This a summary of all the software and services that we recommend for personal privacy and autonomy! Some of these tools require some time to set up, but ultimately, it’s worth it in the long-run.
The simplest actions to increase your privacy online:
- Use a Virtual Private Network (like Private Internet Access) on all your computer and mobile devices (see our article explaining VPNs)
- Use a secure web browser Firefox with privacy-mode turned on, and privacy enhancing add-ons installed (see details below); or use the Tor Browser, for extra privacy
- Use a search engine that doesn’t track you like StartPage (a Google mirror) or DuckDuckGo
- Use a secure email provider like CounterMail and a secure instant messenger like Wickr
To make your internet activities anonymous, use a VPN (or Virtual Private Network). Our recommended VPN provider is Private Internet Access — they make your internet traffic anonymous, and they do not keep records. See all our recommended VPN providers here.
Email and Instant Messages
For email, you can a use a service like CounterMail, which operates like Gmail, but it provides full email encryption and runs on diskless servers. Countermail costs $60 per year. Lavabit is a similar service — it doesn’t offer quite as many security features, but Lavabit offers free accounts and their paid accounts are only $8 per year. Alternatively, you can use the open-source Thunderbird with Enigmail and GnuPG, and connect to your mail server using SSL. If you are technically inclined, you can even host your own email server. Zimbra and Sendmail are free and open-source email servers.
Your best choice for a private mobile device is to chose one that runs Replicant. The next best is a “rooted” Android device is the your best choice for a private mobile device. See this site for more information on how to unlock/root your device (or go directly to Cyanogenmod or F-Droid).
uTorrent and Deluge are torrent clients that support encrypted transfers. To be anonymous you must still use a VPN that does not log your activities (like Private Internet Access). Or you can run your own VPN using Open VPN. Alternatively, you can use a private file sharing application like Retroshare or OneSwarm.
Cloud Storage / Syncing
Dropbox is a great app, but it doesn’t encrypt your files before they leave your computer. You can use Truecrypt – it creates a encrypted container inside of Dropbox to store your files. There are also open source cloud storage solutions: ownCloud and Tonido. Other good choices include Wuala, SpiderOak,and Symform — these services also encrypt your data before it leaves your computer. They can be challenging to set-up, however.
Instead of using Twitter you can use App.net, Glassboard, Indenti.ca. In place of Facebook, you can use Buddycloud, Diaspora, Friendica or Movim. These are social networking platforms with good privacy features, and allow you to retain control of your data.
Instead of Youtube or Flickr, you can use MediaGoblin.
You can switch to the open-source Linux operating system. Both Windows and Mac OS X limit your control when using your computer, and both systems have proprietary code that is not accessible to you. You can read about the problems with Windows, Mac OS X and the iPhone. Mint Linux (KDE Edition) is a version of Linux that is easy to use and don’t require complex installations. However, OpenBSD is probably the most secure Linux distribution — this highly technical document explains why. See also the Tails Linux installation.
Calibre is an e-reader that supports numerous e-book formats. It can remove DRM, and it converts and sends your e-books to e-reading devices.
Libre Office is an open-source alternative to commercial word processing apps like MS Office.