Authy for all my accounts. There are other options like Google Authenticator, LastPass Authenticator and Duo, but I try to avoid using dubious companies that don't respect my privacy. I'm definitely not in love with Authy, but its interface is nice and works well for the most part. If you have another suggestion, leave a comment below.
I use VPN all the time wherever I go. ProtonVPN is my favorite now. The tool is excellent, although I am neutral to the brand. They have many servers around the world and they continue to add new ones. ProtonVPN also has great apps for all of my devices. My ProtonVPN came bundled with my ProtonMail account, but you can safely register on the site and use it separately if you want. They have a decent number of servers available to users in the free version, and they do not sell your data like other VPN services to monetize unpaid customers.
This is my second option for VPN at the moment. Their applications have worked very well for me over the past few years. I also like that they give you the opportunity to pay for your subscription by mail in cash or cryptocurrencies. They do not store any data about you at all, so they cannot be sold or handed over to the government.
Browsers and plugins
If you are not using a password manager yet, you need to keep up with the times. This may be the most basic security tool for those who use the Internet. I started using LastPass, then 1Password and Encryptr, and now I'm testing Roboform. I love Enctyptr because it works very well and is made by one of the best SpiderOak privacy companies.
However, they do not have a browser plugin, so I am now comparing 1Password and Roboform to find out which one I want to use in the long run.
Firefox is a great open source browser that was completely redesigned several years ago to become much faster and more modern. They really improved the browser, and after the update I like their developer tools more than in Chrome.
I switched to using Firefox as the main browser about 18 months ago, and now I use Google Chrome for testing only. I also, from time to time, use their Firefox Focus mobile browser, because it allows you to open only one tab at a time, and also has a button that clears the tab and all your viewing data.
Brave is my second browser.
Whenever I get a foggy error in Firefox development tools, I check Brave, because errors usually display differently in different browsers. Oddly enough, cross-checking in different browsers helps me solve developers' problems faster.
It is scary to think that everything you ever looked for could be stored somewhere. Studies show that most of the time we are more honest with our search engine than with our closest friends. Do you trust companies like Google to keep this personal information private?
Duckduckgo is the best alternative to keep your search history private and avoid ad trackers. I have been using it for several years as a major search engine, and it works very well; maybe better than google. They also have a privacy-oriented mobile browser.
Duckduckgo privacy essentials
This is a simple extension that blocks hidden trackers on websites and is available for all major browsers. If you want to find the easiest way to start protecting your privacy, this is what you need.
I am not against all ads. In the end, a small business can attract potential customers and grow through advertising. I am against tracking and collecting unnecessary data; and especially sell this data. UBlock Origin blocks ads better than any other plugin I've tried. I also have the option to whitelist the sites that I want to support.
This is an extension made by EFF and the Tor Project that forces the website to use the HTTPS version, if available. Many websites use the HTTP version by default or have links within the site that will lead you to this insecure site. This extension fixes this for you by simply installing HTTPS Everywhere in your browser.
Facebook is trying to track you all over the network without your knowledge or consent. This extension puts your Facebook account in the sandbox and makes it difficult to collect your information on other sites.
I am always surprised when I see people who don’t close their webcams at all. When you need to use a webcam, all you have to do is remove the sticker and stick it on later. There are also stickers with sliders.
You can order these sticker packs with EFF or The Tor Project to support the idea of digital privacy.
Camera cover for phone / tablet
I have not yet found a suitable solution to this problem. Right now I am using stickers like the ones I mentioned for my webcam. I found a phone case where you can put plastic parts on the front and back cameras to cover them, but it is very cheaply made, so I do not use it.
Currently I use stickers until I get the phone that I mentioned below. If you know the solution better, let me know in the comments.
Several promising companies have emerged that make privacy-oriented devices an alternative to giants like Apple or Google.
My favorite is Purism. They make laptops and have just come out with their first phone model. The phone is equipped with hardware switches to turn off the camera, Bluetooth and WiFi.
I made a reservation five months ago, but I will receive it only in March due to high demand. I'm going to write a review on it as soon as I have it. I look forward to it.
Other privacy tools
Here are some other privacy-oriented tools that I have not covered in this article, but which are worth paying attention to:
- Wire Collaboration Platform – for team collaboration.
- otpauth – one-time password authentication.
- Bit Warden – team password and confidential data exchange.
- Blah DNS is a DNS hobby project for blocking ads with DoH, DoT and DNSCrypt support.
- Jumbo Privacy is an assistant that helps you audit and adjust your privacy settings.
- Dash Lane is another password and personal information manager.
It would be an omission if I finished this article without shouting about Edward Snowden's new book, Permanent Record. It really shows us the importance of privacy concerns in today's age.
I hope you enjoyed reading about these privacy tools. If you know about what I missed or you have another suggestion, please leave a comment in the comments below.