Your online browsing history is very private. Only you can see it and no one else. That’s when the best online privacy protection services come into play.
If someone follows you everywhere, that person’s a stalker and could go to jail.
Traveling online is the same as traveling in public. Your computers also contain your private thoughts.
Google Chrome is not the best browser, and Avast is not the best protection against viruses.
Ironically, viruses have changed both virtually (ransomware) and physically (Covid-19 strains).
Best Online Privacy Protection Services (Apps)
Trackers, surveillance, malware, spyware, and phishing all lead to widespread data leaks. Therefore, you need to protect your online privacy uniquely with cybersecurity tools. LinkedIn not too long ago became a prime candidate for data hacks.
Let us first look at some of the most trusted apps for Android and iPhone. Some of these I have used myself (as an Android user), others not so much. Without further ado, let’s dive into the best online privacy protection services.
1. Signal Private Messenger
Signal Private Messenger is an encrypted messaging app. It helps protect your voice, text, and video messages with end-to-end encryption.
The app is part of Open Whisper Systems, and the company is big on privacy.
An open source app that has become synonymous with privacy enthusiasts around the globe. With open source, you can verify security through a code audit.
The app does not store logs of your information. It also does not store metadata, including member lists, group icons, names, etc.
WhatsApp (read: Facebook) likes to hoard (all) data.
Also, you can configure disappearing messages that leave no trace.
On the surface, it’s just an ordinary messaging app. However, if the person in your contact list also uses Signal, the conversation’s encrypted.
And when you send a regular text message, you’ll get a warning about unsecured text messages. Therefore, it’s among the best online privacy protection services.
Honorable mention: Session Private Messenger doesn’t require your phone number. A person is usually traceable because government agencies can link the phone number to your identity. Session messenger uses a random string of alphanumeric characters that act as your id, ensuring complete anonymity.
2. Tor Browser
With Tor, you can protect your privacy by preventing website trackers and cookies from following you all over the internet. For an extra layer of security, you might need Orbot (or Tor for Android) to protect your web traffic.
Incognito mode does not do anonymous browsing justice. The Tor browser is available for both desktop and Android phones. No iOS, unfortunately. So, if you are into privacy, this is the app for you. And is among the finest tools to protect privacy on the web.
Honorable mention: Bromite browser is an Android-only browser, and you can download it from their GitHub repository or through the FFUpdater app on F-Droid. It’s Chromium-based and offers no desktop support. By default, it’s geared for privacy such as ad-blocking, and provides a no-clutter browsing experience without privacy-invasive features. Their motto is “browser as an advertisement platform.”
3. DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser
Data privacy tools like the DuckDuckGo browser’s available for both Android and iOS. And is perhaps the most convenient browser. It has all the features of a leading browser, but it’s best when you want to log in to your favorite website and avoid prying eyes.
What are prying eyes?
These are the website-related trackers and ads.
Although, DuckDuckGo will not disguise your browsing habits, which is why it’s lightning-fast!
But the browser makes sure that third-party trackers stay in check and also ensures the use of the HTTPS connection protocol.
When you search with DuckDuckGo, they do not share your search data with other websites.
And there’s no way to tell what you have searched for.
The app offers a “Fireproof” feature that allows you to stay logged in to your favorite sites, even if you clear all history and data.
With Orbot, the DuckDuckGo browser hides your location and the sites you visit on the Internet.
Deleting tabs and data is a single keystroke known as the fire button, and you can choose from several animation styles: Inferno, Whirlpool, and Airstream. It’s a superior defense in the best online privacy protection services.
Honorable mention: Microsoft Internet Explorer has transitioned to Edge and, I won’t say, it qualifies in the list of the best online privacy protection services. However, it’s come a long way in terms of improvements. It’s fast and often compared to Brave (see below). Supports vertical tabs and lets you customize your browsing experience.
ProtonMail is a free (and paid) email provider and app that lets users encrypt. And it offers cool features like message self-destruct.
ProtonMail works like a regular email service and app, but unlike Gmail, users can apply additional levels of security to their messages.
Google’s invasive tracking features do not just extend to search. Gmail also has algorithms at work to allow Google to serve more targeted ads and tailored recommendations.
With ProtonMail, you can secure your communications with a technique called public-key cryptography.
In addition, you can, for example, protect a specific email with a password so that even hackers or law enforcement agencies that have access to the recipient’s inbox cannot read the email without the password.
You can also transmit the password via a method other than email, such as a secure messaging app, presumably sent over a separate encrypted channel like Signal (among the best online privacy protection services, as outlined above).
Researchers at CERN developed it and remain an open source (which helps transparency) email client.
They store the encrypted data on the company’s servers, which are housed in a bunker under 1,000 feet of granite rock.
ProtonMail is a sophisticated, user-friendly email program with the usual features like filtering and spam control, safe knowing that not even the company can figure out the contents of your communications.
You do not have to provide any personal information, and the company says it keeps no records of IP addresses or anything else that might give away the content of your communications.
ProtonMail is free in its most basic form. The free version of ProtonMail includes 500 MB of storage and 150 messages per day.
Honorable mention: Tutanota Mail and CTemplar inbox. The two have the same policy; block trackers and encrypt emails to limit privacy invasion.
5. Bitwarden Password Manager
By the way, it’s easy to put Bitwarden to the test.
- Create a Bitwarden account on the Internet.
- Transfer the password database (Export from LastPass to CSV and import to Bitwarden).
- Install the Bitwarden extension in your browser. However, it’s recommended that you use the official app for your system.
- Log out from LastPass.
- Log in to Bitwarden.
If you dislike Bitwarden, just log out (and uninstall the extension, delete the Bitwarden web account), then log in to LastPass and continue.
Like LastPass, Bitwarden offers a password generator, and the free version is superior to LastPass in every way (although that’s subjective) The Android app is just as user-friendly. LastPass does not open when you are at the login prompt, in my experience. Bitwarden makes it quick!
Most users prefer LastPass because it can check for duplicate passwords, weak passwords, old passwords, etc. But they dropped this feature in the free version, which Bitwarden has not learned yet. Also, 1Password is very good and known for checking for compromised passwords and usernames, but it is a paid subscription.
Bitwarden’s website has a series of introductory videos on how to set up and use Bitwarden. I found these videos much easier to understand than the documentation on the Bitwarden website. So, you mustn’t look further than this open source password manager, as it’s among the best online privacy protection services.
Honorable mention: 1Password offers its own 2FA and you can add another layer of protection from within the app. The team behind its development is a testament to the best online privacy protection services. No need to opt for a dedicated two-factor authentication app. Just saying, you have the option if you want to take advantage of it and avoid the hassle of switching apps.
6. Authy Multifactor authentication (MFA)
The best way to manage all your 2FA accounts is to use the Authy app. It allows you to have one mobile app for all your 2FA accounts, and you can sync them across multiple devices and even access them on a desktop. Install Authy on your device by searching for it in your device’s app store.
Your account stays secure, and you do not spend a dime!
These are the benefits the Authy 2FA app gives you besides authorization:
Convenience on multiple devices. Authy 2FA tokens sync instantly to any new system you allow. This way, you can use 2FA from a computer, a tablet, or a computer, and they are all connected. Only reauthorize them if a computer’s lost, stolen, or removed.
Works everywhere. On your computer, it creates 2FA tokens directly. They do not depend on Internet access or Wi-Fi. That’s handy if you are flying or if phone access is sporadic.
The new phone? No problem. Download the Authy software, verify your identity, and simply re-enter the Authy authentication tokens. Like other 2FA apps, you do not have to configure your accounts over and repeatedly.
Google Authenticator clever replacement
Any website that asks you to use Google Authenticator, Pair, or other TOTP-based tools can work with Authy 2FA tokens. Just follow the website’s instruction to “Allow 2FA” and then use Authy.
Honorable mention: Aegis offers the best online privacy protection services among authenticator/2FA apps. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Microsoft Authenticator is great from a backing up and UI standpoint. Fun fact, Aegis and Microsoft Authenticator are high on the user experience. You can’t trust Microsoft with privacy. Aegis, however, is an open source alternative.
Additional reading 📖: Tricks hackers use to bypass MFA
7. Brave Browser
Five positive things when comparing Brave to Chrome (and this is just my opinion):
It has an ad blocker that I think is good for many people who do not bother adding an extension like uBlock Origin (probably the best ad blocker on the market, which is just a feature of uBlock Origin).
It comes with “HTTPS Everywhere.” You do not need to add the HTTPS Everywhere extension, as I have found that it’s unnecessary because it’s already part of Brave (so of course I uninstalled the HTTPS Everywhere extension).
Brave can block scripts (like Firefox). Blocking scripts is the default setting. As many probably know, some websites do not work well with blocked scripts, so blocking scripts on the website needs to be disabled, which is a very simple task in Brave.
I have found that websites load a little faster than with Chrome. Not as much faster as Brave claims. Most claim it’s about twice as fast.
And without a doubt, it’s a solid and among the best online privacy protection services.
Honorable mention: For a slick and faster browsing experience, check out Vivaldi and Opera GX. Although, privacy takes a back seat over tons of customization.
Well, VPN means Virtual Private Network. It hides how you use the internet from prying eyes. When you use a VPN, you do not go from A to B; you direct your internet search to a third party (the VPN service provider) and then back to you. So, you go from A to B and then to C.
I always use a VPN. Not to access blocked websites, but for my protection. See honorable mentions here.
I think VPN should be a must for anyone using Wi-Fi in public places. If not, it’s like sending your most personal letters in an open envelope. You trust the mailman not to look inside, and if he does, you’ll never know. Until your secrets hit the streets.