Here are four essential services to increase your online privacy:
- A VPN or virtual private network like ExpressVPN or PIA
- An ad-blocker like AdGuard
- A password manager like Bitwarden
- An encrypted cloud drive like pCloud
A VPN (or a Virtual Private Network) encrypt your internet connections and activities. This helps to bypass internet restrictions and secures the connections leaving your computer.
An Ad-Blocker & Tracker Blocker
An ad-blocker is useful for removing advertising and blocking unwanted trackers.
AdGuard is my recommend ad-blocker. It is a fully featured internet filter that removes ads, ad-trackers and blocks questionable websites. It operates as a standalone application, and incorporates a filtering mechanism that is quite fine tuned.
A Secure Password Manger
A secure password manager allows you consolidate all your passwords and secure notes in a encrypted safe.
I would recommend Bitwarden. This free, open source application is a replacement for proprietary password managers like Lastpass and 1Password.
Bitwarden syncs your passwords across multiple devices, and the browser extensions fills in your browser logins automatically.
An Encrypted Cloud
Using a encrypted cloud service is a handy way to keep your files secure and also conveniently available. I recommend pCloud as a secure cloud provider, despite the unfortunate name. pCloud is the first cloud storage provider to offer both encrypted and non-encrypted folders in the same account.
The pCloud “Crypto” folder is where files get encrypted before they leave your computer. This is true zero knowledge encryption, read more here.
Other pCloud folders are encrypted on the server side with 256-bit AES. During transfer, pCloud also applies TLS/SSL channel protection.
The company explains why this makes sense:
Although at first thought it is the most natural approach to just encrypt everything, the downside is that when servers do not understand the data, they cannot help you work with your files. You can’t expect server support for generating thumbnail previews of images, transcoding of media files so they are playable in the cloud, creating and extracting archives, and similar operations that cloud users need. That is why, with pCloud, you can choose which files to encrypt and lock, and which ones to store in their natural state and apply file operations on.
When you install pCloud, it creates a virtual drive (pDrive) on your computer. The files in your pDrive do not get automatically downloaded to your computer (like Dropbox). Instead these virtual files become instantly available as soon as you install pCloud. These files do not take up space on your computer. You can however, choose to “offline” or sync files and folders on to your computer if you wish