9 Products That Enhance Your Internet Privacy

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Amid news of NSA and government spying, companies selling consumer information, it’s understandable that people are becoming a little untrustworthy of the web. Some may be considering ways to start protecting themselves, but the burden of finding these options may be overwhelming. The questions like “Where do I start?” and “Which application is reliable?” need to be answered and the task of restarting your life on the web, having a completely new routine while browsing doesn’t seem like a good trade-off.

Then you may start to say, “Well, I’ve got nothing to hide.” But you’re dodging the real issue. Edward Snowden explained the problem with this train of thought perfectly in a recent interview with the New Yorker:

What you’re saying with this is you’re inverting the model of responsibility for how rights work. When you say, “I have nothing to hide” you’re saying I don’t care about this right — you’re saying I don’t have this right, because I’ve gotten to the point where I have to justify it. The way rights work is the government has to justify its intrusion into your rights. You don’t have to justify why you need freedom of speech. You don’t have to justify why you need the right to be left alone without any kind of reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

You will have to change your habits if you want to maintain anonymity — change is scary — but the reward of knowing your information is secure is worth it if you care to try.

Read on for to find various services that help you on the road to secure browsing and Internet use.

Tor Browser
The Tor Browser is a great place for people to start living anonymously. The software protects your browsing habits by bouncing you off several relays all over the world, preventing anyone from pinpointing your location or who you may be while visiting a website. You may notice ads won’t be personalized as you’ve been used to—they may even be in a different language.

Download Tor

Orbot and OnionBrowser
The Android and iOS Tor Browser solutions, developed to protect you while you’re surfing the web on your smartphone. These apps work by routing you through several relay points within the Tor network, making sure your identity says secret and safe.

Download OnionBrowser
Download Orbot

StartPage and DuckDuckGo
These search engines don’t save your searches or collect personal information. No user ID, building a profile to sell. If you use StartPage or DuckDuckGo with Tor then you’ll be doing double duty. You can never have too many layers of security.

Whisper Systems
Its mission: To make private communication simple. It accomplishes this by building a network of open source apps for Android and iOS, so users can enjoy end-to-end encryption in their conversations. This means that anyone spying on you will be able to see who you’re speaking to and how long you’re speaking to them, but they won’t be able to know the contents of your conversations. However, you’ll have to get your friends on board with these applications — encryption only works if the person on the other line is using it as well.

Signal will allow you to make encrypted calls over iOS to other Signal users as well as to RedPhone users (Android). The app does use data or Wi-Fi in order to make these calls, but it doesn’t use a lot of data. “A conversation that I had recently that lasted for over an hour used a little more than one megabyte of data. That was on an LTE connection. You could talk for many hours per day and use less data than a single Instagram timeline refresh,” a WhisperSystems Agent said in response to a query on data use.

Android users also have the added bonus of a texting program called TextSecure that uses end-to-end encryption. However, a solution isn’t available for iOS, yet. Whisper Systems intends on releasing a compatible solution for iOS users soon.

SpiderOak is similar to DropBox — you store documents and files in the cloud. However, this company has a ‘”zero-knowledge” privacy policy. Yes, it sounds like a fancy marketing term, but it’s a wonderful solution that will help you know your data isn’t being looked at by employees or the government. When you back up your files onto the SpiderOak site, your data is locally encrypted. Then when you want to access your data from the cloud, it’s locally decrypted. However, because SpiderOak does collect so much information about you when you sign up:

  1. Make sure you use Tor while you’re signing up
  2. Generate a new ID
  3. Create a new email with this new ID (using Tor) through something like Safe-Mail.net and use that email to sign up with SpiderOak

This way you can maintain a little more anonymity when signing up.

Adium and Pidgin
Instant messaging isn’t quite as hot as it used to be, but it’s better than using Gchat or Facebook Messenger. If your intention is to real-time talk with friends Adium (for Mac) and Pidgin (for PC) are some of the best options. Within these program you can encrypt your chats with OTR (Off The Record), which is built into both of these applications. Of course, your buddy will also have to enable OTR to get end-to-end encryption. Any eavesdroppers won’t be able to see the content of your messages, but they will be able to see the recipients.

Download Adium
Download Pidgin

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