The internet comes with tremendous benefits and has made the world around us feel more connected than ever. Still, a powerful tool such as this one can easily be used to do more harm than good.
Cyberattacks have become more frequent than ever, and hacking tools are now accessible to anyone without requiring more than basic computer knowledge to use. This is why it has become more important than ever to protect our digital footprint from malicious eyes that could abuse it.
When you don’t protect your online privacy, your personal data can land in the wrong hands and be used in multiple ways. And it’s not just hackers we are talking about.
Social media platforms and search engines constantly collect and store personal data such as your location, browsing habits, content preferences, and so on.
This is done so that they can serve you better-tailored ads, but some may argue there is a bigger reason as to why companies and governments are interested in collecting consumer data.
Luckily, people are now more aware of this than ever, and so there are quite a few types of tools that help you keep your online data protected from malicious parties. The following five we believe are some of the best options on the market, so you should definitely check them out.
Nothing says invasion of privacy more than someone scooping around your messages. Most popular messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Google Hangouts do not provide end-to-end encryption, which means they can store copies of your private messages on their servers.
This can put them in the reach of important entities, including government authorities.
Telegram is, in its essence, a simple messaging app. No flashy features, emotes, or avatars, but who needs those when you have uncrackable end-to-end encryption that guarantees your messages will be seen by no one but you and your addressee.
The app has a feature that allows you to open a secret conversation that is end-to-end encrypted and not stored on the Telegram cloud. These secret conversations also have an option for self-destruction, which means you get to decide when that message gets blown into oblivion.
It was only natural that we included a VPN on our list of must-have tools for keeping your online data private. VPNs are much more than something you use to bypass geo-restrictions (but you can totally do that as well if you want to).
They are a tool that encrypts internet traffic coming in and out of your computer, phone, or other devices.
Public Wi-Fi networks are just an example of how poorly-secured internet connections can allow hackers to snoop around at your information.
Because most public Wi-Fi networks are either badly secured or not secured at all, your online footprint is visible to anyone who knows where to look. Not to mention, there are plenty of unsecured websites that can’t wait to collect important data about your online behavior.
With a VPN, your private data is encrypted, no matter which type of internet connection you use, preventing cybercriminals from accessing it. Plus you get to access tons of content that may not be available to you otherwise.
TOR is short for The Onion Router, which is an open-source service that’s been on the market for more than 20 years. The browser was initially part of a project developed to protect U.S. intelligence communications online but ended up becoming one of the most-known private browsers out there.
TOR helps protect its users against traffic analysis – a practice all too known to popular browsers such as Google Chrome and Edge. The browser acts like a cross-platform browser that connects the entire TOR network without the need to download additional software.
What TOR does is it bounces your communications through tunnels instead of establishing a direct connection between you and the website you visit. This prevents others from tracking your online behavior or seeing your IP address. Not even your Internet Service Provider is going to have access to it.
If you believe data collecting only happens through search behavior, you are in for a surprise. Gmail, like the rest of Google’s tools, is also using algorithms to collect data and establish your cyber-profile. This enables them to deliver better-targeted ads.
Even if your data is not technically stolen, this still qualifies as a deep invasion of privacy. However, there are alternatives such as ProtonMail – a secure email tool that can be a great replacement for Gmail.
The service is free to use, of course, but compared to Gmail, ProtonMail provides end-to-end encryption to all emails, meaning they do not have access to the content your messages hold. The app also provides password-protected emails, as well as a self-destruction option.
The fact that the company is based and incorporated in Switzerland only adds to its credibility, as we know how stringent the country’s privacy laws are.
Ads can get tremendously annoying, not to mention they often feel like a total invasion of privacy. If you want to block ads and filter content, consider a browser extension such as uBlock Origin. This lightweight extension allows you to browse the internet freely, without having to deal with ads, and it works much faster than most of its competitors.
uBlock Origin is simple to use, as all you need to do is click the power button that appears in the popup window to both enable and disable the app for the current website. It allows for multiple methods of customization, but less experienced users can just use the default settings. They are more than enough to protect you from invasive ads.
The internet revolutionized life for us by allowing the world to be more connected than ever, but not all those connections are safe. Some of them may have a malicious purpose, which is why it is paramount to cover your digital footprint. The apps mentioned above can help keep your personal data as private as possible, away from any unwanted eyes.