Here are my recommendations for choosing reliable applications:
The App Should Come From A Trusted Source
I recommend doing a little research on each app you use, and make sure it comes from a reliable company with a good track record. Also, make sure you download the app from a reliable source.
I don’t recommend installing hacked software, software from unknown torrent sources — a large percentage of this software contains malware (malicious software).
The App Should Encrypt Your Data Before It Leaves Your Computer
The more encryption, the better. Storing data in the Cloud is fine — as long as your data is encrypted before it leaves your computer. This should be normal operating practice, but few applications do this. See my recommended apps page for list of apps that perform adequate encryption.
The App Should Not Monitor You
Many applications “call home” meaning they regularly send usage information back to their parent software company. Obviously, this is not something most users want.
Where Possible, Choose Open Source Software
Open-source software can be audited, and thus is inherently more trustworthy that proprietary products. Also, because it does not require licenses and paid updates, it tends to be easier to install and maintain on multiple devices.
The App Should Be Available On Many Devices and Platforms
Look for apps that work on as many devices and operating systems as possible. If you switch operating systems, you won’t have to migrate to a new application.
Keep Your Apps Up-To-Date
Application developers often release security fixes to their software. If you keep your apps up-to-date — it helps to keep hackers out.
Apps That I Recommend
Here is a the full list of applications I recommend.