Private Search Engines
Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo record your web searches and link your web searches together.
Cost: Free DuckDuckGo is a search engine with a focus on privacy. This search engine often produces better quality search results than Google. However, with more obscure searches Google is more comprehensive. So as a backup, you can use StartPage which allows you to search privately on Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Private Web Browsers
The Solution: Use a secure, open-source web browser like Firefox with privacy-mode turned on.
Alternatively, you can use Chromium, which is an open-source browser similar to Google’s Chrome.
- we use encrypted SMTP for sending your mail when the receiving server supports it
- we mandate encrypted access for webmail, IMAP and POP
- we use Perfect Forward Secrecy where possible for all encrypted connections
- we encrypt all email while at rest on our servers
- we encrypt communications between our data centers
For most people Fastmail is good enough. However, if you need more privacy and security, you may want to look into the providers listed below.
Encrypted Email Providers
ProtonMail is a good encrypted email provider based in Switzerland.
MailDrop is an open-source service that allows you to create temporary emails, thus allow you to control spam. You can give these emails out companies that you don’t yet trust. Trashmail is similar to MailDrop — but it offers a paid service with additional filtration features.
Private Cloud Storage
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
The Solution: Use a virtual private network (VPN) service like ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN is a virtual private network (VPN) service that is fast and reliable. It’s my top pick for a VPN (see more details here). Prices are $58 per year, or $9 per month.
Private Instant Messaging
The Problem: Your text messages are not encrypted and may be recorded.
The Solution: Use Telegram instead — a private messaging application.
Cost: Free Telegram is a messaging app with a focus on speed and privacy. It works for user seeking casual privacy. If you need more privacy than Telegram, see these apps: ChatSecure is a free Android app that provides secure text messaging. The same app is called Signal on iPhones. Wickr is a free app (iPhone and Android) that allows you to send self-destructing, private messages to your friends. You can send text messages, video and audio messages.
Password managers allow you to create strong, unique passwords for all your website accounts. They can also automatically log you into websites, thus preventing key-logging (attempts to capture your keystrokes and hence your passwords). Bitwarden is an excellent open source password manager.
Privacy-Friendly Operating Systems
I recommend the Linux operating system. This free OS has many useful privacy features and applications. If you’ve never used Linux before, I recommend using the Elementary OS distribution. It was designed to replicate features found in Windows and OS X. Linux distributions are maintained by technical users around the world, so they tend to be less vulnerable to malware. You can get a computer with Linux pre-installed from a vendor such as ThinkPenguin (just tell them to install Elementary OS on your computer).
Privacy-Friendly Mobile Devices
Most mobile devices are not designed with privacy in mind. If you need an extra level of security, you can make use of a device like the Blackphone. This smartphone has it’s own privacy-centric operating system. Thus, the phone does not leak data to a carrier. It has comes with an encrypted phone service, secure messaging and many other security-oriented features. It sells for around $800.
Other Information Sources
- Prism Break provides a well-researched list of software that can help you opt of of surveillance.
- AlternativeTo provides lists of software that can replace your existing software with better, more open substitutes. This well-organized site allows people to vote on the software choices.
- The Best Self Hosted Alternatives provides a list of cloud software that your can run yourself
- The book Data and Goliath (by Bruce Schneier) provides a great overview of the companies and organization tracking you.