Internet is a scary place. If you’re there there’s a high chance you’re immediately being tracked, analyzed, categorized and threatened. Being online in 2020 basically means sacrificing your privacy. Free privacy tools make sure that you’re more secure on the internet.
When the info on you is ready, it is being sold. Moreover, it’s always a risk to click on a wrong link and completely lose control over your personal data. Hackers are preying on inattentive users non-stop, big tech is trying to get more and more on you for the ad gains and in the end you lose. That’s why it’s important to go online prepared.
In this article, I’d like to give you some of the free privacy tools that can help ensuring that your personal data is secure while you’re online. Of course, free never means free in our digitalized world, but the companies mentioned in this piece have maintained a more or less clean and respectful privacy track that gained them industry trust.
Still, in order to be truly safe online free privacy tools are not enough, the entire cybersecurity and infosec industries exist to do just that with millions of dollars spent each year by companies and individuals around the world (2020 is winning so far with more threats going undetected).
Alright, let’s get into the instruments that make your life better online and make your sleep calmer.
Best free privacy browser: Brave
Stop using Chrome immediately! Google is an advertising company. Ad companies sell your private data to advertisers for them to target you more efficiently. Chrome is one of the legs in the gigantic business model of California big tech giant so privacy is not something on the menu there.
On the other hand, Brave is a browser designed from the start to do just the opposite: block website trackers and ads. And it does a great job ensuring no-one is watching over your shoulder. Also, it is fast, like really fast.
It’s revenue comes from the advertising too but the system is different. It shows its own ads and pays users who watch them with BAT (basic attention tokens), a cryptocurrency you can exchange to dollars.
Honorable mention: Tor
You may have heard about Tor. A legendary browser that is used both by law-abiding privacy seekers and criminals, has proven over the years that it is indeed secure and anonymous.
If you’re a whistleblower, this browser is a perfect choice. If you’re an ordinary internet user with no illicit activity to hide, it’s great too. But because of its complicated encryption system and multiple security layers, Tor may simply be too slow.
It has much better privacy track record than Brave but if you care about speed and you’re okay with a reliable yet not privacy-perfect browsing experience Brave may work better.
Best free messaging app: Signal
Forget the WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned app. Signal is the only messenger worth using if you care about your privacy. With a bulletproof end-to-end encryption, Snowden’s endorsement, 6 years in operation, US Army usage this messenger proved to be secure and reliable.
Oh and yes, it’s also officially used by such media brands Washington Post, The Guardian, New York Times, Wall Street Journal for a undetectable information exchange so here’s another reason to switch.
Best free VPN: ProtonVPN
Today when accessing internet it is important to have some sort of protection for your personal data not to slip to the wrong hands. VPN is that shield that hides your IP address, ensures anonymous browsing and protects your transactions. However, with many companies offering the service it is very easy to lose yourself and go with the flashiest one. Here I’m talking about the free options so the choice becomes even harder.
The main risk of using a free VPN service is that nothing comes free online. You probably knew that already but in a VPN’s case it may seem that you’re using a legitimate provider and data is secure until one day the company leaks all your sensitive data. So be careful there.
My choice for a free VPN would be ProtonVPN. It is unpretentious yet powerful and secure option to enhance your privacy at a minimal cost. Unlike competitors it doesn’t limit data available for browsing. What it does though is putting a speed limit. If you can sacrifice speed over security (and money), ProtonVPN is the best choice.
Another great free privacy tool is Hotspot Shield VPN. It doesn’t have speed restrictions but data plan is limited at 500 MB per day. Still a good option for a private browsing.
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